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?

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……

6 Steps to Developing Success Characteristics

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” –John Wooden

I wasn’t going to do this. I promised myself that I wouldn’t go here again. I told myself that I have already explored this topic to death and there just isn’t anything more to say about it. I have cried and recovered and cried some more. I tried so hard to move on from this but here it is, again, asking me to face a new perspective on an old issue.

That’s what I do you know, as a life coach, I help people find new perspective on old issues. Sometimes I am required to hold up a mirror, sometimes I am required to speak the plain, harsh truth, sometimes I am required to take a meandering walk through thick forests where there is little light to guide the way until, together, we find the beginning of a clearing. The hard part for me is knowing all of this and applying these steps to myself, my life, and my issues; changing MY perspective. I’ve come to learn that it absolutely takes practice and time and it makes no sense at all to fight that process. Patience is absolutely a virtue here.

One of the very first assignments I ask my clients to do is to tell me about their character. What makes them tick according to them, what is it they know for sure about themselves that is a constant truth no matter what is going on in their lives. In defining character it is important to understand that character is a moral or ethical quality of a person or thing. It cannot be contained or stifled or created. We all have character as part of who we are. At any point during our lives we make choices to encourage different parts of our character or to let them sit idle. The core components of our character are those that we use every day no matter what we do or who we are with. There are usually at least 5 core character traits that we use every day but it could be as high as 10 traits. The top 5 traits are the ones that get used simultaneously and interchangeably throughout our day and interactions with life.

Why am I talking about character? Last year at this time I wrote about my oldest son going to test the waters of independence by moving far from home with some friends, to see if he could make it on his own. Life intervened and he came home after one very long month but he learned a lot and had a new perspective on his priorities and outlined a plan toward his success that would include him living back at home.

In less than one year he is moving out again, alone this time and will not be coming home in any foreseeable future. He is determined to make this work in his favor. He just has this indefinable needling inside of him that he has to answer. What is apparent this time that was not so apparent last time? His character. In the coaching world we call it character strengths. In my coaching practice I call it success characteristics. So what do I know for sure about him now that I didn’t know as well a year ago? Well I know about his courage, his determination, his zest, his authenticity, his humility, his kindness, his honesty and his optimism.

These are the success characteristics he brings with him in everything he does. Not all of them play at the top but most of them get engaged and used throughout his day. If I had to pick his top 5 I would say humility, authenticity, optimism, determination, and open-mindedness.

There are 24 critical human character strengths that each of us has inside of ourselves. Knowing what your strengths are is very uplifting and helps better define a life purpose. But know this, just because one strength is listed at number 24 doesn’t mean that strength is in a bad place it just means that it isn’t exercised enough. It can move up in ranks if you work hard at making yourself aware of using it.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller

(Anything worth having is worth working hard for. That’s an oldie but a goodie.)

So he is leaving on Friday and while as his mom I feel devastated to let him go because I will miss him with every fiber of my heart and soul, what I have come to really, genuinely, wholeheartedly realize is that he is not mine and he never was mine. Let me explain…..

I was tasked with the unimaginable pleasure and miracle of being his guide. I was given a gift and I was asked to take care of this gift to the best of my ability with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my might. I was not asked to own him like a trophy won or to control him like a radio active toy. I was asked to help him grow and learn and achieve his own success as he can and is able to do and to give back to the world he lives in. I did that. Was I successful? I don’t know. Part of me wants to say yes because look at him; he is embarking on this scary, adventurous, “I want to make something of myself” journey, alone. He is not hiding at home or letting fear of anything get in his way of becoming the man he envisions for himself.

In the end my son will have to be the one to answer the success question when he can. Did I feel successful? Sometimes. I’m not perfect and I can think of many times where my imperfection reared its ugly head. The success part will come along when I sense forgiveness for my imperfections. Will he choose to come home and visit? Will he make a point to keep in touch in as many ways as are available to him these days? Will he love the ladies with genuine reverence and respect? Will he choose to love any gift of children and be reminded at that time of all the ways in which he was loved as a child and young adult? These are the answers to success as a parent, in my humble opinion.

