“Intimacy begins with oneself. It does no good to try to find intimacy with friends, lovers and family if you are starting out from alienation and division within yourself.” ~Thomas Moore
Have you ever written a note or letter to younger self? I’ve found it to be an effective way to develop greater connection and deeper intimacy with yourself. To forgive yourself for past mistakes. To love yourself unconditionally. Which in turn helps you be more open and compassionate with others.
Let me share my letter to my 16 year-old-self with you.
Dear Younger Self,
When you’re 16, everything seems so intense. One minute you’re in the depths of despair and the next you’re over the moon with happiness. That kind of emotional roller coast can be exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting. So I hope you don’t mind if I share some things I’ve learned over the years. If nothing else, it will help me to put these life lessons down in writing.
As I was saying, emotions can be so hard to handle. And you weren’t born with the tools to manage them. You’re not aware of how far reaching this is yet, but parents and schoolteachers can only teach what they know. And they don’t know everything! (Yes, I know you suspected that already!) Their knowledge can even be faulty!
For example, you were taught that some emotions are bad like anger, pain or selfishness. So you feel like you need to choke these emotions back and hide them from others.
But emotions are neither good nor bad. You feel it, so don’t deny it. It’s important that you acknowledge the way that you feel and process those feelings properly, so you don’t get ‘stuck’ with emotions that don’t serve you.
For example, do you remember how you once adored your father, but how he became so difficult to be around? If you stay stuck in those feelings of alienation, you’ll miss out on a lot of wonderful experiences. Not only with him, but with men friends too. It’s important to continually update your emotions. Extinguish the emotions that are holding you back and nurture the ones that help you be the best you possible.
I know what you’re thinking, “It’s selfish and vain to think so much about yourself.” But that’s not true. We all have to cultivate intimacy with ourselves before we can have intimacy with others. Otherwise, you’ll never know who you really are or feel safe revealing your true self to others. If you don’t accept yourself, the good, bad and ugly, you’ll feel fragmented and conflicted your whole life. I want you to accept all your Parts and feel integrated, whole and at peace with yourself.
You’ll come to realize that people have their reasons for what they do and say. We all have beliefs, values and reasons for doing what we do. Some are just more focused and skilled in their journey through life than others.
By being aware that what people do and say is information about them, you’ll get clues as to the way they think. You can use that to identify their IOS (Internal Operating System. You’ll learn more about this when you study NLP.)
More than anything else I want you to slow down, appreciate each experience and notice everything. Free yourself from expecting a certain outcome, and allow yourself to enjoy every moment of life. Be kind to yourself and to others. Be mindful and be thoughtful.
Living a balanced live is a daily task. I’ll give you an example of what I mean… In 2010, I co-developed with my good friend Nando Raynolds, a wellness program called Life in Balance: The Seven Keys. We did this because we realized that most people we see in our practices lack some basic skills. This seemed to be contributing to their anxiety, depression and general life dissatisfaction.
So we created a simple and methodical way to learn and practice skills like mindfulness, self-care, self-compassion, setting goals etc. The main point of our program is that progress depends on our daily focus and consistency in practicing those skills. The good news is that you never need go it alone. There’s always support available if you’re open to it.
As a final thought, please don’t fall into the trap of focusing on perfection. It’s impossible, so don’t waste the time or energy. Instead strive for competence. That’s what will bring you the greatest satisfaction and joy.
I’m proud of the woman you’ve become. Your desire to learn and grow has made my life rich. Thank you for that.
With all my love and appreciation, Maria
Writing a letter like this allows you to spend time with the person you once were, which can be enlightening, healing, and soul nourishing. I’d love to hear what this exercise reveals to you. Please feel free to share your most valuable life lessons with over on my Facebook page.
Are you plagued by self-sabotaging behavior? For instance, you want to lose weight but you keep turning to that carton of chocolate ice cream for comfort. Or you want to be a successful manager, but you rub people the wrong way, or unwittingly create drama so you’re always putting out fires.
Self-sabotaging behavior occurs when different “parts” of your self are conflicted. You want success, but a Part of you doesn’t believe you deserve it. You want to be healthy and fit, but a Part of you self-medicates unhealed emotional wounds with comfort food.
Even if you somehow manage to ignore the needs of one of your Parts, you’ll still suffer from lack of harmony and integration. The result will be suppressed emotions and unmet desires.
On the other hand, if you learn to use a Parts Integration Technique, you’ll be more congruent, empowered and clear in your decisions and actions.
You can teach your Parts to holistically work together in an exercise I call the “Tea Time” exercise. (You can find the “Tea Time” exercise by clicking here.) This NLP based, Parts Integration technique lets you see what’s going on under the surface. It creates harmony between Parts of your unconscious mind, so that all of your values, wants and needs are in alignment.
What are the benefits of doing the “Tea Time” exercise?
Parts integration stimulates self-awareness. We are never just one thing. Even if one Part is smaller, when you dismiss it, it can cause imbalance internally. The “Tea Time” exercise is a great tool for understanding and accepting internal contradictions. For example, if you’re an extrovert, identify your smaller Part that has a strong need for alone time. A person that spends all their time with others and no time by themselves might be trying to avoid feeling lonely or being with their thoughts.
