The value of doing nothing

If I were in kindergarten, I would be crying. I was losing a real-world game of hide and seek and time was running out. Instead of looking for someone, however, I was looking for something. In this case, the right words to a book review I was trying to write for my blog. The words simply didn’t want to be found.

I put off the task for several days, hoping that my creative subconscious would work on the project while I attended to that little thing called life. I dutifully kept my normal schedule: work, chores, cooking and walking the dog, hoping I could sit down and knock out the review once it had time to brew in the back of my mind.

The longer I put it off, however, the harder it became. So I sat down, determined to write something—anything—to get started and still, the words would not come. What did appear was a realization that my creative block was deeper than it seemed on the surface. I wasn’t blocked; I was unmotivated, toward writing and toward life itself.

I could hypothesize all kinds of reasons for my lack of motivation: I had a busier than usual fall, working on a big writing project, wading through rivers of projects at work and dealing with a lot of personal change. Yes, all of these things can take a toll on the human spirit and they certainly did with mine. Yet a little voice kept nagging me to stop complaining, get moving, get writing and get on with my life.

After meditating, I decided to ignore that little voice. I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down and did absolutely nothing for several hours.

Whose voice is that anyway?

The reason for ignoring the little voice in my head was simple: it was my ego. As he’s prone to do, my ego was feeling anxious about not completing the writing project. Hard work, attention to detail and deadlines are the handmaidens of the ego and he wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it.

It took me a few days to recognize the voice of the ego, but there were a few tell tale signs that helped me make a positive identification. Repeatedly, I was hearing a lot of “should” and “need to” statements coming from the voice. Things like, “you should really finish that book review,” or “You really need to be doing something with your blog,” or “You shouldn’t be slacking off right now.” I grew irritated with the voice.

The ego wants us to move forward, work and make sure that we are living up to the standards set by society, our families and our responsibilities. The ego doesn’t see the benefit of slacking off; instead, he takes us to task on completing our to-do lists.

After a little introspection, I was more than happy to ignore the ego this time.

Following impulses

Impulses toward action are a wonderful thing. Impulses come to us from deep in the soul and inner self, urging us to move in the direction of our fondest goals and desires. We tend to be distrustful of impulses, however, because they frequently seem foreign to the rational mind. When we don’t understand an impulse intellectually, we tend to dismiss it and miss an excellent opportunity for growth.

So if following impulses is a good thing, why was I having the impulse to do nothing? Why was my psyche telling me to sit one out, regroup, and let the world move on by for a few days? And why was I fighting it?

Inaction as action

This may be hard to digest, but the act of “doing nothing,” is actually “doing something.” We have simply conditioned ourselves to believe that we must constantly work toward some arbitrary goal or we’ll fail miserably at life.

While the intellect views inaction as wrong or lazy, the spirit looks at inaction as:

  • Replenishing the body and spirit
  • Allowing the inner self to come up with fabulous new ideas
  • Giving the universe the space and time to arrange details in our favor
  • Arranging events that are more advantageous or avoiding situations that are harmful

When to accept “doing nothing”

I won’t argue that it’s hard to accept “doing nothing” as a much-needed part of daily living. It’s easier to accept this notion on vacation and even then, “doing nothing” seems suspect. How do you know when it’s okay to do nothing?

Generally, it’s best to discover whether you’ve got the impulse to do nothing or if you are instead trying to avoid doing something. I’m referring here to procrastination, where the urge to “do nothing” or the urge to “do absolutely anything but” something is key. Procrastination is avoidance and you probably have a whole handful (or mindful) of reasons why you don’t want to do something.

Sit down, get quiet for a few moments and let go of thought. You’re trying to feel your way through this exercise. Let your body talk to you through feeling (emotional or physical) and intuition. What kinds of things do you discover?

When I did this exercise, I felt a slight fatigue in my body; but, more than anything, I had the urge to sit in my favorite chair. I didn’t feel the urge to read or write. There was no impulse to surf the Internet. My body told me it only wanted to sit and be still for a while. For how long, I didn’t know.

