“Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken. ~ Lisa Kleypas
Do you feel free to be yourself all of the time? Or do you wake up each morning and “put your armor on” so people won’t see the real you – your vulnerabilities, quirks or shame?
It’s not easy to always speak your truth. We worry about appearing weak. We worry about creating conflict. We worry about giving away our power. We worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
Reflect over the past week…how many times have you not been entirely truthful? Perhaps you’ve spoken little white lies or you’ve held back from revealing the whole truth to make yourself look better?
For example, maybe you overspent your clothing budget by buying a new pair of shoes, and your partner notices. He asks, “Are those shoes new?” Offhandedly you respond, “Oh, they’ve been in the closet for awhile.” You feel it’s not an outright lie because they have been there overnight. That’s awhile, right? Of course, it gives the impression that they’re not a new purchase. Not exactly truthful is it?
This is just one example of pushing down your truth, which is harmful to yourself and your relationships. Other ways you could be hiding your truth is by holding back your true opinions to avoid controversy. Or you hide “shameful” parts of your life because if anyone ever found out then you’d feel less than perfect, less than extraordinary, less than good.
Mentally visualize what holding back, pushing down, and closing up feels like. Does it make you feel free? To the contrary, it has the opposite effect, doesn’t it? You feel trapped in a dark place.
In light of the recent #MeToo Movement, many women are opening up about their experiences and sharing their truth. And do you know what? The response from other women and supportive men has been amazing. It’s incredibly empowering to be believed, to be validated, to be heard.
Of course, not everyone wants to hear your truth. But the people who really care about you will welcome it. Often they’ll say, “Is that how you really feel? I had no idea. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me.”
When you get to the point of not obsessing over what others think and you speak your truth in a calm and respectful manner, a weight will immediately lift from your shoulders. The beauty of it is that you’ll forge deep connections with those you tell. They’ll feel like they can relate to you on a more personal, intimate level.
When you speak truthfully, you open up the door for deep connection, conversation, and compassion. It impels those around you to feel safe to live their own truths, too.
I encourage you to become mindful of the areas where you could be more truthful with yourself and others. Notice who makes you feel like you have to hide and what situations make you mask your real beliefs, so you “fit it”. Also pay close attention to your untrue self-talk that keeps you stuck and not living freely. Then make a point of making choices that promote a feeling of freedom. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you explore what it means to live and speak your truth.
It takes courage and sometimes a lot of internal work to get to the place where you can live and speak your truth. If you crave that kind of freedom, please 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 exciting journey.
“In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg
Are you excited about all the possibilities the New Year has to offer you? Or does the idea of new opportunities intimidate you a little bit? Maybe you’re worried that you may not be ready to open the door when opportunity knocks?
How can you prepare now so you’re ready to act when a big break comes your way? I’ve been thinking about this a lot because of what happened to my client, Sandy (her name has been changed to protect her privacy). Perhaps you can relate to her story….
When I met Sandy, she was a 25-year-old writer, with dreams of being a speechwriter for a big company. She’d been writing since she learned how and loved the idea of creating content to support inspirational people.
Yet in her personal life, Sandy was struggling. She had difficulties making friends and this was a source of deep grief and desolation. She wasn’t taking care of herself the way she should and this left her tired, rundown, and depressed. Her eating habits and exercise routines were less than desirable. She often felt overwhelmed and in constant catch-up-mode.
When her best friend was hired by a well-known company as a junior executive assistant, she immediately put in a good word for Sandy to work in the Creatives & Communication department. Sandy’s big break was at her doorstep. Opportunity was knocking on her door! But she wasn’t ready to say yes. That once in a lifetime opportunity sailed right past her because she wasn’t ready. Can you imagine the regret and disappointment she felt?
This was a wake-up call for Sandy to regroup and together we worked to set in place different daily practices. Have you experienced something similar? Have you lost golden opportunities because you weren’t ready for them?
Too often I see really talented, brilliant people overly consumed with developing their skills, or getting bogged down emotionally with issues of anxiety, lack of confidence, and feeling “less than” about themselves. Unfortunately, these distractions can make you miss important opportunities to try something new, get your foot in the door, and say yes to something that might turn out to be your “Big Break” or “the way to success”.
Do you find yourself holding back from taking opportunities because of one of the following “reasons”?
- You’re afraid of change or doubt your abilities. It can be scary to take action when you don’t feel ready. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re not good enough or you don’t have enough experience. I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
- You’re not in a position to take action. Maybe your life is too full of drama or clutter (physical, emotional and social). Or maybe you’re caught up in dealing with other people’s drama. All this will leave you tired, tapped out or exhausted, rather than excited to try something new. Make self-care a priority, so you have the routines needed to support your health and wellbeing.
- You don’t recognize the opportunity. When you’re too busy and have blind spots, you lack focus and attunement. Your head is in the sand or you’re looking in the wrong direction, when opportunity knocks. Practicing mindfulness will help you stay in the present, not lingering in the past or daydreaming about a future that will never come.
- You have negative self-talk. Don’t listen when you tell yourself, “I’m not up to the challenge.” “Other people could do that but not me.” “I don’t want to embarrass myself.” “I don’t want to let people down.” “I’ll fail.” If you hear these words floating in your subconscious, it’s time to challenge their validity.
If some of the reasons sound familiar, the good news is that they don’t have to keep holding you back. You can do something about it! And getting ready is more important than feeling ready!
