Category Archives: Relaxation

Your Financial Success-O-Meter

Lately I’ve been itching to expand my business. (What’s new?) I thrive on new projects, on change. Not that I want to do away with the old, but rather to enhance, add to. After all, isn’t that the purpose of life here on earth – to grow? What do we plant that we don’t expect to grow?

I can hardly believe Star Brows has been in its new location for one year!? I’ve gotten busy and I’m loving it, but one thing good ole dad taught me is that what remains flat will head downhill eventually. Like water, which finds the lowest ground naturally. “Oh, you are so happy now. Your business is thriving. Why not bask in that – let well enough alone?” they say.  That kind of thinking reminds me of a person saying “I’m in such great shape, why don’t I just take a break for a year and enjoy it?”

Let’s talk about growing in the area of financial success.  According to Maria Nemeth, Ph.D. author of The Energy of Money, financial success is doing what you said you would do with money consistently with:

ClarityBe clear about what is important to you and has meaning for you. This takes thinking, looking at your values and what you want your legacy to be, and real honesty. No one else can determine what success is for you. If you are going to succeed, you need a road map. Did you ever try going to MapQuest and getting directions somewhere without a destination address?

FocusYour energy and attention need to be focused where they will do the most good. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, but some of my behaviors fit that disorder. My mind is a big-whirling-dervish of thoughts, ideas, and feelings. That’s why I’m writing this post – to focus. Focus and how to keep it is a whole different subject. Suffice it to say for now, you don’t need to dance with every random thought that floats by. If you do, you will never get anywhere.

EaseDo things the easy way, taking small steps instead of running headlong, getting exhausted, and then being too tired to enjoy your accomplishments at the end of the day. The opposite of ease is struggle, not working harder. This is a tough one! Peace, joy, and gratitude all require a state of ease, and yet ease is as slippery as an eel.  The conundrum is how to be “in action” and still at ease.

GraceThis is linked to your capacity to experience gratitude, to be grateful for what is in front of you right now. That’s it – end of subject. It all boils down to this very basic, fundamental premise: Be grateful – in the moment – for what is now. This state is like a launching pad into change and growth.

I was telling a friend the other day that my Success-O-Meter was at about a 4. “What?” she said, “You’re so hard on yourself. You work harder on your business than most people I know.” It got me to thinking about what success means to me and how I can redefine it so I feel ease instead of anxiety about it. So I ask myself – and now you – these questions:

1. Know yourself. What are you passionate about? What are your talents and gifts? What brings you joy and gives you energy?

2. Treat work like your life – not as separate from it. Are you tapping into your natural gifts to make a living? If not, it makes me wonder how happy eight hours (more or less) of your day are.

3. Change is the unalterable norm. If you are doing what you are passionate about, ask yourself – are you treating it like a living, breathing entity that changes and grows as you do? You may  be doing exactly what you want to do, but you’re not making enough money or it’s getting stale and you are bored with it (or don’t feel the energy needed to keep at it).

4. Don’t listen to the negative “voices” within. In the book, The Energy of Money, the author refers to the Monkey Mind, like the Gremlins in Taming Your Gremlin, or the Stoicheion in Greg Boyd’s video sermon. This force, entity, mindset, can prove destructive.  That critical, negative, nagging voice inside you that hates growth, enlightenment, change or happiness is always buzzing. We can’t stop it, but we can choose to ignore it, or even have a conversation with it that may look like this: “I know you see my efforts as below average and not good enough, and in some ways I think you’re right. But overall I choose to look at my efforts in this endeavor as successful and I’m patting myself on the back right now for all the hard work I’ve invested!”

5. Don’t be afraid to cross the border.  If reality as we know it were divided into two parts, the top part could be called the physical reality (objects, stuff) and the bottom, the metaphysical reality (intangibles like hopes and dreams).  Between these two realms is a border, and guess who guards it? The entity in #4. Turning your ideas, hopes, and dreams into reality requires that you cross this border, negate or defer the voices of opposition, and set to work step by step toward realizing your dream.

See you at the spa!

