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It’s a Darn Shame….

That shame and fear play such a huge role in our lives.

“I’m not good enough, He doesn’t love me, I don’t think I’ll get that job, She doesn’t appreciate me”- sound familiar?

The “Shame” Voice

We all know that critical voice that always seems to creep in at the worst times leading you to experience doubt, fear, uncertainty, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and shame.

 

As Brene Brown shares in her research, we experience shame when I am enough turns into Am I REALLY enough?

For many of us, shame and fear get triggered frequently. Often, when we experience any type of discomfort (in a relationship, in a social situation, at work, with family or friends) it can trigger the failure cue– leading us to go into our story of not being enough. This is where it gets dangerous as we often find ourselves reacting based off that story. The underlying fear of “I’m not enough” is so powerful that it actually hijacks our limbic system- sending you into fight or flight. When we feel small, unlovable or unworthy, it threatens our core survival instincts. So you may find yourself getting defensive, shutting down, avoiding certain situations or people. Exactly what we don’t want to do- we do! These behaviors often then block connection and support, which only reinforce those beliefs that you are not enough or don’t matter.

This is important- because life is constantly changing- So it’s a vicious trap and holds you back from living the life you truly want to live!

Don’t hide in the dark..

We feel most alive when we are connected with others and sharing our stories. When you are able to honor your experience and own your story, true healing occurs. The less you talk about these parts of you (fear, doubt, shame, hurt), the bigger they become. Once you name it- you then have power to change it.

How?

  1. Identify the triggers for your shame– What just happened before you formed the negative story and judgements about the situation? Notice what happened in your body as you experience this cue?
  2. Slow down and do a reality check– What is the behavior you are engaging in? Stop. Slow down. Recognize that you may be having the thought, or experiencing the feeling, but it is not who you are. You are the one having the experience. Imagine that you are the sky. And your experiences (fear, doubt, shame, discomfort, pain, anxiety) are the weather. They are always changing.
  3. Name it– This takes a willingness to lean in to the discomfort and vulnerability, which is not easy, in fact, it can sometimes feel darn near impossible. But this is the most important step in doing something different. These beliefs and stories have the most power when they are unspoken- but once you name it- it is no longer apart of who you are, just apart of your experience.

When you can make meaning of your emotions and speak them vulnerably, you can then choose your actions. Just because you are feeling uncertain about getting a new job, this doubt does not need to prevent you from applying as that limits your experience. You can choose to act according to what truly matters to you and live your best life, even if shame, fear, doubt, hurt and uncertainty still creep in. These experiences only have as much power as you give them.

How can I be more like Oprah?

So as I sat in yoga for the first time in a while, I had a realization. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I think I should be doing to be the person I want to be, and in turn, feel worse when I don’t live up to these standards. I compare myself to other successful people around and think- what are they doing that I’m not? I should do more of that. For example- I want to be reading the bible daily, going to yoga more often, going on hikes, traveling, going to fun events, enjoying the summer with outdoor activities, writing more blogs, spending time with friends and family. What do all of these things have in common? They represent what will make me “a better person”. If I’m doing all of those things, I will be the person that I want to be. Or so I think. Then I start to feel guilty when I’m not doing these things.

As humans, we use language to conceptualize our lives. We want to understand and “fix” whats wrong, so that we can be the people we want to be and live the life we have imagined. While this is a good goal to have, there lies a trap which many of us fall into, including myself. This works well on the outside (if something is not working in your house, you can problem solve and fix it), however, does not work as well with our internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, beliefs etc.). In the moments when we are doing something enjoyable, instead of being fully present and enjoying it, our mind takes over. There is a part of us that will chime in during these times and say “ohh yes, this is nice, I need to do more of this” and then you drift off into fantasizing what it would look like if you could do this all the time- how you would feel, what your life would be like, and what sort of person you would be.

This is a natural part of survival that has been ingrained since our ancestors- the basic need is to increase pleasure and decrease pain. However, they applied this survival instinct to external triggers (such as, lets stay on this part of the land as it is ripe with harvest or lets avoid that part as there are bears and it is not safe). As humanity has evolved, we utilize this same survival instinct, but apply it to our internal experience (thoughts, feelings, beliefs). So when we feel good, we associate that feeling with our action and want to do more of it. While this may be partly true (as our behaviors/actions do influence how we feel and vice a versa), it can be detrimental when its sets us up for black and white thinking. So it’s either all or nothing, I need to do yoga everyday or not at all to “feel like a better person, or to truly enjoy it”. Where is the room for flexibility? And when we feel a negative feeling (hurt, pain, shame, lonely etc)- we want to do everything we can to avoid it.

So we turn to fixing our external world (the things we do) to fix our internal world (how we feel). These two worlds are incredibly intertwined, but the freedom, joy, peace, authenticity and congruence we all long for requires a different approach. It is very hard to get there when you are stuck in this trap. Instead, I wonder if you could just start to be mindful of each activity that you are doing as you do it. And enjoy it. Notice the part of you that will chime in and try and analyze what you are doing and how it fits with the picture you have of who you want to be and what you want to be doing. Notice and just allow that to come and go, while you return your focus and attention to what you are doing right in this moment. This is freedom. This allows for much richer and fulfilling experiences, which in turn, will lead to a much richer and fulfilling life.

