Who Told you That?

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“Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself – your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down.”

― Robert Greene, The 50th Law

When I was little my dad used to play at rough-housing with me and my siblings. There was a game he called “King of the Mountain” and the object of the game was to knock off whoever tried to get to the top of the pillow mountain first. We loved this game because first we got to play with dad, always a great time, then we got to make a huge mess of all the pillows we could find in the house and then make a humungous mountain as tall as we could possibly reach. I have to say that to 3, 4, and 5-year-old eyes this was the tallest structure ever created. We then would clear away all manner of hurtful hard objects and proceed to strategize as to just how to climb this monumental structure without getting caught and tackled to the ground. There was a hysterical amount of tickling involved in this game designed specifically to weaken our little bodies enough that we couldn’t find the strength to climb anything at all, all while trying to prevent dad from reaching the top of the mountain and declare himself King.

One could argue that this was a life lesson in how to overcome impossible obstacles that life will inevitably throw at us; how to overcome those demons that are designed and determined to keep us down physically and mentally, philosophically and psychologically whether in words or deeds and life lessons in how to get creative in problem solving all while laughing out loud. Blah, blah, blah; we just thought it was so fun to spend undivided time with dad. But wait, now I’m curious…..

What keeps you feeling down? What mountains are in front of you that need to be climbed? What motivates you to climb those mountains?

There are many important questions that come along in our lifetime. Questions that create angst, change, upheaval, awareness, peace, etc. Of all the questions that I have come across as a life coach, the one question that seems to have the most impact is the one question that attacks the essence of who my client is at any given moment. This question seems to evolve and keeps evolving as we learn and grow and become. This question has the potential of becoming habit forming; a reminder to always check my sources and resources in order to keep fear at bay and inner strength at the ready.

The questions I ask myself on a daily basis are, for the most part, always in helpful surrender to aid in making me the best possible version of who I strive to become. Who I am today is in no way who I will be later in life and although who I was yesterday may carry over into who I am right this moment, my “yesterday” self always has the ability to be better tomorrow. What is this incredible question?

Who told you that?

This question falls under the auspices of false beliefs or limiting beliefs and carries a tremendous amount of weight inside our heads and hearts. Most of us allow that the things we choose to believe, whether we realize it as our choice or not, are the things that hold us back from a fulfilling, productive, purposeful life. For a lot of people, believing the limiting beliefs we cling to holds a lot of fear in preventing us from exploring all kinds of fearless possibilities.

This question has been a constant companion for me for many years. It takes on many faces such as, who told you that you are not worthy of a better life, a better job, or a better outcome? Who told you that you have to compromise on what means the most to you? Who told you that if you experience happiness of any kind you are only allowed that one-time experience and then doomed to misery thereafter? Who told you that the love you have in your life is all you are allotted in one lifetime? Who told you that brown and pink don’t go well together? Who told you that if your children are not successful in their own right that means that you are not a successful parent?

More importantly when did you start believing all of this?

For as long as we live there will be life moments that test our inner strength; that make life feel as if this one time experience is the most impossible mountain to climb. Questions like this one help to keep us grounded and present and focused on being and becoming our best selves. The fear factor here might be, “what if I can’t answer this question or what if I stay stuck in my limiting beliefs?” I suggest taking time to unpack the question step by slow moving step until you come to understand how you got here.

Family therapist, author, marathon runner and professor Cami Ostman teaches an incredible workshop on how to successfully put the “Who told you that” question to the test and how to successfully answer it and use the question and answer to your advantage. When we feel stuck in our fear of not being enough and believing that we are truly not enough Ms. Ostman says that “we are not aligning with our true nature; we are not aligning with our core selves.” She goes on to say, “Our true nature, our core selves, are calm, joyful and centered. Most of our limiting beliefs start in childhood based on what we perceived as a need to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or hurt or shameful or weak. Our true nature thrives on genuine support from others and uses 4 qualities to help us thrive.” Those 4 qualities are:

*Clarity of purpose: Who does it benefit to take the road less traveled? Who does it benefit to follow the leader?

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

*Faith: Enjoy each step along the way and know that whatever choice you make; all will be okay.

“Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.” Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

*Commitment to ourselves and our purposes: What is one tiny step you can take each morning to bring you closer to where you want to be?

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” John Mayer

*Sovereignty: The unshakable knowledge that we are the supreme rulers of our own minds and choices and decisions. Who has given you permission to question your own self- worth, in other words, who told you that and why are you believing it? When we truly believe that we are sovereign over our hearts, minds and bodies then we are free to come and go, to explore and choose wisely and be impactful in all we do.

“Peggy is a sovereign nation. She governs herself and those around her by her own laws.” Katlyn Charlesworth, The Patriot’s Daughter

According to Ms. Ostman, bringing forth your true nature is a practice of letting go of fear; letting go of limiting beliefs, letting go of those things that were told to you whether to protect you or to scare you to stand still. Ms. Ostman suggests respectfully thanking all the parts of us that tried to protect us from the fears that are holding us back, wishing those parts well and firmly telling those parts that it is now time to take the reins and face the fears and the adventure that awaits.

As If….

A great way to begin your journey of shedding those limiting beliefs, of shedding fear is to take these 4 qualities and start with the end in mind. Let’s play….

Kari always wanted to be an artist. Her talents have been recognized by the obvious people in her life, her art teachers, her friends, her classmates, etc. but for some reason Kari has not taken all of those accolades and turned it into the art studio/gallery that she has always imagined. Kari doesn’t believe within herself that her art work is good enough to sell or that strangers would want to buy what she is creating. She is beginning to feel like doing art of any kind is a waste of time and that she needs to start getting serious about her life and start to make a living. “It feels like there is just too much wasted time in art and I need to pay my bills and just get on with my life at this point.” Who told Kari that art is too much of wasted time? Who told Kari that being an artist isn’t a serious pursuit of making a life? Who told Kari that she isn’t good enough to make art her career? When did those limiting beliefs start to take deep roots in her heart and mind?

There are a few choices Kari can make: She can give up her art completely and get a “real” job, she can only do her artwork for her own pleasure and joy, she can give her artwork away to friends and colleagues as gifts so that at least her art will be “out there” even if it hangs in someone else’s house or office or she can imagine one last time what it would be like to have the art studio/gallery she always dreamed about.

Kari chooses to imagine one last time about her art studio. Kari chose the “as if” option and she lets her imagination run wild with the end in mind, “as if” she made her dream come true and opened her art studio and became the successful artist she always dreamed of becoming. Out loud Kari imagines it is opening night at her art studio and the walls are full of her artwork in every medium. There are lots of people at the opening tonight including people that came as guests of those that received an invitation and the biggest surprise of all is that the media are here tonight to interview Kari and get her story. Kari imagines the gorgeous outfit she is wearing and imagines that her parents are there and feel so proud of her for sticking with her dream and making it come true. Kari imagines the food and drinks being passed around, she imagines the pockets of conversation going on around her studio, she imagines the music playing in the background and how great everyone looks tonight because they came to this special event. At the end of the night Kari imagines her most sacred piece of art being sold to an art collector and Kari being commissioned to do work for businesses in and around her art studio.

