The power to think ahead in a reckless age | Bina Venkataraman

In a forward-looking talk, author Bina Venkataraman answers a pivotal question of our time: How can we secure our future and do right by future generations? She parses the mistakes we make when imagining the future of our lives, businesses and communities, revealing how we can reclaim our innate foresight. What emerges is a surprising case for hope — and a path to becoming the "good ancestors" we long to be.
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Tune into Your Inner Wisdom

We go through life learning, looking for answers, and trying to find the ultimate source of wisdom or a magic spell that would give us the key to every question that we are ever going to have. The education system teaches us to look for answers outside of ourselves in books, teachers, and other authorities. Almost no one teaches us the importance of unlearning what no longer serves us.

One of the most important things we will ever do is let go of the idea of who we think we are supposed to be, and embrace who we were all along, beneath the artificial layers of obsolete knowledge that we piled on top of the voice of our intuition and inner wisdom.

Why is it important to tune into your inherent inner guidance?

Because it is the magical key that will give you the answers to the questions you have been looking for and that cannot be satisfied by any teacher or any book.

The ultimate goal of every technique should be to lead you to your innermost truth, to your wisdom, to your true Self.

Know that you already know

Before you start practicing tuning into your own wisdom and receiving daily guidance from your intuition, it is helpful to acknowledge that you are all-powerful. You are not going to find the answers you are looking for in an external source.

I write often about how life speaks to us through synchronicities and events, however, in order to receive the message you have to trust the intuitive hints you receive in the given moments.

There is nothing more satisfying than the unfailing sense of trust and knowing that you developed with your Self – with your inner compass that is always pointing to your true north.

All you have to do is to let go of any expectations about how or in what form your inner wisdom should guide you and trust that you were created with an inner guidance that is as natural to you as breathing.

If we didn’t talk ourselves out of every inspired idea that we have received, we wouldn’t feel lost or confused most of the time.

Life is supposed to be lived with clarity and we are supposed to know what to do.

You are not disconnected from the source of all life. You just forgot to cultivate the connection.

The first step is to acknowledge that you are the creator of your life experience and the power to change it lies within you.

Embrace what your mind can not grasp

There are as many ways of intuition speaking to us as there are expressions of life in form.

Your heart is going to speak to you through feelings, unshakable sense of knowing, images, and/or sounds. It all depends on what feels more natural to you.

Since intuition is meant to be a natural part of our existence, you might not even know that you have been using it all along, or maybe you were just afraid to trust something that is ungraspable for others. It can come in any moment and the more you acknowledge it, the more you will feel at ease during your day.

Your intuition can reveal to you what your logical mind cannot. You can sense for example what type of food your body needs, you will know when someone is lying to you or when you should invest your time in a certain activity.

Intuition is not evidence-based. Evidence always comes later. Those are the moments when you thought for yourself: Oh, I knew it, or I saw it coming!

We are a part of one consciousness, one source of life, therefore, everything is interconnected and you can easily tap into the vibrant presence of life that surrounds us and you can receive information that is important to you.

The second step is to stop judging your feelings, inner knowing or images you see in your mind’s eye based on physical evidence.

Intuitive hints can´t be explained or forced. They are a gift of life to you and in order to be received your intuition has to be cherished and you have to hold a space for it in your consciousness.

Certainty comes with practice

If you are afraid to act on your intuition, start with observing what is happening in your inner world and see whether the outer world is eventually going to match what you sensed coming.

In many cases, without acting on your intuition, you won´t be able to see the outcome coming into fruition.

However, if taking big action scares you, you can still practice acting on your intuitive insights in the moments when your mind is not going to talk you out of it.

For example, when you feel like calling someone – call them. When you feel like going someplace – go there. I can’t tell you what is going to happen in advance, but that is the fun of going with the flow of your inner wisdom.

You will discover only later on that life was guiding you right to where you were supposed to go, even if all the evidence seemed to be against you.

By acting on your intuition, your ability to rely on it is going to grow and your trust in your wisdom is going to help you to connect to it even more.

Buy food that feels right, wear clothes that make you joyful, do activities that bring you inner peace. If you feel like running is not for you, but your heart is beaming when you think of a yoga class – that is your intuition telling you what you need right now.