 

 

Massage at Star Brows

 

I do massage, and I love the work, both the giving and the receiving. 🙂 I have been getting massage since I was 15. My mom used to sneak me into her health club in MN – The European Health Spa. I’d sip smoothies at the bar, lounge in the pool, bake in the steam room, nap by the pool-side, and luxuriate on the massage table.

I’ve been doing massage professionally since 1994. I started out as an employee at a clinic and moved quickly to self employment. I began hiring therapists in 2000 when I went from one treatment room to five.

I guess it’s been a big circle, as today I am a Solo Spa again and life has never been better!

My Massage/Bodywork Philosophy:

  • You need to be completely relaxed in order to enjoy a session. That’s why I use the bodyCushion™ and essential oils.
  • Customization of every service I do is essential to a great experience.  I offer Enhancements, which include deep muscle work and a treatment I developed called Star Massage: A facial, neck, and scalp treatment using aesthetic and massage techniques. Clears sinuses, reduces puffiness, and brightens skin tone. The service is customized to each individual skin type to relieve swelling, waste in the tissues, and holding patterns that create tension and lines on the face.
  • Some people want the work so deep that it is actually harmful. While I am able to work deeply into the body’s fascia, I only work as deep as the body itself allows.
  • I studied EsalenCraniosacralMyofascial Release, and Zen Shiatsu. The Shiatsu training was a private apprenticeship with an instructor over an intensive, daily, three month period. It taught me one of the most important lessons that is the hallmark of my practice: The Western therapist and client usually wants neck, shoulder and back work predominately, but the work really needs to be focused on the lower body to achieve real balance.
  • As a former professional dancer and movement educator of twenty plus years I believe that movement is the number one remedy for what ails the physical body. Analyzing how an individual moves and helping them maximize their potential and ease, has been a lifetime study.

 

Here’s what Star Brows clients have said:

“Linda does amazing body work. I have been to many therapists over the years and she is definitely an expert in her field. I would not hesitate to recommend her.” Steve Tullius – Chiropractor

“I received a pre-natal massage that I can still remember almost three years later” Allegra Birtcher Parreira – Workin’ Wife & Mama

“Linda takes a massage experience from the ordinary to the extraordinary! I felt instantly at ease with her the first time we met. She made me feel welcome and comfortable. She spent time asking me where my problem areas were and what concerns I had. Her spa is private, cozy, and warm. Linda’s gifts are her intuitiveness, technique, and knowledge of anatomy. She combines these beautifully and expertly!” Marilyn Rivas Tate – Photographer

See you at the spa!

Lenten Musings

Photo Credit: Amanda DeBello

I was hunting for inspiration this morning to start a fresh day when I came across a post from local author Susan Gaddis, who reminded me that lent is coming, in her blog Holy in the Daily. Lent will start on Wednesday, the 22nd of February and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, the 7th of April.

I’ll agree, the liturgical calendar seems a bit obsolete these days, but this season of Lent inspires me. I spend a good bit of my time reading faith-based books and blogs. My daughter Valery and her husband Jonathan are writing one called Hoekmania from Ethiopia right now, a blog that is not necessarily faith based, but it and its followers are truly faith-filled. Jon’s  dad, Larry writes God2Me, which shows up in my inbox each morning. I also like Daily Manna from the Net.

That’s the easy part: reading the inspirational writings and teachings that others post. But it is in the doing, the being, that the struggle lives. I can easily become like the Dead Sea: things flowing in, but nothing flowing out. My life can become too salty for anything good to live in.

The purpose of the infilling I think, is to enable the out-flowing. Both parts: filling and emptying, need to be very conscious decisions. Truly, the choice to be happy, grateful, giving, does not come naturally.

Lent then, becomes a special container – a time set aside for this process.  What we fill the time with, and what we give are unique to each of us. My hope is that I don’t sound too super-spiritual but that my life truly reflects my words. Here are some of my ideas. Maybe they will inspire you to create your own.