The greatest take away for Kari in playing the “as if” game is that she just thought about even more ideas on how to make her studio/gallery a great success. By opening herself up to the possibilities and by letting herself feel the happiness in her core-self, by freeing her mind and heart from limiting beliefs, Kari has experienced more joy in these few minutes than in the past year of struggling to be “practical” about her future.

Call to Action

Find a friend, mentor, coach, or use your own reflection in the mirror and play the “as if” game with your dreams. No limiting beliefs allowed. Dress the part, play the music, set the scene and have at it. Notice everything, the way you look, the way you feel, the way your thoughts expand. Who told you that you can’t make this vision your reality?

One of Ms. Ostman’s most successful practices is to interview fear and listen to what comes up in that discussion. If you are interested in trying this interview with fear, please give me a call. You will be changed from this experience.

On a piece of paper make a list down one side of the paper of all the things that you believe today. On the other side of the paper make a list of how you came to have each belief; in other words, who told you that? On a new piece of paper make a list of all the new things you are now going to believe that will help move you toward the person you want to be. Keep in mind on this new list, that YOU are giving yourself permission to believe these new things, act on these new things, dream these new things and become these new things.

Write a good-bye letter to your old self letting go of the fearful things that you have told to yourself or have been told to you that you are currently believing; letting go of the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from becoming your true self. Before you end the good-bye to old self letter start to write about all the new things your new, free self will be experiencing from now on. What successful, happy, expansive experiences will you be adding to your new life? How much can you honestly feel inside of your core-self that you believe you honestly, courageously, and wholeheartedly will experience in all the amazing life moments that are destined to come to you?

You Are Becoming

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“We all wind up drawn to what we’re afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Ever since beginning my journey to become a great life coach there has been one word that keeps swirling around me. I had not ever heard this word and my name spoken in the same sentence before my journey but I hear this word quite often since embarking on my journey. One word that I never in all my life would associate with describing who I am; one word that sounds so empowering and makes everything so possible and yet it has been a word I have been afraid of my whole life. I heard it yet again a day ago in relationship to me and I had to just sit very still and really think about all the times where this word has shown itself in my life and wonder why I just haven’t made the connection. Why does this word strike such fear inside of me?

Before I reveal the word let me ask you this question:

In your lifetime in what circumstance have you ever wished you could see yourself the way other people see you?

This could be in a good light or a not so good light. This could be on your “best foot forward” day or your “I wish I stayed in bed today” day. This could be in a spiritual way meaning wanting to see yourself as God sees you but not being able to do so.

Many times I have wished I could see in me what other people see in me. I absolutely believe that if I had the “knowing” of what other people believe I can be or what they think I already am then I could conquer the world. I believe this because of the one thing I know about myself most of all and that is that I hate to let people down.

It’s not really a people pleasing knowing that I have about who I am it’s more of a challenge I adopt within my heart that pushes me to do and become simply because someone I trust and admire has a knowing about me, an insight about me that I never allowed or truly saw in my own self. There is a becoming about me that other people see whether it is in the form of who I am becoming or that I am becoming in appearance or in a spiritual sense.

“Sight is one of the most easily deceived senses. I could make a coin disappear and your eyes would believe it gone, even if it were merely up my sleeve.” Megan Chance, The Spiritualist

I find this quote so universal and so important. What does someone see in each of us that we hide from our own selves? What disappears from within us that we believe is gone or never existed yet another person can see as if it were part of our face or skin or clothing? Something someone else sees but knows that we don’t so it appears to have disappeared but is not truly gone. It’s kind of a version of faith; to walk in the trust of what is unseen.

What holds each of us back from becoming who we are meant to be or who we want to be?

The dictionary defines the word becoming as:

  • Flattering a person’s appearance
  • The process of coming to be something or of passing into a state or any change from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality

We are all in such a rush to “get there” wherever there is that we forget or choose not to stop and listen and see that in order to become we must slow down and be the word that has been swirling around me….courageous. Using the word courage is how people have been describing me for the past 3-1/2 years and it comes up so often that I can’t ignore it anymore. I still don’t see it when looking through my own eyes but I absolutely must see what other people see if I am to become what they believe me to be; what their faith in me speaks to them.

Where does courage show up for me? Courage shows up when I am vulnerable, when I admit I don’t know something and can open my heart to receiving help and guidance, when I am asked to face a fear and work through it in the truth of not wanting to face the person inside of me who is saying, “Walk away from this. You don’t have to face this.” Courage shows up when life gets really, raw-ly emotional for me and I have to stand and face that painful dragon and slay it. Courage shows up when someone hears a piece of my story and their take away is the courage they heard in my voice and in my words when I never felt courageous at all while going through it.

What has happened inside of my heart is that by hearing the word courageous associated with me the person and me the spirit I have created a trail behind me that I want to always remain and lead me home. I am starting to believe in this crazy word. I may not yet fully associate courage with who I am but I like what other people are seeing in my becoming and I don’t want to let them or myself down. I want to keep exploring this empowering feeling and word and see what I can see as I go along creating my truth and building self-trust.

In her book Daring Greatly, author and scientist Dr. Brene` Brown said this when describing herself through vulnerability, courage and allowing herself to see what other people see in her:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” I had no idea that in each life moment where I stood up and plowed through a fear I was courageous and vulnerable and revealing a truth about who I am deep inside, yet other people could see it in me all along.

Dr. Brown goes on to say:

“All the love and support I received allowed me to slowly begin to take more risks, to show up at work and at home in new ways. I took more chances and tried new things.” Because of each conquest I had made that lay behind me I was unknowingly building strength and empowerment toward the next big thing. And each time I was in a situation to tell my story there came that word again, courage.

What I’ve ultimately learned is that by sharing my stories where I unknowingly showed courage I have been able to allow those listeners to imagine themselves facing the same fears and making it through on their own way toward becoming their best selves.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about the incredible walk I’ve been taking toward my own becoming….

Trust: Trust your heart, trust your gut, and trust your sincerity and integrity. Trust that although the process might take a lifetime, each step is for and toward a purpose. There is no rush toward becoming whatever you want to become or whoever you want to become because each level you reach is a level you needed to obtain in order to keep going forward. It may not be for you in the end, it may be for someone else entirely, keep going.

“Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from ‘Instructions’)” Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Believe in your value: For me the word courage is truly a value in action. I’ve shared with you before about how our values show up in our lives whether intentionally or magically. Knowing what your values are is a very strong and empowering step in your becoming. When I first took the test to determine my top 5 values out of the 24 values we all carry within us, courage was somewhere in the middle. Recently I was asked to take the test again and surprisingly courage appeared in my top five. I just shake my head. I had no idea how strongly courage has played a role in my life until I decided to dedicate myself to finding my life.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sight: This is a tough one. It is far easier to hide from the truth of what we see in our own soul than to admit the vulnerability and the blessing in bringing it to light. I can recall many times in my life when I hid from my own self in order to not face my own truth. What I’ve learned is that life does not exist in the places we choose not to see. Life can only exist in bringing forward all the messy, mixed up, odd, weirdness’s that make up who we are. I have taken action steps with the utmost of integrity and seen first-hand the power those steps have created. Take what you see from within your own soul, the person you see that you want to be and take that first step with integrity toward that unique and wondrous person. The people in your world will thank you for it and your heart will grow and your eyes will see what can’t be seen because your heart will grow.

