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Healing Toxic Shame to Rekindle Hope, Confidence and Courage

Healing Toxic Shame to Rekindle Hope, Confidence and Courage“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

What’s your secret? You know…the thing that causes you such intense shame and embarrassment you just know you’ll die if anyone else finds out! It might be that thing that happened years ago that you can’t ever live down. Or it could be an undefined feeling of failure because authority figures in your past used shame to “discipline” you. Whatever the cause, this kind of toxic shame can be healed.

Toxic shame gnaws at a person. It can consume you and destroy your self-worth and self-confidence. It makes you feel unlovable and unworthy. You become so busy beating yourself up you can’t be fully present in the moment or see the opportunities right in front of you. I appreciate how Brené Brown likens it to a corrosive element like rust or acid:

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

A milder form of shame isn’t necessarily a problem as it simply informs you that you can learn from the experience at hand. However, toxic shame is insidious and keeps you trapped. Let’s clarify, too, that toxic shame is different from guilt. Guilt arises from a negative evaluation of your behavior, while shame arises from a negative evaluation of you as a person.  Guilt is the feeling of doing wrong, and can motivate you to change your behavior. Shame is the toxic feeling of being wrong leading to the hopeless cry of “Why try?” You end up saying things like:

  • I’m so stupid.
  • I can’t do anything right!
  • I’m always saying or doing the wrong thing. 
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • I’m so fat and ugly. 
  • I can’t go, because I don’t want anyone seeing me like this.
  • I’m such a mess. 
  • I hate myself.

Toxic shame is responsible for worsening anxiety, depression or other mental and emotional disorders. It triggers unhealthy and destructive behaviors, such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and drinking, self-harming and cutting.

If you find yourself in a cycle of ruminating and reliving shameful episodes in your life, what can you do to break out of this destructive toxic shame pattern?

  1. Call the bully out! People who shame others are bullies. (Note: You could be bullying yourself with shame-filled, negative self-talk.) No, you don’t have to confront the bullies in your life. Simply reframe their abusive remarks as bullying, not truths. In that way you begin the process of being objective and you can lessen the power that episode has over you.
  1. Expose toxic shame to the light. Shame thrives in secrecy, but can’t survive in the open. If you try to suppress it, it grows. However, if you think or talk about whatever is making you feel ashamed, although painful at first, you’ll soon feel much less ashamed. Just be cautious of who you reveal your shame to. As Brené Brown says, “If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”
  1. Write it out, if you can’t talk about it. Without censoring yourself, let your thoughts flow onto the paper. It’s especially helpful if you write it as if you’re writing a letter to the “shame bully”, although you won’t actually mail it to them. Then put it away in a safe place and go for a walk and review how you make life better for those around you. When you come back, review your written words objectively. More often than not, some of the sting will have eased.
  1. Ramp up your positive emotions. Fill up on gratitude, hope and courage. It will leave little or no room for sadness, fear and disgust, which are the negative emotions that produce shame.
  1. Turn your toxic shame into healthy pride. Focus on the good person that you are and all the good things that you do. If you have trouble seeing good in yourself, ask trusted friends what they most appreciate about you as a person.
  1. Be compassionate with yourself. You are a work in progress. Trust that you will get better at letting go of shame the more you mindfully practice your shame-busting skills.

NLP reframing is a great tool for ridding yourself of toxic shame and rebuilding confidence, hope and courage. It works best when a skilled, caring person helps you. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you add this tool to your life skills toolkit.

Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense

Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” ~ Steve Maraboli

A husband and wife were driving through an unfamiliar section of the city.  She read the map and told him to turn left or right at the intersections. He faithfully followed her every direction, until finally she wailed, “Now YOU”VE gotten me lost!” True story? Yes. (It wasn’t my honey and me, it was an acquaintance of mine.) It just illustrates that we, as humans, are quick to blame others for the results of our own actions. We take offense instead of taking personal responsibility.

People have become very confused about how to respond to life, because of conflicting messages they’ve received since childhood. For example:

  • It’s common to praise children for everything, which can inflate the ego and instill a mentality of, “I’m entitled. The world owes me”.
  • Parents make excuses for their children and blame the teachers, when the child gets in trouble or under performs.
  • Rather than learning that actions have consequences, many young adults get bailed out of their problems, so they never learn resilience or what their own strengths are.
  • We’re told “you’re entitled to your feelings and to let it all out”, without learning how to responsibly manage those emotions productively.
  • We’re taught to stand up for ourselves and not be doormats. However, by not giving an inch we hear feedback as criticism from which we must defend ourselves.

We’ve lost our sense of humor and take ourselves too seriously. Becoming offended over real and imagined slights has grown into a problem of epidemic proportions. We see evidence of this in the irritation, sarcasm, hostility, resentment, pouting, grudges, rants, rioting, assaults, road rage, “going postal”, school shootings, and even terrorist attacks.

Here are some things people say in order to avoid taking personal responsibility:

“It’s not my fault!” While excusing ourselves, we hold others to an impossibly high standard.

“It’s not fair!” Because we fail to develop gratitude, we compare our life to others and become embittered and perceive the good others experience as a personal grievance.

