If You Are Tempted To Give Unsolicited Advice, Please Read This First

When you are someone who deeply cares about people and the world, you are bound to have opinions about how things can be better, what would make a bigger impact or how to achieve the best outcome.  If you are smart, involved and invested, you likely have opinions. Most people who never give advice are not necessarily kinder people, but often resigned that there is anything they can say that really matters or they simply don’t care.  If you want to tell people things, you are most likely passionate.  I truly respect that and it’s actually why I shifted the way I now hear other people’s advice even when I know I didn’t ask for it.

Regardless of our passion and best intentions though, it makes no sense to spend any of our time and energy if it was going to land in a black hole, or even worse, if we  are going to be misunderstood and possibly attacked for it.  It is, therefore, so important to step back and think twice before we say something.  There is a saying in my culture that roughly translates as: “measure many times, but cut only once.”  I would say, think it over many times before you actually speak, or communicate, what you want to say.

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I believe that, regardless of our good intentions, it is our job to assure that what we are wanting to say is not only said as clearly as we could possibly say it, but is not falling on deaf ears and is actually making a difference for the person we are speaking to. The most important first step is: Understand why you want to say what you are saying, look for the agenda you may have, resolve for yourself that your communication is not merely a reaction to something that happened to you, or a response to something that isn’t happening now.  If you really look at this, often times you may realize that you are reacting to something and it will make it less important for you to speak to the person you originally wanted to give an advice to. You may realize, this is your own inner insecurity and something that isn’t so much about what you are to tell others but what you need to resolve with yourself.

I attended many transformational programs in my attempt to better understand myself and others.  In one of my first seminars, during the conversations about selling the next program, I raised my hand to acknowledge the current seminar team (volunteers). The leader asked me if I was open to having a breakthrough. When I accepted, she asked: “what had you raise your hand exactly during the sales conversation and not a moment sooner?”  Initially, I really thought that this was on my mind an entire evening, but she insisted that there was no accident I interrupted the sales conversation and not a moment earlier.  My eyes teared up as I realized, I was ashamed that I couldn’t afford to take the next program and was considering volunteering as it would provide me with the training and I wouldn’t have to pay.  Suddenly, an entire group of 80+ participant was moved by my transparency.  Those who could afford to go on were moved by my courage and those that couldn’t now new the way to continue their journey of transformation even though they didn’t have the money to pay for it.

In short, I made a difference. In my case, what I had to say was uncovered with a support of a very trained seminar leader.  We don’t always have that luxury, but it is always wise to think through what we want to say and why we are actually saying it.

Even when we are clear that we really have something to say, it is never OK to just “dump” our view on someone else without first asking their permission.  Dumping is simply inappropriate, but asking permission to say something allows the other person to set themselves up and be ready to hear what we have to say.  This doesn’t guarantee they will like it, most people just want to avoid looking bad at all cost so they won’t take feedback well at all.  However, being granted permission usually prevents people from getting  very defensive, and we have a fair shot at being heard.

After having the kids, I noticed my husband would get defensive when I made suggestions to him.  Luckily, we talked about it openly and he told me that he didn’t get defensive because he disagreed with me, but because of how and when I brought it up.    In moments when my husband was pressed with time and already feeling like he was failing, when I made suggestion, it sounded to him more like a complaint than constructive criticism and he wouldn’t take it well.  In addition, he often saw it as lack of gratitude and appreciation for all the things that he actually was doing and doing well.  This now has me work harder on finding a way to still speak my truth instead of forcing it down when it is convenient for me.  I also do my best to include my gratitude before I was talking say anything and this has really improved our relationship.

Lastly, we want to ask, is what we are saying really making a difference to that person?  I often feel like downloading my advice in comment section on social media and especially when people already openly ask for advice.  But here is a question I ask:  what is a difference we are trying to make and frankly, why are we giving it away for free? Most people are not going around wanting to give free advice to people who are in desperate need for it.  We are far more likely to want to say something to people we feel are doing well otherwise, it’s just this one thing that we feel we can add.  It often comes from us wanting to sound smart and be seen as someone qualified rather than an actual commitment to making a difference.  This is why, lately, every time I have an urge to give unsolicited advice, I write my own post about it and post on my Facebook, Instagram, or in this blog.  At least this way, I am honest with the difference I want to make:  I want to be seen and heard for the wisdom I share with people.  It takes discipline, but it’s far more satisfying at the end.

