Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Empty Inbox


After being laid off from my full-time job two weeks ago and reluctantly enrolled in what I term The White Box Club, I found myself wading through waves of phone calls, text messages, and emails from friends and family expressing their words of wisdom, love, and support. People I didn't even know were sending messages of hope and encouragement through social media. The outpouring of support was amazing.

Then this past Friday—exactly two weeks after that shocking and unexpected event—my inbox was empty. Hardly an email, phone call, or text message. It suddenly felt like the whole event had never occurred. Until I remembered that it had.

So what just happened?

The moment I told my Mom about this unexpected condition, she recalled the time when our home was lost to a fire back in 2002. "There was such an outpouring of support for quite a while. But then there was a day when it all came to a screeching halt. Another note for the time frame, but also another twinge of the heart."

I was reminded that every life event has a process—a beginning and an end—and so do the people touched by it. When others near to us are swept into the emotional waves of a personal life event, they, too, become a part of it... for a short time. But then they return to their own lives. They come, they love, they leave.

So if other people can move on so quickly, why can’t I? How come I can’t just process the sadness and disappointment and get over it? 

Because it happened to me.

Other people process faster because empathy can only take you so far. Even when we extend support to others, we will naturally have an inherent need to nurture ourselves. And when the event happens to us, our own process will always be different from anyone else—especially since we're the ones who are most affected. And that’s okay.

As a life coach, I encourage my clients to receive—and not be afraid to ask for—support from their friends and family when facing tough times. I also teach them to rely on themselves for encouragement. Learning to becoming your own coach can serve you for the rest of your life.

Starting to reflect upon the lessons I'm learning during this layoff process is, yet again, another opportunity to me to learn how to coach myself—another chance to "drink another cup of my own coffee." Whereas the encouragement came from others during the past two weeks, it now needs to come from me. My friends and family reminded me how important my gifts are to the world, and now I need to remind myself.

If I believe that every life event has a process, then this, too, shall pass. Sometimes in the most difficult times, the glimmer of hope becomes the light at the end of the tunnel.

My challenges this week?
  • To allow myself to keep processing, and be very kind to myself as I do
  • Keep bringing clarity to these moments
  • Acknowledge all of my thoughts, feelings, and intuitive "nudges"
  • Continue to practice patience and trust the process
  • Keep focusing on internal and external alignment

Throughout this process of grieving: anger, confusion, sadness, and acceptance, I will stay true to myself and my integrity. And while my hands are staying busy doing logical things (arranging finances, networking, searching for new opportunities), my heart will continue healing and my next opportunity will, indeed, come into alignment with me.

To Our Better Balance,

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life.

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Photo courtesy of me :o)

Monday, May 4, 2015

The White Box Club


"I've called you together this morning to make an important announcement. We're taking a new direction with the company and all of you in this room are not included. You are being let go immediately. You will be given a severance package—including any unused vacation—and HR will be contacting you to follow-up. There are boxes out front for you to take back to your desks, pack up your things, and leave the premises within the hour. We are sorry to do this, but it was a necessary step."

That was my Friday morning.

Midway through the announcement I thought to myself. Wait a minute. This can't include me. This is about the other employees. I must have been invited to this meeting to help facilitate the process. Seriously, I just got a raise last month; I'm developing a whole new program for a new product; and I've been told how fantastic my work is, so this is obviously some sort of mix-up. Right...? 

Nope. I was included. In less than a minute it was all over. We slowly rose from our chairs and quietly left the room. Nobody spoke. Only awkward silence. I was numb.

What just happened?

For the next 15 minutes I walked around in a daze. I picked up my white box and brought it to my desk. I looked around my office at everything I'd created over the last two and a half years, and suddenly realized it was no longer mine. Some people came over to give me a hug. I felt like I was in a dream. The whole situation was surreal.

I finished packing my box with the few personal items that belonged to me, grabbed my coat, and headed out the front door. And just like that, my career with the company was over. I put the box in the trunk of my car, got in, and sat there attempting to process what had just happened. My brain was quickly trying to come up with a plan, but to no avail. Now what? Just drive home.

When I got home, I placed my white box on the kitchen counter, went into the living room and sat on the couch. I stared blankly at the wall in silence. It was 10:00AM on a Friday morning, but if you had asked me what day or what time it was I couldn't tell you. I was in shock. Finally, I called my parents and sent out a few text messages, letting my inner circle of friends and family know what had just happened.

Now every morningand several times throughout the daymy mind replays the scene. I see us all sitting in the conference room, the door closes, the announcement is made, and I start to slowly realize what's happening. And then the unanswered questions resume their relentless cries: Why me? What did I do wrong? This wasn't supposed to happen to me. I coach people about how to deal with losing their job. I'm not supposed to be going through it myself! 

