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Let Your Heart be Your Guide


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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
–Antoine de St. Exupery

A tuning fork is a small tool that is used to tune musical instruments. It is tapped softly and then set down. As it vibrates, it gives off a musical tone. When its vibrations perfectly match the vibrations of the note played on the instrument, the instrument is in tune. When the note matches the tuning fork, this can be both felt and heard.

Our hearts work like a tuning fork. When the heart feels completely in tune with a decision or thought or action in our lives, then we know it is the right one for us. We can actually feel the harmony inside our bodies.

Sometimes what we know deep in our hearts gets clouded over by doubts and questions and other people’s opinions and judgments. We need to clear away such clouds and listen to our hearts, for our hearts carry the wisdom of God.

Am I in tune with my heart today?

Today’s Gift © 1985, 1991 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the permission of Hazelden.

The God Box


Positive Mornings

Author: Lori Carter

I can’t really remember where the idea came from, but it works. It’s called the God box and I started making them with instructions and giving them as gifts. It is really simple to do and you will be surprised at the results.

It goes along with “give it to God”. When you have a special prayer about something you cannot solve or take care of yourself, you give it God and wait on his answer. He always answers in what is the best way, even if we don’t see it as the answer we want.

I have used the God box several times in my life, and it works. It is symbolic of releasing those things to God that only he can take care of. Humans have a bad habit of giving something to God, and then later on taking it back to try and solve…

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overcoming fear


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Overcoming Fear of Failure

Facing Fears and Moving Forward

When I was a kid I was afraid of monsters in my closet and under my bed. I know I am not alone. I have never been one of those naturally brave types, but I know I have a type of insight that makes up for it. I remember when I was about 9 or 10, I realized that if I could not stop worrying about what might be lurking in the dark, I could use my vivid imagination to change other elements of the narrative.

I decided that I would make friends with the vampires and all other scary monsters that lived in my closet and under my bed. If I couldn’t imagine them away, I could imagine they were there to protect me from monsters that might be lurking in the hallway. (This was way before Monsters, Inc.) At that moment I permanently overcame my fear of the dark.

Almost thirty years later, I only realized yesterday that I could use the same method to overcome my fears as an adult. Most of them are about as tangible as those monsters in my closet.

Fear can be immobilizing – it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore resist moving forward. But when we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.

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Like most other people, I am have a few things I worry about. (Adults often call it worry when they have an aversion to the word “fear”). In this post I would like to discuss a common fear adults experience: the fear of failure. This has been a particularly personal issue for me in the last few months.

Causes of Fear of Failure

To find the causes of fear of failure, we first need to understand what “failure” actually means.

We all have different definitions of failure, simply because we all have different benchmarks, values, and belief systems. A failure to one person might simply be a great learning experience for someone else.

Many of us are afraid of failing, at least some of the time. But fear of failure (also called “atychiphobia”) is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.

Fear of failure can be linked to many causes. For instance, having critical or unsupportive parents is a cause for some people. Because they were routinely undermined or humiliated in childhood, they carry those negative feelings into adulthood.

Experiencing a traumatic event at some point in your life can also be a cause. For example, say that several years ago you gave an important presentation in front of a large group, and you did very poorly. The experience might have been so terrible that you developed a fear of failure about other things. And you carry that fear even now, years later.

Signs of Fear of Failure

You might experience some of these symptoms if you have a fear of failure:

*A reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects.
*Self-sabotage – for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
*Low self-esteem or self-confidence – Commonly using negative statements such as “I’ll never be good enough to get that promotion,” or “I’m not smart enough to get on that team.”
*Perfectionism – A willingness to try only those things that you know you’ll finish perfectly and successfully.

“Failure” – A Matter of Perspective

It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. People who do so probably live so cautiously that they go nowhere. Put simply, they’re not really living at all.

The wonderful thing about failure is that it’s entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.