I’ll share with you my top 5 success characteristics and explain how I use them in dealing with my son leaving.

1-      Appreciation of beauty and excellence

2-      Gratitude

3-      Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness

4-      Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness

5-      Love of learning

What I know for sure about my son, what I have learned from day one is that the way in which he is choosing this path is very authentic to whom he has always been. His nickname, since he was 8 years old has been tank, given to him by his football coaches at that tender age. He plows through what needs to get done whether that be getting through his days at school or at his job, a specific task, football, you name it. He is doing that now by plowing through to the essence of his life and not wanting to wait through anymore schooling or for the “right” age to start a life. His strength of character and his courage of self is what will see him through. Patience is not yet a virtue of his but life will undoubtedlyteach him that lesson.

My appreciation of his beauty and excellence from the inside of him to the outside of him is key in letting him go with encouragement, faith, and a hopeful heart. My gratitude for the privilege of being his mom is solid and unwavering and grows every day. My open-mindedness in understanding his need and his determination and helping him to know how deep my faith runs inside of me for him.

I have done all that I can do face to face. I can fight this move or I can trust in him and encourage his faith in himself and silently, facelessly be the strength he needs when the times will get tough. It is ultimately his own perspective of his life events that will determine his strength of character and which of the 24 traits he will need more of and less of at any given time. Perspective is everything.

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.” – Aniais Nin

I was reading an article recently about how to create a strong character arc for writers who want to create fictional characters for their stories. What I learned from that article is also something that rings very true to real human beings.  How does someone create personal character?

Find your drive: What motivates you? What drives you to do what you do or drives you to want what you want? My son wants to get on with becoming the man he envisions. That is his drive and motivation to getting up every day.

Get Active: Make a plan and execute the plan. Some days your actions might be in small ways and some days your actions might be huge, remarkable pushes toward your drive. Start taking charge of your life by practicing who you want to be.

Get out of the box: Somewhere along the road of growing up you just knew it was time to bust out of the routine of living at home and embark on the adventure of calling your own shots. Break free of the routine you find yourself in and shake things up. Test your limits as safely and wisely as possible to see just what you are made of. Travel, take a class, learn a new skill, or meet new people. Whatever is not in your normal comfort zone is where you belong now. If you have fear around trying something new then by all means try something new.

Learn all you can: Grow your mind, your brain, and your spirit; grow your character strengths. Find a new interest, a new hobby, and a new way of being happy. Find what creates sparks and learn all you can about it. You never know what doors will open up to you once you set out and explore your possibilities and explore your world.

Release the gremlin: The ego is a dangerous thing. In coaching we tend to call it the gremlin. That little voice inside that always talks smack to you by putting you down, making you doubt yourself, instilling fear where there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. The gremlin is all about making you feel small and it feel supreme. Let it go and stomp on it every time it shows itself.

Tidy up: If you are determined to find your drive and get into action with your desires then make sure that your life around you looks the same. If you tend to be sloppy in appearance and surroundings then clean up your self and your area. The outer you should reflect the inner you even while you are making the changes and strengthening the character traits you want to let define you. Inner growth reflects in outer growth.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about 9 requisites for a contented life. Here is my interpretation of his requisites in a wish list for the best possible life you can create:

I wish you health enough to make work a pleasure

I wish you wealth enough to support your needs

I wish you strength enough to battle the difficulties and overcome them

I wish you grace enough to forgive yourself as well as others

I wish you patience enough to work hard until some good is accomplished and realized

I wish you charity enough to see some good in the people around you

I wish you love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others

I wish you faith enough to make real the things you imagine

I wish you hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future. We have no control over what will be so make the most of what is right now.

How fitting that all of the memories of sharing life with my son should come flooding into me while he takes on his life on Memorial weekend? Weird kind of happenstance or karma? You decide….

So while I am desperately hugging and kissing and saying good-bye to my son I want to leave you with this last thought: What we think is what we become. From the vast menu of character strengths to choose from choose authentically (with a side of humor.)