When it comes to unsolicited advice, there are rare occasions when the urge to communicate is stronger than everything I mentioned above.  I believe in exceptions though.  There are times and situations where we know the other person can’t even see that something that we have so much knowledge about and because that is a blind spot for them.  If the damage of the other person not seeing something is high, we may take a risk and say something anyway.  But if we are to do that, we have to address the elephant in a room, and call it what it is.  It may sound as simple as: “I know this is the advice you never asked for, but my knowing X makes me want to say Y so strongly and I hope you can consider it as I am really wanting to make a difference as wish someone have done it with me.”

At the end of the day, the truth is,  nobody really has to listen to our musings.  As wise and important as we may think we are, I believe people have freedom to live their life the best way they know how and have no obligation to hear us out.  If we remember that, I think we can nail the best thing to do most of the time.

 

 

How To Make Effective Requests

I learned this from one of the best coaches I had: “if your life doesn’t work, it’s because you suck at making requests.”  Little did I know though, I had so much to learn in how to make effective requests of people, ask in a way that honors them, myself and creates opportunity.

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Here is what NOT to do:

Pretend that what you are asking for is not a big deal for the other person

  • Nobody wants to be undermined for the effort that it takes to do something for another human being.  People often assume things are easy for others but this is not only untrue, even if it was true, it doesn’t mean we want to give away our time and effort to others just because

Give a lot of background story and explanation instead of asking for things straight

  • Nothing is as annoying than seeing someone’s elaborate intro that makes you feel like a request is coming but your time is being wasted by so much backstory you really don’t want to know about and not because you are a bad person but because you know: this person is not sharing to share, they are preparing for what’s to come: asking for a favor.  I am much more inclined to help the straight shooters because I feel that they own that they need help, they don’t waste my time in the process and then it’s easy for me to respond not feeling like I have already invested more than I bargained for in listening to the long story.  The only thing long story often does is guilts us into helping instead of helping us choose to help

Be resistant to hearing a NO

  • Most of us don’t like hearing a NO.  It is, however, everyone’s right to help us or not, so not giving them space to choose freely is a form of manipulation that doesn’t feel good.  Things like: “I am sorry I asked” and alike after you decline someone’s request are one of the worse experiences ever because they make us feel that we are only respected and honored when we say YES.  We are not really given that choice.

Being entitled to being helped

  • I once heard someone complain about her expenses blaming this person she knew who was wealthy for not stepping in to help her.  Couple of things are a problem here, one of them being: just because someone else has more, it doesn’t mean they have to give what they have away to people who don’t. In my experience, people that often seem like they are well off, are really not, their expenses may be higher or they work hard to have it so they can afford something else, not so they can give it to people who don’t make the same effort.  So entitlement is just no sexy, no matter where it’s coming from

Now, here is how to make an EFFECTIVE REQUEST:

  1. Work out all the reasons you deserve to be supported.  How can you justify this being given to you so that you can own it instead of having to dump it on others.  Deserving is a way of being, not a long story you tell, so it is up to you to do create this first
  2. Honor that another’s person consideration is valuable and enough.  Give people an experience that their time matters and ask with that in mind
  3. Honor people with clear request, don’t have them fish around for what you mean.  This allows people to easily determine if they can help or not
  4. Be mindful to express that whatever the answer, you will love them anyway; meaning, give people full permission to answer freely knowing that you will be ok regardless
  5. See what you can give return or at least think about how this can be an opportunity for the other person instead of just something you gain.  Everything balances in the Universe and affects one another so being able to see what the other person can gain (even if it’s just a satisfaction of helping you or seeing you humbled) is appreciated

Then and only then make your request.  We need to ask, we need to practice this and we are bound to make mistakes, but this will help guide us when we do so that we don’t hold a grudge against people who say NO but rather reset and continue trying.

We can’t do it alone and nobody owes us.  If we can allow these two statements to live inside of us, we are bound to make effective requests and honor people with them such that their answer, no matter what it is, can be a WIN/WIN situation for all.

Clean Slate

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Doesn’t it feel sometimes like life is coming at us at the speed of light?  So much information out there, so much to process, review, consider, choose from.  Which way should one go?

I constantly work on taking some time to myself to decide what matters and what I want to focus on because then I have to power to scan opportunities for what is in sync with what I said I wanted.  Not having done this work leaves me vulnerable to bombarding of information that happens all the time.  This isn’t wrong, we are all competing in this world for attention and a chance to have a voice about something, to leave an impact.  I just have it that it will only get louder so it is my job to create safe spaces where I can be with myself, access the divine within me and then act from there.