  • Stay in the moment. Projecting ourselves out into the future or dragging ourselves back to the past are futile efforts.
  • Let yourself feel. Author of Taming Your Gremlins, Rick Carlson, tells us that The Zen Theory of Change is in this simple notion.
  • Be angry, but sin not. I used to be afraid of anger, but I’ve learned that anger is natural, needful. If we don’t allow anger in our lives or the lives of those we love, we will experience its outlet in secret ways…much harder to deal with.
  • Be your own mom. This notion came to me one day and changed my life. Treat yourself well, love your body, don’t be critical of yourself, be fully you.
  • In everything give thanks. As you embrace and work with what is, you will grow and mature and your life will flow.
  • Forgive yourself – forgive others. This sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? But it’s not so easy, for like love, forgiveness is an action. It starts with an intellectual choice, but until it permeates your actions, it is empty.
  • Mind your own business. Pretty self-explanatory. I’ve got enough work taking care of my own issues, shortcomings, challenges. I can listen, reflect, and empathize…then stop. It’s not mine!
  • Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s not just the Golden Rule but the only way to true happiness for yourself. For hidden in the way you treat others is ultimately what you will attract, and in the end, the way you will be treated and judged.
In the final analysis, I think the Lenten season is a talisman for living your life. It’s not about a diet, exercise plan, cleaning regime, or good-works campaign. It is about the holy in the daily, in the moment. It is about celebrating the gift of you and of those in your life. It is living, breathing, and choosing in each moment. Pretty easy, huh? Just think: If you fail in this moment, you’ve got another chance almost immediately!
See you at the spa!

Count It All Joy!

I am asked all the time, “How’s business?” by clients as well as fellow business people. My answer? “Wonderful!” In hard economic times, when so many business owners and individuals are struggling, how could this be? Am I that special – or just trying to “put on a happy face”? Neither, really. So, what’s up?

The answer is two-fold: I’m not so special – well not more special than anyone else. 🙂 And, my business – ditto. What is true however, is that there are two very doable elements that make me successful and can make you successful too.

1. Be grateful. Eucharisto – this word contains within it three elements: Gratitude, grace, and peace. Being thankful is the single most important element essential to achieving and maintaining happiness. Are things always the way I want them? No. But one act of being thankful when things aren’t going your way, is worth many times more than countless thanks when things are. Thankfulness, then, is a choice – and not a response to your situation.

2. Bring your “best self” to everything you do. Seth Godin, a favorite author/blogger, says this about business: “The extra, bonus part of your business activities that are over-the-top for no good reason, and going out of your way to build that into your brand, make your business remarkable. And today, people are ONLY responding to remarkable.”

Are my services always remarkable? Probably not. But I do bring my best self to every single interaction. Granted, sometimes my best self is just plain not enough, or maybe no matter how good it is, some won’t count it as such. So be it. After all, I do my best work with those who truly value it, and those who don’t will find someone and someplace that gives them what they want.

I moved Star Brows last year to the wonderful town of Grover Beach. I love this town for many reasons, mostly because it is on my beloved Pacific  Ocean. For this, I am beyond grateful. This location sets the stage for a spa-setting extraordinaire. Not only can I take a break and head out for an invigorating, uplifting stroll (instead of feeling grumpy about a no-show client), but it is a free gym where I can work out and clear my head of all negativity, worry, and exhaustion and commune with my Creator and His creation.

My work is fulfilling to me:

I am honored by the people I meet and get to know.

I love the spectacular products I bring to them, like the newest in my lineup: Heather Gardner jewelry.

The services I offer are diverse and gratifying to perform. I can help create beautiful skin, give someone a new look, relax them completely, and provide a place for people to escape. Plus, I make new friends every day. Who could ask for more?

In the end, although the spa business is magical, your business – or for that matter, your life – contains magic, too. The trick is to show up each day looking for it – simply noticing it in the everyday moments.

See you at the spa!

 

Yes!

I recently read a post by Seth Godin called No. It expressed exactly where I’d been for about a week. And I was feeling guilty about it. You know, “the customer is always right,” “turn the other cheek,” “grin and bear it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” be the “bigger person”?