“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” Shannon L. Alder

Courage: I can’t think of a better word than this. To have courage means to exercise your will to accomplish goals you set for yourself in the face of opposition, whether it is an external opposition or internal opposition. Another way to look at this is in the word bravery. According to professors and authors, the late Christopher Peterson and current University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman, their book Character Strengths and Virtues talks about bravery as the “ability to do what needs to be done despite fear. Beyond the domain of battle on a battlefield, bravery allows for this character strength to be applied by not only saying or doing the unpopular but correct thing but in also facing terminal illness with equanimity and to resisting peer pressure regarding a morally questionable shortcut.” To this I would add that it also takes meaning in any act large or small where we are running through our own internal fears of whatever we have chosen to face head on.

For example: When I was tasked at my temp job to create an excel chart and maintenance form I panicked. I don’t do excel well at all. The challenge before me was to get the task done and done very well. I enlisted the help of a colleague to teach me some basic things and then I took it from there. I refused to leave for the day until the bulk of the work was done. That was my internal opposition. It took all kinds of crazy courage to meet the challenge of fear that excel symbolizes for me but I did it. Did I feel courageous? No. Did I feel successful in the end? Yes. Would I choose to take on another excel project? Oh hell No. Did I prove I could do it and so I could do it again? Yes. Ultimately what stayed inside of me, what I see now, is that when courage is needed I enlist, without thought. When my kids would get hurt and cry in pain I surprised myself every time by not panicking. I stayed even tempered, quiet, calm and loving for them and later when they were back to their playful, happy, bouncy selves I let out a deep breath and cried a little.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

Take some time to really, deeply think about your own character strengths and values; listen to how often a particular value comes up in your life; allow yourself to see where you are being an example day after day of this character strength and value. Believe what can’t be seen by you alone. That is faith, and that is having a knowing that you are indeed becoming as you walk through your purposes in life.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

 ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Call to Action

What are some of your core values often hidden but revealed in patterns of your behavior?

What would it take to acknowledge, out loud, in every way of your everyday those hidden core values?

When do you find yourself becoming your most “real” self?

In what ways have you been seen by others as real, as honest, as courageous, as vulnerable but did not allow yourself to see those truths within you?

Activity Challenge

In an effort to practice seeing those things we choose not to see or just can’t see, ask yourself just one of these questions every day and really dive into your day and all its glory. Then in whatever fashion helps you to express your answer use it. It could be journaling, praying, talking to a friend, coach or partner. The questions are:

What went right today?

What left you filled with awe today?

Where did your heart lead you today?

Where or in whom did I find inspiration today?

5 Steps Toward Cultivating a New Life

 

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“Yellow decided to risk for a butterfly. For courage she hung right beside the other cocoon and began to spin her own. ‘Imagine, I didn’t even know I could do this. That’s some encouragement that i’mon the right track. If I have the stuff inside me to make cocoons—maybe the stuff of butterflies is there too.” Trina Paulus, Hope for the Flowers

On a very rare and random quiet afternoon I was browsing the internet for odd stories. There are plenty of them out there but some just seem too ridiculous to pay any attention to. What did catch my attention was a list that supported my hope for the arrival of spring. I came across a list of flower names and what they mean.  Here is the gist of the list:

Gardenia – Grace

Iris – Faith

Lilac – Youth

Lily – New Life

Poppy – Imagination

Lotus – Purity

Sunflower – Happiness

Violet – Humble

Orchid – Beautiful strength

Rose – Love

I was particularly interested in Lily because Lily of the Valley is the flower for May and my birthday is in May; the day that I was granted access and honor to live out an undetermined amount of life minutes and to leave my soul print on this gracious life of mine.

“And then Jonah heard God’s voice. “Jonah, do you know what the difference is between you and the trees?” He was confident it was God because God usually asked questions but gave no answers. Jonah didn’t need a divine answer to this question, he knew it. “Yes,” he said. “The difference between me and the trees is that the trees let go of their leaves. I keep holding onto mine. The trees make room for new life. I don’t.” David W. Jones, Going Nuts!

I have been on a journey of the personal and spiritual kind and have come to realize that at the same time as I am learning and growing I have not been making room for new leaves to grow; hiding behind a past that I hold tight to like a scared rider on a rollercoaster. I have been holding on to the totality of all that has happened in my life to make me who I have become so far that I was choking the essence of my life away, until now. I have recognized a deep need to make changes and knew that this need I have been feeling was going to lead to me starting a new life. I had to find my big, deep breath and begin; something.

How shocked I felt to learn that Lily means new life. Making up my mind to change has breathed new life into me. When I started this year I was determined to live my life backwards. I was determined to understand all the nuances of living outside of my comfort zone and doing all the things I thought I was afraid of doing. I was determined to live in the unknown and to try to understand the depths of “living in faith, not by sight.” I was determined to walk through every door presented to me that would normally be a door I would never even consider touching the handle of.

“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.” Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

What I like about the unknown of a good or bad situation is that yes it may be bad on the surface but good can come out of it and it may be good on the surface but it can lead to better if we keep riding the wave of goodness. What I have learned so far is that patience and time need to make their stand in these situations and we need to allow for that.

A few posts ago I talked about my journey into volunteering and how my life unfolded to reveal the most uncomfortable opportunity for me up to that point. This opportunity stands as the example so far, of what possibilities exist in a new life; of what happened to me because I didn’t know I could do anything like this; because the encouragement that has come from this backward opportunity has opened the doors of wanting more opportunities. Everything I do now is touched with the vision and heart of knowing that because other people matter I then matter too. The opening quote so eloquently says, “If I have the stuff inside me to make cocoons”, or in my case, to make a difference, “maybe the stuff of butterflies is there too”, or for me the stuff of loving kindness. Who knew?

A couple of months into my volunteering a paying job opportunity came along. It was a very long time coming and it was the most odd, most crazy, most out of my comfort zone job I could have ever imagined for me to do. I took it, no questions asked. It has added to my feeling of a new life in the way I learn this job, in the way I interact with new people, and most of all in the way I see the value of work itself. I feel like a flower blossoming. I feel like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. I feel like all I want to do is pay forward the life lessons that my new life minutes are teaching me. And so I write to you to share some thoughts…..

So how can we each help ourselves create a new life attitude:

Take a deep breath: It takes an incredible amount of courage to make any kind of change but the change can’t happen unless you get started. One big, audacious, enormous, cleansing deep breath and then say to yourself, “It has begun.” Then, go, be, do.