In the beginning, it might be hard to distinguish between the feeling of fear-based judgment and that of intuition in certain circumstances or relationships. However, you have to make a practice out of observing your inner state of being and with time, you will be more skilled in detecting whether an impulse is coming from unresolved fear or from knowing that something is not in alignment with your inner knowing.

The third step is acting on your intuition.

Start small, so that your fear won’t be able to talk you out of it, and then wait for the evidence to support what you have known/seen/heard in advance.

The more you practice, the more you will trust yourself and meanwhile, you can have a lot of fun and many revelations showing you how powerful you truly are.

Eva Stechova created her blog AMIRACLEWORKBOOK to share inspiration, upliftment and meaningful content. She believes that by intentionally choosing to be who we truly are in our hearts – kind and loving beings – we can create the lives we have always wanted to live. She shares her content on Pinterest and Instagram as well.

Image courtesy of Dingzeyu Li.

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How Rejecting Anger Stunts Our Leadership

I always imagined that when the day came that I found out I was pregnant; I would feel all the lovely feelings.

Joy! Elation! Happiness! Excitement!

Instead, I felt everything. I was buckled into the hormonal rollercoaster, and there was no getting off the ride until…?! In a single day (or a single hour), I might experience joy, confusion, terror, excitement, sadness, hope, and rage.

Rage was a new one for me.

It’s not that I’d never faced it within others; it’s that I rarely (never?) felt it within myself.

Over the years, I had cultivated a willingness and capacity to be with incredible joy and incredible sadness, within myself and others. Sitting in circle with women in my Freedom Mastermind, I’ve held the individuals and the group through moments of absolute ecstasy and deep pain. Because that’s life.

Businesses thrive.

People die.

Bodies heal.

Hearts break.

Life.

But, anger…

Growing up, for me – and most women – anger was not an especially “acceptable” emotion. Most of us were expected to be nice girls, sweet girls, pretty and happy girls. So, we got quiet (shut down). And polite (bottled-up). And good (repressed).

Socially, a woman’s anger is often met with reproach and dismissal.

Therefore, feeling anger and showing it has too-long threatened our sense of belonging and challenged our sense of self.

And when we did see anger expressed in others, it was often rooted in shame or expressed very unconsciously – through violence, oppression, the intent to cause (and exhaust) pain.

And because of all of the social and cultural shame surrounding a woman’s anger, if we feel it at all, it often seethes within us or comes out with the same daggers that we’ve seen and recoiled from in others.

Most of us had no models for how to dance with anger, so anger became unsafe.

Without healthier, more integrated paths for expression, we’re left with three options:

1. RAGE / BULLDOZE

“I’m hurting and now you’re going to hurt, too.” In bulldozing, we unleash the fury, to release our internal anger and (consciously or unconsciously) inflict that pain on others. Following this path, we often lose the opportunity for connection and intimacy with others, as most will naturally recoil in the face of this.

2. SHUT DOWN / SHUT OUT

“I can’t handle this, so I’m out.” This has been my lifetime go-to – a “compassionate bypass”, masquerading as simple compassion. Towards others, this usually looked like shutting-down and appeasing. Towards myself, it looked like not actually feeling anger, only sadness. When we shut down, dousing the flames of anger with water, we often lose a connection to what we care about along with the capacity to be with pain in ourselves and others.

3. SEETHE / CORRODE

“Happy on the outside, pissed on the inside.” This is where the feelings of anger remain active, but pushed down beneath the surface to fester. Often, this anger burns within our system, creating physical pain within the body. With no healthy outlet, we lose the ability to find a way to express or find a path forward.

While these expressions look very different, at the core they are the same thing:

A REJECTION OF, AND THEREFORE AN INABILITY TO BE WITH, ANGER.

When we don’t welcome, honor, and learn to work with anger in healthy ways, discovering the pain and desire beneath it all, we lose so much:

We lose connection with others.

We lose connection with ourselves.

We lose connection to deeper pain, desire, and wisdom.

We lose access to healing and integration.

When we can’t find a healthy way to be with an emotion within ourselves, we simply can’t hold space for that emotion in others, stunting our leadership. @AskNisha (Click to Tweet!)

I grew up in Hinduism, and in our tradition, we have a goddess name Kali Ma. She is known as the creator-preserver-destroyer, often seen holding the severed heads of men.

