Ways to Communicate without Anger

In 2014 I wrote this post based around a client of mine going through a holiday get-together that most of us are all too familiar with experiencing.

I was recently was asked to re-publish this post and as I went through it I thought about how relevant this particular issue is today more so due to the presidential election coming up and the emotional state of  our country as a whole. So now I wonder…

If there was truly a way to work through  this post issue, anger, how would you want to learn to manage it and use what you learn in your small corner of the world? Maybe this will spark some ideas…..

Key West

There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.” M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

What I’m learning is that the light is in the asking of the questions and the heart of every human being. The answering is the communication where peace can begin. But I think it matters to go back a little step and start by asking:

Why do people get angry?

Why does anger live so long within us?

Are anger and communication based only on defending, judging, criticizing and/or withdrawing?

Are there rules to communication so that anger can be lessened?

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Aristotle

On a coaching call this week my client talked about wanting to better understand and get control of her anger toward her in-laws each and every time they all get together. She started out our session absolutely dreading the upcoming holiday. Her dilemma revolved around the criticism and judgments thrown at her by her in-laws and her own sensitivity to it all. She did not grow up with this kind of self-centeredness and judgment. Logically she knows that people bring their own pasts and life experiences to the table (no pun intended) but she just felt helpless to look at their way of communicating in a non-judgmental way. The overall feeling of anger toward her in-laws was coupled with the knowledge that this was driving a wedge between her and her husband and creating more problems than they both knew what to do with.

So why do people get angry?

Ryan Martin, Ph.D. wrote an article for Psychology Today about the scientific study of anger. In his article he references Dr. Jerry Deffenbacher’s 1996 model of anger by defining what Dr. Deffenbacher calls the trigger event; the event that happens right before someone gets angry for example, perceiving an insult or being cut off in traffic.

“The implication is that those kinds of events caused the person to get angry directly. If that were true then we would all react the same way to such situations.”

There are more than trigger events at play when anger sets in. Individual characteristics such as personality traits and the individual’s pre-anger state are 2 things that matter.

“Competitiveness and low-frustration tolerance are some ways in which a person’s personality characteristics play into anger. As for the pre-anger state of a person just before the trigger event, physiological and psychological situations play heavily into this arena. Feelings of being tired, anxious, stressed out, nervous are considered to be pre-anger triggers. A nervous person already has an elevated heart rate so he/she doesn’t have far to go to become angry.”

Ryan goes on to explain:

“Dr. Deffenbacher’s model of anger is mainly based on the appraisal of the situation by the person on the receiving end. When a person appraises a situation as blameworthy, unjustified, punishable, etc. it pushes buttons with in that person to react with anger. If the person interpreted the situation a little differently he/she wouldn’t have become so angry. The important thing to remember about appraisal isn’t necessarily that the person’s reaction is inaccurate but there are always 2 sides to every story.”

The next question then is how do we communicate effectively so that anger doesn’t show up or take over?

In his outstanding and amazingly insightful book, Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph. D and author tells of his preoccupation with 2 questions and his attempt to find the answers:

“What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently and exploitatively and what allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature under even the most trying circumstances?”

“When we give from the heart, we do so out of the joy that springs forth whenever we willingly enrich another person’s life. This kind of giving benefits both the giver and the receiver.”

While getting deeper into the coaching session my client started to become aware of her own compassionate nature and how she deeply desired to live on that plane and not engage in anger and despair. She is by nature a giving, loving, and curious person and realized that she always wanted her marriage to be one of love out loud and as an example to others of what real love looks like. That realization turned the whole session around. But how to get through the inevitable anger she will feel at some point during the holiday visit?

Dr. Rosenberg says:

“There are 4 steps to express anger: (1) Stop and breathe, (2) identify our judgmental thoughts, (3) connect with our needs, and (4) express our feelings and unmet needs. The key to all of the anger is empathy. Empathize with the other person so that he/she will be better able to hear us when we express ourselves.”

The coaching session concluded with awareness that although my client can’t change how other people behave and communicate she can change how she behaves and communicates. By showing up fully for her husband and not giving in to her personal feelings she will be able to create an ally in her husband. More than anything she wants him to know how much he means to her and how much she understands that the holiday get together is equally difficult for him. “Living out loud the loving, caring and supportive marriage I always imagined having is so much more powerful than giving in to the anger and judgments of others.” She now has a plan of action and tools to help her achieve her ultimate goal of making this family holiday one in which she will cherish and not regret. My client says:

“I can’t believe how I am feeling at this moment realizing that it is so much easier to love not only myself but my husband and our child. It feels freeing to know that I can choose love rather than defensiveness and anger toward difficult people. I don’t know for sure if love will bring about a more positive atmosphere all around us but it will bring about more connectedness and compassion in my marriage and therefore to my child.”