Buy new shoes: For my new job I needed new clothes but I didn’t want to spend the money on new clothes. I just wanted to enjoy the feeling of having money for a little while. Truthfully, I wanted to enjoy the feeling of freedom I was experiencing by having the money. I wanted to honor the promise I made to myself that once I had a job I would put financial support for others at the top of my to do list. It has been so fun having the freedom to choose who and how I support causes and charities that are so meaningful to me. However, new shoes help to make old clothes feel and look new again. When you feel good about the inside of you, you want it to show on the outside and vice versa.

Let time be your friend not a four letter word: What do you want to change, what challenge do you want to meet, what has your life become up until this moment and what do you want it to become from this moment forward? Meeting new people, starting a new job, eating new foods, learning a new language, whatever is “new” for you in helping to create a new life, allow time to work its magic. Just keep working your life minutes to their fullest each day and before you know it a week, a month or even a year will have gone by and you will look back and see just how absorbed you have been in the flow of living in your new life.

Don’t be afraid: Actually, it is perfectly okay to be afraid but don’t let that fear stop you. Feeling the fear is how you know you are on the right track toward a new perspective, a new life. Keep going and believe in your new life and keep showing yourself how your new life or new attitude or new perspective can change the outcome of a once stressful or undesirable situation. With each breakthrough away from a predictable fear and predictable response to the fear you will gain inner strength and empower your heart and soul to keep exploring and living your new life. You just might attract people to your more hopeful, positive new life and gain supporters or a new love or just lots of great friends. You might just realize for the first time that you are a great friend to yourself.

Stay unpredictable: Let life take you for a ride. Don’t try to control every aspect of every day. Life is not something that can be controlled if you are ever going to actually live it to its fullest. Unpredictable things happen in life, good and bad, so stay open and even more unpredictable in the face of what gets handed to you. You just might be pleasantly surprised at how brave and curious you really are.

A New Life Begins Even When One Ends

Last week a dear friend of mine lost her young son to a senseless car accident. My heart broke into pieces for her loss and pain but she was courageous and brave and most of all she was not afraid of this new life that she now had no choice but to face and so I was not afraid. I was not afraid to hug her, I was not afraid to honor her son, I was not afraid to face all the personal feelings that this particular tragedy stirred up inside of me, I was not afraid to think about my own death in the someday and get specific on how I want to be remembered and suddenly my new life outlook took on even more meaning. This horrible tragedy injected my new life with even more determination and purpose and empowerment.

A new life has begun for my friend. She has to go on living and becoming and growing her heart and soul without her son. Her new life could be magical and wonderful while her heart has become a stained glass window of broken pieces capturing the fractured sunlight of her life minutes. Her story will be spectacular and dramatic and a must read, but not yet.

And isn’t that the point; the existence of the “not yet”? It takes patience and tolerance, curiosity and perseverance, hope and faith and gratitude. It takes a whole lot of courage and love to move through who you were to who you want to be or at times need to be. Every little thing you do or don’t do makes a mark on your soul and on the story of your life. Some people make bad choices when challenges are put in front of them and the story ends. Some people get to the next page of their story and face the challenge of continuing on or start a new chapter. If you continue on make it count. Learn from everything that comes on your path. If you start a new chapter then be new in it. I’m all in and it’s been beautiful.

“Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes we hide the very core of our existence because we fear the judgment of others. Sometimes the universe shifts and we are provided with a brief moment to begin anew. These moments allow us to become fearless and let our perfectly created souls shine.” Cori Garrison, New Beginnings

With all my heart I say to you, shine on…..

Call to Action

What does a new life or new beginning look like for you?

Where do you want to start your new life? In the current chapter or a new chapter of your story?

What is holding you back from entering your new life?

How can I help you today?

 

In memory of Alex Grasso. A son, a soldier, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. You were a success in every role you played. Rest in peace in your new life……

The ABC’s of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

 

inner critic 001

Here is a little riddle for you compliments of www.lifehack.org:

“You can only have it once you have given it.

One of the most misunderstood concepts out there, respect is asked for yet seldom given. Some even try to take it by force or buy it, but if you are unable to show others respect and treat them as equals you will never be able to truly earn their respect. People respect bravery, intelligence, skill, talent, compassion and physical and mental strength, and these things cannot be faked.”

Lately the question of respect has morphed into, how can someone honestly, truly respect you if you don’t respect yourself? I believe respect should at most start within each of us….

You would think that after raising 3 children I would be the veteran of momhood. You would think that after all I have endured in learning my children at every age and stage of their lives so far I would have nothing left to learn except how to co-exist. You would think that when they hit the magic government age of 18 that says, “Hey, welcome to adulthood, but not really”, that I would be able to transition with them from apron strings and purse strings to I’ll-take-care-of-it-mom strings and no more routine bedtime strings.

Yup. You would think all of these things because after all, I’ve been with them since the moment they were conceived. Alas, not even close. I’m learning, what I think is the biggest lesson of my whole life, other than not to be afraid of death, and that is the word and meaning of respect in all its Technicolor dreaminess.

Okay, so here is this posts vocabulary lesson. The dictionary defines the word respect as meaning

1-      an act of giving particular attention or consideration

2-      high or special regard or esteem

3-      the quality or state of being esteemed.

In the case of our first definition I think I did an admirable job of showing respect to my children and their needs such as food, attention, time, education outside of school and moral support whether asked for or not. Just to name a few.

In definition number 2 when the kids did something that went above and beyond their basic level of earned respect, and by that I mean getting homework done well and on time, helping with chores, not arguing when an extended family visit was in order, I made sure they understood why I was calling attention to my “extra” respect. I’m a huge fan of answering those “why” questions.

In definition number 3 I always tried to find reasons to celebrate them. I never enjoyed keeping to the “traditions only” rules of celebrations. For example I always enjoyed celebrating their ½ birthdays. I would serve them dinner on half a plate, I would buy a silly, non-essential gift and not wrap it or give them the first ½ of a gift and then the rest on their actual birthday, I would give them ½ a glass of a beverage, I would even supply half a cake without anything written on it and sing very badly a half version of the birthday song. They thought it was cool and funny but I really just wanted them to know how aware I was of them and their lives.

Now, a mom would think that after a lifetime of showing them how to be respectful, what respect looks like and sounds like and feels like, that they would automatically have it in them by 18 years old to have respect as part of their DNA.

Yes and no.

What I am learning very painfully is that I did so much respecting of them that I never stopped to fully show them how to respect themselves or me. On some basic level I did teach them self-respect like bathing, teeth brushing, care of clothing, and the importance of a thank you whether in note form or verbal but it wasn’t enough. I did teach them to stand up for themselves but it seems not very well.

We all have demons living inside of us that talk trash to us about how we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not worthy enough, not talented enough. Some of us are able to outgrow those little annoying negative voices and some of us are slaves to those voices.

So, here I am dealing with all that I hid from myself and unknowingly did not deal with when it came to my children about how to first and foremost respect myself from the inside out. The most powerful lesson is that even when your children grow up there will always be ways to parent them. The job changes and evolves but the investment never ends. Words, actions, emotions live on long after our bodies do. I’ve learned an important lesson when it comes to integrity of self and of others.