In the customer service industry, and especially when providing spa services, it is my job to please, to provide comfort, to accept people as they are, to go the extra mile, and to provide a calm environment.

But what is also true is that part of my brand is authenticity: to show up real, to relate truthfully, and to provide luxurious services from a place of personal peace, joy and contentment.

But what happens when I am in a challenging place? When I don’t have extra to give? When people push my already challenged boundaries or act disrespectful? Do I suck it up? Do youalways?

Remember when you were two – or so? You learned that you could choose, you could have an opinion, you could say no. I once dubbed one of my kids “Mr. Opposite” because of his habit of saying no to almost everything.  (Sorry, probably not my best parenting moment.) But I raised my children to have a voice, to be able to articulate their needs and boundaries, to be in “choice,” to take personal responsibility, and to be honest.

Hopefully if we “get” to say no in these developmental years, we will be able to do so as adults. That’s not to say there is never a time or place to put aside our own personal comfort, opinion, or desire.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dag Hammarskjold (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official): “Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own convictions.”

When you think about it, you’re not just saying no; you’re also saying yes. Yes to what you would rather have. Yes to what would work for you. Yes to honoring your own limits, boundaries, and things that are important to you. Yes to what you perceive as a healthy interaction or way of doing business.

Truly, there needs to be “no” if there is ever going to be “yes.” Just like the day needs the night, light needs the dark, black needs white, love needs hate. It is the yin and yang of the universe. Saying no to even the good thing allows you to say yes to the best thing.

Now, I’ll admit, as a customer, I want businesses to say yes to me, even when I’m wrong, even when I’m asking for more than they really want to give. It’s the American way, right? And some may say, “If they won’t give me what I want I’ll do business elsewhere.”

That’s not how I do it, and I hope my customers  feel the same. If I like a place, product, or service, I’m going to allow for give and take. It’s not much different than my personal relationships, really. Each party gets to choose, each gets to say yes and no. Reciprocity is my desired model of interaction.

In the end, let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Practice saying yes to more of what you want. And when you say no, be still and breathe. It’s OK. Really.

See you at the spa!

Be Alive!

Dancers Among Us Project by Jordan Matter

“BE passionate joyful sad euphoric angry intense desperate ecstatic intimate present ALIVE.” Jordan Matter

Right now I’m sitting at the computer nursing my one and only cup of joe for the day and feeling happy (but moderately deprived). I’m thinking of all I am thankful for and excited for my day to unfold. I’m getting a facial this morning! Also walking the beach, getting my husband’s car an oil change, and seeing some clients at the spa.

How about you? Are you living life to its fullest? If not, why not? I don’t want to preach, judge, or lay a guilt trip on you – I’m just curious. (You know me.) Maybe you hate your job, have a relationship going bad – or no relationship at all – are sick or dealing with a chronic health condition. Could be you are out of work, have a wayward child, have experienced a betrayal, or are wrestling with an addiction. If the issue is clinical depression, that’s another ballgame.

And yes, there are seasons in life where things are just not OK for a while. What I’m wondering is “Are you living the life you want to live, and if the answer is no, are you willing to change that?”

My life was kind of tough growing up. Maybe yours was too. I’ve had to do lots of work to recover. Two of the lessons I’ve learned stand out. They both relate to the opening sentence of this post: “BE passionate joyful sad euphoric angry intense desperate ecstatic intimate present ALIVE.” I guess when you have to block bad stuff out to grow up and survive you end up blocking the good out too. Here’s my story of recovery:

In the early days of my massage career I did out-calls. I was asked to pack up my table and come to an island in Minnesota to do massage for “Wild Women’s Weekend.” I spent the weekend with a bunch of hysterical women. They were laughing, playing, joking around, and really enjoying themselves.

I was, of course, working and having a good enough time myself. But I had this niggling question: “How are they able to laugh so much?”