We can choose to see failure as “the end of the world,” or as proof of just how inadequate we are. Or, we can look at failure as the incredible learning experience that it often is. Every time we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we’re meant to learn. These lessons are very important; they’re how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. Failures stop us only if we let them.

It’s easy to find successful people who have experienced failure. For example:

*Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill.
*Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
*Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, is a high school dropout.

Most of us will stumble and fall in life. Doors will get slammed in our faces, and we might make some bad decisions. But imagine if Michael Jordan had given up on his dream to play basketball when he was cut from that team. Imagine if Richard Branson had listened to the people who told him he’d never do anything worthwhile without a high school diploma.

Think of the opportunities you’ll miss if you let your failures stop you.

Failure can also teach us things about ourselves that we would never have learned otherwise. For instance, failure can help you discover how strong a person you are. Failing at something can help you discover your truest friends, or help you find unexpected motivation to succeed.

Often, valuable insights come only after a failure. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life.

Overcoming a Fear of Failure

It’s important to realize that in everything we do, there’s always a chance that we’ll fail. Facing that chance, and embracing it, is not only courageous – it also gives us a fuller, more rewarding life.

However, here are a few ways to reduce the fear of failing:

*Analyze all potential outcomes – Many people experience fear of failure because they fear the unknown. Remove that fear by considering all of the potential outcomes of your decision.
*Learn to think more positively – Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful way to build self-confidence and neutralize self-sabotage.
*Look at the worse-case scenario – In some cases, the worst case scenario may be genuinely disastrous, and it may be perfectly rational to fear failure. In other cases, however, this worst case may actually not be that bad, and recognizing this can help.
*Have a contingency plan – If you’re afraid of failing at something, having a “Plan B” in place can help you feel more confident about moving forward.

Using Goal Setting

If you have a fear of failure, you might be uncomfortable setting goals . But goals help us define where we want to go in life. Without goals, we have no sure destination.

Many experts recommend visualization as a powerful tool for goal setting. Imagining how life will be after you’ve reached your goal is a great motivator to keep you moving forward. However, visualization might produce the opposite results in people who have a fear of failure. If you are like me, visualizing your goals, or even setting them, can increase anxiety and draw us back into our shells.

So, what can you do instead?

Start by setting a few small goals. These should be goals that are slightly, but not overwhelmingly, challenging. Think of these goals as “early wins” that are designed to help boost your confidence.

For example, if you’ve been too afraid to talk to the new department head (who has the power to give you the promotion you want), then make that your first goal. Plan to stop by her office during the next week to introduce yourself.

Or, imagine that you’ve dreamed of returning to school to get your MBA, but you’re convinced that you’re not smart enough to be accepted into business school. Set a goal to talk with a school counselor or admissions officer to see what’s required for admission.

Try to make your goals tiny steps on the route to much bigger goals. Don’t focus on the end picture: getting the promotion, or graduating with an MBA. Just focus on the next step: introducing yourself to the department head, and talking to an admissions officer. That’s it.

Taking one small step at a time will help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal.

I have made it my goal to talk about my own fears on this blog until I overcome them personally. More to come. Here are a few more tips for getting over fear.

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opportunities and flocks


“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”
― Wayne W. Dyer

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I’m slipping when I begin to dislike the company and conversation of the Program.
–Anonymous

There is a reason why a lamb gets separated from a flock. The flock will be eating on a particular pasture and a lamb will take a fancy to graze just off to the edge of the field. So the lamb takes a little nibble of this grass. Then he moves just ever so slightly further from the edge and takes another little nibble, then just a bit further and another nibble.

Each little nibble of grass takes the lamb further and further from the flock. After awhile, having eaten enough grass, the lamb pokes his head up and notices that the flock has left him. B-A-A-A-A-A! The lamb wails. How could his flock have left him?

I will begin slipping when I stop paying attention to my flock. My group will not leave me: I will leave my group. I will leave like the lamb, just one conversation, and one meeting at a time. After awhile I, too, could end up wailing for help just like the little lamb.
(Easy Does It © 1999 by Hazelden Foundation.)