My youngest is going through a very lost, very confusing time in his life and his inner demons are being played out in glorious fashion. His very low self-respect is causing our whole family to want to hide away from all of his negativity but we can’t and more importantly we won’t, regardless of how we feel. His low self-respect shows up in ways such as guilt, blame, lying, secrets, volatile emotions and stress. His body is not responding well to all of his low self-respect and so it is becoming very dangerous for him to continue on this path and that is not healthy for him or for any of us who care and love him so much.

I am forced to see so much of my own insecurities and lack of self-respect showing up in him and I feel at times helpless to empower him and hypocritical to try. But here’s the thing, and it really matters right this moment, we are going through the same thing at the same time and I just might be able to help him and he help me. What wouldn’t a parent do to save their child?

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” –Mark Twain

What does self-respect look like?

If I were to draw a picture of self-respect it would look like flowers blossoming with hope and integrity in the early cool, spring air. It would look like my boys did when they were young and wanted to wear super hero costumes because that is how they saw themselves that day. It would look like girls in high school who wear real clothes when everyone else is wearing pajama pants and slippers to class. It would look like teenagers laughing out loud at something funny their parent said and they didn’t care who saw or heard them laughing.

What does self-respect feel like?

Self-respect feels like warmth. Self-respect feels like having that superhero living inside of me, All. The. Time. Self- respect feels like knowledge, wisdom, confidence and courage all wrapped into one amazing 6th sense. Self-respect feels like being small in stature on the outside but feeling 6’ tall on the inside and letting the inside out. Self-respect feels like being good enough, worthy enough and just enough.

You’ve heard me say it over and over, perspective is everything. What you concentrate on most is what your life will bring to you. If your perspective is negative about yourself then everything you see from your point of view will have undertones of negativity and hopelessness. If you change just one aspect of your point of view from negative to positive then you are creating a crack in the negative to let the happy, positive light in.

I poured all of me into being a mom and took little to no time out for self-development. In that vein I simultaneously showed my children that being an adult meant giving up on all your personal individual rights and being only for someone else. No wonder my son is having a hard time growing into his manhood/adulthood. It sounds like I’m putting an awful lot of responsibility on my shoulders for who they have become so far and not enough responsibility on theirs and maybe I am, however, I feel blessed in the fact that I can see these characteristics so clearly now and hopefully say something and do something and then back up what I say and do in my own life’s example so that he doesn’t continue to believe that he will have to lose himself completely.

So how can I build self-respect and pass on those building lessons to my children?

Understand that self-respect is a close, very close cousin to self-confidence and self-esteem. Each can stand alone if necessary but they all work better together.

Believe every day in my own authenticity. Always stay in touch with my truth and my inner child. The child that day dreams, plans, schemes and loves to show her individuality. My truth showing up in the confidence of the decisions and choices I make, even if my decisions and choices are not in line with someone else’s. Somewhere in our teens we get it our heads that we equally want to be seen for our individual selves while blending in to the social norms so we don’t look “foolish”. We can’t have it both ways. It will always be more fashionable to choose ourselves over being a clone of someone else.

“Don’t go the distance trying to fit in the crowd and be accepted by others. Accept and respect yourself first.” Elizabeth E. Castillo

I think the most important step to create respect for myself is to forgive myself. I will absolutely, without a doubt make mistakes and have things from my past that I am not proud of. Respect grows from understanding what went wrong, learning from those wrong steps and constantly improving who I am and who I want to be. Self-respect grows from acknowledging wrongs to others as well. As a child I had a hard time saying I’m sorry to anyone but being able to be so vulnerable and humble builds self-respect quicker than anything I have ever experienced. I’ve also learned that once I apologize to myself and/or to others, I need to let it go. Move forward and leave the pain and incident behind. If I keep bringing it with me I haven’t learned anything and I might as well wear a sign on me every day that says “unworthy.”

I have learned that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, every day, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.” C. JoyBell C

Know my character strengths, know myself. Character strengths are the building blocks to who I want to be and been seen as; what I believe about myself without a doubt. These strengths allow me to develop my own core standards of living and the talents I can use to actually make that life happen. These strengths allow me to handle criticism with a growth mindset instead of persecution mindset, they allow me to see beauty and excellence in all things, and they allow me to work on values that are not so strong yet because I have a growing understanding of all the possibilities that live inside of me.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou

Dress to impress……ME. Treat me as I would treat a stranger or anyone I love. If wearing nice clothes helps me feel good about me then I need to make sure I wear nice clothes. How many times did I tell my children, the boys mostly, that when you dress to learn you will learn because you feel good about your appearance. Feeling good makes you stand taller and talk more and interact more and take responsibility more. When you dress to be slouchy and comfortable you will be lazy in all things. Besides that little nugget it’s so fun to wear clothes that look nice. When you look nice you feel nice and then you act nice.

“If I waited for a proper occasion to get dressed up I’d never wear half of these clothes. Put on the clothes and you make things happen to match them. It doesn’t work the other way around.” Erin Kelly

Best foot forward. This goes beyond what I wear. This speaks to my reputation and integrity. Stay true to who I am and who I believe I am. I may falter from time to time, my ideas may not work out the way I planned but I will always try to pick myself up again each time I fall and that is what people will know for sure about me. If I lose respect for me how can anyone keep respect for me?

“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” George Eliot, Adam Bede

Give what I want to get. If I want to have friends, I need to be a friend. If I want people to support me then I have to be supportive of others. If I want respect then I need to show respect, always.

“If you don’t give, you don’t get.” Krishna Sagar, Summit Your Everest: Your Coach for Obstacle & Failure Management

Let bad feelings come and then promise to let them go. Don’t let bad feelings about me linger too long. It takes no time at all to fall down and stay down.

“Self-pity, while it should be accorded due respect, is the greatest of all acids to the human soul.” Paul Hoffman, The Last Four Things

Don’t become dependent on the praise from other people. Sure it’s a great feeling to get those “atta girl” accolades but with all my heart try not to depend on the approval from others. Be confident enough within me to know for sure that I did a great job even if no one took notice.

“Hold dear and true friends close to your heart, it matters not where you find them, only that you treat them with love and respect always.” L.M. Fields

I hope this list of lessons will help you on your journey through self-respect. Need some help? Write to me and I’ll be your helper.

Call to Action

“If you had to spend every second, of every day, of every year of your life with someone, would you do whatever it took to love that person? Would you be a best friend, a teacher, coach and mentor? Would you do whatever it takes to treat that person with respect? Well guess what? That someone is you! Who deserves the best more than you do? Think about it and have an outstanding day…!”James A. Murphy, The Waves of Life Quotes and Daily Meditations

5 Keys to Understanding our Response Ability

 

The dictionary defines the word responsibility as a state or fact of being answerable, accountable, or responsible; of being reliable or dependable; morally right or legally required.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” —Spiderman

In my coaching world responsibility is akin to evolution. If we are in tune with our deepest selves we know when we are facing a crossroads and we also know when that crossroads feels like mud. In order to evolve and grow and become who we want to be we need to face the resistance and hold ourselves accountable/responsible for the decisions we face at the crossroads. The resistance we feel is the one strong emotion we need to make something happen. We tend to lose momentum when we perceive responsibility to be too cumbersome or obligatory.