Often times people argue that we should just let ourselves be, go with the flow, respond to things in life as they come.  This is their right.  It doesn’t work for me though.  Just couple of weeks ago in a parenting class, I heard that one of the constructive ways to tell a child to STOP running is to tell them to USE their walking feet.  Or instead of telling them to STOP talking or being loud to USE their whispering voice.  It would probably take me decades to come up with these positive reinforcement strategies whereas people who’ve been educators for years learn them and use them and are effective with children because of it.

Expecting of myself to just go with a flow, be unprepared, not self reflect or plan ahead is actually a huge set up for failing in life and in addition, being hard on myself for reasons that are not even justified.

Everything in life, when studied, researched and explored can be simplified and broken down into distinctions, and not to rob us of freedom but to guide us through it with more clarity, wisdom and power.

I realize, as I am getting older, there are distinctions in everything people do and can be successful at, so why not stop, reset, re-evaulate what we really care about and then take on the things we really want with all of our being, learn the distinctions and practice until we master it?

There is nobody else coming! This is it! The time is now. What do you really want that is worth stepping back, learning about and giving your life to?

 

 

It’s never too late …

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”   George Eliot

I went to see a healer a few weeks back, it was a friend’s recommendation and a treat, so I couldn’t refuse.  I can’t say much about it because some of it was fairly confusing and I’d rather let it sit, but he did say something to me that keeps replaying in my mind over and over again.  He said (or rather channeled), that I will become even more successful when I acknowledge and appreciate all the successes I already have in my life.

I’m not a pessimist by nature, at all, but if you listen to me talk sometimes, you would think I could be, because I would often point my gaze in the direction of things that aren’t working yet, rather than look at all the miraculous things that do.  I often do this simply because I want to be acknowledged once and for all for everything I do.  This was missing in my childhood; it is a father who opens the door for a daughter’s success and breaks her away from mother’s nurturing and in my case, he wasn’t around.  This deep wound had followed me like a shadow always whispering softly: “you are not enough.”  While I am among the rare aware ones that can acknowledge it and get passed it, the wound is really there and sure as heck it had an impact.

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If you are in late 30’s, about to hit 40 like me, or already in your 40s or even 50s, you must deal with some version of: “it’s beginning to be too late for me to do some things.”  I swear, when I was pregnant, both with my first one at the age of 35 and the second one at the age of 37, I felt that my body would never be the same, that I would never be able to move it as quickly and as gracefully as I could before.  I felt that my breast would forever stay huge and I’d never fit any of my silky tops that I always liked to wear.  In fact, I gave most of them away.  I am not kidding when I say that when my younger one was at the hospital at birth and I listened to lactation consultant (instead of my own motherly instinct) to pump every three hours, and at some point my breasts were a size of watermelon.  I felt so strongly like stabbing them with something to release an enormous pressure of breasts too full with milk.  Thankfully, I’ve already done this once at that point so I knew all the tricks, pain killers, cabbage wraps and hot water hand expressing.  (It’s ok, you probably only get this if you were a breastfeeding mamma.)

To get to the point, so many things in my life seemed like they just timed out.  I could write a longer list of things no longer possible than anything creative to counteract it.  In fact, I often visit that space even now and it’s hard to be in it.  I just know to allow my emotions to teach me instead of stepping on it and pretending that all is well.  In fact, I have spent over $20K learning about ways in which it is safe to express emotion as a woman so I can be free, so I can use it to fuel my creativity and increase my light and not dim it down.  In fact, I became a better human being altogether after, because the more I let myself be me, the less I am really concerned by what the others are doing.

And no offense, I still don’t fully enjoy or directly benefit from ton of photoshopped (and sometimes real) pictures of women expressing their freedom by being almost naked right there on the screen, wearing ton of make-up, coloring their eyebrows like they are using sharpies and reporting on every single thing they do in their day as if us, real people, really care.  I get annoyed and surprised daily that the Kim Kardashians of this world have millions of followers and I cannot get over 600 unless I literally post at least 2 times a day.  I feel deep anger when I bump into social media accounts, from FB, IG to youtube where young girls and Millennials are asking the audience what they should post about.  Really?  You want me to give you the content so that you can keep on telling me how to live my life.  I find this contradictory at best.  I almost never watch it to the end, I can’t, it provokes the part of me that is pissed off for having worked really hard for what I now have, for actually thinking things through and posting things that make a real difference for me and at least a few people who I know will read or see it.

