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Discover Your Shadow Self and Embrace Who You’re Meant to Be

If your life appears to be satisfying, yet you feel like an inner struggle never ends, you might need to integrate with your Shadow Self to feel whole again“We tend to think that vulnerability is associated with weakness, but there’s a kind of robust vulnerability that can create a certain form of strength and presence too.” ~ David Whyte

Do you have secrets you’ve never shared with anyone? Perhaps something that happened to you as a child? Maybe it’s simply a feeling that is so raw you’re too uncomfortable to share it with anyone?

All of us have secrets we hide from others and perhaps even from ourselves. (Carl Jung called this our Shadow Self.) We hide what we dislike about ourselves or feel is unacceptable because we want to feel safe, respected or accepted. If we reveal how we really feel deep inside, we’re afraid we’ll be rejected.

When do you develop this Shadow Self? And how does it undermine your life, your relationships and your sense of purpose?

Your Shadow Self is usually developed in your childhood. Maybe your parents or teachers taught you what they’d been taught – “don’t cry, pull yourself up by your booth straps, put on a smile, be strong.” You got the message that it’s good to bottle up or choke back your emotions. Overtime you came to view certain emotions and qualities as “bad” so they must be hidden when you feel them.

It’s a lie.

Denying your emotions actually makes you weak, needy and more vulnerable to life events. Sadly, most of us walk around cut off from our body – the vessel for our emotional experiences – and live our lives from our thinking mind only. This makes us incomplete.

While working with hundreds of clients, I’ve discovered that there’s usually a pattern underlying current challenges. At some point in our past, most of us thought we had to leave behind or abandon our younger self to survive and become an adult.

But that Shadow Self is still there under the surface. Often it shows up as unresolved issues, limiting beliefs or unchallenged “truths” along your journey to adulthood. The associated emotions may disastrously resurface as anxiety, depression, or illness.

When this happens our reflex is to push our Shadow Self back, to get rid of it or deny it. It feels foreign, scary and confusing to acknowledge your past hurt, sadness, grief, or loss. You want to just forget it and keep it in the shadows.

How can dredging up the past possibly bring you closer to healing?

It’s common to imagine that embracing your disowned emotions will devastate you and interfere with your ability to be a functional adult. Yet the truth is that you’re not operating at full capacity when you’re not connected with those parts you have disowned. You are literally missing parts of yourself.

As a child, we have a coping mechanism; we develop adaptive skills to keep the disowned ones hidden. For example when you disown vulnerability you might:

  • Develop an inner perfectionist to avoid feeling “less than” when making mistakes.
  • Develop a tough exterior, becoming overly self-reliant and independent so you’re not disappointed and hurt by others.
  • Develop a need to take care of everyone else because no one is taking care of you.

Yet the truth about vulnerability is that it can be empowering if we develop what David Whyte, my favorite poet, calls “robust vulnerability.” This seemingly counter-intuitive concept is to allow vulnerability into your life so that it strengthens you from the inside.

Do you see how these adaptive skills can keep you from realizing your wholeness and true self? Your Shadow Self keeps you from letting your light, your true brilliance, shine. And when you’re always trying to hide who you are, you won’t have the energy to forge close, rich relationships. (In reality, you’re not hiding it very well either.)

The good news is that you can become whole again! You can learn to welcome, deeply hear, understand, and value everything about yourself, even the disowned parts of your Shadow Self. Then you can integrate them back into who you are and how you express yourself.

For some this can be quite challenging and frightening to do alone. I’d love to support you on your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

Isn’t it time to “see and embrace the elephant in the room” and finally take the steps to feel whole and in harmony with who you’re meant to be?

How to Approach Life So You Live Life to the Fullest

Learn how to approach life so you get the most from it, with the best results and the least amount of cost – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual – to youYour approach to life is influenced by so many factors – your genetics, upbringing, culture, beliefs, values, and more. As a result, everyone has a unique approach to life that is either slightly or vastly different from your own.

Some people go through life doing just enough to get by. They’re the make doers who are perfectly happy making do with whatever happens. At the other extreme are the perfectionists who strive to do everything perfectly no matter how complicated the process is.

In the more sustainable range are the following:

  • Simplifiers (who do everything the easiest way possible even if adding that little extra would produce better results).
  • Optimizers (who look for the best solution even if it’s more complex and increases the odds for complications).
  • Maximizers (who never cease to educate themselves and learn from others so they can excel at what’s important). 

Actually, a balanced life involves all of the above, except for perfectionism, which only brings you stress from having unrealistic expectations of yourself. The trick is to know how to approach life on the terms that serve you the best in your present circumstances with the least amount of cost (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual). The good news is that you can choose to alter your approach to life whenever it suits you.

But how do you know which approach is the best at any given time?

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase about “knowing when to pick your battles”. Some things just aren’t worth fussing about. While others things matter a great deal. Often you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you’re well into the project. That’s why it’s so important to be flexible, resilient and adaptable.

However, as a general rule of thumb, whenever possible choose simplification, because it maximizes and frees up your personal energy. You’re not worn out from one task, so you have plenty of energy for the other activities that the day brings you. 