“The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance you will feel.” – Steven Pressfield

I say play the odds. Welcome the resistance because at that moment you know you are about to learn something very important and essential to your happiness and well-being. What I have learned most in being a life coach is the mirror effect. Holding up a mirror to my clients and leaving them no room to escape or deny their responsibility to their agenda or their life. A client comes to me most often in order for me to help them with a sticking point on their journey through life and I then have the pleasure of holding them accountable/responsible by holding up that mirror so they can see exactly what I see and so much more by showing them their hidden potential that will help them get through to the other side of that sticking point.

Many times I know when responsibility is being evaded simply because the answer to most questions that I ask is in my answer of ”I don’t know.” The “I don’t know” answer is a safe place to hide, a safe place to put off dealing with what we fear facing. We do know the answer to most questions asked about ourselves but at times we feel shame, fear or denial about admitting the truth of ourselves to ourselves much less to other people.

A great way to alleviate the pressure of an “I don’t know” answer is the one thing I am a huge fan of and that is the idea to “let go of the outcome”. It isn’t the outcome that matters as much as the struggle and education to get through the decision making, soul baring, or truth telling process.  By not attaching ourselves to any specific outcome we are free to journey through endless possibilities and learn with an open mind. Your only concern is to take responsibility for the learning and the doing.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” –Sigmund Freud

Responsibility or rather our ability to respond to all that life throws at us is a major component toward overall happiness. In his recent blog post, “4 Life Lessons That Lead to Happiness, Success and Longevity

Blogger Eric Barker talks about key components toward happiness. One question he researched for his blog post asks, “Is there someone in your life whom you would feel comfortable phoning at four in the morning to tell your troubles to?” In other words, if you are having a hard time with your response abilities, who can you turn to  help shoulder the process toward your ability to respond to what life is throwing your way?

To see Eric’s full post click here

We all know that feeling irresponsible most of the time feels like a ten ton weight on our shoulders and at times it feels like we are throwing our cares out the window but sooner or later we all have to face the life we designed for ourselves and all that comes with it. So what are we afraid of when we are asked to step up and man up and take up the gauntlet of our responsibilities?

In her book, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, Eleanor Roosevelt speaks of freedom, strength, courage and confidence. Those are some of my favorite success characteristics by the way.

Here are some ways to live a more responsible kind of life but without the burden that the word responsibility carries. See how much of this list you can embrace and honor and engage of your own Response Ability:

1-      “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I didn’t think I could get through some of the tougher coaching classes that I had to take to get my certification. That led to not fully believing that I could change my career path. What I learned by facing those fears was that I was made of tougher more determined stuff than I ever imagined. Now I know that the next time I have an uphill battle to face, which will always include the responsibilities that go along with plans and pathways toward my own happiness, I can get through it.

2-      “It’s your life but only if you make it so”. There are things I want to accomplish in my every day and my life as a whole. I am the only person that can make that happen. I do believe in divine intervention and I do yield to that higher power but I forge ahead where my thoughts and emotions lead me because they are my inner compass and I know that by not ever trying how am I going to know what I am capable of? I am the only one that can take responsibility for me.

3-      “There is no human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.” As a life coach I help guide the digging deep process with my clients. They know I am that person they can call at four in the morning to tell their troubles to. It is rewarding to give of myself in that way however it is also easy for me to at times to hide behind helping someone else when I know that I myself need to face a digging process. If I am not willing to do the hard work for myself how can I possibly be successful at helping someone else? I am ever so grateful for all the people put into my life and onto my path to help me dig deep. Each person serves a unique purpose with the strengths they have that help me to become my best self in handling the responsibilities that come along with the life path I’ve chosen. With other people’s help I can help someone else.

4-      “If you can develop the ability to see what you look at, to understand its meaning, to readjust to the information, you can continue to learn and grow.” I always tell my children, “Let’s see what we can see”. Lots of times we are so conditioned to pre-conceive what we will see when we get “there” that we miss a lot of what is actually revealing itself to us. Keep an open mind, let go of the expected outcome. Allow awe and wonder to permeate your mind and thought process. You’ll be amazed at what more there is out there to learn and how much happier you will be for the freedom. Take responsibility for the learning and growing and you’ll be amazed at the things you see around you.

5-      “Love can often be misguided and do as much harm as good, but respect can do only good.”  In his blog post Eric Barker talks about how  love manifests itself through large, active social networks, physical activities that create flow and engagement, giving back to those in need, enjoying your career, and cultivating and nurturing healthy friendships and marriages. When these elements are in play and working well we are taking responsibility for the way we want to live our lives. On the respect side when I take responsibility for my perspective, my actions and my emotions I am showing respect for not only me but for those around me. I am teaching others how to respect me. From that respect love can grow; love of self, love toward others, and love from others. It’s a win-win situation!

So, what is your ability to respond when your life is calling you?

Call to Action

What is the great power/responsibility that you hold in your hands right now?

How does this power/responsibility feel? Is it one of obligation, constraint, guilt, burden or an albatross and if so how can you make it one of accountability, dependability and/or freedom?

How can the truth of who you are handle the duty, care, charge, contract, engagement and importance of this responsibility?

What are you not facing head on right now that you know deep inside is something you can handle but just don’t want to because it is too much work?

What do other people know about you that make them believe in your abilities but you choose to shy away from?

What is the fear?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

4 Pathways Through the Triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage

The Greek word for truth is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” When was the last time you yourself were absolutely truthful in the presence of someone else? When was the last time you candidly chose to not hide something from within you?

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

The number one coaching rule: Don’t trust me (the coach). Does that sound backwards? Why, you ask, should I not trust my coach? Because the person you should trust first and always is YOU. Trust deep within you that what you seek in life and spirit and wisdom is what makes up your truth and carries you through into everything you do.

When you enlist a life coach to help get you up and over and through the forest of your life you will be asked some really tough, hard to answer, hard to face questions AND you will be held accountable for the answers that you give and for the actions you take toward the outcome you hope to achieve. Think you are ready for a life coach? Think again and again and again because a life coach will expose your vulnerabilities and will challenge your courage. A life coach will ask for YOUR TRUTH and if you are not prepared to face your truth, if you think you need to hide behind a mask of perfection or arrogance or half-truths then you are not ready. Friends, spouses, community leaders, teachers, etc. all ask you for your truth. How honest have you been? How vulnerable have you allowed yourself to be?

In her amazing book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene` Brown talks about vulnerability at length and before you are through chapter two you know for sure that vulnerability is truth. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” (pg. 37 DG).

Examples of how vulnerability feels range from:

“It feels like taking off the mask and hoping the real me isn’t too disappointing” to “You are half way across a tightrope, and moving forward and going back are both just as scary” to “Letting go of control” to the ultimate analogy, “Vulnerability is like being naked onstage hoping for applause rather than laughter.”

What is the truth of your vulnerability? Do you know where your weak spots are? Are you courageous enough to admit to those weak spots, out loud, in front of a crowd, metaphorically naked?