Whether we are face to face or in communication through email or text messages or any other social media venue we are always in a position to respond with empathy and heart.

I often find myself wondering when I read the comments section of other blog posts or I read text messages or I witness a negative conversation what was going on in the responder’s mind at the time of a negative comment. What life circumstances pushed that person over the edge?

All of this leads me to take a stronger, more open-minded approach to reader responses whether it be to a blog post, a comment to someone else’s writing or a face to face exchange.

Here is what I’ve learned so far:

Communicating needs and feelings without creating defensiveness and anger can be successfully accomplished by using “I” messages. For example: “I feel taken for granted when the laundry isn’t put away” or “I am having trouble managing my worry around our finances and as a result I am not sleeping very well.” These messages are to the point and simple; they are not blaming or accusing.

“Reflect your thoughts and watch others mirror them back to you.” Stephen Richards

Don’t respond immediately to the comment or letter. Take a deep breath, re-read the response or think through the exchange and think about how it truly applies to what was originally said. Time can be your ally. Take your time to respond. Be thoughtful.

“In quiet places, reason abounds.” Adlai E. Stevenson II

People are not bad inherently. Sometimes their life circumstances have caused them to form habits that are difficult to deal with. It’s not personal.

“The sound of the words as they’re said is always different from the sound they make when they’re heard, because the speaker hears some of the sound from the inside”David Levithan, Every Day

A really great coaching tool that has worked for many of my clients is when I have them do an exercise called purging. In the case of an email or text or letter, sit in a quiet space and hand write every single feeling you are experiencing and use every single word that will make you feel justified if you were going to be utterly, no-holds-barred honest. DO NOT SEND THE WRITTEN RESPONSE. Save it. Wait a few days and re-read your own response. Be aware of how you are feeling as you re-read. Are you still so enraged? Has your own anger or shock lessened? How would you like to communicate now? The point is to not meet on the impulse level of the reader. Rise above by getting out of your system all that you are feeling and let those feelings go. As a final step, rip your letter to pieces or stomp on it or just throw it away.

“Transferring my anger and pain onto paper turns it into something tangible, something that can be shredded or burned, or at the very least, sealed shut in a box. ~Call Me Tuesday”Leigh Byrne

If you were seeing the anger from face to face interaction how would you respond in that moment? Would you want to also be seen as someone losing his cool? Think about your own tone of voice and how you would like to sound or how you would like someone to talk to you about their concerns.

“We do not have control over what happens to us in life, but we do have control over how we chose to respond.”
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life    

If it is important that the other person hear from you right away simply send a follow-up email or text or comment right in that face to face moment by stating that you will respond more fully when you are in a better frame of mind.

Your life mainly consists of 3 things! What you think,  What you say and  What you do! So always be very conscious of what you are co-creating!”
Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge    

If your response is only in the form of writing then before your response goes out to anyone have someone you trust, someone who knows your heart and intentions, read your response before you send it out. The objective person will be able to stay out of the emotional end of this negative situation.

Merely because you have got something to say that may be of interest to others does not free you from making all due effort to express that something in the best possible medium and form.” [Letter to Max E. Feckler, Oct. 26, 1914]” ― Jack London

Here is where curiosity comes into play: If you sense that your colleague is angry or accusatory ask that person if you are interpreting their response correctly. Don’t assume to know for sure what you are reading or hearing.

“Every man, it seems, interprets the world in the light of his habits and desires.” Richard Wright, The Outsider

Whenever possible don’t write but talk, face to face, person to person. Effective communication is most achievable when we are in the present moment. Stay clear of bringing up the past. Stick to what is happening right now.

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.” Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

There is no substitute for real, live interaction. Your body uses every emoticon there is. Effective communication keeps anger at bay when we remain as calm as possible. Body language can have the same anger inducing affects as something we write. Create breathing space between the parties speaking, reframe when possible for better understanding, keeping advice and opinions to ourselves unless asked to offer that input. These steps all aid in a successful communication process.

We never can completely know what is going on in someone’s life to help us fully understand why they react the way they do. Everyone has something going on that feels overwhelming. Whenever possible put yourself in their shoes and summon a more compassionate you.

Call to Action

How can you begin to speak with your heart so that anger is kept at bay?

