Daily OM for October 25th – Big Steps On Life’s Path

Big Steps On Life’s Path

Being Aware is the First Step

by  Madisyn Taylor

There is freedom that comes with awareness, because with it comes the opportunity to make a choice.

Life is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change.

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen.

There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve.

 

Daily OM

Do You Like You?

Do You Like You?

  • Liz Dawn Donahue

Do I like myself?

Do I like myself in this relationship?

Two very similar questions, but at the same time, very different.

I remember being in relationships and looking in the mirror only to think “who is this person?” I could barely recognize my own reflection because at times my behavior was the anti-thesis of who I am and who I wanted to be. It had gotten to a point in one relationship that I could not believe who I had become. I was this woman putting up with behavior from my partner that I would go screaming into the night if any of my friends would do this in their lives.

I liked myself, but I did not like myself in this relationship. I did not like the person who I had become and most especially that I could not seem to control my reactions to his “bad” behavior.

After hours, actually months, of therapy, I realized that if I was going to come out of this even half alive and the person that I knew myself to be, that I had to figure a way out of this dysfunctional abyss. It was a matter of my mental sanity that I embarked on a vigorous journey of self introspection to understand why I was in a relationship with someone that brought out the worst in me instead of the best in me.

 

Was this concept an impossibility or just a cliche? Can you really be with someone who brings out the best in you or is it your responsibility to always be your best no matter who is in your life? These questions haunted me. I really felt that no matter who was in my life that I should be able to stay centered at all times and be my best. This is wonderful in theory, but not so great in reality when dealing with intimate relationships or dealing with those things that trigger us.

I have heard story after story about people sharing their disappointments about themselves because they would find their lives intertwined with someone who brought out the worst in them. Why?

Here is what I discovered, and this is just one woman’s opinion. We absolutely have to take responsibility for our own actions at all times; however, there are those intimate relationships that trigger old deep-seeded issues inside us that we might have thought we resolved years ago or even issues we never knew we had in the first place. In other words, if I am in a relationship with someone and I am acting out of character, I have to sit and ask myself, what is happening around me that is triggering me into this behavior? Then I need to reflect on what does this remind me of in my past.

More times than often, there is an emotional trigger that has nothing to do with the person in front of you, but has everything to do with past unhealed trauma. The person in front of you is just a reminder that there are areas of your life that need a little work. Having said this, it does NOT mean that you stay with a person who continuously triggers you. If you sit back and take an objective look at their behavior you will probably see that their actions are dysfunctional as well. Their behavior is a perfect match to tap you on the shoulder and not only see unhealed areas of your life, but to also recognize what your relationship red flags are for the future.

I challenge the concept that in order to grow it is good to be in relationship with a partner that challenges your issues. Thank you very much, but I can grow and learn very nicely without the drama of being thrown into all that dysfunction. It is taking a stand and being able to walk away from those relationships that trigger you, a willingness to work in it on your own, and then get into a relationship with someone who does not have the same behavior.

After many years of playing this game and being hit over the head with this lesson I finally got it. I am in a marriage with a man that brings out the best in me, not the worst and I bring out the best in him. It is not just cliche after all.

Your Daily Number for August 1st: 4

You’re capable, realistic, and especially good at planning today. An important opportunity may present itself; however, it’s best to exercise skepticism. Review all facts attached to an offer or proposal. It’s quite possible that someone may be exaggerating or lying. If this is indeed the case, avoid emotional confrontations.

Fast Facts

About the Number 4

Theme: Form, Work, Order, Practicality, Discipline
Astro Association: Aries
Tarot Association: Emperor

Daily Horoscopes for Monday, June 27

The high-strung energy of innovative Uranus continues to impact our lives, but it’s easier to integrate unconventional behavior today as energetic Mars forms a cooperative sextile with Uranus. Nevertheless, we still can expect a display of fireworks from this electric connection. Although the earthy Taurus Moon helps to ground our energy, several anxious lunar aspects throughout the day indicate that we won’t be able to relax any time soon.

 

Aries Horoscope
Aries Horoscope (Mar 21 – Apr 19)

You know what you want, and you’re willing to take a risk to achieve satisfaction. Fortunately, your key planet Mars supports your impulsive behavior today with a cooperative sextile to erratic Uranus. Go ahead and push upagainst the restrictions; they just might give way and let you pass. But don’t expect everything to go smoothly; there still could be a few difficult bumps along the way.

Taurus Horoscope
Taurus Horoscope (Apr 20 – May 20)

The Moon’s visit to your sign usually calms down your energy, but today you’re feeling restless and reckless. You wish that there was a straightforward route to your destination, but your path to success could be a crooked one. Instead of attempting to hide your uncertainty with arrogant behavior, wait until your best option becomes more apparent.