It did take a few hours for my ego to stop whining about my inactivity. I reassured him constantly about the benefits of this new plan and how much better life would be in the long run. After I truly gave in and relaxed into inactivity, I could feel a shift in my energy and in my enthusiasm.

Accepting the impulse toward inaction is important. It’s not the norm in society and your friends, family members and coworkers may chastise you for it. Your own ego may chastise you as well. However, it’s in the fighting of the impulse to do nothing where energy gets blocked and problems appear.

Reality Challenge™

Doing nothing can be a scary proposition. It can also be one of the most fulfilling things your soul can experience. This week, I invite you to look for–to feel for–times when your spirit is telling you to slow down and take a break. The same holds true for your body, as the impulse to rest is equally as important to the body as it is the spirit.

If you identify the impulse to do nothing, accept it. Remind your ego that you’re trying something new and to stop whining. Allow yourself the luxury to do nothing, at least as much as you can without “have to” responsibilities. Try it and feel for a shift. Your spirit may thank you.




Stop hiding your true self

Are you letting others see the real you? We’re constantly presented with messages to conform: wear this and you’ll be popular; buy this and you’ll have friends; act this way and you’ll be rich! The messages are everywhere, from television to social media to our friends and family. And as we slowly give those voices credence, we lose a bit of ourselves in the process. When we allow ourselves to be covered up–physically and mentally–with everyone else’s ideals and standards, our own uniqueness starts to fade.

It’s time to reveal a little about yourself to the world. It’s time to drop the facade and let everyone know the real you. Share your talents and let your personality shine. Open up a little bit and let everyone see how colorful you are.

Mystery can be alluring but the truth is sexy.

Shift your expectations

Expectation is one of the most maddening belief structures you will ever encounter. At its best, expectation helps us easily, and transparently, manifest our beliefs in a variety of ways. At its worst, it stands in the way of conscious creation and blocks the creative universe from delivering our dreams in fun and exciting ways.

We speak frequently of having “high expectations” of people, places and events. We talk also of having our expectations dashed when they’re not met. But what is expectation? In terms of conscious creation, expectation can be thought of as a conscious belief that you anticipate will come to fruition. It’s usually a belief you don’t give a second thought to coming true.

You convince yourself that a particular belief is set to play out and you wait for the universe to deliver it. For example, you believe that the sun will rise every morning; therefore, your expectation is fulfilled when you see the sun crack the Eastern horizon. Expectations are formed primarily by surface beliefs and are the property of the ego. The ego wants to protect and advance the self and then sets rules around the way the world should work.

If the universe doesn’t deliver our beliefs to us in the way we expect, we become frustrated. We blame others and ourselves. We question our expectations and wonder where we got off course. Thoughts such as what did I do wrong? or why did she do that? come into play when expectations aren’t met. In these cases, expectation seemingly works against us and causes frustration, sadness or anger.

Years ago, the first lesson a spiritual teacher suggested to me was to drop all expectations. When I asked why in protest, she told me that expectations would always let us down and that we couldn’t rely on the universe to deliver things to us exactly the way we want. Talk about an expectation! While I appreciated the idea behind this teaching, it didn’t sit well with me. I thought there must be a way to incorporate expectation into everyday life that makes sense.

Expecting the worst

Expectation of negative events is a sure-fire way to make sure they come true. And in this sense, expectation can at times act as hypnosis if we’re not careful. Think about winter and the dreaded cold and flu season. Your coworker walks through the office sneezing and coughing. “Great, now I’m going to get sick,” you wail to your coworkers. You have just expressed expectation that you’re going to get sick and more often than not, you will.

Another example is seen frequently when you hear of a celebrity death. How many times does news break about a famous person’s passing when someone mentions the “rule of three,” that fictitious rule that says that bad things will always come in threes? We expect it and then watch the news waiting for two more people to drop dead. We search for the verification that this expectation will be fulfilled.

Negative expectations are sometimes hard to catch as we’ve conditioned ourselves into believing that “it’s just the way it is.” And it’s this kind of negative expectation that can hurt us the most. We’ve been brought up believing that bad situations will always get worse before they get better. We believe a bad economy will negatively affect our abundance. We “plan for the worst and hope for the best” and in the process find ourselves faced with expectation’s actualization, giving us exactly what we thought we’d get.