When I got home I decided to learn to laugh (I know, weird, right?) but true nonetheless. Imagine me sitting at the dinner table with my husband and four children practicing laughing out loud. Oh yeah, real funny, huh? But, I did it! I learned how to laugh out loud, and even if I sometimes forget to laugh (which I often do), it’s like riding a bike: One never really forgets how.

The other lesson I had to teach myself is to be angry, out loud. My husband was a great role model – lol. Once I gave myself permission to express anger (I was about 35), he suddenly became much less angry. I guess he was doing my anger for me – geez!

To be fully present and live the life you were meant to live, you need to recover those lost parts of yourself. Those parts you had to cut out to survive. Reclaim your sense of wonder and joy, let yourself feel desperation and anger, follow your passion, let your inner-child out to play.

And next time you get to work, try doing the splits on two desks, I double dare ya. 😀

See you at the new spa!

 

Press On

http://www.jordanmatter.com/

One of the benefits of being in the spa industry is that I deal with people everyday, who need to learn to relax – and I’m paid to help them do it.

But this means, I too need to be relaxed – after all, the teacher cannot teach what they themselves haven’t learned.

Lately I’ve been involved in a series of interactions which have caused some personal emotional stress. And it has me wondering – when people are angry, critical, or are just plain sharing their feelings, how do I process the information/interaction in a healthy way?

How do I Tame My Gremlins?

Of course, each situation is so different that there isn’t necessarily one surefire way of handling everything, so here are some ideas that help me cope and navigate my way through uncomfortable relational situations:

  • Be fully present in each situation – Breathe, slow down, and let myself feel whatever comes up.
  • Do more listening and less talking – While listening, let the other know they are heard and check in to be sure they feel understood.
  • Ask for permission to share how I feel – Not everyone is receptive to listening, and sharing when the other isn’t, can leave you in a worse place.
  • Be more curious than furious – Questions are helpful when communication stalls or becomes tense.
  • Be “in choice” rather than reactive  – If I start to feel uncomfortable in my body, it is a clue I need to listen – maybe the conversation needs to be rescheduled to a time when we’ve had a chance to calm down.
  • Don’t take it personally – Realize that each person has a very unique frame of reference/history that I have simply stumbled into with my words or actions. I’m not bad, it’s not all my fault, or all about me.
  • Be accountable – If you do or say something you regret later, or if the situation was unfinished, re-visit it if the other party is receptive at an appropriate time.
  • Check your heart – Intention is so important; I need to ask myself what will be the response that honors me as well as the other person.
  • Take care of yourself – If the situation doesn’t resolve well, or is drawn out over time, I can “ramp up” my self care. This is where a visit to the spa comes in!
  • Press on! – There is a verse in the Bible in the book of Philippians which guides me – it talks about pressing on toward the goal for the prize. What’s your prize, your high calling – happiness, joy, peace, harmony?

See you at the new spa!

The New Spa in Grover Beach Open For Mother’s Day

I started my dream business, Star Brows, in Arroyo Grande California four years ago, specializing in a unique “brow graphing” technique, which I developed at my Minnesota spa. Due to the success and popularity of that technique, I needed to expand, and now have a new home! Everything you know and love about Star Brows will stay the same, but better – I hope you’ll agree!

On April 15th I moved my eyebrow couture, skincare, massage, and body waxing spa to 1065 West Grand Avenue to Grover Beach (Shangri-La!) and have created a luxurious spa setting that I know you will love.

Originally, I really wanted to stay in AG, but then I found this amazing space with great exposure and plenty of room to grow. It’s across from Miners in Grover Beach. This location really fits my “brand.” You will truly feel like the star you are when you’re there. I wanted to create a more spa-like atmosphere so you could enjoy the full array of Star Brows services.

I’ve added two private treatment rooms with sound-proof walls and solid core doors :), a casual and open feeling makeup and waxing lounge, and an serene waiting area – and we’re closer to the beach! Who could ask for more? I’ll be posting pictures soon.

But, like any dream, there have been (and are) hurdles to overcome. In the end, though, it’s all worth it. I hope this encourages you to follow your dreams too. Turning dreams into reality takes guts, a lot of hard work, optimism, help from those who support you (thank you all!), and a generous pinch of the miraculous!

