The following is an excerpt from the book:
Grow a Pair of Antlers: The Fearless Climb to Lead Your Herd
Do you remember the old cartoon that showed a trouble-making cat in his
decision-making process? He had a tiny cat image on each of his shoulders.
One had little wings and a halo. The other had red horns and a long pointy
tail. We understood, even as little kids, that the cat was making a choice
between a good and bad idea. He had two thoughts and could control which
path he took. His choice would determine the plot of the rest of the show.
You are like that cartoon cat. You also have two little “cats” on your
shoulders. Your choice determines the plot of the rest of your life. The good
“cat” represents love and compassion. It is the love and compassion you
give yourself, then to others. The bad “cat” represents fear and judgement.
This is the fear of failure and an unforgiving attitude towards yourself.
When you choose to believe negative things about yourself, your
relationships may be impacted through your defensiveness or passive-aggressive
behavior. You may become embroiled in emotional arguments
and blocked from creativity and productivity. You may feel unworthy of
love which means you will find it difficult to give love.
Notice that love is the opposite of fear and compassion is the opposite
of judgement. If you are feeling love and compassion, you are choosing
good thoughts. If you are feeling fear and judgement, you are choosing bad
thoughts. Let me be clear, you are not a bad person, but your thoughts can
be bad. Your thoughts are separate from you - they do not define who you
are. We are, however, all tempted by bad thoughts. And, we are also all
given the power to refuse them. You have the authority to argue with a
thought, tell it off, command it to leave, or simply ignore it. In all cases, you
can choose to replace a negative thought with a positive one. Your thoughts
create your emotions and your motions. If you choose the good thoughts of
love and compassion, your confidence will rise and your relationships will
thrive. Your actions will be a reflection of your good attitude. You will have
more energy and focus to achieve your dream goals and make a real
difference in this world.
But each of us is fighting a battle within our mind. One moment we
think, “I can change the world!” The next thought is, “Who am I to change
the world?” The positive forces within us can, but won’t, destroy the
negative forces within us without our permission. We have free will to
choose our path. We have forgotten the power we have over our thoughts,
behaviors, actions and destiny. The negativity rushes in when we are
distracted or passive. When we aren’t focused on our greater mission. Isn’t
that how battles go? The enemy waits and lurks in the shadows until their
victory will be easy, like when you are tired, busy, and challenged by life.
That’s when the doubts and fears creep in and take hold. Alcohol, drugs,
illness, pain, negative media, and draining relationships also lower our
resistance. To succeed, we must be diligent. We must actively invoke the
powers available to us. These powers are called love, hope, grace, faith and
community. Ask for help. Battles are never won alone.
Your awareness and recognition of the battle is the first step. The next
step is to attack the pessimism living in your mind and heart. Create a
passionate vision of your future. Courageously believe in yourself and
overcome negative thoughts with faith and positivity. Believe in those
around you too. Help them, encourage them. Support each other
authentically and win the battle together. Our journey is not meant to be
travelled alone. No one person has all the answers. We must authentically
share our mistakes and our struggles. We must release guilt and fear and
replace these emotions with love and grace.
All of this begins with the selection - your choice, in your control - of
which thoughts you allow to influence your emotions and beliefs and
actions. Unproductive thoughts turn fear into anxiety and other negative
thinking patterns, such as self-doubt, jealousy, and condemnation.
Productive thoughts result in feelings of love and compassion, create
positive relationships, and promote self-confidence and energy.
While it is important to be able to effectively reframe our thoughts in a
current situation, it may even be more powerful to reframe our thoughts
about previous events. This means not seeing failure as a blow to our self-esteem,
but as a learning opportunity. It’s about not taking everything so
personally. When our parents argue, it’s about their unmet ‘needs’, not ours.
When kids, bosses, or spouses bully us, it’s about their insecurities, not
ours. When women gossip, it’s about their emptiness, not ours. When men
fight, it’s about their pride, not ours. Every person is self-absorbed,
including us, if we are being honest with ourselves. Unfortunately, we can
take others down with us on our voracious desire for acceptance, security,
certainty, and control. It takes emotional maturity to override our natural
instincts and emotional baggage.
People physically mature without any conscious effort, but emotional
maturity requires work. Our caregivers, teachers, and coaches demonstrate
and teach us appropriate social behaviors when we are young. But when we
become adults, we become responsible for our own continuing
development. Most people stop growing at this point and become
entrenched in blaming others from their past for their current and future
situations. However, an emotionally mature person takes responsibility for
their own emotions and actions. They consider how other people are feeling
and how their attitude and words affect them. They learn to let go of
grievances and self-pity so they can support, encourage and lead others into
deeper connection and greater works.
Sometimes this requires help from a professional counselor or
therapist. Be proud of yourself for asking for assistance to learn new skills.
Why do we feel bad about this? We are not ashamed when we pursue
classes for intellectual development or training for physical strengthening.
When I told my daughter that her dad and I had been going to marriage
counseling for a while, but I had been too embarrassed to tell her sooner,
she said, “Mom! You guys are being such a good role model for us -
seeking help and working hard on your relationship. I’m proud of you
both!” Her comments completely reframed my thoughts about therapy.
They convinced me we need to remove the stigma of pursuing knowledge
and tools which will free us from our old, instinctive, emotional reactions.
We should feel excited and proud of our initiative to learn new skills that
will enable us to engage more openly and deeply with others.
You can become the master of your thoughts. Wisdom is just a form of
mind control. You can learn to focus on the present, accept the past, and
anticipate a positive future. You can become wise and choose to give grace,
love, and compassion to yourself and others so you can create meaningful
connections in all your relationships.
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