Fearful expectations cause us to look at the world through a different filter, a fearful filter. That filter then causes us to reorganize thoughts around fear, creating more fear and eventually causing a big manifestation of fear. It’s a viscous cycle and can set up some difficult challenges in the future.

Setting high expectations

The other main area where expectation trips us up is when we set ours too high. I am guilty of this frequently when I go to restaurants. I expect good customer service when I go out to eat. When my expectations aren’t met, I’m upset and bewildered. It took me a long time to even think about adjusting my own expectations or even shifting them to a different perspective. To my untrained eye, I was simply at the mercy of uncaring workers.

When we expect other people to behave in certain ways—positively or negatively—we’re in for an awakening. It can be a rude awakening or a pleasant awakening. True, law of attraction will generally bring us those things that match our vibration and our beliefs. However, it’s sometimes the hidden beliefs that attract others and their actions and those hidden beliefs often get attached to expectations.

Here’s an example using my restaurant expectations: I expect good service at a fancy restaurant. So when I sit down, I’m prepared for exceptional service. If expectation was the only criteria and I believed it fully, I’d get good service. But what if I have a hidden belief about being worthy of good service, a belief I’m unconscious of? A small, hidden belief that says I don’t really deserve to be treated well at all. That smaller, corollary belief then attracts its own reality, which may manifest as bad service. If I remain unaware of the underlying belief, I think my expectations have failed me.

So what good is expectation?

As I’ve thought about this over the years, I’ve discovered the benefit of expectation is to apply it generally without getting too specific. Trying to control the specific outcome of any situation or person can be wrought with difficulty and frustration, so ratcheting back to a more generalized approach helps frame our expectations in a more positive light.

Structuring expectation in a positive, general way can help train your conscious and subconscious mind to look for evidence of your expectation and diminish frustration if it’s not met. Consider these types of positive expectation statements:

I expect to learn something from every situation.

I expect to find the best in this.

I expect that no matter what happens, I’ll be safe.

I expect that everything happens in the proper time/space sequence.

I expect that anything that happens to me is in by best interest, even if I can’t see it now.

Similarly, becoming mindful of our negative or fearful expectations and then eliminating them can help move us in the right direction. Watch out for these damaging expectations:

Things will continue to get worse before they get better.

The economy is going to affect my bottom line.

No one cares what I think.

People are bad drivers.

It will take me forever to get through security.

Some of these statements can seem over generalized but you can appreciate the sentiment behind them. Rather than eliminate all expectations, let’s shift them to a more positive, generalized belief and allow ourselves some space to let the universe work it’s magic.

Belief Re-patterning (book review)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will be reviewing books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note on each book review if I purchased the book myself or if I obtained a review copy from the publisher.

If you’ve read or studied conscious creation, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “if you change your thinking, you can change your life.” These are great words, indeed, and heavyweight authors like Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Esther Hicks are models for living this profound philosophy. But if you’ve tried to change your thinking, whether through affirmations, meditation or mindfulness, and found yourself stuck in the same-old, same-old world, you begin to question the validity of new age thought.

I came to the same conclusion: if it’s so easy to change your thoughts and change your life, why can’t I do it? The answer is simple if the process is not: it all comes down to beliefs. Your beliefs dictate your experience of the world and trying to change beliefs can seem an impossible task.

Author Suze Casey offers her advice in a new book, Belief Re-patterning, released in April 2012 by Hay House. The book is a culmination of her years of personal coaching and introduces readers to the process of changing beliefs and thus, improving their lives. It’s a grand companion to the work of other Hay House authors and even pioneers such as Seth, Napoleon Hill, Charles F. Haanel, and Joseph Murphy.

One line of Casey’s book Belief Re-patterning caught my eye in particular as I flipped through it. “I had become frustrated with suggestions that I just change my thinking. That was the exact part that challenged me, and it seemed to me that books and workshop leaders just glossed over it,” Casey writes. That was enough for me to give the book a try.

