“To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light”. ~ Carl Jung
Have you given away your power?
Perhaps it started years ago… Many times when we’re young and go through a crisis – caused by divorce, death, illness, or abuse – we never have the room to explores and process all of the emotional polarities that come along with these experiences.
As a kid, you think you have to be mature. You have to show your parents, teachers and friends that you’re fine, that you can handle it… But what you’re really doing is learning to suppress or disown your real self.
As a child trying to protect yourself, you put on a persona. The problem is that persona lives on and you may stop yourself from saying things you want to say; you hide your emotions or your pretend to feel something that you don’t. You show the world a censored version of yourself.
In time, we can bury our authentic self so deeply that we actually lose sight of who we really are. The persona you put on as a child, or Shadow Self, is still there under the surface causing havoc. (Read my previous blog post that explains your Shadow Self.)
To accept your true self you have to identify, acknowledge and own the repressed parts (the good, the bad and the ugly) you may have been denying for years. Consciously integrating your shadow self allows you to reclaim the power you once gave away. It enables you to recognize your uniqueness and the gifts you have. The ultimate result? Total self-acceptance brings inner peace.
This process isn’t easy. To reclaim your disowned parts recognize that…
- You can’t bypass your past experiences and the unfelt emotions.
- You can’t get rid of emotions like you can’t get rid of energy. They can only be transformed (emotions = energy in motion).
- You must bring adult witnessing, compassion and understanding to those young parts to foster healing.
- You prolong the disattunement (lack of harmony) that you experienced while growing up by failing to attune to your emotional needs in adulthood.
Are you ready to make room for your younger self? Integration is the healing process of identifying, acknowledging, embracing unprocessed emotions from childhood.
This process involves embracing both sides of your emotional polarities. What does this mean? You can’t have confidence without insecurity; humility without arrogance; compliance without rebellion; tenderness without hardness.
As you read these emotional polarities (opposites), did you judge one emotion as good and one as bad? Is it hard to acknowledge that you possess some of them?
In these polarities, neither emotion is right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And we need to acknowledge that we possess them without judgment.
I’m not advocating that you unleash your emotions on others without restraint. I am saying it’s important to mindfully acknowledge how you feel, reclaim your feelings, process those feelings, and then express them in productive, non-destructive ways.
It can be very telling when you feel inordinately irritated when you see such qualities in others. Often this is triggered because you’ve disowned this quality within yourself. Ask yourself:
- Why does this aspect of a polarity bother me?
- How do I hold its counterpoint?
- Why do I view it this way?
- When did I start to disown this in myself?
- Was it because of what someone said or something I experienced?
- What was the context then?
- What is the context now?
- What will happen when I acknowledge this disowned polarity in myself?
It’s a fact of life that emotional polarities exist within all of us. Bringing them to the surface and acknowledging them enables you to free energy that you can productively use in your personal growth. This is so much better than continuing to feel irritated when you see it in yourself or others.
You can become resilient, successful and capable despite your difficult or traumatic past experiences. I’d love to partner with 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).
“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?
“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” ~ John F. Kennedy
A few years ago, I made a decision that has changed my life and given me so many unexpected benefits. I’ve always been fascinated with the positivity and forward-thinking stance of Life Coaching. So, in 2013, I decided to focus and build my coaching practice. I changed my branding, read books and took online courses to get up to speed with this growing field and to feel more confident and competent.
At times, I would feel discouraged and my own inner critic would creep in with statements like: “You were doing just fine, why did you have to go and change things?” Well, that was just fear of the unknown. And no, I wasn’t doing fine, I wasn’t fulfilled anymore. I was just afraid of making the change.
But in 2016 it happened. My coaching business really took off! Constantly I’m reminded that I LOVE owning my own coaching business. With each new connection, I get to fulfill my calling, changing lives and changing the world for the better.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a business owner, or starting your own private practice, then the following benefits that I enjoy may be enough to convince you that you don’t need to be afraid to start a business …
- Turn your years of experience into a business asset. Age becomes a plus in your favor, not a minus like it is in the competitive corporate world. Specialize in what you know best.