My husband and I have been staring vulnerability and truth in the face this year and it has been a very, very tough time. The kids are getting older and starting to spread their wings so our time together as a couple has been more than we have ever been used to. Having so much time together has put us in a position of talking more, seeing each other in different ways and not always liking what we see. We never took the time to invest in the bank of our relationship while raising our children. We thought that the kids were the number one responsibility and that we came second to their needs. I believe this is the point in the relationship where a lot of couples look at each other and say, “Who are you?”

Sure it would be easy to just get busy with outside things and avoid alone time with each other especially when we seem to feel like such strangers with each other but we are choosing to face this hard time and speak our truth instead of hiding behind the mask of busyness and work. If ever I thought that in my life I have always been an honest, truth telling person I am here to tell you that there is no vulnerability and truth like what you experience when you choose to be open and honest about yourself and your relationship with your spouse.

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it is served up.” –George R.R. Martin

It’s been a few months of this kind of routine, of coming together and talking and being honest about where we each are at in our lives and on our own life road. Our agenda is to see if indeed we are meant to stay together or have we exhausted our purpose together? There have been tears on both parts and there have been times when we needed to separate away from one another for a bit just to breathe and get our bearings but we seem to manage to come back together and pick up where we left off. It feels like we are breaking each other open like an egg and pouring out from the comfort of the shell and exposing ourselves to the elements. It has been scary and tender and in a way kind of beautiful because we are seeing each other in a new light.

I have to say that I have never felt more in control of my life as I do right now in being as truthful and vulnerable as I’ve been with my husband lately. There is some kind of magic in all that vulnerability and honesty and it has kind of set me free. My spirit has power now that it never had before and my soul feels lighter and more spiritual. If we stay together or go our separate ways we will each be stronger, brighter, shinier and more self-aware than ever before.

I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we are actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we are suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before.” –C. Joybell C.

I won’t lie and say that coming together and holding each other accountable for our own truth is easy. Just as in coaching we try not to avoid or pretend a truth, whether in a relationship context or a parent context or a personal context. We do this by staying accountable and keeping each other focused on the thing we want to achieve. We have faith that whatever the outcome we did all we could to discover our truth.

It isn’t easy at all and as we go through each conversation we find ourselves that much deeper into a story started long ago but the point is that things can’t get better if we don’t start somewhere. Say the first word, write the first thought or question, or express the first feeling. Nothing can get better if the status quo stays the status quo.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Truth and vulnerability summon courage to make a stand. Opportunity exists in the triad. If we stay shy and self-preserved or self-protective then anything that might have been, good or bad or better than imagined, stays locked away forever. The saying that “the truth shall set you free” is really quite remarkable when you actually experience it. The key, in my humble opinion, is that you have to trust to some great degree the person you are telling your truth to. You have to have inner courage to say what is real and what you need and what you want out of life. You have to be willing to expose your inner self to questions and comments and opinions but not be swayed by these things. Tough, tough, tough to do.

Dr. Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

So how do we cultivate the triad: Truth, Vulnerability and Courage?

Show up fully loaded: Exist in a space that is solely devoted to another person. Leave your ego at the door and don’t allow it to come in, even when it starts pounding and demanding.

Stay engaged: The easiest thing to do would be to let go. Let go of the relationship, let go of the trying, and/or let go of listening. The triad asks you to stay engaged. Don’t let go, don’t give up until you have spoken and listened and experienced every truth, vulnerability and act of courage in the face of the adversity.

Enlist your tribe: There is no glory in going through life alone. We need each other. We were designed that way. How ironic that we try to avoid being open and vulnerable and truthful to the very people we need, whether in the short term or the long haul. “We need support. We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the arena” says Dr. Brown.

Whether you choose the people for your tribe to be family, certain friends, coaches, therapists, or teachers it doesn’t matter just so long as you have that go to person for that all important moment when you realize you NEED help and encouragement to get back up and go again.

Make peace with the rules of living a wholehearted life: If you are truly, truthfully living a full and engaged life then there will always be vulnerable moments, weak moments, and moments where courage needs to be summoned. If you opt out of the things that scare you, push you, test you, challenge you, engage you out of your comfort zone then you are only living a ½ life. Even in those sheltered life experiences you set up so perfectly for yourself you will face vulnerability and truth.

Rule: If you are alive you are vulnerable. End of story. The band Rush says so well in their song “Freewill”, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Words like scared, judgmental, controlling, perfecting, unwilling and angry are all words you need to face the truth about. LIVE OUT LOUD. It is so freeing.

Journey On…..

Call to Action

Ask and answer for yourself:

What happens inside of me when I feel vulnerable or exposed?

What truth am I afraid to face?

What truth am I believing that could be looked at from a new perspective?

How do I self-protect when I feel vulnerable?

When do I think it is safe to take any emotional risks?

What circumstances challenge me toward inner courage even though I am scared to death?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building character strengths, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

Have a Little Faith

 

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.” –Paulo Coelho, Brida

We tend to free associate faith as being synonymous with God or religion but what about faith as an entity or power within ourselves?

What is faith, really? Faith is soul talk. Faith is the voice deep inside of your soul that tells you the truth and it is up to you to listen carefully and honestly to the soul talk; to trust that voice. Some might call it intuition.

What does it feel like to truly have faith?  For me, to truly have faith means to have freedom. To truly have faith means to know that what I am doing is born of a good heart with good intentions and whatever the outcome is, it was supposed to be that way. Faith means to have courage.

“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.” –Dan Millman

How does a person go about living a faithful life? That’s a hard one but from what I’ve experienced to live a faithful life means to relinquish control of the outcome and to let go of doubt.

When I start to feel like I have to hold on tighter than normal to make sure things turn out the way I want the outcome to be, well, this is not necessarily the outcome that should be and it screams of my doubt that things will go well at all. That is when I know I should stop and breathe deeply and let go of my narrow perspective, my righteousness. I don’t have all the answers. I only know what I think would make me happy. My perception of happiness is not for certain. I can’t see the bigger picture because I am the one inside the picture. Let the universe, the hope my energy creates, make more clear what happiness looks like and to then shoulder my doubts. Since I can’t account for every nuance of true happiness I have to believe that those things I can’t account for are just what faith will reveal. Here is a short story to shed light on this idea:

My youngest son is almost finished with high school. He is 17 and has been ready to launch and take control of his life for quite some time. This past week as a matter of fact, he and I had a heated conversation about his ability to take control of his life. I am not seeing any evidence of him making good decisions and the result of his poor decision making has been resulting in unhappy consequences for him. I hold on tighter to try to control his environment and take a strong hand in taking away his opportunities to make bad decisions. It’s not a good thing for me to do but I have been doing it for 17 years so it’s hard to stop just like that.

He on the other hand sees the consequences, good or bad, of his actions as part of a larger learning experience and so he said to me, “Mom, I know you are there for me and I know you worry about me but I want to make my own decisions and learn from my own mistakes.” Well that shut me up really quick. How can I not hear that?