But that anger and frustration brings me nothing good.  Sometimes I feel that having 2 small children is a perfect distraction for being sucked into the reality show world and garbage that I feel is bombarding us every day.  And while I judge all this and claim it is not really worth my time, I am also facing the reality of getting older, of having grown up without internet, cell phone, and being gifted my first computer when I was already in college.  It is hard to know this reality and not feel like it may no longer be my time, that perhaps, my posts will never attract a wider audience and my writings will never really be read by more than a few loyal readers who probably also personally know me.  Some will even feel bad for me, think that I am sharing too much, revealing things that are best kept under the radar, but that would, in my view, take me even further behind than I already feel I am.

So what can we do? what am I doing about all this? How am I fighting this reality?  I am actually not fighting it at all.  I am allowing things that come my way, that I read or am bombarded by via social media, and I allow myself to feel what I feel.  I let the anger come up, the annoyance, the sadness even.  I let it all come up so I can fully acknowledge its presence.  I grant it space, I allow it to be.  Then, I look for mirrors, for lessons, for the buttons that got pushed on me because the truth is, not one of those media posts was ever created only to annoy me personally.  And then I break it down, until I can feel the emotion release its grip on me, until I see something about myself, often not a very pretty insight, that resonates.  It is usually one of these flavors:

I am envious that someone else is doing it successfully and I am not.  I am comparing myself to them and think that I deserve better.  I feel like I have so much to say but I don’t want to be humble to acknowledge and ask for attention.  I am still living inside of the fear of what would the others say.  I don’t want to be judged.  I hate it that most of them don’t care and I do.  I don’t want to look amateur.  It’s hard to let myself be a beginner at this age… etc

Here is where I start feeling some release and even some creative energy flowing.  You see, the platforms are there and available to all of us.  What we want and who we want to be can be created now easier than ever before.  And even if one doesn’t use social media and all the things that we have at our finger tips, go do that something you always wanted to do: take a course of French, learn how to drive, take a painting lesson, go to a choir, travel to that place you always wanted to see.  Write a long list of things that you want and see which one excites you the most and go for that one.

Perhaps it’s easier said than done, but you are either playing the game of life or sitting in the stands.  I have been in both places and I know that I come alive when I am in the game.  Sure, as soon as I come back to the stands I hear all the criticism of what I just did, but so what.  For when we are in a game, nothing else matters, we are fully alive.  There is no day like today, there is no time like now.  You can be what you always dreamt of being even if you haven’t yet gathered the social proof for it.  If you do it long enough, though, I am sure you will.

With love,

Marija

The Cure for FOMO

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out) my whole entire life.  I was a single child and although my father had more children after me, neither him nor them were in my life, so I was pretty much on my own.  Everyone around me had siblings, it seemed.  Most people also lived surrounded by other kids, in buildings with neighbors, in communities where everyone played together.

I was a busy child, between music school, elementary school, language courses and numerous school activities, from choir, drama, basketball, math team, I really didn’t have so many consistent friends.  This is why to this day, people that I went to school with are some of the most intimate relationships I have.  I wasn’t lonely, by all means, but I tried so hard to be everywhere and be everything for everyone.  I tried so hard to please.

Looking back, reflecting, I have compassion for that little girl that wanted so badly to “belong” to be a part of something bigger.  I understand the yearning even now as I am approaching 40.  Yet, I think that yearning had me look for the outside sources for my own personal happiness and that’s, ultimately, what needed to be rewired.

I must say that motherhood kicked my ass.  Even when I had my first son, Adrian, I was beginning to see that I don’t have the freedom I once had.  We moved from Montreal to Florida and then back to New York City and I was constantly in search of people and communities to belong to.  When I had my second son, Marko, this is where having to stay at home, missing events my friends were going to, and having to say NO became more of a norm rather than the exception.  I was hurting inside.  It felt like I was going to be forgotten and the more I thought I’d be forgotten, the more I wanted to be visible, to share my life.