Doing things simply makes it easier for not only yourself but for everyone involved. And it’s a huge time saver and keeps your stress level down. It’s best to avoid complicating something if there’s no need for it.

If you can simplify, streamline and document any system, you won’t have to expend the time and energy to re-figure it out in the future. This kind of simplification pays off in a big way. It even allows you to delegate tasks to others knowing that they’ll do the work to your satisfaction.

By simplifying your daily life as much as you can with supportive routines and habits, you have the luxury to optimize, or even maximize, the things that really matter to you. Instead of doing it so-so, you can truly master what you’re passionate about.

This principle works in all aspects of life and business. Just get started doing what needs to be done, step-by-step, and when you have the luxury of time, come back and master what’s really important. Over time, you may find that what you thought needed careful, meticulous attention doesn’t really need it, while things you neglected need your undivided attention.

When you’re mindful about reviewing your day, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and you’re tuned in to your own feelings and those of the people around you, you develop the flexibility and creativity to make course corrections in your approach to life as needed.

If you feel like you need to make some adjustments in your approach to life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you as you discover new ways to live life to the fullest.

Become Indispensable – 8 Steps to Fearlessly Tackling Any Project

If you want to become indispensable at work or in any relationship, develop a can-do self-starting attitude that moves you to execute your goals effectively“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Isn’t it true that the world is full of people with good intentions? Yet the ones who accept a task and execute it promptly are rare. In that way, they become indispensable at work or in any relationship because you can count on them to follow through and not let you down.

Is that the kind of person you’d like to be known as?

First, it’s important to determine what’s getting in the way of executing your goals. Do you procrastinate or get distracted? Too often our minds are so full of “stuff” we lose focus. Or maybe you don’t know something, so you get stuck on the “how” and stall out.

Perhaps your past is getting in the way? Maybe you’ve been discouraged by a lifetime of others putting you down. On the other hand, overindulgent parents might have spoiled you, making you think the world owes you a favor. Just remember, those behaviors are their choices, not yours.

You have a choice to make: blame others or build a fire in your soul for developing the attitudes and habits that make you indispensable. How?

It all starts with developing the character to view everything you do as worthwhile. No matter what the job is, do it cheerfully. Appreciate the opportunity to see your strengths and make note of them.

When you work at excelling at everyday tasks, extraordinary opportunities will come your way. When you use each assignment to hone your natural talents, you can turn them into a discipline that you master. This may well become your “calling” in life, if it brings you great joy and it serves the needs of others.

The secret to becoming indispensable is to take action without hesitating. Practice the following steps until they become a deeply imbedded system in your life:

  1. Accept the assignment and get started. Don’t wait for all of the answers. As you proceed, you’ll often find better solutions than if you had mapped it all out at the beginning.

 

  1. Ask for clarification. Asking a question isn’t a sign of weakness. Work out what you can and then ask the right questions to fill in the blanks.

 

  1. Outline a plan of action. Keep in mind your ultimate objective; strategies for achieving it; breaking it down into manageable bits; making a step-by-step checklist; and measuring your progress.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to expend some resources and ask for help. Worthwhile objectives usually cost money, time, and help from others. If it’s worth doing, do it right.

 

  1. Measure your progress. When you get stuck, show what you’ve done so far and ask for feedback. If you’re off course, this will put you back on track. Even if you don’t answer to anyone, review your progress and see if you’re still on course.

 

  1. Set reasonable expectations and always exceed them. If you want to be trusted with vital tasks, develop a reputation for getting the job done better, sooner and at a lower cost than expected.

 

  1. Accept mistakes as the cost of learning. Perfection is unrealistic. Mistakes are simply information not judgments on your character. Reflect on what they teach you.

 

  1. Be proud of your work. Remember your wins. Find the harmony between action and fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but rather the ability to act despite it.

You will become indispensable when you’ve integrated these action-oriented habits and attitudes into your life. If you’re ready to accelerate your rise to excellence so you become indispensable, respected and trusted, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this journey.

Develop Systems for Life – A Game Changer if You’re Tired of Chasing After Goals

Rather than setting goals you never achieved, it’s time to revolutionize your approach and think in terms of using systems for life instead of chasing goals “Like a human being, a company has to have an internal communication mechanism, a ‘nervous system’, to coordinate its actions” ~ Bill Gates, co-founder Microsoft

Are systems really that different than goals? On the surface they sound similar, don’t they? Yet how many goals have you set but never achieved? How does that make you feel? Like you’ve failed and are always starting over, right? In contrast, systems for life are daily habits, routines, processes, or practices you implement to support your intentions. And day-by-day, you reach your desired result in a much softer way.

For example, perhaps you set the goal of losing weight by a certain date. You may achieve that goal, but soon the pounds creep back on. Why? Going on a diet implies that at some point the diet ends. A lifestyle change, on the other hand, is a system of healthy eating and exercise that is ongoing and has lasting results.

Over the years, I’ve focused a lot on setting and achieving goals, developing small measurable steps and developing a buddy system. All of this is important, but it’s not effective if my strategies to achieve these goals aren’t successful ones.

What does it mean to develop systems for life?