Yet here’s an important caveat, being open to opportunities doesn’t mean you should necessarily act on every one of them. If deep down you know the opportunity isn’t a good fit for you, acknowledge that you’ve made a good choice and let it go. If however, there isn’t a good reason, don’t let fear get in your way.
Are you ready to get 2018 off to a good start so you can step through the next door of opportunity? Please 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 and help you say “YES!” with confidence when opportunity knocks at your door.
“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).
“Real connection and intimacy is like a meal, not a sugar fix.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
Does the idea of being emotionally intimate sound amazing or scary to you? Fear keeps many people distant from others. As a result, they become loners or social butterflies that flit from one encounter to another, collecting acquaintances but no real friendships.
Either way they feel empty inside. It’s the difference between having a burger versus an avocado salad for lunch. The first one looks delicious but it has no nutritional value. The second one is deeply nourishing and the benefits can last for a long time.
If you carry such fear, be assured that it’s possible to get rid of the fear. You can experience the exquisite joy of connecting with another person emotionally, intellectually and spiritually – that endeavor we call intimacy.
We all need close friends who are there for us through good times and bad. They are the people who love and accept us for who we are. There are two things that will help you be more comfortable forming intimate relationships.
First, you need to accept yourself the way you are.
When you learn to be mindful, fully aware of yourself, you can be authentic and open with others. When you learn to listen to yourself and trust yourself then you can truly listen and trust others.
“Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest. But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural – as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.” ~ Osho
If you long for intimacy, you have to be willing to drop your defenses, repressions, and inhibitions and be vulnerable. If you’re living a simple, natural life there will be no fear of intimacy, only abundant joy and fulfillment. But if there are scars and wounds that you’re trying to hide, these will need to be healed and mended. Otherwise, you’ll always be afraid that someone will “find out”.
These hurts will no longer have power over you when you let them go, because you’ve rid yourself of self-condemnation and judgment. You accept that you don’t have to be perfect. You no longer lose respect, greatness, or ego, because you’re not focused on those things any longer.
Second, you must open up fully to others and let them get to know the person you are inside.
Platonic intimacy goes deeper than everyday ‘small talk’. It takes time. Lasting friendships grow from having a common interest or shared passion. It’s not that you want to sleep together, but you want to work together towards a common goal. And your differences in opinion and outlook bring richness to the friendship.
Look at the friends or acquaintances you already have and see if there isn’t someone you’d like to get to know better on a deeper level. Look for your common ground and start sharing deeper thoughts and feelings on that topic. Remember, intimacy takes willingness to be vulnerable, to share yourself and risk hurt and rejection. You’ll achieve it only when you’re being deliberate, consistent and exquisitely attentive.
If you’re struggling with how to build intimate relationships, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat that my intimate friend Nando Raynolds and I are leading on May 20 and 21. We can work with you on this particular goal. Or feel free to contact me and schedule a one-on-one “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Have you ever tried to talk with a person who was stone-faced, showing no facial reaction at all to what you were saying? It didn’t take long before you began faltering for words, losing your train of thought and finding it hard to carry on, did it? Why is that? Because when there’s no emotional attunement, no empathy, we don’t feel connected, understood or valued. We need to feel like people are getting what we’re saying.
Emotional attunement takes more than looking at someone or hearing their words. It means using all of our senses to understand what they’re feeling so much that we feel it too. It takes being able to sense, interpret and respond to someone so that she/he doesn’t feel alone any longer. Our eyes become moist with tears when they hurt or beam with happiness to mirror their joy. We lean in and touch their arm with a gesture of compassion. We reflect back to them their emotions with words such as, “That must have been so frustrating!”
We learn to regulate and manage our emotions at an early age from our mothers. She reacted to our emotional state and responded in a way that cared for our needs and soothed us, making us feel secure. A mother gives her child this wonderful gift – the ability to decipher feelings and learn to self-regulate them. If, however, feelings are ignored or put down, the person will carry an inability to interpret and express emotion into their adulthood. The good news is that even if this gift was lacking from your life, you can still learn how to experience emotional attunement in your relationships today.
At times, everyone struggles with emotional attunement. We get caught up in our own drama or daily pressures distract us from really connecting emotionally with others, whether you’re an intimate couple, friends or business associates. If the situation makes you feel blamed, you may fall back to a defensive mode, which makes it impossible to see what the other person is feeling. It’s easy to settle for a transactional kind of relationship, solving problems and sharing responsibilities, without sharing your emotional self and listening for each other’s emotional needs.
The magic and power of emotional attunement is that it doesn’t require a lot from you. It simply takes listening with your ears, mind and heart. You don’t have to “fix” anything or offer advice. This is a huge aha moment for many men especially. You can do so much by doing nothing but tuning in!
Here are some reminders for fine-tuning your emotional attunement:
- Be fully immersed and attuned to what your friend is experiencing.
- Remain emotionally open to her friend’s feeling even if it makes you uncomfortable.
- Use subtle bodily reactions to make powerful connections – shed tears, touch her arm, nod, tilt your head in sync with the tilt of your friend’s head.
- Reinforce your being present by saying a few words that convey that, “I’m here for you” or “Yes, I understand”.
- Keep this as your goal – make your friend feel less alone.
Emotional attunement can be learned, but it’s learned experientially. It takes time, but you can learn to sharing your emotions and to trusting your own judgment in reading other people. When you surround yourself with people who practice emotional attunement you can speed up your own progress. If closer emotional connectedness is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. This can be your Big Goal that we work on together.