In a sense, that is what I am doing now.  I am sharing my life on Instagram, which connects to my Facebook.  I also recently revived this blog and started posting my videos on my Youtube channel.  So yes, all my actions are showing that I want to be out there, that I want to be SEEN, HEARD, KNOWN yet something deep inside shifted: this longing to not miss out on life.  I realized, my life is where I am. I created my business, my clients, my husband, my children, my home.  What I have is completely a product of what I worked for and instead of having to go out and mingle with people all the time, I am using this time to ground myself in who I am and what my life is about.

This weekend, there was an event where over 2000 women joined to celebrate what it is to be a woman and I was supposed to be a part of it.  I got sick and couldn’t let my husband, who also got sick, stay at home alone to take care of the kids.  So I cancelled and stayed “behind.”  This morning, when my husband took the kids to the park, I turned on some music and processed my sadness and feelings of missing out through my body.  I did what those women were doing in a room together (most likely anyway), but I did it at home.  It allowed me to accept myself and my life.  I truly believe that when we honor who we are and where we are in life, things can actually change.  I am not chasing that change anymore, I simply allow it. In a meantime, I am happy exactly as I am.

 

 

When the heart breaks

Sometimes things that we get to be the best at are the things we struggled the most with.  And while coaching can take one through thick and thin, there are moments when things are best left alone to just be as they are.  When I feel I tried everything I knew to do to change a situation or create a different outcome after failing at it numerous times, I turn my attention to powers above. I simply think of God or angels in my life who are no longer with me and I ask for support.   I do the ho’oponopono mantra a thousand times to just release the energy and get it down to zero.  And most of all, I allow myself a good cry for feeling helpless.  I then experience how vulnerable we are as human beings, how fragile life is and how little it matters that we be right when we don’t feel the love in our hearts.  But, when I dig deeper and let myself stop fighting with my own demons, I get that love is there, but the heart is broken and the pain is causing me to tense up and react and be super protective.  Because when the heart breaks, it aches, it hurts until it makes us numb and then we settle for less only to never feel that pain again.  The pain, on another hand, is subjective and so long as we perceive it as pain, we fail to actually experience it as the sensation that it is.   What does your heart break feel like?

Maybe, just maybe if we allow the sensation to be and give into it fully, we would not be hurt by the things we cannot change.  We would notice how having something and then not having it anymore is just part of life and we would learn to roll with the punches and adjust to different stages of life.  We would learn to give and to receive and to not take things for granted nor to expect of another anything other than what they are capable of and willing to give us.  Our life would be filled with love and gratitude and there would be peace within in spite of the storm outside.

Breathing in deeply… Allowing myself to love and feel the pain… Forgive myself, forgiving others… Giving it all to God

It is not “luck”

I woke up this morning to see that my client I coached for 7 months now, has gotten engaged.  It made me smile and it made me happy.  I giggled, because, today is Sunday and our last coaching call was on Monday and that’s when the decision got crystal clear for him.

I looked back at the miracle we created on this path of working together.  Back around New Years, I was living in Montreal and my friend (now also a client) was visiting.  I remember him hiring me because he was clear that the only area that truly worked in his life was the area of finances (and he was being coached on his finances by my husband).  So he hired me (as a performance coach) to specifically deal with other areas of his life that seemed out of balance with how well he was doing in his career.  

Over the period of half a year, he was beginning to date, to learn about women, to begin to find out what it is that makes him happy and what it is that he is actually looking for.  We went back and dealt with some patterns from the past in relationships that didn’t turn out.  And then, there was a space for something new.  He began to date.  And sure, there were bumps on the road, but we worked through them.  It was his willingness to be “coach-able” and his trust in me, and also my continual training in listening and how to provide what people want, that had us have this amazing 100% partnership in him achieving his goals.

Needless to say, prior to this Monday, his engagement was in schedule in his next 6 month milestone.  And, as I had him define his relationship goal, it all got unfolded.  He was clear already and I, as a coach, had to get out of my way to let him create his miracle.  And he did.  He decided to propose this weekend as he was already planning a beautiful surprise for his girlfriend.  She, of course, said yes.

Why am I saying this? Well, on one hand, I am very proud, as a coach and as a friend.  I am very very happy for them.  And, I wanted to share this as I know that many people walk around with an illusion that I once had again, that some of us have beautiful relationships because we are lucky or it just happened to be that way.  And I am here to say, that isn’t so.  IT IS NOT LUCK!!!! It is being willing to want something and do everything you can to have it.

Honoring my friend for being willing to want it and doing everything he needed to do to have this miracle happen in his life.