Then reality returns. It did happen. It was you. You did nothing wrong. And now it's time for you to coach yourself through the process. You've got this.

So here's how my inner coach has been guiding me the past few days:

First, get organized. I got online and did a quick evaluation of my finances (automatic payments, bills, expenses) and adjusted them as needed. Even with severance, I'm still going to need to reorganize, consolidate, and redirect my cash flow. I'll take care of the most critical things now and leave the rest for later.

Experience it fully. As one of my close friends told me, "Sit in the swamp for a while." It won't be comfortable, but things like this are never easy. I will allow myself to ride the emotional waves that come and go with major change. If I ignore the disappointment, anger, confusion, and sadness, they will only manifest as sickness and depression. Grief comes in waves, but so does clarity and acceptance. 

Practice compassion. Even though I'm sad and confused, I'm trying to understand this from the company's perspective. I can't imagine how difficult it was to make the decision let alone deliver the message. There's never a good way to deliver bad news.

My biggest feeling right now is profound sadness. I had to leave a job that I really loved, and the people—both coworkers and customers—that came along with it. I didn't get to prepare. I didn't get to say goodbye to more than a few people. I didn't get any closure. And now I'm left to sort it out for myself. This is what hurts the most. 

So now what? Now wait.

I don't need to figure out what's going to happen next for me right away. Yes, in due time I will find new direction, but for now I'm going to take time to step back, process, reflect, and accept. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to create myself again. In the meantime, I just need to breathe. And today this is all I can do.

Like so many others, I am now a member of The White Box Club.

To Your Better Balance,

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg 

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life.

Liked this post? Then please comment or share it with others!

Photo courtesy of me :o)

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Spring. Go Green!

If you stop and think about how much waste is created on a daily basis, you will notice how fast it adds up: more garbage + more pollution = higher expenses = less money, not to mention our abuse of the planet. It's not a pretty picture. 

Perhaps you've heard my favorite muppet Kermit the Frog crooning in his song, "It's not easy being green..." I've been thinking about the green movement lately, and even though it may be challenging for Kermit, being green is rather easy for us once we raise our awareness and start paying attention to our choices and actions.

There are more than enough resources available about greening your life. Allow me to highlight some simple habits you can quickly adopt to respect our planet, keep our lakes and air cleaner, and benefit your own balance (and budget!) as well.

 
Simple Tips for Greening it Up:
  • First and foremost, start paying attention to what you use, keep, and throw away. Keep in mind the 3 R's of the 21st century: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Everything you discard has one of two fates: garbage can or recycle bin.
  • If you like paper towels, buy the "select-a-size", which uses half the amount of a regular towel each time you tear one off (also makes great napkins!)
  • Reuse gently used paper towels or napkins as handy wipes for wiping food from dirty dishes, greasy pans, or for quick clean-ups.
  • Use the backs of previously printed papers in your printer. Most of what we print at home isn't that important, so save the new paper for special things.
  • You know those handy little Ziploc bags? Unless you're filling them with pudding or peanut butter they can usually be reused once or twice.
  • Ask for a ceramic mug (instead of paper cup) at your local coffee shop and take a moment to stop, relax, and enjoy your java or tea.
  • Consider replacing your coffee with green tea (blended with jasmine or lemongrass rocks). It's green and full of antioxidants.
  • Buy electronics with rechargeable or solar-powered batteries instead of disposable ones.
  • Reuse hotel sheets and towels. Do you change your sheets and towels every day at home? Then don't do it when you're on vacation.
  • Use reusable shopping bags. Save a plastic tree!
  • Reconsider bottled water. Consider purchasing an aluminum bottle or go back to the tap. Seriously. The bottled water craze is more hype than hip.
  • Consider non-chemical cleaning supplies and health supplements. Natural and essential plant oils replace any synthetic cleaners and healing supplements. Young Living is one fantastic organization I've used for years.
This week, I encourage you to think about where you can Go Green by reducing, reusing, and recycling more in your life. You'll feel good about the planet and your pocketbook. And by showing Kermit that you understand what being green is truly about, you'll make him a happy frog.

To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg


Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life.

Liked this post? Then please comment or share it with others!

Photo courtesy of insideclimatenews.org

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Universal Mirror


Mirror [mir-er] Noun. A reflecting surface, originally of polished metal but now usually of glass with a silvery, metallic, or amalgam backing (dictionary.com)

Mirrors are a part of our daily lives. Mirrors reflect visual data back to us, giving us more information. A plane (flat) mirror not only allows us to view what is behind us, but provides a virtual opposite of what we are perceiving before us. We have learned to accept the information from mirrors as valid and trustworthy.

Likewise, our lives are also mirrors. The energy we are putting out into the world is being reflected back to us much like a mirror. And it all starts with our thoughts.

