The other day, I had a problem-solving session with a friend of mine who is also a coach. She was feeling very inspired and also overwhelmed because she kept getting flooded with ideas and didn't know which one to follow.
I shared with her this analogy:
When you go shopping and enter a parking lot, you drive around and pick the "best" spot to park your car. Sometimes it might not be the closest, but perhaps the one where the people next to you are parked straight, or perhaps the one where no one is parked next to you.
What you don't do is drive and drive and drive in circles trying to figure out which spot it the best one. Once you are parked you stay there. You don't reverse out and look for a different one. You commit to that one spot for the duration of your shopping experience.
So how do you know where to park your car?
One of the strategies that I used to make my decision was to create a NO-LOSE DECISION. This is a method that I read about in the book "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers, which was one of our monthly selections for our book circle.
Essentially, instead of doing a pro-con list between your two choices, you focus ONLY ON THE PROS, which Jeffers calls the "goodies." When we focus on only the positives, we can see that both options are great and then we release any fear that we are making the "wrong choice."
Instead of driving in circles trying to find the "best" spot, you pick one and go with it because it can never be a "wrong" spot.
By doing so, you make a no-lose decision.
You may be in a situation like my friend, where you have no idea which idea to follow because there are so many, or you may be in a situation where you have ONE decision to make, but are unsure of making it, so you are deciding by not deciding.
Either way, you can use this no-lose decision making process yourself so that you can clearly decide where to park your car.
Do you see all the dead bugs on the windshield of this picture?
This past weekend, we we driving back from a 2 week vacation (thus my lack of posts), and as we traversed from the North of France to the South at 130km/h, we collided with many insects.
I took this picture, after a bathroom break and a switch in drivers. I couldn't believe that the windshield was so disgusting.
As the driver, though, the mess on the screen didn't impede me at all. I was looking straight past the dead bugs and other shit in front of me, in order to successfully navigate the road.
It was only after I shifted perspective that I was able to see how bad it was.
Unfortunately, we often get it the reverse.
We tend to focus so much on the dead bugs and other shit in front of us, that we can't see the road and navigate through with any speed or accuracy.
Some of the current "dead bugs" in my life are:
Each day, I need to pause, reflect, and clean off my windshield of the "dead bugs." Some days, it happens frequently.
It takes mindfulness and intention.
What about you?
Are you focusing on the dead bugs and shit on your windscreen, or are you looking past them to the road ahead?
The other day I received an email from one of my clients. She had uncovered something undesirable and she started in a downward emotional spiral. Not only was she emotional from the unwanted information, but she was also berating herself for being emotional in the first place.
When I first met her, she was in a pretty dark place and had been thinking of ending her life. She had spent 20 years giving her emotional wellbeing over to another person, and as often happens, she ended up disappointed. She was unable to pick herself up because she had become so dependent on another.
Over the course of our nearly 6 months working together, she reconnected with her strength and her sense of self, not in a F-YOU manner, but in a way that gave her emotional independence that could then lead to greater INTERdependence.
Yet, here she was face to face with another trigger, and reminder her of the betrayal. Not only was she pissed again at her partner, but she was pissed at herself.
She should be stronger.
She shouldn't be so emotional.
She shouldn't be sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, etc.
I reminded her that being a strong person didn't mean being an unemotional one. I reminded her that she is an emotional being before a rational one. I reminded her that she is a human being not a robot. And I reminded her that even wonder woman has her weaknesses.
I think that sometimes when we make our way out of a valley, we expect to stay on the mountain tops forever, but we forget that our life journey is not always a smooth journey. It comes with pot-holes, speed bumps, and enormous crevasses.
We forget about the duality of life.
We can't have light without darkness.
We can't have strength without weakness.
My dear one...the next time you are should-ing all over yourself for being weak, please remember that your strength is just on the other side. Feel your feelings (rather than numb or suppress them), step into self-compassion, and you will find your strength waiting for you.
What if you didn't feel the way you think you feel?
What if your happiness wasn't happiness?
What if your sadness wasn't sadness?
