Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Spirituality

“What Is My Gift?” The Question that Unlocks Your Place in the World

“Don’t die with your music still in you.” ~ Wayne Dyer

What makes you different from other people? What’s that one special thing you bring to the table that no one can do like you do? Surprisingly, these two questions can even leave highly successful people speechless. We have so much trouble assessing ourselves, knowing ourselves. But if you’re brave enough to do the work, the answer to the question, “What is my gift” will give you unending confidence and will reinvigorate your thirst for life.  

Your gift is not a talent or the skillset you’ve acquired. It’s the thing that you’re intrinsically good at without any effort on your part. You display it at work and on vacation, whether you’re alone or with someone. It’s fueled by your deepest passion and nurtured by your highest purpose. It could be how you can:

  • Stir the pot so people bring their best to the table in new and creative ways.
  • Make sense of a situation or data and know what the next step is.
  • Mediate and resolve any conflict.
  • Sing like a rock star.
  • Make people laugh.
  • Get things done.
  • Show empathy.

Why does it matter that you answer the question, what is my gift? You can certainly live by mindlessly going through the motions, being a cog in someone else’s wheel. But if you want to live an extraordinary life, you’ll find your gift.

To find your gift, you’ll first want to know what’s keeping you from identifying it.

What are your roadblocks to answering: What is my gift? Here are some common ones…

I’m so ordinary I couldn’t possibly have a special gift. Let’s nip this one in the bud right now! There has never been, nor will there ever be, another YOU. You are a unique combination of genetics, environmental influences, hopes, dreams and desires. Someone else may do what you do, but they’ll never do it like you do.

Teachers, parents, or bosses, make me feel less than and unworthy. Not everyone lives in a nurturing environment. When your unique gift isn’t acknowledged or is worse, belittled, you can learn to minimize its value or lose sight of it altogether. Don’t let their shortsightedness rob you of the power that comes with finding and sharing your gift. Do it for you and for those around you.
 

I don’t want the spotlight on me. It may feel more comfortable in the shadows. By staying small, you may think you’re honoring others, so they stay in the spotlight. But in reality, you’re selfishly withholding from them something that could make them even better. Your gift plus their gift can create a synergy that creates something neither of you can do individually.

Get the focus off of yourself and what others might think of you, and on to the positive outcome you can make. Even if you fear success because you don’t think you deserve it or you’re not ready for it, remember what Maryanne Williamson said,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’”

I don’t want to be too pushy. It’s good to recognize that others should be allowed to shine, but don’t think that means you can’t shine too! The key is to learn better communication skills so you can express your gift in an authentic and totally comfortable way, while, at the same time, accepting the gifts of others.

I don’t want to get involved. Taking responsibility for and using your gift mindfully takes guts. Yes, it’s easier to procrastinate and let others take over while you wait for the perfect time to shine. Life is short and unpredictable. Do you really want to be that person always standing on the outside looking in and who says, “I wish I would have…”

Not only is it important to know your own gift, but we can help others discover their gifts too!  If you’d like to learn how, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We’ll explore how you can bring your gift forth in a more fulfilling and meaningful way.

9 Powerful Reasons Why Work Rituals Deserve a Place in Your Business

Work rituals are a strategy you can use to achieve excellence time after time. How? They carve out a special moment in time for a specific, desired outcome…“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” ~ Colin Powell

Are work rituals the same as work routines or work habits? Yes…and no.

We perform a ritual over and over again like a routine or habit, but we attach more importance and significance to a ritual. It elevates something mundane and transports it into something deeply motivating, because of the meaning we attach to it. It becomes something special, something that inspires us with wonder and power. Our rituals are symbolic actions performed at key moments to help us connect all our Parts into one deeply motivated being.

When you add work rituals to the workplace, you carve out a special moment in time for a specific outcome you desire. As food for thought, here are 9 reasons why work rituals matter…

  1. Work rituals foster a sense of shared purpose and experience.
  2. Work rituals help people feel more deeply involved in a project.
  3. People who have work rituals deal with anxiety and disappointment better.
  4. Work rituals engender a sense of control.
  5. Work rituals make celebrating successes memorable and more motivating.
  6. Work rituals welcome new employees in a special way.
  7. Work rituals create team spirit.
  8. Work rituals de-personalize mistakes and facilitate discussions about lessons learned.
  9. Work rituals reinforce positive self-talk that you’re disciplined and focused.

We all have routines that we can change into rituals by performing them more mindfully. In the workplace, it’s important to understanding your body’s natural ebb and flow of energy and craft work routines that tap into the time when you’re most focused and powerful.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose as your ritual — wearing your “lucky” shoes, stretching, breathing, exercising, taking a coffee break, stepping outside the building, looking out the window, mentally closing a file… What’s important is that it symbolizes that you’re doing one of two things: 1) You’re making the task in front of you special or 2) You’re using the ritual to close out one task to free you up to move on to the next.