Call me today to explore how you are getting caught in this trap and can break free to live inspired!

If you would like to read more about this, please check out “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life”- by Steven Hayes.

Is love always a fairy tale?

A number of  women  have deep seated negative self beliefs that seem to block them from healthy love: “I am too old to find love, I am too unattractive to find love, All the good men are taken, All men want is sex etc.”
Why do we hold such negative beliefs about love? We have learned that love is a “fairy tale”. Watching all the princesses get swept off their feet by their prince charming- knight in shining armor- teaches little girls what to expect and what love should “look like”. So, when reality kicks in and young girls start dating (often immature boys), they may get their heart broken. This disappointment turns into resentment which form lasting negative beliefs- which then create that reality.
So how do we conquer these negative beliefs to open ourselves up to real love? First step- is recognizing your resentments, beliefs, feelings, doubts and disappointments. Do you have a group of girlfriends who you love to complain to and foster these negative beliefs about love, boys and end up feeling less deserving or less hopeful about ever finding something different? Talking about all the negative experiences may feel “healing” and relieving in the moment, but in the end it only results in feeling jaded and bitter. And the more jaded and bitter you feel, the more closed off you become, therefore- your reality mirrors your feelings. Start to notice every time you want to complain or say something negative about yourself, a situation, a partner, or past event that resulted in heartache. Maybe, you can then start to slow this process down enough to recognize these thoughts and make a choice in the moment to spend your energy elsewhere. This allow you to create acceptance. Accepting that people and love are imperfect. It can hurt, sting, and be the best thing all at the same time. This doesn’t make it ok that you’ve been hurt, but it does make it ok and worth it to put yourself out there to try again. If you haven’t or can’t experience the lows, how can you experience the highs? You can choose to sit and watch people ride the rollercoaster, or you can jump on knowing at times it’s scary but also that adrenaline rush is totally worth it.
The key is acknowledging and accepting that you have fears, hurts, disappointments- due to some painful experiences- and you can either choose to let these become your reality and hold you back, or you can choose to act according to what really matters to you and allow yourself to be open and vulnerable even though you have these thoughts, beliefs and fears. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Your set back could be a set up for something amazing. Your beliefs and thoughts do not need to create your reality, each moment you are presented with a choice to do something different.

Love is a verb, not a noun

Although all relationships start with a “honeymoon” phase where love feels like butterflies, happiness, joy, laughter- that doesn’t last forever. So when does it change? The moment both partners become so comfortable in the relationship, that they stop trying to make the relationship better, to be the best partner they can be, and to understand the other partner’s needs. We get stuck in the endless day to day activities and stop putting energy into our relationship. Each partner has their own needs, desires, morals, values, belief systems, experiences- no wonder relationships are so difficult- it’s like joining two different worlds together. And when we work to get our needs met in relationships, we often form damaging and toxic patterns- leading to continual breakdowns in communication- leaving each partner feeling more hurt, alone, and disconnected.

We all long for a sense of love, acceptance and belonging. So how do we start to renew our relationship, and regain the trust and love that may have been lost a long time ago?

  • Take the time to understand– Each partner has their own needs, sensitivities, triggers, pain, ways to show and receive love and often we communicate from this part of us, but our partner may not understand the why behind what we’re communicating. We aren’t listening to each other! For example, let’s say Jill grew up with an emotionally unavailable father who never said I love you and would distance himself from the family by watching TV all the time. Jill is likely to be sensitive to anything in her current relationship that may remind her of this painful experience. However, when she requests that her partner limit his time watching TV and say I love you daily- he may perceive it as nagging and get defensive and argue about it. If her partner could understand Jill’s past and understand the truth behind her requests, he could have empathy for her and it would no longer be perceived as nagging and it is much more likely Jill will get her needs met in a more loving way- where both partners feel heard.
  • LOVE is a verb, not a noun– This means it’s active- something you work for, not just something that is there. Spend time together- Intentionally! Plan a date night (even if it’s a stay at home night), whatever you decide- find time together. Often, life gets so busy- it’s easy to just go through the motions and become roommates/business partners/co-parents with your partner- rather than actually connecting with one another. It may not be about quantity, but QUALITY time. This means get off your cell phone, turn off the TV and do something fun, something the brings you together where you can increase your connection- remember being in a partnership is choosing to do life together- it can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding if the love is fostered and nurtured, not lost in the daily routine of activities.

How can I love myself more?

We live in an age where we get so caught up in our day to day routine and what’s expected of us, that our own needs take a back seat to everyone else’s. In turn, we are left feeling exhausted and worn out-trying so hard to be happy and be what others want us to be- we become further disconnected from ourselves and don’t live life according to what matters to us. When you look back on your life on your 80th birthday- what do you want to see? Is it possible to slow down enough to even acknowledge what’s important to you and how you want to live your life? Do you give yourself permission to?