What if it's all invented?
Earlier this week, I hosted a Radical Honesty class with a friend and colleague and we talked about what is TRUTH and what is not truth.
According to the teachings of Radical Honesty, there are only 3 truths we can speak of:
1) Our bodily sensations
2) Our physical surroundings
3) Our personal thoughts
As we explored this topic together and practiced telling the truth about all three, one of the other participants asked about feelings and how feelings fit into the mix of truth or untruth.
I came up with this equation:
Our bodily sensations + Our thoughts about those bodily sensations = Our feelings
The example was a racing heart. Is that racing heart a sign of being scared? Is it a sign of being excited? Is it a sign of some tachycardia, a medical condition?
As the one with the racing heart, you could decide any of the three, or none of them. Which means, you have the opportunity to INVENT whatever emotional label you want to put on it.
Which reminded me of a book called the "The Art of Possibility" by Ben and Rosamund Zander, with a chapter titled "It's All Invented." In it's pages it talks about exactly what I am describing above, though they didn't specifically talk about feelings. Their focus was on our judgements and beliefs being invented, so why not invent beliefs that will inspire you.
Who decided that blue was blue?
Or that happy was happy?
I don't know either, but someone decided it--someone invented it.
Do you ever find that when you say "I'm tired," you sink a little lower or curl in on yourself a little more? Or maybe you yawn? I know that I do. It seems that the more I say the word the more I feel the feeling.
What if we shifted ourselves away from these invented words that described our feelings and instead focused on our bodily sensations?
What if the next time you feel happy, you report not that you are happy, but that you feel a fluttering in your belly and a looseness in your chest?
What if the next time you feel afraid, you report that you feel a ball in your stomach and a strong pull backward?
Obviously, all of these words are invented too, but by using descriptions instead of feeling words, we might be able to empower ourselves to reach a place where it feels AMAZING.
Want to try it out with me right now? What bodily sensations do you notice right now?
A friend and colleague of mine is currently enrolled in an online class with me, and we are sharing our experiences back and forth through voice messages on WhatsApp.
The other day she sent me a long (10 minute) message about her experience with the work that day, and seeing it’s length I put in my headphones and listened while I washed the lunch dishes.
It was a beautiful and vulnerable share, so I found a quiet corner from which I could respond, leaving, in turn, a 5 minute message celebrating her discoveries, expanding on them, and sharing some other ideas.
Right before going to sleep I received another message from her and felt excited to listen to it. That excitement dropped from my throat into a pit in my stomach and a clenching in my chest after the first 30 seconds. It turns out that my message wasn’t received as intended.
What an icky feeling. I sat with it for awhile and it eventually turned into numbness.
I hate conflict (as do most people), and I also hate when I have the feeling that I have “done something wrong” (as do most people.)
I sat in reflection for awhile, asking myself questions like: Do I need to apologize? What exactly did I do wrong? Did I do something wrong? What are my values? What is the nature of our relationships? Did I do something that doesn’t align with that?
I tried to call her, but there was no answer. I sat on the edge of my bed contemplating my next step. I didn’t want to continue the back-and-forth “argument” over voice messages and I also didn’t want to go to bed without giving voice to my own feelings.
I opened WhatsApp again, held my thumb over the microphone icon, took a breath, and pressed it.
I started with talking about the sensations in my body. I talked about how I didn’t think that I needed to apologize because my intention wasn’t to hurt her. I pondered out loud if it was what I had said, or what she had heard. I recounted a recent conversation between us about how it’s okay to piss people off, and it we haven’t, we haven’t really done our “job.” I ended by requesting that we talk further about it in the morning.
I struggled to go to sleep that night, and found myself returning again to it in the middle of the night when I was awakened by my daughter.
The next morning I woke to another voice message. I hesitated. I didn’t want to listen to it. I put it off saying that it wasn’t the “right time.” I got myself ready for the day, got my kids off to school, did my meditation and exercise, and finally sat down to listen.
What I realize is that I was postponing shame.
I was postponing what I considered the “inevitable.”