Gemini Horoscope
Gemini Horoscope (May 21 – Jun 20)

You may feel as if you’re at the top of your game today, empowering you to show off your charm and quick wit. However, you might be so clever at telling your tale that you step over the fine line that usually separates fact and fiction. Your ability to put a positive spin on things enables you to impress everyone now, including yourself. Nevertheless, it would be wise to stick to the truth right from the start.

Cancer Horoscope
Cancer Horoscope (June 21 – Jul 22)

People seem way too intense today and you aren’t having much luck at calming them down. However, this isn’t really about anyone else; it’s about managing your discomfort that arises when someone else appears to be out of control. Your lesson now is to recognize that you’re only responsible for your own emotions. Stay present with your feelings without putting up any unnecessary defenses in the process.

Leo Horoscope
Leo Horoscope (Jul 23 – Aug 22)

It seems as if you should be getting ready for a showdown today, but you’re not even sure why. Someone may be acting rather strangely now and something just isn’t making sense. You might be tempted to express your frustration as anger, yet you don’t really have a valid reason. Although you want to take action right away, be smart and let the situation unfold on its own until you have more information.

Virgo Horoscope
Virgo Horoscope (Aug 23 – Sep 22)

Your natural analytical skills won’t be of much help because you’re not willing to spend time thinking about your options today. You can see a number of different routes that could further your career goals, yet you just want to take the path of least resistance. Luckily, the most creative solutions will come to you now while you are in motion, so don’t waste time sitting on the sidelines trying to logically decide your next move.

Libra Horoscope
Libra Horoscope (Sep 23 – Oct 22)

Your day may be totally thrown off course by someone close to you doing something totally unexpected. Fortunately, what first seems like a setback or, at least a detour, could turn into a wonderful journey of discovery. However, you might miss out on an exciting little adventure if you try to resist the changes. Let your plans fall to the wayside and allow the unknown to pleasantly surprise you.

 

 

Scorpio Horoscope
Scorpio Horoscope (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

You might become a bit frustrated today as irrepressible Mars in breezy Gemini scatters your energy. Although you prefer a deeper level of interaction, the current pace may be too hectic for the kind of communication you want. Don’t push too hard or the intensity you desire will appear in the form of resistance from others. Keep up with the rapidly changing circumstances for now and they will settle into more meaningful exchanges by tomorrow.

 

 

Sagittarius Horoscope
Sagittarius Horoscope (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

You may be more overbearing today than you realize. In fact, you are so forceful now that your co-workers might think that you’re being unreasonable. But your impulsive approach could produce quick results, so stick to your innovative plan even if it’s unproven. Don’t waste energy trying to convince others that your idea is a viable one. Ultimately, your success will speak volumes for you.

Capricorn Horoscope
Capricorn Horoscope (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

You may be growing more certain that you’re the only one who knows what’s happening and what to do about it. Your confidence can promote a false sense of authority, encouraging you to act first and ask questions later. But an error in judgment is possible if you become stuck on your plan. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one with a good idea; you will be much more successful if you incorporate multiple viewpoints into your perspective.

Aquarius Horoscope
Aquarius Horoscope (Jan 20 – Feb 18)

Your strategy at work isn’t obvious to others, so they may not understand what you’re doing. The bottom line is that you don’t see reality in the same light as your associates because your plan isn’t bogged down in office politics or sentimental attachments. But you are able to be so objective that you might miss an important emotional component to your strategy. Nevertheless, don’t worry about ruffling someone’s feathers today; your brilliance shines through as long as you maintain your integrity.

 

 

Pisces Horoscope
Pisces Horoscope (Feb 19 – Mar 20)

It’s challenging to concentrate on your current job now because you may be trying to do too many things all at once. You could get dragged into an argument you cannot win if someone questions your ability to deliver on your promises. Don’t try to justify your actions because your logic isn’t as solid as you think. Your accomplishments will be your best defense as long as you remember to keep refocusing on your goals.

Tell It Like It Is – And Make It Count

Tell It Like It Is – And Make It Count

Author: Autumn Heartsong

“I’m not a pussy-foot Pagan; I speak my mind I don’t care if everybody gets mad at me.”

“I call it like I see it. If you’ve got a lousy attitude I’m going to tell you about it. That’s what makes me such a terrific high priestess.”

“I hate that we’re not friends anymore. I was just trying to help and she got so angry.”

Know any of these people? Maybe you’ve made one of those statements yourself.

There’s no doubt that honest feedback is helpful. People with the skill and willingness to provide good feedback are valuable in any community. Unfortunately, some people are long on willingness and short on skill. They tell it like they think it is, like they wish it were, like they hope it will be, but without the skill needed to make all that telling count for something. Some succeed handily in expressing their opinions and making people angry, and they excel at turning angry reactions into badges of honor. They may even feel a little smug when they tell everyone exactly what they’re doing wrong and no one does anything about it. There’s a lot of moral superiority in being the one with the answers and even more intellectual smugness when no one else is smart enough to take your good advice. More often, though, people are just sad and disappointed when their attempt to help is, at best, rejected or, at worst, creates angry confrontation and lasting resentment.