Words Are Windows

(or They’re Walls)

I feel so sentenced by your words,

I feel so judged and sent away,

Before I go I’ve got to know,

Is that what you mean to say?

 

Before I rise to my defense,

Before I speak in hurt or fear,

Before I build that wall of words,

Tell me, did I really hear?

 

Words are windows, or they’re walls,

They sentence us, or set us free.

When I speak and when I hear,

Let the love light shine through me.

 

There are things I need to say,

Things that mean so much to me,

If my words don’t make me clear,

Will you help me to be free?

 

If I seemed to put you down,

If you felt I didn’t care,

Try to listen through my words,

To the feelings that we share.

–Ruth Bebermeyer

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?

A Mother’s Prayer

 

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“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

I know Ms. Gilbert said that as a personal incentive to create the life she wanted for herself but when I read it with a mother’s perspective it takes on a whole new meaning. As mom’s we must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our own blessings, our blessings being our children. We will get it wrong a lot but we must continue to be relentless because our children need us to be so. However in our relentless pursuit of caring for our children we forget the one most important lesson, the one thing that sounds the most backward…

“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. Motherhood is the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven

I need to remind myself of this nearly every day because my heart wants them to need me but in reality it’s a different kind of need that I truly want. It’s not a dependency need it’s a memory lane kind of need.

So how do we muster the strength to be relentless? In a word, love.

“Evil itself may be relentless. I will grant you that, but love is relentless too. Friendship is a relentless force. Family is a relentless force. Faith is a relentless force. The human spirit is relentless, and the human heart outlasts – and can defeat – even the most relentless force of all, which is time.” Dean Koontz, Relentless

I am relentlessly in pursuit of life meaning and life purpose and understanding free will and just what it means to be grateful and feel blessed. I was led to get in touch with my daughter’s co-worker today because she and I seemed to have similar life struggles that called to both of us for support. It was the best thing I did today. During our conversation she spoke of her struggles with her son and in the middle of her story I heard this, “…….a mother’s prayer……”. I knew what I wanted to do right then.

“The greatest heroes in life are those that never give up on someone. They stick it out and make it work. They sacrifice things in their life, in order to help others grow. They give up what they want because someone needs it more. They work hard and overcome adversity. They fail for a moment, but get back up on their feet to show others they don’t have to stay down. They show their loved ones that love is not “proved” by conformity. They teach others that having a voice is a sign of courage, and they will not stay silent to make people feel comfortable. They are fearless and will do whatever it takes to bring about the greatness in the ones they love because doing so brings them peace. Their name is—MOM.” Shannon L. Alder

Relentlessly I pray for my children. For their safety, for their good health in mind and body and spirit, for their good thoughts both for themselves and toward others but I know that their journey is individual and just as it has taken me all these years to learn and grow and discover and uncover layers of who I am and who I am yet to be so I must allow time to work its magic on them. My prayer then becomes one of asking that they be led to a path of self-discovery, self-sacrifice and self-awareness for their immeasurable blessings.

What does your prayer sound like?

Call to Action

There are no rules to this thing. Just let your heart speak. There is no special day or time of day, there are no special words to use because all prayers are heard and answered in the right space and time. Right where you are in the middle of the chaos and relentless pursuit of raising your good, free-thinking, loving family is the best and most right place to speak your prayer.

Share your mother’s prayer with me and it just may wind up in my new book.

I came across this beautiful poem/prayer that I have to share with you because it could be every mother’s prayer for her child/children any time of their lives:

“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore, May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance, May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth, May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in, So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said, May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames, May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough to hear in the depths the laughter of god.” John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

If you would like to explore more about personal growth in any direction, 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.

Decisions, Decisions: 5 Mindsets toward Making Your Best Choice

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.”
J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I turn left or should I turn right?

Should I pick up the phone and call or should I just remain silent?

Should I stay in school or should I drop out?

Should I marry him or keep searching?

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Sometimes choices we face every day are of little consequence or so it seems and sometimes we know deep inside that the choices we make have a great impact on our lives and those around us. I believe that every time we are faced with a choice to make the decision and choice matter very much. So how do we know when and how to make the right choices?

In his book, The Travelers Gift, author Andy Andrews tells a story of the 7 decisions that determine personal success. In a nut shell here they are:

1-      “The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.”

2-      “I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.”

3-       “I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.”

4-      “I have a decided heart. My destiny is assured.”

5-      “Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit.”

6-      “I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.”

7-      “I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.”