I was postponing the feeling of not just doing something wrong, but of being wrong.
Though, at the same time, I know that my friend would never “shame me.” Instead, I was re-creating a feeling from my past and putting it directly in my present. I was procrastinating because of my past experiences with doing something “wrong” and either being directly shamed through the words of another, or feeling shame because of my interpretation of their words. (Sometimes we end up shaming ourselves...that is another topic though.)
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I pressed PLAY.
I was relieved to discover a light heartedness to her tone and the reassurance that she was not expecting an apology. LONG EXHALE. The tension in my body released and I was back to feeling connected to my enoughness and to her.
Here are 3 big lessons I have re-learned from this experience:
1) The importance of stepping into your values and knowing that just because someone doesn’t like what you did or said, it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong, or are wrong.
2) That our present negative feelings are often not attributed to the present moment, but are often rooted in a past--a past that we CO-CREATED. (Also known as transference.)
3) That trust and connection are built through vulnerability and the speaking of our truth, no matter how hard it might feel, or how worried we are of “ruining the relationship.”
I am happy to say that my friend and I feel even more connected than ever after encountering this speed bump.
Is it possible that you are postponing something? Disappointment? Conflict? Shame? Failure?
Would you like to leave the past in the past and created a new possibility instead? If so, let's connect to talk about how I can support you.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
A couple of months ago, while working with a new client she mentioned to me that she had always had a dream that a prince was going to come and save her from her childhood. Last week, I was talking to another client who said the same thing.
It is 2019, and these two capable, accomplished women are still living in a fairy tale.
Yet, they are not alone.
I may not be looking for Prince Charming anymore, but I know that, at times I am still looking for someone to take control so that I don’t have to. Someone to say, “Theresa, this is what you need to do, how you need to do it, and why you need to do it. Now go.”
And yet, from experience, I know that when I have had someone do that for me, it hasn’t worked out in my favor.
So why do I still find myself waiting?
Why are you still waiting?
Why are WE still waiting?
Because somewhere, back in our subconscious, we have learned not to trust ourselves. We have taken on the belief that we are exactly how someone in our past said we were.
That we aren’t strong enough.
That we aren’t smart enough.
That we aren’t savvy enough.
That we aren’t powerful enough.
Yet, we are!
And the moment we start telling ourselves that--the moment that we step into that powerful, self-loving, self-accepting, self-appreciating, self-confident person, will be the moment we will stop waiting for prince charming, and finally “save” ourselves.
We don’t need a prince.
We need our resident BADASS PRINCESS to rise to the occasion.
Are you with me?
P.S. If you want support (not saving) to unleashing your BADASS PRINCESS, I have a handful of powerful exercises I can take you through. You can book something directly with me here.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
As many of you probably know, I host a global book circle for women, where I support them to get the most out of the personal growth reading, and truly bring the book (and it’s ideas) to LIFE.
As with most “new” endeavors in life, it takes time to get adjusted to the nuances and find harmony.
When I started the book circle, I organized it into two groups--one free and one paid. There was a monthly fee to be part of the paid group, and it gave you certain “premium” features that others did not have. This phenomenon is probably familiar to many of you.
After running the two groups simultaneously for several months, I felt a sense of unease. I would have a flash of an idea to share, and then wonder, “Well, which group gets it? Is this for the paid members, or the free ones?” As this continued, I realized that the two groups weren’t working for me. It felt out of alignment.
So I decided to try a social experiment. What if I combined the two groups, and offered all the previously “premium” features to everyone, and asked for contributions? Would people contribute? Would people reward me financially for the time, effort and expertise that I was offering them? Could I be the “medicine woman” that offers her value to others, and is rewarded with a place to live and food to eat?
Can you guess how it turned out?
My two weeks off over the holidays gave me the opportunity to reflect on the efficacy of this experiment, especially as I have felt my sense of bitterness grow, and my original passion for sharing decline. Each time I reminded the ladies in the group about the opportunity to contribute, and each time they didn’t, I felt lower and lower. I felt less inclined to shoot a video, less inclined to share another insight, less inclined to show up.