Call to Action

What do you think are your top 5 character strengths?

How do you use them throughout your day?

What character strengths would you like to start using that you are not using right now?

When was the last time you knew you were ready for a mind growth breakthrough?

As I will say to my son, Journey On……

 

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.

 

Crossroads

 

 

 

 

CROSSROADS

“There must be a few times in life when you stand at a precipice of a decision. When you know there will forever be a Before and an After…I knew there would be no turning back if I designated this moment as my own Prime Meridian from which everything else would be measured.” –Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

In actuality, the sign in the photo above should also include a few more directionals saying “go back”, “stay the course”, “pull over”, and “stand still”.

In this 2nd installment of YOU DECIDE I am going to take you on a journey through contemplation, the 2nd step in the process of change.

 “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” –Meister Eckhart

Contemplation looks like you are considering an idea.

Synonyms such as think, reflect, scan, regard, meditate are what we do when we are truly ready to consider something that is important or could be important for our lives. In this case the idea is that possibly, maybe, someday but not necessarily today, I will change something about myself that I don’t like, am not comfortable with any longer, want to break free from, etc.

Contemplation says things like, “I’m ready to consider a change”, “I wish I could change the behaviors, thought patterns, feelings without the work”, “I am aware of my situation but can’t change a thing without help”, “I just don’t understand how I got to this place”….

Contemplation allows for the voices of those we love and respect to finally be allowed to speak about what needs to change and more than that we, the changer, are less defensive because we welcome the awareness and the support of those around us. The line that is drawn right here is that on the one side we are excited and enthusiastic to learn more and start the process of change however the other side is that we could stay stuck in just thinking and talking about the process and the research about the problem and become what is described in CFG (Changing For Good) as “chronic contemplators.”  “Chronic contemplators substitute thinking for acting, promising that they are going to act ‘someday’.” Their motto is ‘when in doubt, don’t change’.” (pg. 110 CFG)

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Let’s take you for example and imagine that you have just lost 100 pounds. If the changes in weight were not moment by moment, mindful and present it will be difficult for the new thinner you to accept and relate to your new self. You don’t understand the new rules; rules like how to maintain this new image, how does the weight loss affect those around me, how to socialize with others as this new you and the reactions toward you from other people outside of your immediate circle of support, how to dress, how to play in and out of sex, how to stop living the “old” way. Sometimes it is so overwhelming to make friends with the new thinner you that it takes no time at all to gain the weight back and get back to the person you knew so well. Those old rules were familiar and safe.

There is fear involved with change, no matter what we change, even something simple like the furniture in a room. Will the lighting feel warm and inviting like it does now or will I not like it so much that I have no choice but to stick with the layout the way it is, forever? Contemplators can get so stuck in their thoughts that they don’t do anything at all. Fear is a very powerful emotion against change of any kind. When I start to notice fear rearing its ugly head I always take a few minutes to ask and answer, “What is the False Evidence Appearing Real?” journeyoncoaching.com/2013/09/09/get-off-your-but/.  Taking that mental break and bringing myself to the present moment allows for a deep breath and subdues overwhelm. It still may take a lot of time to do something beyond thinking about it, but at least I’ve started the process and make the arguments.

There are little devils that play against change when you are creating awareness of what you want to change, when you are contemplating making a change.

The first devil is the perfectionist*.

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” – Dr. Brene` Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are

The perfectionist looks for evidence constantly to support the change. The perfectionist can get so lost in playing people against each other, playing self-help books against each other that nothing happens toward change. In the end, “the unfortunate truth is that we may never know enough about behavioral problems to be certain about their causes or cures. There comes a time when decisions must be made.” (pg. 112 CFG)

At some point you really did gather enough information to champion making a change in your life. It’s now or never. What is the fear you are believing?

The second devil that comes along when thinking about making a change is the idea of “waiting for the perfect moment.”*

When is the perfect moment to make a change? When does life have enough open space to allow for you to find time to change? Perfect moments get caught up in the thinking that the changes we want to make will happen, someday, somehow; that the time will be just right to “do this”.