As an example, imagine the executive who wears a favorite jacket to each of her speaking engagements. In and of itself, that jacket doesn’t have some magical power, but when she puts it on, she’s gearing herself for success, because her brain recognizes the pattern: wear this jacket, feel confident, and smash the presentation! And she does every time!

Don’t be afraid to create your own work ritual, no matter how unusual. You don’t have to even tell anyone you’re doing it.  Would you like to formulate some more personalized ways to achieve business excellence? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We’ll brainstorm the perfect solution for you!

Heal Yourself by Connecting to Your Body’s Wisdom (Plus a Podcast Interview)

How to Heal Yourself from Within “Change is the end result of all true learning.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Will you be disappointed, if the next time you’re sick, you go to the doctor’s office and you aren’t given a prescription for medication? Sadly, we live in a culture that, when we feel bad, we want to get instant results from popping a pill. While there’s a place for medication, much of today’s ills are a result of the lifestyle we live, whether by choice or circumstance. The good news is that you can learn to heal yourself of many of the emotional, spiritual and physical ills that today’s stressful society puts upon you.

If you want to heal yourself, you have to be willing to do the work, because no one can do it for you. It’s up to you to learn what foods are nutritious and good for your body; what exercise is fun and sustainable for you; what information feeds and builds up your mind and spirit. When you learn to connect with your own body’s inner wisdom, you’ll be able to support a lasting healing process from within.

Healing is deeply connected with learning.

Recently, I was interviewed by Rachel Stewart on her Pieces of Grit Podcast, and I shared with her why I love Somatic Coaching. It’s a coaching philosophy that moves the sectors of learning out of the head and into the whole body, which allows you to connect with something bigger than yourself, something spiritual. (You can listen to this lovely interview with Rachel Stewart on iTunes or on Rachel’s Website, or on her Pieces of Grit Library website.)

Never before in history have we had so much information available to us. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people saying, “this is the right way to live” or “that’s the wrong way to live”. However, because you are the only one who will live your life, I believe it’s up to you to choose your individual path, which makes you feel whole and healthy.

The reality is that people today, women especially, have been socialized to be less than what we are capable of being. We’re so much a product of our background and family experience, which may put unnecessary limits on us. Past traumatic events shape behavioral patterns and physiological reactions that we accept as normal, but our bodies show us how they’re damaging us instead.

When you choose to take in the right information for yourself, you can begin to heal. The more you learn the more you heal. The learning and healing journey are unique to each person. Don’t be afraid of it. I encourage you to embrace it as a way of growing.

Healing yourself involves learning to interpret what you’re given. All of the feedback you get from “your circle of influence” or “your tribe” gives you insight and fuel that gets you to the next stage in your development as a human being.

I like to think of our daily choices in terms of adjusting our dials.

We have different dials – family life, career, physical well-being, spirituality, recreation, etc. For example, some days we dial up career activities, while dialing down recreation; other days we dial down career and dial up family or exercise. Learn to suspend judgment as you mindfully create greater awareness of the dials that are important to you. (My free 7-Point Wellness Assessment is a great tool for doing this.) Then you can use any feedback you get, as a means of gauging if your dials are adjusted properly for the present moment.

Learn to relate to the people around you and your environment with curiosity, an open mind and healthy action, instead of a self-limiting emotional reaction. Would you like to become more mindfully aware of how to identify and interpret emotions and body sensations, so you can adapt or respond in more positive ways? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Each step toward making positive choices is a way of learning how to heal yourself from within.

What Is Spirituality? Learn to Connect with Something Bigger than You

What is spirituality? It’s not easy to define. However, all spiritual experiences include a sense of connection to something bigger than self and a deep feeling of being more alive, more purposeful.

“How do we nurture the soul? By revering our own life. By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.” —Nathaniel Branden

In order for us to fully enjoy life, all aspects of life must be in balance. Mind, body and spirit have to be in harmony with each other. Focusing on only the material and neglecting the spiritual leaves people feeling empty and dissatisfied. People are trying to “find themselves”, because they sense that something important is missing. That something is, more often than not, spirituality.

What is spirituality? How do you know if you’re a spiritual person? The quest for spirituality is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have a need for it, although some are more aware about it than others, and we choose to fill that need in different ways. Some people define spirituality as attending religious services, enjoying time in nature, praying, or meditating to mention only a few. And the interesting thing is that your definition may drastically change over time.

Something that all spiritual experiences have in common is that it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than self. Being connected to it creates a deep feeling of being more alive and more purposeful.

Many of the practices that help you cultivate spirituality are the same ones that help you improve emotional well-being. While emotions and spirituality are distinct, they form a self-perpetuating circle. Spirituality leads to emotions such as peace of mind, awe, gratitude, and acceptance, which broaden your ability to recognize and connect with that which is larger than yourself.