I think, for right now, the hardest item for me is number 4. I don’t yet feel like I have a decided heart about some really important issues in my life like what to do about my son not wanting to get a job and also his decision to not to go to college right now.  Ultimately I know he has to make his own choices about how to live his life but while he is living at home and affecting the lives of those he lives with I am faced with a choice to make about how to teach him what his responsibilities are for not only himself but to the people around him and the world at large. There are several choices I can make here but which one will get me/us to a good place now and in the long run? The choice I decidedly want to make is one of helping him to become a victor not a victim of his own mind.

“I find that the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.” – Steve Maraboli

There are some things that I am decided on like the fact that I love, love, love my children and they will always be what makes my day worth living, I will always leave myself in a position of learning every single day, and making G-d more of a central focus in my life grounds me. Those are the things I know for sure and am absolutely decided on. Everything else, well, not so much. Indecision is a scary nowhere place to be and I can feel deep inside a pull to get decided on things like my life relationships, my 5 year plan, and exercise. What I know for sure is that once I am decided I not only make room to expand on the depth of the decision but my sense of self-worth grows from the inside out. At times I feel so desperate to just know the choice I’ve made that I get impatient to get to the choice already. But then I take a deep breath and forgive my impatience as best I can and decide that time is my friend and it is assured that when the time is right I will be decided about many things.

“We face an endless string of choices, which leads us to feel anxiety, guilt and pangs of inadequacy that we are perhaps making the wrong ones.” –Renata Salecl

So why does it take so long to make a choice and how do we know we are even this close to making a good, right, guilt free choice/decision?

I think it’s because we have the heavy job of letting go. We need to let go of bad choices of the past and forgive ourselves.  We need to let go of the regrets and mistakes we made or think we made, we need to let go of the things we thought we wanted but didn’t get and we need to let go of the idea of being stuck. Really, what we need to do is make a choice to either hold on to the pain of the past or choose to forge ahead with enlightenment and hope for a better future based on lessons learned from previous choices.

As for me, I want to take what I have learned about old choices and use the information to make better choices going forward; whatever I would have done in actions and decisions needs to be my guidepost of what not to do the next time or at least what to consider in a better light this next time. Basically, use my heart to guide me toward the best right choice for this now moment.

“Before you can live, a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”
Shannon L. Alder

There are concrete steps you can take toward making good choices/decisions but keep in mind that there will always be the possibility, whether now or down the road, where hindsight will make your choices even more clear. This is a good thing because decision making and choosing is a skill that needs to be honed constantly. So where to begin?

1-      Think clearly. The act of thinking clearly simply means to stay as calm as possible. If there is too much emotion revolving around a choice that needs to be made then step back, create space between your emotions and the choice to be made and wait awhile. Don’t be impulsive. Put off making any choices until you can think and see your options more clearly.

2-      Research. Collect as much information as you can about what you need to choose. Consult the internet, a trusted friend or mentor, take a poll, or whatever works for you. A rational, logical mind is what is needed to feel confident of the choices you are facing.

3-      Pros and Cons list. This is my ultimate go-to action step. I love this step. This step weighs risk and reward and lays out possible outcomes either way. Making a pro and con list for each choice needing to be made gives such clarity to not only the choice but to your heart. If you get to a point on your list where you can feel where your heart belongs then you eliminate the high risk of regret now and later. HOWEVER, try not to get too caught up in every pro and con because over-thinking things can create more problems than necessary. It really is a heart thing so listen carefully. Your heart and your gut won’t steer you wrong.

4-      Options within options. This one is really cool. Do you have a plan “b”? I was reading a book recently where the spy was giving advice to a new recruit. The advice was to always have at least 2 ways into a situation and 3 ways out. Create a plan “b” or a plan “c” or even a plan “d” if possible. You win the battle of making good choices by expanding and finding new choices to make. It’s fun and kind of like creating a safety net underneath you. It helps you feel protected and safe in whatever choice you then have to make within the options you’ve created.

5-      Be responsible. Eventually you have to make your choice. Be responsible for the choice you ultimately make. Don’t make a choice out of fear or time running out or any kind of outside pressure. Accept responsibility from the inside out when it comes time to look at the choice you made.

Call to Action

On the list of 7 decisions, what are you working tirelessly at making part of your personal success?

What is very hard for you to start working toward and how would you choose to accomplish that?

What do you think would be the hardest step to really get the hang of?

What choices are you facing now that could use a little bit of the 5 key steps toward better decision making?

Images by bing.com/lifechoicemedical.com

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.