Parts integration assists in goal setting. Sometime you might struggle with conflicting goals and priorities. Identifying and naming the Parts in conflict can stimulate a useful internal dialogue that acknowledges all aspects of yourself. Goals formed with awareness of internal conflicts are less likely to be sabotaged by rebel Parts.
Parts integration uncovers resource states. One of my clients, a resolute introvert, wanted to become more comfortable with public speaking, yet he felt resistance to feeling exposed. He has a powerful message and an amazing personal story to share. He’s also articulate and has a warm presence. Inside, a great speaker was waiting to be unleashed.
As he prepared his next presentation, I suggested: “Can we have some Tea Time? Imagine the Part that wants to share your powerful message and state its positive intention. Now give voice to the Part that doesn’t want to feel vulnerable in front of a crowd and state its intention.”
When he could see that both Parts wanted something positive for him (the first part wanted to him to share his mission; the second one wanted him to be safe) he felt more understanding and ultimately at peace. When the time came to give the talk, he stepped fully into the role of public speaker, sharing that he felt vulnerable. He really connected with his audience and his talk was extremely powerful. He still uses the Tea Time exercise to continue to discover different Parts and cultivate inner peace and integration.
Parts integration fosters balance. We often want to hide, squash, deny Parts of ourselves we don’t like. If I value being kind and available to other, I might want to deny or squash the Part that seems selfish or self-centered. Using the Tea Time exercise can help us discover that the part we are not acknowledging is attempting to create inner balance between being other-centered and self-centered. In fact, our system is always organized to seek equilibrium and stability. This exercise can foster a sense of wholeness, integration and overall wellbeing.
If you’d like some guidance on how to use NLP to address an internal conflict please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
I’m also thinking about developing a NLP training online. Are you interested? Send me an email and I’ll keep you posted on my progress toward completing the course. I’d love to hear from you.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton
“I know I have to make a decision, but I’m really conflicted about this. On one hand I feel this way, but on the other hand I feel like this.” Have you ever felt or said something similar to this?
In my recent newsletter (if you haven’t signed up for it yet, you can click here to sign up), I discussed how this inner conflict is the result of our subconscious parts not working harmoniously together.
The good news is that you can teach your parts to holistically work together so you can achieve your desired outcomes in life. I’ve discovered an effective way that I use personally and that has helped my clients, too. I call it the “Tea Time” exercise.
The “Tea Time” exercise is my version of NLP’s (Neuro Linguistic Programming) popular Parts Integration technique. It’s a very useful skill to overcome ‘bad habits’, indecision, procrastination and all sorts of internal conflicts. It’s so helpful because it creates a non-judgmental space where all internal parts can be heard and expressed with the outcome of fostering understanding.
How do you do the “Tea Time” exercise?
Imagine that you’re sitting down to have tea with your Parts that are in conflict. For example, perhaps you are considering a new business venture and there are some risks involved. You feel conflicted internally and this is keeping your from moving forward. One the one hand, your safety-minded part wants to keep you safe. The wants-to-be-challenged part wants you to grow. You can invite both parts to participate.
Remember the following rules:
- Begin with a brief centering exercise to deliberately set the stage.
- Make a commitment to suspend all judgment and to listen with curiosity.
- Let each Part explain what it wants, needs, acknowledging its values, beliefs and positive intention.
- Act as a witness that, from a higher perspective, observes and perceives the different positive intentions.
- The two Parts previously in conflict can now understand the other’s intention.
- This understanding creates harmony between the Parts of the unconscious mind, so that their values are more in alignment.
By following this exercise you will have ‘Integrated Parts’ and this will lead to feeling more congruent, empowered and clear in your decisions and actions. In my next blog post, I’ll share how you can specifically use this technique for various outcomes and the specific benefits your can derive from doing so.
NLP is one of the best models for understanding the ways we communicate not only with others, but even more importantly with ourselves. It’s great for identifying what’s holding you back. If you’d like some guidance on how to use NLP to address an internal conflict please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“A certain harmony should be kept between actions and ideas if we want to fully develop the effects they can produce.” ~ François de La Rochefoucauld
Do you struggle with making decisions? Part of you wants to do it, but part of you doesn’t? Emotional experiences throughout life, especially during the early imprint years, results in the creation of “Parts” in your unconscious mind. (I blogged earlier about this in a post about your Shadow Self.) These Parts have their own values and beliefs, and they’re responsible for certain behaviors.
I believe that overwhelming feelings and reactions, as well as, out of control behaviors are the result of these “Parts” feeling conflicted. Internal conflicts occur when two or more “Parts” of a person are at odds about a particular situation and exhibit behaviors that are seemingly incongruous (out of harmony).
The most problematic conflicts occur when the opposing Parts have negative judgments about each other. To resolve this inner conflict, you must identify a common positive intention. It’s important to know what YOUR purpose or desired outcome is.