If you’ve studied conscious creation or law of attraction in any form, you know the basic tenant of the teachings: you create your own reality. And you create your reality through your thinking, your emotions and your beliefs. I was originally drawn to the idea because it puts the responsibility for making personal change right where it belongs: with yourself. You are in the driver’s seat with your life, setting the tone and direction you want to go.

Like many beginner “conscious creators,” I approached belief work by making lists of things I believe in–good and bad. Then I set out to change those beliefs that were no longer serving me. During that process, I adopted the use of daily affirmations in an attempt to insert new beliefs into my psyche. But months of repeated affirmations felt like they were getting me nowhere and I began to wonder what was holding me back. Shouldn’t the process be simple?


Casey’s take on belief re-patterning grew out of her own personal history, which includes health challenges, teaching and coaching thousands of clients. The author brings a unique approach to belief re-patterning by integrating teaching and learning strategies into the process. She carefully observed how her students learned best and paired it with her belief patterning “formula,” a six-step list of statements designed to move both surface beliefs as well as deeply-planted core beliefs.

What it is

Casey’s approach to belief re-patterning is a process. In short, she teaches readers how to engage in an inner dialogue that helps direct the intellect, conscious mind and subconscious mind to work together to systematically change thinking and emotions. The emotional connection is important, as beliefs are a combination of repetitive thinking combined with strong emotion.

“Belief re-patterning works because the focus is on switching the emotion you are feeling rather than trying to change the thought,” she writes. This is a crucial distinction and one that’s often overlooked in other self-help books on changing thoughts.  For example, many authors tout the benefits of using affirmations. The premise: say an affirmation enough times and you’ll begin to believe it. But many people have a hard time tapping into the emotions that underlie those repetitive thoughts.

Make no bones about it: this is a workbook and is best utilized when you actually do the exercises in each section. Casey readily acknowledges right up front that people will approach the book in different ways: some will read it cover to cover then go back and do the exercises while others will stop at each section and work with the suggestions. I did a hybrid of both, first reading the book and mentally performing some of the assignments and then going back and re-reading thoroughly and completing written assignments in sequence.

Please note: Casey makes available a printable workbook on her website that readers can use alongside the manuscript. This helps frame the material in a different light and may help some readers make concrete use of the techniques she offers.

What sets this book apart from other self-help books?

The biggest benefit to Casey’s book is by addressing the problem most people have with changing beliefs: the how. The author gives specific examples of how to engage what she calls your “inner critic” and “inner coach” in a dialogue that ultimately leads you to new thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

The process is somewhat similar to other self-help teachings and processes such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)/Tapping, Sedona Method and others. However, Casey’s in-depth explanation of each step in the process is a welcome change for readers looking for specific, practical techniques to move thoughts in a positive direction. She explains the why along with the how to help the reader intuitively understand the material.

Who should read this book?

Although the language is clear and simple, I’d more readily recommend this book to someone who is already familiar with the benefits of belief work: changing the ones you don’t like and enhancing the ones you do. It is general enough for novice readers but is better understood and utilized by those already familiar with conscious creation, law of attraction or affirmations. Understanding the framework of conscious creation helps crystalize some of the ideas she presents.

My experience

Having read hundreds of self-help books and worked with belief re-patterning over the past several years, I was intrigued with Casey’s premise but held a certain amount of skepticism about the results. Her promise that belief work can be effective and easy was the hook I needed to try just one more book on the subject.

Some of Casey’s process is vague, leaving the specific inner dialogue up to each reader. At first, this frustrated me but I hung in there and kept the overall concept in mind as I started in on a few practice sessions. Within a few days, I found myself tackling surface beliefs (such as something upsetting me at work) and applying the dialogue formula to the thoughts at hand.

Working with that process, I found I could identify deeper, more firmly held beliefs. When I listened closely to my “inner critic” for clues, I could hit upon areas that needed further work and development. This is a great benefit as beliefs are usually found in clusters and it sometimes takes multiple tries to get to the root of a problem.

As Casey promised, the process became second nature to me. I found myself looking at old beliefs in new ways and making headway on ones I wanted to change. Using the process, I can now see movement on several beliefs by taking a few moments to run the dialogue in my mind.