- Work from home or from anywhere in the world. Technology makes it possible to work with your clients anytime, anywhere.
- Set your own pace. One possible downside of owning your own business is that you can get a little lazy about sticking to your business routine. But if you create a schedule and stick to it, you’ll find you have a lot of extra time to fulfill other important life pursuits.
- Earn the income you want. If you’re willing to hustle, you can design streams of income that fulfill your needs and wants. For example, as a coach, your high-end offering may be one-on-one coaching in person or via Skype. Other streams could be selling your self-published book; hosting fee-based live group coaching, workshops and retreats; setting up do-it-yourself online classes; and presenting paid speaking gigs.
- Live with meaning. You get to define what’s important. Being your own boss allows you to incorporate ways to give back to your community.
- Pick the people you work with. There won’t be anyone undermining you or stealing your thunder. What you create is only limited by the boundaries you build. You don’t have to put up with toxic situations.
- Discover what you’re made of. Your personal growth will be tested in ways that make you a better person. You’ll discover new reserves of resiliency, self-discipline and self-confidence as you make your dreams a reality.
It’s completely normal to doubt or worry about taking the leap into starting your own business. But if you’re convinced this is the right decision for you, you can make it work. If I did it…so can you! Start connecting with people who will support you and learn all you can about running a business. Create a plan and work your way into it.
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 fast tracks you toward the launch of a new business. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“I believe the risks I take are justified by the sheer love of the life I lead.” ~ Charles Lindbergh
What does the family who goes on the vacation of a lifetime have in common with the company that consistently exceeds its marketing goals? On the surface…nothing. But when you look deeper, in each case you’ll see a leader who knows how to inspire a shared vision. If you want to make a difference, this is an essential skill you’ll want to master. Let’s take a closer look at each story…
Within the family, the mother sees that the kids will soon be leaving for college. She knows that once they’re out of the house, they may get so busy with their own lives they might not have another chance. So she shares her vision of a great family vacation with her husband. He agrees and together they work out how to make it happen. As the family discusses it, they excitedly pitch in their ideas. Because they’re on the same page, working toward the same goal, it’s not a hardship to stick to a budget or schedule. Their shared vision becomes a success.
In the business setting, the marketing department brings a new strategy to the boss, and she thinks it’s a great idea. She takes that visionary thought and lays out a plan to her employees. She details the vision to them and gets them excited to do their individual and collective best. She knows it won’t happen unless all departments are on board with the idea. And because she connects with each one on the level of their specialty, each department excels.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of working with someone who tries to lead but keeps the details to themselves. You don’t know why something is important and you don’t understand the process because you don’t know all the steps. As a result, the “vision” never succeeds, because you couldn’t clearly see your role in it.
In any case, progress won’t happen by chance. Inspiring leaders acknowledge and welcome the strengths of each person and create an environment were talents can flourish. They give a clear objective so people know what to do. They give a clear reason why it’s important, so everyone remains motivated to get it done. It’s not enough for the leader to have a vision. An effective leader inspires others by knowing how to share the vision so that it takes on life in the hearts of all those involved. They can see themselves in the picture!
First-class leaders learn to look far into the future, not merely seeing the end of a current project. Instead they see how each project impacts their organization years down the road. In the above example, the mother saw her family slipping away, so she took action to bring them back together. The far-sighted boss saw how one marketing campaign would boost morale and generate customer loyalty. Because they took into account the hopes and wishes of others, those involved became very supportive.
Effective leaders see that it’s important to make time to look ahead and not get consumed with day-to-day busyness. They also don’t feel that they have to be the visionary. But they know that it’s their job to get everyone involved and keep them working at the top of their game.
It’s not always easy to communicate your vision in a way that draws others into it so that they adopt it for their own vision. However, it’s easier if you incorporate metaphors, word pictures, and stories that people relate to. Don’t be afraid to express the depth of your emotional involvement and excitement, because it’s that passion that will fire up others.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to inspire others for a future project is to connect with them mindfully in the present. If you’d like to learn to inspire others and make more meaning connections in your life, please check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my close friend Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. It’s going to be life-changing!