Sadly, many of your outcomes for career, family, romance, and health may be based on the requests, desires or expectations of others. You may try to please your parents, spouse, teachers, religious leaders, boss and society. Yet these are not your personal outcomes. It’s not really the life you’ve always wanted to live.
As a result, you probably won’t have the energy that propels you forward to make good decisions that help you achieve your highest potential. When you struggle with your outcomes, almost always there’s some hidden inner conflict that needs resolution. You won’t feel fully alive until these inner conflicts are resolved.
Sometimes you may have an internal conflict or incongruence about some aspect of yourself – you feel as if you’re of “two minds” on the issue. These Parts can each appear to have different intentions and can be functioning independently of the other.
Here are some of the conflicts you may be experiencing:
- your job vs. spending time with your family;
- your career vs. your health;
- being entrepreneurial vs. playing it safe;
- freedom vs. settling down with someone special.
An internal conflict is often revealed through the words you use. Phrases such as “on the one hand,” “I feel torn about this,” or “a part of me agrees with you.”
Your behaviors may suggest different attitudes, and these attitudes may vary in different contexts. You may have one set of behaviors at work and a different set at home. Do you ever find yourself saying the following?
- “I really want to stop procrastinating, but Part of me just keeps doing it.”
- “Part of me really likes him, but Part of me is scared.”
- “Part of me wants to go to law school, but another Part wants to travel.”
We often use this language without knowing that it represents a deeper conflict inside.
However, when you take a closer glance, you’ll discover a dozen of sub-personalities inside. Some may disagree quite passionately with each other about who you really are or what you’re capable of being or doing.
Some of your Parts may be brassy and dominant. Others are fully formed, but quiet and waiting to be engaged. Some Parts are distressing. Some are good at hiding.
My personal view is that it’s okay to have Parts, if the Parts are working in a holistic sense. For example, it’s nice to know that I have a creative Part, a compassionate Part, a safety-minded Part, and a wants-to-be-challenged Part. These Parts express different aspects of my nature that I’m able to access when I need specific assistance. When my Parts learn to cooperate with each other, I experience internal peace, harmony and equanimity. So can you.
Parts Integration is a NLP (neuro linguistic programming) technique for internal conflict resolution. NLP is one of the best, if not the best, models for understanding human communication. It has proven techniques to help you address what’s holding you back.
I’ve been using NLP for years to help my clients excel. Now I’m thinking about developing a NLP training online. Are you interested? Send me an email and I’ll keep you posted on my progress toward completing the course. I’d love to hear from you.
“If you want to choose the pleasure of growth, prepare yourself for some pain.” – Ritu Ghatourey
Do you remember having growing pains when you were young? They weren’t pleasant were they, but who would want to stay the size of a baby? That’s just part of growing up.
However, what most people don’t recognize is that we continue to have growing pains – emotional, mental and spiritual ones – throughout our lives. However, discomfort now becomes our choice – we can avoid it, endure it, or embrace it. It’s no longer automatic.
Since our brains are hardwired to avoid pain, we often choose to avoid discomforts rather than embrace them. As a result, our personal and professional growth can become stunted.
What are some attitudes that people adopt to avoid the discomfort of growing?
- I’m happy where I’m at.
- I want to take it easy.
- I want to be comfortable.
- I don’t want to do that because it makes me uncomfortable.
- It’s too hard.
The trouble with staying in your comfort zone is that you can become self-absorbed, complacent, or easily bored. And if you have a creative nature, you’re going to be miserable.
Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is one of the most important skills you can develop. It’s how you’ll live a full and purposeful life. As Jean Shinoda Bolen said, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
But why is growing emotionally, mentally, or spiritually so uncomfortable? Because it involves taking a risk. Letting go of control. Venturing into the unknown. But that’s okay. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
When you regularly seek out fresh experiences, you become more creative and emotionally resilient. It makes you stronger and more confident as you see each success and conquer each hurtle. Can’t you look back and remember things that used to make you uncomfortable, but you can now do with ease?
How do you embrace discomfort?
- Develop a craving for something more in your life.
- Resist the pride of perfectionism.
- Be willing to make “mistakes” and see them as learning experiences instead.
- Deliberately seek out things that push your limits.
- Stop avoiding what’s hard.
Oftentimes you have to expand your understanding to overcome obstacles in front of you – understanding yourself, others, or how things work. It challenges your mental skills. But your brain is like a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Conversely if you don’t stretch it, it will become flabby.
Make time for continual learning. Try a new language. Take a mindfulness course. Start a new hobby. You can tackle any project you set your mind to. As Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”
If you make a practice of welcoming discomfort, your comfort zone will expand to include and embrace discomfort as a natural part of living. Then you can have a similar attitude to American writer Jonathan Lethem, “Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.”
Most things seem impossible until you do them. Remember that others have felt just as you do and they were able to push beyond that feeling. So can you.
Sometimes it helps to have someone coach you through a big growth spurt. If that’s where you’re at, I’d love to partner with you so you can more easily embrace discomfort. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).