My faith in him as a human being has to be greater than my doubt in his abilities to meet the challenges he is choosing to face. My faith in him as a person coming out of my home and my teachings has to be the overall measuring stick. Of course he is going to make mistakes and bad judgment calls, of course he is going to fall and have to find the inner strength to stand back up again but my FAITH in him OVERALL is what will hopefully give him the courage to meet those challenges; knowing that someone that loves him desperately is not doubting him when it really counts. I have to let go of the outcome, I have to let go of his hand, I have to let go of seeing him as my baby boy and trust, without doubt, and be courageous within myself to let him go. My perception of his happiness is not his perception of his happiness. I don’t know for sure what his future looks like. I can only believe in his ability to stand up to adversity because for all these years I have been kind of shielding him and warning him away from the really bad adversities. That’s not good for him or me. He needs to know that no matter what happens, I am here for him; I am his home when he needs one to regroup in. Yeah, faith is a huge inner sanctum that starts in the soul and spreads outward.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell

The dictionary defines faith as a belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something such as a force or the universe or God, especially without logical proof. It could also be defined as

-Unquestioning belief or

-A non-physical dimension of life; the evidence of things not seen; a strong conviction, deep trust or reliance upon or loyalty to something or some feeling.

Faith is magic. When life is at its lowest point and all seems predictably lost faith says, “But maybe all is not lost. Maybe all you need to do is believe.” Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Glinda the good witch told Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along. All she had to do was believe and concentrate hard on what she really wanted. I think of faith just like that.

My purpose of this post is to explore, briefly, faith without religiousness attached to it. It’s not an easy thing to do so I ask you to please interject your personal awareness of faith where and when appropriate if it is something that comes from a religious point of view for you in order to maintain a continuity of the overall concept of faith.

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” –Alan Wilson Watts

Lately I feel as if I have existed in despair. I have been driven to my knees in humbleness and awe of people and circumstance. It felt like a natural response to the absence of faith. I have been humbled in despair and I have summoned the force within myself to stand back up and take one step forward while at the same time feeling a deep and soulful need to ask the universe or my inner energy for help. It was faith in that one step, faith that that one step was within me to take, that I was able to stand back up and move forward. The soul connection (http://journeyoncoaching.com/2014/03/02/4-powerful-ways-to-make-a-soul-connection/) I made recently along with all of life’s obstacles that seem to have inundated me all at one time, left me with this whirlwind of despair and also this unshakeable knowing that this too shall pass.

I love that cliché, “This too shall pass”. It is the ultimate snapshot of faith. Sure, I want this despair to pass yesterday and if I really had my way I would want to never feel this despair at all but here’s the amazing thing, I am more alive in this moment of despair than at any other time. I am super, hyper sensitive to EVERYTHING that is going on around me right now. I listen deeper, I see more curiously, I feel more sensitively and I speak more purposefully. I ask questions more directly to gain more meaning, perspective and understanding.

Questions constantly fill my brain like, why did I have to go through this experience at all? Why are so many situations in my life crashing down around me all at one time? What are the lessons I am supposed to be learning and when will I learn them?

“Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.” –William Newton Clark

And that’s just it; there is a lesson to be learned and I want desperately to learn it. I want to see beyond what is in front of me. I want to feel beyond my own self interpretation. By having faith in the knowledge that everything happens for a reason I am lulled into a calmer, purposeful plodding.

Sometimes, when I am really quiet, I just know without a doubt that the lesson may not necessarily be only for me but for the person involved in the situation that may have started my despair or for clients I have yet to meet. THAT is fantastic and hopeful! Sure, it’s an ugly feeling to be going through, this despair thing, but my heart needs to understand it and where my heart goes so goes my empathy, my awareness, and my spirit.

“Even when things don’t work out, they do.” –Anonymous

Faith asks you to let go. Faith says, “Do what you need to do so that you know you gave this all you have but then let go of the outcome.” Why is there a need to control everything in our lives? Having faith in myself means that the only real control I have, ever, is my attitude and ability to choose open-mindedness; in other words my ability to expand my perspective.

For sure there are some ways in which putting our faith toward something might be harmful. Recently a family friend told me a story of how a neighbor he had known for over 20 years had asked him to consider investing in a new start up business. Now, this neighbor had proven to be a reliable, friendly,  community minded person and so it was no real stretch for my friend to have had faith in this neighbor and his request because after all, my friend new this man for a very long time. My friend didn’t think twice about investing the money with his friend but within a couple of weeks of investing the money my friend found out that the neighbor took off with the money, not just what was given to him from my friend but from everyone that had invested, never to be heard from again.

So how do you trust your own faith?

My take away from that story is that my friend showed faith in his own judgment and in the neighbor he knew to be this kind, genuine person and that is where it stops. A good decision was made based on solid evidence. But faith means trusting without solid evidence.

The neighbor did not have faith that his financial struggle would get better. The neighbor showed no faith in himself or in knowing that his situation would pass through the difficult time and move fluidly toward a better time. You can only trust yourself and your judgment. Let the rest go. Faith asks you to believe more so on evidence not seen or proven so when our faith is shaken based on evidence seen and proven we want to run for the hills. That is when faith should be at its strongest. Live according to YOUR values and the goodness that exists within you. Bad things are going to happen no matter what so plant your feet in those values that you choose to help define who you are and what you stand for.

Everyone is going through something they feel is horrible. Faith can help make that bumpy, horrible time less overwhelming. Faith at times of despair is like reaching out a hand to a friend.

The story my friend told me has the possibility of not being a done deal. If this neighbor is alive and functioning the hope is that the neighbor is learning and just might someday apologize for his actions. It is our job to have faith that he will learn and grow and not hurt anyone else and we should stand ready to forgive because life is a risk we take every time we get out of bed in the morning. If we ask for forgiveness we should also be available to forgive, to have faith in another persons’ sincerity and integrity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “We live by faith or we do not live at all. Either we venture or we vegetate. If we venture, we do so by faith simply because we cannot know the end of anything at its beginning. We risk marriage or we stay single. We prepare for a profession by faith or we give up before we start. By faith we move mountains of opposition or we are stopped by mole hills.”

I just finished reading an incredible, thought provoking book called “The Noticer”, by Andy Andrews. Please read this book. It is a quick read because it is so captivating, so simple, and so impactful. The gist of the book is about perspective and how simply changing the angle from which we see and take things in can have a profound impact on our lives starting with taking back hope. (http://journeyoncoaching.com/2013/05/22/is-there-a-difference-between-a-hope-and-a-wish/)

Faith asks us to have hope.

“Hope meets you halfway on a bridge called faith.” –Bryant McGill

My perspective regarding faith has absolutely changed from a religious based thought to a personal life encompassing value. When I practice being present with faith I can feel myself open up like a flower in the morning sunrise. It takes lots of practice but the peace of mind and spirit I have discovered is worth making time for.

Call to Action

Share your story with me and my readers about how faith has proven to be a positive force in your life. We all need to hear positive, uplifting, out of the norm stories to help us cling to hope, possibilities and faith.

If you would like to explore more about personal growth or would like to learn how to activate your intentions toward more meaning and purpose for your life please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

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