 

How to integrate the material with the spiritual

It’s essential that you don’t entrust your spiritual journey to anyone else. They simply can’t do it for you. Here are some ways to greater spirituality…

Find your purpose. When you discover meaning in life, you find a path that’s aligned with something bigger than your health, possessions or beliefs.

Create connection. To feel complete, we crave to receive and give unconditional love and acceptance from family, friends, and the Universe. I love how Guy Finley explains it, “Nothing glows brighter than the heart awakened to the light of love that lives within it.” 

Continue growing as a person. When we stop growing, we die inside and give up. You feel more alive when you work to improve, push boundaries and reach your full potential.

Answer the big questions in life. It’s normal to want to understand how life works and how you fit in, so you probably have asked, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”

Seek inner peace. Spirituality helps you gain balance independent of external experiences in a way that creates greater appreciation for life.

Transcend above the every day. You’re feeding your spirit when you want something better than the present human condition; you seek meaning in suffering and an enlightened way of life that rises above the pettiness around you.

Explore life’s mysteries. These moments of discovery fill you with awe, a sense of wonder and feel sacred. You clearly see your small place in the Universe.

Be of service. Your spirit is revived when you make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Which one of these quests drives your search for spirituality? Not all of them will resonate with you, so this will dictate the path and practices you choose to follow.

I’ve been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown’s books lately. She defines spirituality as:

“Recognizing and celebrating that we are inextricably connected with one another by a power greater than all of us and that that connection to that power and one another is grounded in love and belonging.”

When I heard this definition I thought, “This is the first definition of spirituality that sincerely makes sense!” I think of being spiritual as being connected to our true SPIRIT, which includes the reasons why we’re here; why we do what we do; and why we have the experiences we have. It all becomes part of a human perfection. When we embark on our journey of discovery, the process itself becomes a spiritual journey. We have the opportunity to rise above pain, hurts and our own fallacies as humans and connect on a level beyond what our brains can understand, where our own stories finally make more sense.

If you’d like to take your spiritual journey to greater depths, I’d love to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event. Nando and I will help you explore YOUR spiritual path in a safe and supportive environment.

Do You Love Yourself Enough? Here are 25 Signs You Don’t…

Here are 25 signs that you may not love yourself enough, which is foundational for building a happy, successful life filled with close relationships and joyAs a preteen, did you ever use a daisy to predict if a boy liked you? As you plucked a petal you said, “He loves me.” Then, for the next petal, “He loves me not.”

Kind of sweet but silly, wasn’t it?

Looking back, I think it would have served us better to focus on whether, “I love me or I love me not.” That’s the real foundation for how we live our lives. And it’s often something we don’t get entirely right because of what life throws at us.

Self-love is knowing and accepting that you deserve as much love and affection as anyone else on earth. It means taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with kindness. Sad to say, many people don’t treat themselves very well.

However, it’s vital that you love yourself enough. No it’s not selfish or narcissistic or egotistical! If you don’t love yourself, you won’t respect, value or honor yourself. You won’t be happy. Why? Because if you don’t love yourself, what’s the alternative? Indifference. Self-hate. Self-loathing.

If you don’t love yourself, you won’t take proper care of yourself or be happy. This may manifest itself in the following ways:

  1. You feel bad about taking time for yourself.
  2. You tell yourself you’re not good, pretty or smart enough.
  3. You apologize continually for things that don’t need an apology.
  4. You put everyone else first at the expense of your own needs and wants.
  5. You compare yourself unfavorably to others.
  6. You need permission to make self-care a priority.
  7. You feel guilty about spending money on fun things.
  8. You pack your schedule so full because you can’t stand quiet.
  9. You have no idea what your purpose is or what sets your soul on fire.
  10. You need to know what others decide before you make a decision.
  11. You beat yourself up for past failings.
  12. You think you have no gifts or talents or you play them down.
  13. You’re self-critical, only seeing your flaws and feeling unworthy.
  14. You lack self-confidence, so you never try anything that feels risky.
  15. You find it very difficult to stand up for yourself.
  16. You avoid introspection and soul searching.
  17. You blame circumstances or someone else, never seeing your contribution to a problem.
  18. You often say, “I can’t”.
  19. You need others to validate you – “I’m nothing if he doesn’t approve of me”.
  20. You hide your feelings and thoughts so people don’t know the “real” you.
  21. You feel like you’re just existing and getting by.
  22. You keep punishing yourself over the past.
  23. You neglect your health and appearance.
  24. You quit learning and improving because you think, “What’s the use?”
  25. You can’t trust your gut or intuition as you second-guess yourself.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but you may see the tendency toward viewing yourself negatively. Even well-adjusted persons may experience a twinge or two as they read it. We all have a past that follows us in adulthood. We’re all a work in process.

If you’re not treating yourself with the love you deserve, I’d love to help you discover practical ways for achieving greater self-awareness and self-love. I know how scary this can be, but we can do this together. I’ll be sharing some ways to get started in my next blog post.

Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’m looking forward to speaking with you soon.

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