Still, this work is an ongoing process that doesn’t always lead to instant results. Like affirmations, belief work requires you to train your thoughts and emotions into the new desired position in your psyche. It takes time, but so far Casey’s suggestions have proved valuable in many areas. Core beliefs—those deeply ingrained thought and emotional patterns that run or ruin our lives—take longer to move. I’ll see in the months to come if the process is successful.

The bottom line

If you’re interested in changing your thoughts and beliefs toward new, beneficial and supportive ones, this book can start you on the journey. Like most self-help books, it’s important to find an author and/or a process that resonates with you and the way you learn. For me, it’s definitely a part of my suitcase of processes that I can use to actively construct the life I’m creating.


Disclosure notice: I have signed up to review Hay House books as part of the Hay House Book Nook program. However, I did purchase this copy of Belief Re-patterning on my own before joining the program. The opinions in this review are completely my own based on my direct experience with the book.

Available from these booksellers:

Hay House


Barnes & Noble

Are you ready to shine?

Are you ready to shine?


Move over Pollyanna, there’s a new tool in town

“Positive thinking” sure has gotten a bad rap over the years. The term conjures up images of Pollyanna taking even the direst circumstances in stride and turning every frown upside down. For most people, positive thinking isn’t just a stretch, it’s incomprehensible.

As a psychological tool, positive thinking certainly has many benefits but it’s best used only after a thorough examination of your own thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Every individual has proclivities toward certain thought patterns and without an understanding of those patterns, positive thinking may do more harm than good.

For instance, some people have habitual negative thoughts. Without an understanding of the beliefs beneath those negative thoughts, applying positive thinking can actually cause such people to repress certain emotions. They then don’t get the benefits of positive thinking. Since understanding when and how to use positive thinking is an ongoing process, there is one tool you can adopt now that will set the stage for a better utilization of positive thinking.

Instead of acting like Pollyanna, try the exercise of using positive intent. This means expecting every situation you encounter will be met with a positive outcome, even if you normally think it can’t. Positive intent works hand-in-hand with “faith” and the belief that the universe is working for you and not against you.

An example: You get an angry voice mail from a friend who is upset that you didn’t invite him along for a weekend camping trip. You didn’t purposely mean to exclude him and his reaction has thrown you into a negative tailspin. You feel that his anger is an overreaction to the reality of the situation.

Traditional positive thinking advocates would tell you to ignore the situation, think good thoughts about your friend, and apply a big dose of compassion. In this case, however, that would ignore your own subjective feelings about the situation. You would be creating an energy blockage and setting yourself up for either a physical manifestation (headache, stomach ache, etc.) or situational manifestation (more of the same type of behavior from your friend).

Here’s where to apply positive intent. Realize that you have created or attracted the situation to yourself and understand that you will get a positive effect out of it. This way, you still allow yourself to feel your emotions and you’re doing so in a context where you can learn from the situation. The intent helps you comprehend that every facet of living can be used as a learning tool, pushing you towards greater understanding and fulfillment. Now the situation may be negative on the surface, but your positive intent means you’ll get something positive out of it.

The intent to have a positive experience sets up circumstances for you to learn something about yourself. Perhaps you have some unresolved—and unconscious—feelings toward your friend that the altercation can bring to the surface. Maybe the fight will help you get in touch with your own feelings of exclusion and set you in the direction of healing those feelings. Or, maybe you have a set of beliefs about what type of behavior you expect from your friends and this allows you to see your beliefs manifest in a very vivid manner. In any of those cases, you’re uncovering information about your thoughts, emotions and beliefs and using them as a benchmark for change.

Positive intent can be used in all situations. It’s a way of approaching life so that you always realize that actions, interactions and events are working for your benefit. It does take faith to get to this point, but even just the intent to have a positive experience means that’s what you’ll get. Law of attraction fuels positive intent: your intent, your desire and your faith that something good is coming from every situation will set in motion the types of experiences you’ll see reflected in the future.

Keep in mind that you may not always have immediate understanding about the events of your life. Sometimes the universe reveals itself a little more slowly than we would like, so faith in the process is paramount to your success. Again, the positive intent will bring you positive effect. The more you work with the process, the better you’ll understand it and the quicker the results will come.