Why should we care about the effectiveness of our communications? Because honest, helpful feedback is essential to any community. Whether you’re addressing your circle, your coworkers, your family, or the customer service rep with whom you’re trying to resolve a problem, clear, effective communication gets the best results.

Nowhere is the need for good feedback skills more evident than in our spiritual communities. In a spiritual path that stresses personal accountability, each of us is responsible not just for what we say but how we say it. If we truly have the best interest of another in mind, we have a responsibility to do the best job we can when we offer constructive criticism or positive feedback. And for those who hold positions of leadership, the ability to guide a coven or circle is directly tied to the ability to effectively deal with behaviors that can erode the group’s foundation, as well as to offer praise that is meaningful and encourages continued success. Yet time and again, circles and covens undergo major upheavals over poorly thought-out and badly delivered feedback. Broader communities experience rifts that all but destroy those communities. Online groups explode into flame wars over emails that set out to improve some situation but miss the mark. Best friends have walked away from each other over what was meant to be helpful guidance but was delivered and received as anything but helpful. The phrase heard most often after such events is, “What just happened?”

Fortunately, willingness to engage in feedback is more than half the battle, and anyone with a sincere desire to tell it like it is and make it count can learn how to give feedback that is both honest and helpful. Whether you’re telling someone that their habitual Pagan Standard Time arrival for ritual is impacting the group or complimenting them on the stellar job they did organizing the community clean-up event, you will create more impact with a well crafted and delivered message.

In this article, I’ll discuss the characteristics of effective feedback. I’ll also outline models for giving honest, direct feedback with candor and skill. Finally, I’ll share a model for how we receive feedback to help us understand and plan for reactions in others and ourselves.

For those of you who are thinking, “This isn’t standard Pagan essay material, ” I respectfully disagree. This is EGM – Elbow Grease Magick, physical effort to accompany your energetic contribution in your community. Just as doing a “find a job” spell without sending out a resume or filling out an application isn’t likely to land you employment, opening your mouth to deliver constructive feedback without paying attention to how you do it isn’t likely to net the results you hope for. By combining a willing spirit with proven techniques, we can strengthen our relationships and our communities.

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

Think back to a time when you received truly helpful feedback from someone – maybe a teacher, a boss, a coworker or friend. What made it helpful? If you’re like most people, your recollections will include some or all of the following:

They were specific and used examples.
Vague feedback isn’t very helpful. Telling someone, “You need to do better in circle, ” doesn’t offer any clues as to what “better” means. “Your ritual robe has a wine stain on it from when you dropped the chalice at our last moon. You should make sure your robe is clean before you come to circle, ” is more effective. Likewise, “You’re such a joy to work with, ” doesn’t give the recipient any guidance on how to continue to be a joy. Try, “I enjoy working with you on community projects because you’re energetic, detail oriented, and always willing to pitch in wherever needed.”

They focused on behavior, not a personal attack.
Telling someone, “You’re a slob!” is far less effective than, “You left your feast gear unwashed on the counter and Moondrop had to clean up after you.”

They were sincere, had my best interest at heart.
Sincerity is often a matter of perception. Body language and tone can speak louder than our words. It’s estimated that in face-to-face communications as little as seven percent of a message is perceived from the actual words. (Read Radical Collaboration, by James W. Tamm and Ronald J. Luyet) .

They helped me understand why it was important.
Everyone receiving feedback asks, at some level, “So what?” When we include the why, the what has more impact. “When you’re late for ritual, feast runs late, the children get hungry and cranky, and everyone’s enjoyment of the evening is lessened.” The why can also include the benefits of change or the consequences of continued behavior. “In the future, we’ll have to start without you if you’re late.”

They included suggestions for improvement or alternate behavior.
If a behavior is causing problems, suggest a better behavior. “We need you to be here at least 15 minutes before ritual is scheduled to begin.”

They chose an appropriate time/place.
Common wisdom suggests that we correct privately and praise publicly. While public praise isn’t always necessary, constructive criticism is almost always best done privately. An embarrassed person is not receptive.

They kept their emotions in check.
If you cannot control you own emotions when delivering feedback, the message will be lost. Crying and anger are sometimes understandable reactions to bad behavior, but get them under control before you enter into dialog about the behavior. If you lose your cool, you lose control.

Models for delivering feedback

Two models provide specific steps to help craft and deliver effective feedback.

NORMS is a model for crafting your message and helps ensure that you’re focusing on behavior and that your feedback is specific. This should be your first step every time to make sure your feedback is behavior focused. NORMS is an acronym for five attributes of objective feedback.