Thoughts contain energy. We are all energetic beings emitting an energetic frequency—or a vibration—just like a radio station broadcasting music. Whatever "music" we are playing, people "hear". Meaning, whatever vibe we are emitting creates our emotional state of being. Have you ever noticed when someone is having a good day or a bad day? You might pick it up through their attitudes, actions, or words. You can feel it in their "vibe".

The response to the energy we're putting out is reflected back to us in all areas of our lives through circumstances, events, and occurrences. That is the way our energetic Universe works.

Why is this important? Because once you understand this principle, you realize that you are the creator of your experience. When you focus on things you don't want or like, you will experience more of them in response to the vibration you are offering. Conversely, if you focus on things that you do want or like, you will experience more of those things.

So what if you are experiencing an abundance of things you do not want in your life, how do you change your broadcast? According to Alfred Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” We simply cannot continue in the same chronic pattern of thought and create different results. The powerful Universe is responding to whatever we are thinking and focusing on regardless of what it is. THAT is the creative process.

To change your broadcast you need to change your mind. Every event is an opportunity—a point in time for us to make a choice. We choose how we feel about something in every moment, and we have the choice about what to believe. When we start acting in mindful, thoughtful ways, we can respond to anything with informed, intelligent, and response-able actions.

What are you creating? How are you responding to what is happening around you? Are you paying attention to what is being reflected back to you?

This week, pay attention to what you are broadcasting and what information you are receiving in response. Then try "changing your tune" and see what is reflected back to you. The mirror never lies!

To Your Better Balance,

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life.

Liked this post? Then please comment or share it with others!

Photo courtesy of www.glassworksaiken.com

Monday, March 30, 2015

Losing Your Religion?

 

Religion. Spirituality. God. The Universe. Source Energy. Life. Death.

What does it all mean? Nobody knows. Let me repeat that. NOBODY KNOWS.

Not a single person on this planet knows what any of those things really mean. Oh, we certainly have an abundance of theories, ideas, and beliefs, but ultimately, none of us really knows the meaning behind it all.

But we spend a lifetime trying to figure it out.

Isn't that what our lives are all about: Questioning? Answering? Creating? Believing? And why is everyone so upset about our differences? Don't we all look, speak, and act differently? Isn't that the whole point of humanity? And shouldn't we believe different things? It seems that would only makes sense.

Religious and spiritual beliefs have been a topic of conflict since the beginning of time. The differences over this one topic have caused more turmoil, pain, arguments, and wars in our world than any other. In its simplest form, what we are seeing in our world is the opposite of what it is truly about: Love. What we are experiencing so often is Fear—the opposite of Love.

However, if we stop and think about it from a scientific perspective, not understanding something [because it's different from what we believe] causes a natural resistance. It is new information, and we are naturally wired to question something that is new.

Fear is a natural reaction in it's most primal form—a response by the human brain to what it cannot understand. And while feelings of Fear are automatic and natural, the response to Fear is not. Responding to Fear with anger, violence, abuse, resentment, or hatred is a chosen response—a choice—and that is what sets apart the natural from the unnatural. 

Reacting is natural; responding is thoughtful. We are human; therefore, we are response-able.

We always have choices. We choose how to respond to every situation, thought, and feeling in every moment. We can choose to respond to Fear negatively, or we can choose contemplation, compassion, and curiosity. Our choices create our reality. If you think your attitudes, actions, and words don't matter, think again. It ALL matters. We ALL matter. Everything we think, feel, say, and do matters—whether we realize it or not.

What are you choosing today, and how is that causing a ripple effect in the world around you? Which words are you using? How are you supporting what you love instead of pushing against what you don't? When we start remembering that we are all creating the world we currently live in by each word and deed, we might start taking ourselves—and our actions—more seriously.

Choose for yourself and allow others to do the same. And above all else, "Live and Let Live", for that is what we came here to do.

Namaste

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Nudge


 We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.
We are spiritual beings on a human journey.

Stephen R. Covey

Ever get a "nudge" to do or say something? 

Something I learned early-on in my writing and coaching work was to give my thoughts, feelings, and intuition a voice—a way to better understand the language of my mind, body, and spirit. We all perceive information through our senses and this information is being filtered and translated into our thoughts, feelings, and intuition. We can use our words to describe how we're thinking or feeling, but how do those internal voices work?
 

Usually the loudest voice—our Mind—is busy analyzing information and making conclusions. Simultaneously, our Body is translating all the visual, audio, and tactile stimuli of our busy world and giving us feedback through the voice our feelings. Logic and emotion—the constant balance between head and heart. But while our minds and bodies are "doing", our Spirits are just "being". In fact, our Spiritual energy is working with the power of our intentions—consciously and subconsciously—and the voice of Spirit is always coming from a place that knows what we really want, versus what our minds and bodies think we want. I equate intuition as a "gut feeling", or sensation in the pit of my stomach.