In our culture, it has become “selfish” to take care of ourselves and put our needs before others. So, in turn, we find ourselves trying to be everything to everyone in our world and ignore the most vital person- you. As we do this, we begin to treat ourselves as the enemy- worrying so much about taking care of everyone else, we become our own harshest critic. Would you tell someone you love and care about some of the things that you tell yourself?

We set unrealistic expectations of what we think we should be and constantly compare ourselves to others. We believe that if we criticize ourselves enough, we will continue to be “motivated”, to work “harder”, to be “better”- only then will we will deserve to be loved.

As long as we continue to run this race, we will always lose. How can you stop?

1. Recognize your inner critic: Recognizing and separating yourself from the inner critic (the voice in your head that tells you all the ways that you are not good enough) is key. There is a difference between facts and beliefs/interpretations- just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
2. Create meaning and joy: Start acknowledging and aligning with what really matters to you, to your deeper purpose. If tomorrow was your last day, how would you want to be remembered? Now make a conscious choice to live like that TODAY.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others: only compare yourself to the former you. Any day we can let go of our old story and adapt a new one.

Am I Enough…

Do people at work like me? Am I smart enough? Do I work hard enough? Am I thin enough? Do I eat healthy? Do I work out enough? Do I dress well? Am I a good friend/ family member? Am I good spouse/partner? Am I motivated enough? Do I make enough money? Do I talk too much? Am I too quiet? Do people think I’m annoying?

Any of these resonate with you? The questions are endless and I find myself plagued by these thoughts daily. All of these questions have one theme in common- self-worth. What am I worth? Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves basing our self worth on the questions above, creating measurements and expectations… “if_____(I’m smart, thin, rich, successful, in a relationship) than I’ll feel ok, worth it, good enough, HAPPY”.

The problem with this formula is that it often only results in more suffering, never finding any sense of relief, and in turn- feeling more disconnected from yourself, the people in your life, the world around you and most importantly out of touch with what you truly value. Eckhart Tolle touches on this beautifully in his book A New Earth, when he discusses the ego. Ego is identification with form, seeking yourself and commonly losing yourself in some form (not only physical bodies or material things, but thoughts and beliefs). As humans, we are divinely made for survival- everything we do is intended to increase pleasure and decrease pain. However, when we are caught up in those thought forms- always striving to meet some form of expectation of feeling “good enough”- our pleasure comes at a steep price that you must work hard to continue to achieve. I wonder if you have ever reached that place? Have you ever set a goal (e.g. once I lose enough weight than I’ll be able to start dating again)? I would bet that once you reach your first goal, your mind doesn’t stop there and sets another goal- nothing is ever good enough. And as long as you continue to run this race, you will always lose. Plus it’s exhausting! No wonder so many of us struggle with depression, anxiety, and addiction- freedom lies in increasing your awareness of your Being- the awareness that is consistent and behind all the foreground of the world (what you see, do, think, feel, believe).

Is it possible to let go of the belief that you should or need to know who you are? Can you STOP looking to thought for an identity? You are enough just as you are! Don’t believe me? The only way to believe that for yourself is to start to recognize the thoughts and expectations of what you NEED to do to be enough as they arise (and they will continue to), and stop believing them. Don’t fight to get rid of them, just change your relationship with them- just because you think it does not mean it’s true and most importantly- it’s not helpful. Instead, try taking 10 deep breaths and re-connecting with your reality and present moment just as it is. That is enough!

New resolution for the new year…

“Peace- it does mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”- Anonymous

Isn’t this so much easier said than done? As humans, we have this desire for things to go a certain way and create expectations of how things should be in order to be “happy”- which in the end, only creates more suffering. Instead of living in each moment with wonder and curiosity, we are so busy creating stories in our head about whats next and how things should be or ruminating on whats happened in the past. All of this takes you away from the only moment you really have- right now. Happiness has become an idea, something you need to work to obtain- which is not really possible. You can add things in your life that may  help you feel better, have more energy, increase your satisfaction and bring you joy (eating healthy, spending time with friends and family, working hard, going on new adventures, exercising), but there is no set of rules (“if this… then that”) on how to be happy.

This is especially true for the beginning of a new year. Many people start January 1st with a list of things that need to change with an expectation that they will then be “happier, more successful, the person they have always wanted to be”. We compare, evaluate, criticize ourselves, focus on what we’re lacking, all in hopes of reaching this fantasy image of the person we would ideally like to be. However, instead of reaching this ideal- people often end up loathing in shame and self-hate- never feeling good enough. Happiness has no pre-requisites- however, and it is only attainable right now- in this moment. So, what if just for this year, you make a resolution different than any one in the past that will bring peace, joy and vitality. It is not hard, but it is a conscious practice- to bring willingness into your day to day experience. This means to be willing to experience the ups and the downs that life inevitably will bring- being present in each moment- which allows you to experience everything more fully-  not avoiding the pain, but making a life worth living despite it.

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