“Nothing is permanently perfect. But there are perfect moments and the will to choose what will bring about more perfect moments.” –Mary Balogh, Simply Perfect

What needs to happen for you to create your perfect moment? How do you get through this moment to get to your perfect moment?

Could it be that the perfect moment was the instant you thought about making a change? When you turned away from “perfect” and instantly embraced the now? Maybe the perfect moment comes when you realize there are no moments left. You are in one right here and it’s now or never. How do you define a perfect moment? “Instead of waiting for the right moment, BE the right moment. You won’t be ready for anything if you aren’t ready to be you.” –Kaiden Blake, Before Ever After

The third devil of contemplating change is wishful thinking.*

According to the book, Changing for Good, “wishful thinking is probably the most common behavior that prevents people from progressing through the steps of change.” (pg. 112-113 CFG) “Wishful thinking is one thing, reality is another.” –Jalal Talabani

Wishful thinking says, “I wish I could eat whatever I want and never gain weight”, I wish I could drink as much as I want and never lose control, “I wish I could just win the lottery and not have to go work every day”.

There is a difference between hoping and wishing journeyoncoaching.com/2013/05/22/is-there-a-difference-between-a-hope-and-a-wish/

“We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.” –Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A wish is a want or a desire. There is just not enough physical energy to back up a wish. It is as fleeting as a breath. On the other hand, a hope has strong energy attached to it and implies, no, it demands that there is work to be done and you are counting on the outcome to be the result you want as your intention works toward the fulfillment; “hoping demands that you envision your success, and then work toward it.” (pg. 113 CFG) This begs the question:

“Does fear generate the power and energy toward hope?

Is fear a doorway to hope?” I believe we can’t have one without the other. I like to imagine that a wish is also a doorway to hope by disguising itself as a dream. Hope has to start somewhere so why not with a dream. “We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming, well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.” –Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses. PERFECT!

The final devil of contemplating change is premature action.*

Premature action says, “I’m not ready but you are forcing me to do this anyway”, “I’ll do this but I’m telling you it won’t work”, “Sure I’ll give it a go but don’t expect much.” “The payoff for premature action is that it can relieve some guilt and social pressure. After the inevitable failure, the message is, “Now stay off my back about this change nonsense.” (Pg. 114 CFG)

“The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip by; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formula, recipes or other people’s opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

In his book, Changeology, Dr. John Norcross labels the contemplation step as the “psyche” step. He makes it very clear right off the bat that this step must be about only you. Your goals toward change, your decision as to what you want to change and most of all that although you may define what it is you want to change you are NOT limited to what you define. He encourages making your defined change “vital, ambitious, and transformative.”(pg. 54 CO)

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage, pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically to say ‘no’ to other things. The way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” –Stephen Covey

It is time to enlist. Take a moment and write down those people you know for sure, without a doubt, you don’t even have to ask but you will, that will support you anyway they can in order to help you get you to where you want to be. Hint: It only takes one person. If you have a whole army of people, fantastic. If you need someone, call me. Once you have your support team laid out it’s time to concentrate on the research.

The research toward the change(s) you want to make will fall into a defining of what you hope to achieve. When speaking to a client about the psyche step of change Dr. Norcross helped his client to see that this step says, “The goal is the destination and the research and/or sub-goals are the map to how you get there.” (pg. 57 CO)

There are 5 main areas of sub-goals:

Realize that this is all about you. When my clients come to me for coaching they know before we even say anything that our time together is all about the art of my client. We are each intricate designs, works of art and we shape shift and twist and turn and grow and create ourselves anew over and over again. In the context of the “art of you” platform that I use, my clients have complete freedom to take their moments and create themselves however feels comfortable and authentic. This is done with specific ideas about what needs to be created. The only “must” is that creation begins and moves and ends with only the client as the priority for their own selves. “They asked me what I wanted to get out of this experience and I said me.” –Barbra Annino, Opal Fire