Kali is often misperceived to be an angry, ruthless killer, but she is not. She is not a vengeful serial-killer, but a representation of fierce, motherly love. She is the destroyer of attachments and illusions. She is a fierce stand for truth – in other words, she is a fierce stand for love.

When we recognize that the fire of anger is passion – the potent combination of pain and desire – we have the opportunity to find compassion for that anger and discover the capacity to open our hearts and listen when we face it in ourselves and others.

MAKING SPACE FOR ANGER WITHOUT GETTING LOST IN IT:

1. DIGNIFY THE ANGER

Dignifying anger does not mean accepting the actions taken out of anger. When we stop vilifying the anger itself as bad/wrong/ugly, embracing it for the potent combination of pain and desire that it is, we make way for healthy expressions of it. Because as long as the emotion we call anger is perceived as “bad”, it has nowhere to go but the realm of shame, where it sneaks out and wreaks havoc.

2. EXPRESS THE RAW EMOTION IN A HEALTHY WAY

Rather than unleashing our anger on others or having it fester within ourselves, we must learn how to express our anger in healthy ways, allowing the energy to move in our bodies. Take space to go have a temper tantrum and punch a pillow, wail at the moon, or vent to a friend who isn’t going to simply corroborate with your story, but instead hold space for the raw emotion.

Being a stand for anger to express in healthy ways also means encouraging others to do the same: This means creating clear boundaries around violence. We can dignify anger and remain open-hearted, without allowing ourselves or others to be physical or emotional punching bags.

3. USE THE ANGER AS A PORTAL TO THE PAIN AND DESIRE

When we stop at anger, rather than using it as a portal to go deeper – beneath the story – we lose the opportunity to feel the pain and desire behind it all. This mires us in the story and calcifies the anger, preventing us from discovering a path forward. Again, this isn’t about making the anger wrong – it’s about dignifying it, then going deeper to dignify what’s beneath it, so we can move forward with clarity and purpose.

Example 1:

“I’m so pissed, and if she really cared about me, she wouldn’t say that. She obviously doesn’t respect me whatsoever.”

The pain and desire beneath it:

“I’m hurt. This reminds me of that time with my mom when I was a kid, and I’m feeling the same way now that I did them. I feel so sad. I want to feel connected to my friend.”

Example 2:

“This presidential candidate is an absolute jerk! If they win, this country is going to hell in a handbasket, but at least we’ll take them with us, because that’s where they deserve to rot.”

The pain and desire beneath it:

“It pains me SO MUCH that this is the level of conversation we’re having in our presidential election. It hurts. I want us to do so much better. I want us to elect people who uphold the values I hold dear, and I will stand for that.”

4. LEAN INTO CONNECTION & TAKE ACTION

The path to healing is the allowing the anger and underlying pain and desire to first and foremost be deeply felt within ourselves. To embrace them and welcome them in, serve them a bowl of soup and a warm hug. From there, we can share that pain and desire with others, and take action around the things we care about, creating movement forward.

When we increase our capacity to be with anger within ourselves and others, we stand deeper in our leadership.

With passion.

With vision.

With courage.

With receptivity.

With humility.

With grace.

Thank goodness my pregnancy brought all that repressed anger up in me, so I could integrate it and learn how to hold space for this potent emotion in my child, in myself, and in the world, and harness the passion to contribute to the change I want to see in the world.

Nisha Moodley is a Women’s Leadership Coach and the creator of Fierce Fabulous Free, The Freedom Mastermind & The Virtual Sisterhood. Inspired by the belief that the world will be set free by women who are free & sisterhood is key to a woman’s freedom, Nisha creates communities of ambitious women to support them in redesigning their lives & businesses. Find her online at NishaMoodley.com and download her free Take Flight Action Guide to explore the next expansion of your freedom at TakeFlightActionGuide.com. You can follow Nisha on Twitter or FB.

Image courtesy of Melanie Wasser.

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Family, hope and resilience on the migrant trail | Jon Lowenstein

For the past 20 years, photographer and TED Fellow Jon Lowenstein has documented the migrant journey from Latin America to the United States, one of the largest transnational migrations in world history. Sharing photos from his decade-long project "Shadow Lives USA," Lowenstein takes us into the inner worlds of the families escaping poverty and violence in Central America — and pieces together the complex reasons people leave their homes in search of a better life.
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