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am poised to help you celebrate. Hmmm, what would you really like? I come from a background of providing fabulous spa experiences, and now that I have the space and the environment for it, I’d like treat you.

Here is a sneak peek of a spa experience created to celebrate mom’s day, or “just because” – at the new location – offered for a limited time:

Spa Facial and Massage Treatment

Arrive a couple of minutes early so you can get settled and relax for a few minutes in the quiet environment of the new spa, and plan on staying for about an hour and a half.

When you enter the treatment room you will feel the warm air provided by state-of-the-art radiant heat. You’ll smell calming essential oils and be enveloped by the soft candlelight.

As you climb under crisp, clean, warmed sheets your body’s curves will be cradled by special contoured cushions.

Detoxifying and de-stressing drops of essential oils will be applied along your spine (Raindrop Therapy), to coax your body into a state of bliss and calm, followed by a back massage given at just the right pressure for you. When the knots are eased, you turn over and the Star Massage begins with Tu’el’s Cleansing Oils and Herbalizers chosen for your skin type. Puffiness, sinus pressure, jaw tension and all signs of stress dissipate from your face, neck and should – mmm, who knew it could feel this good?

Now the facial begins with warmed towels, gentle steam, and special masks and scrubs designed to alleviate your skin’s concerns.

And don’t forget those hard working hands and feet. They will be meticulously worked out, every finger and every toe rubbed until they are eased. Your feet will be wrapped in warm towel-like booties and a little Craniosacral work will be done to balance your body’s rhythms.

Later, plan on relaxing and drinking plenty of water with slices of organic lemons to complete a perfect experience.

Who knew Star Brows was about more than eyebrow couture? Now’s your chance to see! Limited spaces are available for this special offer, so call now – 805-722-8222  – and mention the Mother’s Day Spa Special. It’s not on the menu and is specially priced at $99. It expires on May 12th, but you can get a Gift Certificate for the service and use it anytime!

See you at the new spa!

Tu’el Moisturizing Face Creams – March Product Features 2011

The lovelies at Eva’s Esthetics offered a special yesterday on their creams, so I thought I would “pay it forward.” Here is an educational video about the creams offered, from Tu’el’s President Lori Nestore.

The Product Feature this month will help get your skin ready for summer! There are four creams for four different skin types in the Tu’el line: Vitamin, Chamomile, Lipo-Gen, and Regeneration.

Vitamin Cream– a protective cream with Vitamins E, A, and B to lubricate and seal in moisture for dry skin

Chamomile Cream – a soothing, healing, day and night cream for dry, product-reactive skin

Lipo-Gen – a revitalizing lotion with a deep liposome delivery system to help calm and heal combination, oily, or impure skin

Regeneration Cream– a rich concentrated cream with antioxidants and vitamins to rejuvenate mature and/or sun damaged skin

Many skin care products you find on the market today contain chemicals that can be harmful to your skin. Alcohols, dioxane, parabens, mineral oils, phenol (carbolic acid), and artificial fragrance are very commonly used in today’s skin care products. Experts warn against long-term exposure to these chemicals as it could lead to health problems. Our government doesn’t regulate the use of these chemicals either. Check out www.safecosmetics.org for more information.

Wrinkles and dehydration may appear at any age, which is why  caring for your skin needs to start early. There are different ways to help prevent the appearance of wrinkles, but first you need to know what caused them to appear so you can effect a lasting change. Some possible triggers are overexposure to the sun, stress, depression, poor diet, smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, and poor skin care regimen.

One of my favorite ways to treat my skin is facial massage. That’s why I developed my award-winning service, Star Massage. And, in Facial Treatments like the Spa Facial, you not only get head, neck, shoulder, and face massage, but your hands, arms, feet, and legs as well!

But, you can do facial massage at home too. Massage improves blood and oxygen circulation, which prevents the clogging of pores. It also relieves stress and tension within that contribute to the appearance of wrinkles.