Tracking your progress. Find a way to measure and track your progress toward your goal. Seeing your progress written out whether it is in graphs or journal entries or calendar days will help keep encouragement high and accountability stable. “We progress a step farther, in each tick of the clock” –Ronnie Cornelisz

Be real. Dr. Norcross gives an example that if your goal is to lose 30 lbs. in 90 days that is not so real. It is more along the lines of fantasy. In 90 days you could reach your goal but not in any sustainable way that will have long lasting or life time achievement affects. Get real with your goal and get real with yourself about what needs to be done. “When we turn around & come face to face with our destiny, we discover that words (spoken) are not enough. I know so many people who are brilliant speakers but are quite incapable of practising what they preach. It’s one thing to describe a situation & quite another to experience it.
I realised a long time ago that a warrior in search of his dream must take his inspiration from what he actually does & not from what he imagines himself doing.”
–Paulo Coelho, Aleph

You are in control. Be honest about those feelings, behaviors/actions that you can control while researching whether the goal you chose is the right one to work on. Be honest in what you can control and what you can’t. “Today I am in control because I want to be. I have my fingers on the switch, but have lived a lifetime ignoring the control I have over my own world. Today is different.” –A.S. King, Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Positive posturing. Watch the wording you use when framing out your goal statement. Use positive images, cut out pictures, phrases, words, descriptions. Dr. Norcross talks about changing a habit of putting things off for another day. It is called procrastination.  Instead of framing your goal to say “decrease procrastination” frame your goal to say “increase time to plan ahead”, “take one small step each day to work towards something important.” (pg. 55-56 CO)

”Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Gandhi

My Story

My biggest fear was anesthesia. I hate the feeling of being out of control of my own body. I hate the idea of someone, or in this case, many some ones, seeing me in such a helpless and vulnerable position. That is the main reason why it took me so long to decide on the surgery.

I realized much later on that I also wasn’t connected to what was happening to me. I was in deep denial that the surgery I needed was serious, that it wouldn’t just go away on its own, that I really did have control over the who and the how and the where and the when.

When 2012 started I had a goal in mind. I wanted to change things about me that would help me feel more connected to who I thought I really was inside. This surgery was a major step toward that goal. I didn’t give myself time to start over with my research. I spent 11 years researching and talking with different doctors. I finally found a doctor that would work with my fears and perform the surgery the way that was acceptable to me, no anesthesia. I rallied my army of support, spoke my intentions out loud, chose a date for the surgery and left myself the option to back out at any time including right up until it was time to go to the operating room. I tracked my progress toward this overall change goal by writing about all the little things I had accomplished by the time the surgery came around.

I had an example to set for my children that when you want something that means the most to you personally you have to beat fear back with a big stick and concentrate on the outcome. I got as real as I could with myself and allowing that option to back out was as real as I could be. I positively believed that I would start to live a more authentic life within myself if I could get through this surgery. I believed wholeheartedly that this surgery would be the ultimate open air field toward my better self. Did I back out? How did I prepare for facing my fears? Stay tuned…..

Call to Action

Questions to “Contemplate”

  1. How often has someone asked you to change a habit or a behavior or a feeling before you were on board to change?
  2. On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being “very much so”, how emotionally attached to the idea of changing a behavior, feeling, habit are you? If you are ready, what now? If you are not ready, why not?
  3. How often has wishing for something made the wish come true?
  4. Think of a time when what you wished for was followed by an action toward making that wish a reality. What happened? What was the energy around making the wish real?
  5. How aware are you of the crossroads, the choices in your life? Every day? Every week? Every month? Every year?
  6. What happens in your body when you are faced with making a choice or a decision?

Please let me know how you are progressing so far. I would love to hear feedback as to whether these posts are helpful to you.

For information about coaching, whether it is in a like-minded group atmosphere or one on one please contact lisa@journeyoncoaching.com or call 203-560-3061. For guidance through contemplation let’s chat for a bit.

For more wisdom wizards please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com  or visit Lisa’s Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/lisazaccagnini/wisdom-wizards/.

 

*Strategies written out in Changing For Good by James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., John C. Norcross, Ph.D., and Charlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D. 

Images by bing.com