And yet this has NOTHING to do with the amazing women in my circle. They are not, and were not the cause of my bitterness, or the decline in my passion. All of that resides in me.
Hidden underneath was an undeclared expectation that people would shower me with euros.
Hidden underneath was my own sense of self-worth.
Hidden underneath was my questionable boundaries.
Hidden underneath were my limiting beliefs.
I cannot blame these women for enjoying something for free (I do the same thing).
I cannot blame these women if they don’t see or financially honor my value.
I cannot blame these women for my decision to give, give, and give some more.
I cannot blame these women for my own beliefs and their hold on me.
It is my responsibility to rectify this situation, not theirs.
It is my responsibility value my time, effort and expertise by CHARGING money.
It is my responsibility to set and enforce boundaries.
It is my responsibility work through my own limiting beliefs.
Now, it has been rectified.
I did not go back to two groups, but I am going back to charging for those “premium” features, and I feel so much lighter and freer. The bitterness has dropped away, and the passion has reignited.
I even got a note from one of the members saying, “So glad you’re asking for money again. It was on my heart and fingertips to tell you that sooner. It felt like you weren’t valuing your services. And I had much less impetus to show up.”
When I was 35, my professional world imploded. For some of my clients, it was their relationship that imploded. While for still others, there was no implosion of career or relationship, but a serious earthquake, that shook the foundation and created serious cracks.
If I look back logically, the origin of my disastrous relationship with my former boss, would have started when I was first transferred. But it didn’t. If my clients look back logically on their own situations, they might see an infidelity discovered, a lie uncovered, a business decision gone bad, a pink-slip passed out, etc. But that isn’t the true origin either.
To find the true origin, we need to do a little time traveling.
For me, and for most of my clients (and probably for you too) it was an event that happened between the ages of 3 and 7. Together, we travel back in time, to at that event from the outside, as an observer, rather than as a participant. More specifically, as an OMNISCIENT observer who knows the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of all the participants.
As the time travel facilitator, I focus on the DECISIONS made by that little boy or little girl, because it is that decision, or collection of decisions that is the true origin of the current conflict. It is that decision that has been operating in the background for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, like the operating system of your GPS system. It is that decision that becomes the programmers code, until we become conscious enough, or fall on our face hard enough.
I will not lie and say that it is an easy process because it is not, but it is a healing one, because it allows us the awareness we need to rewrite the code and reset the GPS.
Sometimes when are are back there, hovering around observing, we come down to “earth” and step into forgiveness. We step into forgiveness by sending love and compassion to the people involved, especially to that little boy or little girl. We give hugs and reassurance, and paint a bright picture for what the future can and will look like.
After coming back to the present, we can step into the fun part, where we time travel forward, and meet our future self. We see where she lives, what she eats, what she does, and what she says. The words, the guidance, the cheerleading, and the love she shares is immensely powerful and therapeutic after the harshness of the time travel backwards.
Yet, I believe that both are needed, as they work in tandem. As we seek to rewrite the faulty GPS programing from our past, we can insert the new GPS programming given to us by our future self.
Back and forth we go.
Back and forth I go, honoring my past and creating my future, while living in the present.
Just as we eat to nourish our bodies everyday, I am coming to believe time-travel would nourish our souls everyday.
P.S. If you have any interest in time-traveling with me, please reach out.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
Our garage is linked to the main entry to our house through a small stairway with doors on each side. A few weeks ago, my daughter, who is 4, decided that she wanted to climb the stairs “in the night,” as she likes to call it. Both doors are closed with no light penetrating in, and she climbs up in the pitch black holding onto the handrail. It has now become a habit, and my 2 year old son has followed suit.
Many children would think this is scary. Many children would be afraid of the dark, and wouldn’t want to do what my daughter is doing.
As I have watched her do this day after day, week after week, I have held my tongue. At the beginning I wanted to ask her if she was scared, but I didn’t. Throughout, I have wanted to praise her courage for not being scared, but I haven’t.
Do you want to know why?