Massaging the face with the appropriate face cream for your skin type will tighten the skin’s tissues, improving elasticity, building collagen, and relaxing the muscles of the face. What’s great about facial massage is that as it exfoliates it allows moisturizers, essential oils, and serums to penetrate more easily.

Start massaging the face from the neck upward and end at the forehead or temples to improve blood circulation through the veins, tissues, and lymph vessels of the face. Begin slowly, using little circles, and vary speed and pressure as you work, stopping to focus on pressure points and making up massage techniques as you go that feel good to you.

Facial massage offers many benefits in addition to preventing wrinkles. Try it now and see how it works on your skin. It will give you a glowing complexion.

If you’re new to Star Brows, you may not know about The Product Feature or Rewards yet. To put it simply, 10% of all your product purchases, all the time, go toward free Service Enhancements, like Raindrop Therapy, Lash Tint, Chemical Peels, or Star Massage.

When a product is the Monthly Feature, however, you’ll get 20% back in Rewards! This month’s Product Features, Chamomile and Vitamin Creams, are $41, so that’s $8 in Rewards. Lip0-Gen and Regeneration Creams are $63, and that means $12 toward a Service Enhancement.

See you at the spa!

Come Here and Let Me Make You Smarter

I was going to write a post about Know-It-Alls, but found a post on another blog that said lots of what I wanted to say. Here is an excerpt from what Sue Rock calls Open Letter to Little Miss Know-It-All.

“It’s easy to look down on life from a high, I-got-it-all-figured-out horse; to judge others and pass out advice like you know everything (which of course, you clearly do). You’ve got it all figured out, right…If we’re really, really lucky, we find people along the way who are willing to help us find our own answers, instead of always trying to give us theirs.”

There are many reasons I ponder this subject about advice-giving and the attitude of pretending to know it all.

My calling in life is definitely about relationships, and home as well as work gives ample opportunity to hone my communication skills. I spend lots of time one-to-one with clients discussing life issues. I’m always studying, writing, and reading about effective communication. Right now my husband and I are reading Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt’s book: Getting the Love You Want. And, I have four adult children and a son-in-law who all provide ample opportunity to listen and learn.

I partially attribute my obsession with the workings of relationships to my dear mom for going back to school as a psychology student during my formative years. Actually, I think it may go back even further to the frustration of the demise of intimate relationships in my family of origin and my drive to “fix” those ties through helping others.

But instead of having all the answers, I have questions I’d like to ask:

  • What drives people to put on the façade that they know it all?

This question may strike at the heart of the issue. When I slip into this behavior, or observe other people doing it, I think, “Is this an over-compensation for feelings of inadequacy? Are they trying to solve their own problems by attempting to fix others?”

  • Do people really know how to listen?

It takes time and deliberate intention to really listen. If I respond before I am clear about the message sent, I am really just responding to my own thoughts, and this could spell trouble. This is where projection can happen.

  • If your prime directive in life is to solve your own problems, is listening to others even important?

What value do you place to being there for others, sacrificially, selflessly? I’ve found that in giving I receive.

  • Do you really have the answers for someone else? Have you walked in their shoes? Do you know all the nuances of their situation and history?

Questions, really smart ones, can help people discover their own answers. I believe change is only possible when people take ownership of their problems. You may be so caring and loving that by giving your opinions about their issues, you actually disable the very people you’re tying to help, preventing them from finding a solution by taking what’s theirs and making it yours.

  • And finally, have you ever really felt “heard”?

It can be frustrating to come from a place of not really feeling understood, validated, or empathized with. I’ve found that the business of growing up, healing, and knowing yourself is an arduous journey that is very personal. There is a time and a place to do this work, and there is also a time and place to just listen, question, and be with others in their journey.

Some people are listeners by nature and struggle instead with doing the personal work that is theirs. Somehow escaping into someone else’s problems seems easier for them than looking within.

Whichever camp or end of the spectrum you find yourself in most often, either being too introspective or too other-focused and living in a state of denial about your own issues, the simple question to be ever mindful of remains the same:

What is mine and what is not?

See you at the spa!