Let me give you another example: Imagine that you want to go to the gym at 6am three times a week and you commit to doing that. You prepare your gym clothes and shoes the night before so getting dressed in the morning is a breeze. Your gym bag is ready and your water bottle is full and available.

It looks like you’ve set yourself up for success, right? But what if you decide to stay up late because you want to read 10 more pages of your book, or your friend calls and wants to talk about her ex one more time? Will you be successful at getting up when the alarm goes off the next morning?

And what if deep down you hate the gym? How long will you be able to sustain your commitment? When you associate displeasure with exercise, you unintentionally train yourself to stop doing it. If you force yourself to do it you end up using your limited supply of willpower. So what happens as a result? When you’re tempted to eat junk food you give in, negating the good that you accomplished at the gym.

How much better to create a system for being active every day at a level that feels good, while experimenting with different methods of exercise until you find the one you love. Maybe it’s something as simple as using a pedometer to count your steps. Before long your body is trained to crave that psychological boost. It builds a natural inclination for challenges that gently nudges you toward becoming more active. 10,000 steps today…12,000 steps tomorrow. That’s a sustainable system!

Don’t get me wrong. Goals are fine for getting a project finished. But they have their limitations…

  • Goals remind you that you’re not good enough. You’re starting from that negative state and basing your happiness, not on the present, but on a future, which you may or may not achieve.
  • Goals make you feel guilty when you don’t achieve them.
  • Goals foster a yo-yo of short-term results, instead of a steady flow toward long-term progress, because as soon as the goal is achieved you revert back to previous practices.
  • Goals make you feel powerless when you have setbacks. When you have systems for life you know you can pick it up again tomorrow when you feel better.
  • Goals make you focus on one thing while de-emphasizing others things you’re committed to. Consequently, you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that could be far better than your goal.

The interesting thing is that if you never set another goal, but have a variety of systems for living an excellent life, you’ll still achieve what really matters to you. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can mindfully enjoy the moment, while making improvements at the same time.

If you’re having trouble sorting out which system you need to implement first, feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Alter Your Relationship with Time and Feel in Control Again!

If you feel like you’re always racing against the clock, pulled in a million different directions, alter your relationship with time and gain control again.“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” ~ Anthony Robbins

Does it seem like you’re always racing against the clock, being pulled in a million different directions at once? Those feelings cause many people to try multi-tasking, but that only splinters your attention further and you don’t get the satisfaction of doing your best for each project. It can make you feel out of control.

To restore harmony, sometimes all it takes is one simple change in your routine. For me, that means making my bed every morning. It sets the tone for the day and helps me develop discipline, which spills over into other areas of my life. Need another example?

I found a story online about an art director who settled only one issue in her life, which gave her back her control. It all began when she needed to dress for an office meeting. What should she wear? She pulled clothes out of her closet, first trying on this, then trying on that. You can relate, right? In a panicked state she made the wrong decision and felt paralyzed as she entered the meeting room late. She swore “never again” and promptly went out and bought an office outfit to last a year – 15 identical silk white shirts and a few black pants – a simple fix with a life-changing result.

It doesn’t take much to flip your relationship with time. Time is your friend. The time you get to spend on this Earth is your most precious gift. And just like a bank account, your time is limited, so learn to spend it wisely, in ways you won’t regret.

Of course, some of your life is governed by the clock – like getting up when the alarm goes off, getting to work on time, or honoring your various appointments. It’s good to have realistic schedules with blocked out times for important activities. That’s how you remain organized and highly productive.

However, if you have something scheduled for every moment of your time, it doesn’t allow time for mindful reflection or processing what has already happened.

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” ~ Charles Richards

Remember that people at the end of their lives never say, “I regret that I didn’t spend more time at work” or, “I wish I’d spent more time worrying about what might happen”. In your own case, what do you imagine you’ll look back on and regret.

The good news is that if you begin living mindfully from this moment onward, you won’t have so many regrets. You can think of time in two ways:

1) A linear flow as the clock ticks away – this allows you to schedule your life in relation to others. When you feel pressured to work on someone else’s timeline, your state of mind can be adversely affected if you haven’t learned to regulate your emotions.

2) A rhythmic pattern that allows you to expand as needed toward excellence. When your mind is in a positive, relaxed state, you can perceive time as spiraling out from your intentional focus. In this state, time no longer controls you.

It’s beneficial to use both modalities of time. Be linear when you need to be and mindfully choose to unplug from that stream to experience time on your own terms. The more you turn on these natural, unpressured moments, the more mindful you can become of your intentions, your choices, your desires, and dreams. As a result, you’ll see that 90% of what comes your way doesn’t serve you. It’s okay to say “no” to honor your bigger “yes”.

The ultimate goal is to maintain an ever-present awareness of where the center of your attention is focused, avoiding distractions. If you’re new to centering yourself, don’t be discouraged that your thoughts drift away to something else. Practice rhythmic breathing as you focus on your center and it will become easier.

If you’re not sure what your next step should be, join me and my friend, Nando, at our Women in Leadership Retreat.  We’ll help you outline a plan of action that supports your big “yes”. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

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