Because I have recently awakened to the idea that our feelings don’t actually become real until we name them. Nothing is scary, until we say it is scary. Nothing is worrisome, until we say we are worried. Nothing is anxiety-inducing, until we say we are anxious. Nothing is stressful, until we say we are stressed.
Which means, that if I were to tell my daughter I was proud of her for doing something scary, she would then be scared.
Yesterday, I was at the park with my children and I heard a dad say to his sons, “Don’t be scared of the big kids!” In that moment, I asked myself, “Were they scared? And if not, are they scared now?”
A couple of hours later, back at home, my daughter and I walked into the hallway together and she turned on the light “because it is scary.” I turner to her and said, “An hour ago, you walked in the stairs in the dark and it wasn’t scary, but this is scary. What’s the difference?” She couldn’t give me an answer, but I have my own--I gave her the word and the context.
The stairs between the garage and the main house aren’t scary because I never alluded to her that they were. Yet the stairs from the first floor to the second floor are scary, because at some point I told her they were. It’s the same reason she likes the hall light to be on when she sleeps--because I told her about being scared of the dark.
I think that many of her fears have come from me. My words of “be careful”, and references to “being afraid,” and my questioning, “Are you sure? It might be scary.”
Which begs the question, if there were no name for the emotion, is that emotion actually happening? The body sensations may be happening, but is the emotion?
I often tell clients and non-clients alike, that the body doesn’t know the difference between excitement and anxiety, so why not choose the word that empowers you the most. Why not trick yourself?
I am slowly incorporating that same teaching into how I talk to my children, and how I talk to myself.
I am not worried, I am planning.
I am not busy, I am energized.
I am not tired, I am contemplative.
I am not stressed, I am enthusiastic.
I am not scared, I am excited.
I invite you to do the same.
Courage. Compassion. Connection
Have you ever heard of a KENSHO moment?
I hadn’t either until about a week ago. The term comes from Zen Buddhism and refers to the growth or enlightenment that one can gain in the wake of a painful experience. It is often spoken of next to the word SATORI, which also refers to “seeing” in a new way.
If you are anything like me, you have probably endured your share of painful moments in your life, ones where you may have characterized yourself has having failed or been a failure.
A failed relationship.
A failed career.
A failed business.
A failed conversation.
A failed health outcome.
A failed effort of any sort.
Yet, inside each of these supposed “failures” resides a potential KENSHO moment. A moment when you can learn and grow. Unfortunately, not all of us choose to turn our pain into KENSHO. Not all of us choose to see the power inside our powerlessness.
Two of big KENSHO moments came by my own choice.
July 7, 2007 was a date that many girls dreams of--her wedding day. Yet that wedding day never came for me. Five months prior, I made the decision to call off my own engagement. To tell a man that I loved, that despite that love, I didn’t want to be with him. It was one of the toughest decisions that I have ever made, and despite it being my decision it was still extremely painful.
In the spring of 2012, I made another difficult decision--to resign from the career of my dreams. One that I had devoted years of schooling, training, and money to create. Again, it was my decision, but it didn’t make it any easier.
Both of these moments left me feeling powerless.
I won’t lie to you and say that my KENSHO moment was immediate, as I did my share of wallowing in self-pity and asking “Why Me?” over and over again. Yet, at some point, I made a decision. I decided that enough was enough, and it was time to rise out of my pain, and into my power. I created the KENSHO.
It wasn’t a failed relationship. It was a successful one because it helped me to realize what it takes to sustain a long-term relationship, and it led to my meeting my current husband just 8 days after my non-existent wedding.
It wasn’t a failed career. It was a successful one because I turned toward a coach and other personal development opportunities that have all led me to a new, inspiring career as a coach myself.
To find your KENSHO moments, you don’t need to change your past, you simply need to look at it from a different perspective.
See the success instead of the failure.
See the power inside of the pain.
See the gift wrapped in the sandpaper.
P.S. I recently invited someone to make a list of all their failures. Then to re-write the entire list with the word success instead. (Like I did above.) I invite you to try it out as well. Create your own KENSHO moments.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.