Since Spirit is the eternal part of our tri-part being, the quiet voice of our Spirit gives us little nudges and hints throughout the day. This nudge may come to us as, “I should hold this door open for that person,” or “I can spare some change for the woman ahead of me in line.” Sometimes it's even just a smile to a passing stranger. Spirit never asks from us more than we can give at a given moment. Spirit knows us and our boundaries. In fact, our Spirit lets us exercise our healthy boundaries and create new ones, while our Mind may have us thinking in old patterns or behavior and repeating the same mistakes. Been there, done that!

By paying attention to those little nudges throughout the day, you can get closer to hearing your natural intuition. In fact, if you get quiet and really listen, you will start to hear the calm rhythm within. And once you start accessing the energy of your Spirit, you can bring your thoughts and feelings into better alignment with intuition, and activate that knowledge to create better balance in your life—awareness, alignment, activation: the balance formula is complete.

How can you be quiet and listen to the intuitive voice within you this week?


To Your Better Balance!

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg


Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Our Chronic Thoughts


Thoughts are extremely powerful. In fact, our thoughts create our reality as we experience it. Much like a captain navigating the sea, our thoughts command the wheel of our ship and point us toward a destination.

I asked one of my coaching clients last week about a potential employment opportunity to which he replied, “I can't do that. I've never done that before." As we continued, I could see a pattern unfolding. His perspectives about everything in his life—his career, relationships, choices and experiences—were coming from a place of lack. He felt that his life was filled with so many things he didn't want. It was just never enough.

My next question was, “So what do you want?” To which he had a difficult time responding. Since he’d been so focused on what he didn’t want for so long, he couldn’t clarify what he wanted. He’d lost his focus. Everything he was experiencing in his life was a direct result of his chronic thought patterns.

Each of us have an emotional default setting that was formed at an early age—usually during our impressionable childhood years—by the environment and the people around us. In turn, this default became the foundation for a set of matching beliefs and the chronic patterns of thought associated with those beliefs. This is helpful if our patterns of thought are positive; but can be very challenging if they're negative. Negative belief systems create what are called limiting beliefs.


Limiting beliefs can be recognized by statements such as:
  • "I have no choice."
  • "Life is a struggle."
  • "I made my decision and now I need to stick with it."
  • "Things never go my way."
  • "I always seem to mess things up—that’s just my nature."
  • "Other people always seem so much happier than me."
  • "This is just the cruel hand life’s dealt to me."
They may also take the form of questions:
  • "How come I never get what I really want?"
  • "Why is life so difficult?"
  • "What is wrong with me?"
  • "Why do bad things always happen to me?"
  • "How come everyone else is succeeding while I’m failing?"
  • "How can I possibly be a good friend/mother/brother/coworker when I can’t even be good to myself?"

Each of those statements and questions come from limiting beliefs. What they don't consider is often they've been created by simple observations (i.e., one experience or one observation), or have been passed down to us by others and we've chosen to believe them with limited firsthand experience.


There is another perspective that brings hope, clarity, and relief: it’s called reframing.

Reframing is the practice of recognizing that how we respond to something is just as important (and sometimes more important) than the actual event. We can choose our attitude just as easily as we choose our clothing!

Reframing includes developing a higher tolerance for ambiguity and being willing to take a new perspective without have the proof to back it up. Reframing requires trust and facilitates hope. Reframing always gives us options, especially regarding limiting beliefs:


  • "I have no choice," becomes,
  • "I always have choices, even if it's only my attitude."
  • "Life is a struggle," becomes, 
  • "Life can be challenging, but it's helping me grow."
  • "I made my decision and now I have to stick with it," becomes,
  • "I realize that things change, and I can always choose again." 

Can you see how this works?


This week, make the conscious choice to become aware of your limiting beliefs (catch yourself when you think or say them!) and practice reframing your perspective. You may quickly notice your energy shifting and your mood improving. Eventually, your limiting beliefs can become unlimited beliefs and you'll start navigating your ship towards new destinations. Think: The Bahamas instead of the cold Atlantic!

To Your Better Balance

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Need some inspiration? Pick up a copy of 21 Days, Steps & Keys, or one of the other books in the balance series, and start off 2015 by finding better balance in your career, relationships, and life. You can also tune into Michael's recent radio interview with Sharvette Mitchell at: (Michael starts after 31:00).

Michael Thomas Sunnarborg is an educator, best-selling author, and certified life coach. His passion is to help people reclaim their power of choice and find better balance in their work, relationships, and life. You can follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com

Image courtesy of discovery-zone.com

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