N – Not an interpretation. Address the behavior, not how you interpret the behavior. “You’ve been late for the last three circles, ” is behavior. “You don’t have enough respect for me, your coven, or the gods to show up on time, ” is an interpretation.
O – Observable. Address behavior that can be seen, heard, or otherwise observed by more than one person.
R – Reliable. Goes along with observable. Base your feedback on reliable observations, not hearsay or conjecture.
M – Measurable. Address behavior in terms of how many, how long, etc. Avoid absolutes like never and always. Use actual numbers, times, etc., whenever possible.
S – Specific. Address specific behaviors and cite specific examples.

DISC is a model for delivering your message and is an acronym for four steps to ensure that your message conveys both what and why, offers suggested alternative behavior, and identifies benefits/consequences.

D – Describe the behavior. Describe the behavior you identified using the NORMS model. Include measurements and observations when possible.
I – Identify the impact. Why is this behavior a problem? How is it impacting the individual, you, or the group?
S – Specify what you would like to see. Suggest alternate behavior or ways to improve.
C – Clarify the benefits/consequences. What will the individual gain by changing behavior? What are the consequences if she doesn’t change?

Putting it together

Scenario: Oak Moon, a member of your coven, wears a strong patchouli oil fragrance. Three coveners have commented on it and at least one covener, Starlight, is asthmatic and has difficulty breathing when she stands next to Oak Moon in circle.

Using NORMS, you focus only on the behavior – wearing strong fragrance that bothers others in circle. The strong fragrance is easily observable by anyone present and has been reliably observed by other coveners. It is measurable – three coveners have spoken up about it. You’ve made your message specific – the strength of the patchouli oil fragrance and its effect on other coveners is the issue.

Delivering the message using DISC might sound like this:

Describe: “Oak Moon, your patchouli oil is a lovely, strong fragrance – sometimes a bit too strong for the closeness of circle. Three people have come to me because the fragrance bothers them when we’re in circle, including Starlight.”
Identify: “You may not know that Starlight is asthmatic and has trouble breathing around strong fragrances.”
Specify: “Could you skip the patchouli when we’re in circle?”
Clarify: “It will let everyone breathe easier and focus more on what’s happening in the circle.”

The DISC model works well with positive feedback, too. Here’s an example:

Describe: “Oak Moon, you did an exceptional job on the essay you sent to WitchVox last month. The organization was excellent, and your analogies really helped me understand your point of view.”
Identify: “Sharing experience and thoughts with others helps our larger community grow and sets a good example for newer members of the coven.”
Specify: “I hope you’ll write more articles in the future.”
Clarify: “You’ll probably get a lot of comments and make some good contacts from your writing.”

Receiving feedback – the SARAH Model

So far, our examples have all been delivering feedback with no response from the person receiving. Of course, the person receiving will respond, and anticipating and preparing for the reaction is part of the effective feedback process.

SARAH is an acronym for five stages people go through when receiving constructive feedback. In addition to helping us deliver effective feedback, SARAH also helps us when we’re on the receiving end of constructive criticism. Recognizing our reaction can help us move more quickly through the stages and get the most benefit from the feedback.

S – Shock. “What? You’ve got to be kidding? I can’t believe anyone would say that about me!”
A – Anger. “How dare she! Who does she think she is? She’s got no right to talk to me that way. It’s none of her business.”
R – Rejection. “Well, that’s just stupid. She doesn’t know everything and I don’t need her advice.”
A – Acceptance. “Well, she did say it…and maybe there’s some truth in it.”
H – Help. “I can see her point. Maybe I’ll try her suggestions and see what happens.”

Do you recognize your own reactions? Have you experienced those reactions from others? When planning your feedback, take some time to anticipate the reactions and think about how you will respond. How can you keep the conversation on track? By thinking through the possible conversation ahead of time, you can avoid being caught off guard by emotional response from the recipient.

What if they just won’t listen?

It’s important to note that people don’t always get through all five stages. Shock, anger, and rejection may be as far as it goes. What do you do when your best efforts fail to produce results?

Perhaps the best advice is an adaptation of The Fourfold Way by Angeles Arrien:

Show up.
Pay attention.
Speak your truth.
Let go of the outcome.

You’ve shown up when you care enough to give feedback. You’ve paid attention when you learn and practice effective feedback skills. Once you’ve spoken your truth, the rest is up to the recipient. Let go of the outcome and let the recipient process your message and do with it what they will. For every friendship that is lost because someone gets angry over feedback they’ve received, another is lost because the person giving the feedback becomes angry and frustrated when their good counsel isn’t taken. Don’t let that happen to you.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you’ll consider applying these skills in your interactions. Sharing our love for each other with honest, candid, effective feedback is a great gift. May all your efforts be blessed and rewarded.