“It’s his fault!” Shifting blame, when things go wrong, is easy.

“He started it!” When someone slights you, you respond by giving him the cold shoulder. Your own hurtful behavior is okay, because he did it first.

“He’s out to get me!” It’s all about us. We don’t make allowances for others’ good intentions. Instead we cynically search for their “sinister” reason.

If you want inner peace, cultivating the habit of personal responsibility is vital. I love how Iyanla Vanzant puts it:

“One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else, be angry with someone else, point a finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.” 

Taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad in your life is one of the most empowering things you will ever do. Only then can you shape your future. Consider this: the word responsibility is made up of two words…response and ability. That means you have the ability to mindfully choose your response to whatever happens. As Viktor E. Frankl said,

“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

Taking personal responsibility is a habit you can cultivate over time. It’s like a muscle memory. You do it often enough, it will become automatic. So it’s up to you to decide. What kind of person do you want to be? If taking responsibility is important to you, start with these suggestions…

  • Before responding, honestly ask yourself, “What part did I play in this situation? How did I make it worse? How could I have made it better?”
  • Recognize your own limitations. You’re not perfect, so give yourself some slack and avoid becoming defensive and prickly, when others point out your “faults”. Accept it with grace and humor. And give others some slack too.
  • Sincerely apologize for your actions or your lack of actions.
  • Welcome feedback and learn from it. Even if you think it’s undeserved, you can find something positive in it, if you look hard enough.
  • Look for the good in others and don’t impute wrong motives. If you’re suspicious, respectfully ask them why they said or did something, rather than jumping to negative conclusions.
  • Accept your life, without judgment and resignation, rather than wishing things were different. View today as a starting point from which you can create something better.
  • Let go of the past. You have the choice and the power to change your future.

Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking personal responsibility for our actions. If you’d like to enhance your emotional intelligence and communication skills, so you can turn even the most trying situations into positive outcomes, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You can do this!

Set Mindful Intentions. Add Sustainable Actions. Create Lasting Change.

You can learn how to turn mindful intentions and sustainable actions into your Recipe for Lasting Change, as you answer these six very important questions.“Integrity is when your good intentions meet your actions — on a consistent basis.” ~ Amy Chan

Have you caught yourself saying, “I intended to __, but I just didn’t get around to it”?  We’ve all done it. In the 60’s and 70’s there was even a wooden Round Tuit coin created to help us end procrastination. It didn’t work so well. I find that setting mindful intentions work much better. But that’s not the whole story.

To get to the bottom of the problem, it’s important to identify what stops our intentions from becoming reality. We all have the same amount of time, so we can’t really use “not having enough time” as an excuse. If you’re like most people, there are 5 basic things that get in our way:

  1. You lack clarity on what your intended results were meant to be.
  2. You had insufficient planning or no planning at all.
  3. You lacked knowledge or skills.
  4. You became sidetracked or distracted, with too much information.
  5. You gave up because an obstacle arose and you didn’t seek an alternative method for achieving your intention.

Do any of those reasons describe what you go through? I’ve discovered that my practice of mindfulness reinforces my ability to set intentions and follow through with the action required to create a lasting transformation in my life. But this skill didn’t come to me overnight. I’ve been practicing for a number of years. Now, however, each time I set mindful intentions, it’s a lot easier to make them become reality.

How can you set mindful intentions that overcome the five previously mentioned obstacles?

Don’t kid yourself that setting mindful intentions will magically create lasting change. That is only half of the process. Without follow up actions, your mindful intentions will not serve you. As a quote from E.F. Schumacher reminds us,

“Our intentions tend to be much more real to us than our actions, and this can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding with other people, to whom our actions tend to be much more real than our intentions.”

Let’s take a trick that great writers use…in any good story, writers answer the questions: Why, Who, What, Where, When, and How? (Yes, I rearranged the order of questions they normally ask. When you set mindful intentions, Your Why should always come first.) We can apply those same questions to our Mindful Intentions + Sustainable Actions Recipe for Success. Here’s how:

Find Your Why. Why are you here? What one thing energizes you, challenges you, and helps you live up to your full potential? When you clarify this, you blow the door to possibilities wide open!  

Find Your Who. There are some things you’re skilled to do; other things you can delegate to more experienced persons. Don’t be afraid to share your vision with others. The synergy you create together will be phenomenal!

Find Your What. Take baby steps to get you from point A to point Z. Perhaps it’s something you’re working on internally. Maybe it’s a skill you need to learn. Choose three important goals to work on and tell an accountability partner that you’re going to have them done by a certain day. By the end of a year, you’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish!

Find Your Where. Start from where you are right now. Don’t compare yourself to where anyone else is, because we are all at different stages of growth on our journey through life. You are enough!

Find Your When. Waiting for a better time or for everything to fall into place is a mistake. Your time is NOW, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article! Keep asking yourself, “What one thing can I do right now that will inch me closer to my desired results?

Find Your How. Get very specific with outlining your tactics — what step to be accomplished by what date. Track your progress in even small things, because it’s so easy to forget what you have accomplished. Take inventory of all of your resources — monetary, emotional, physical, and spiritual — and spend them wisely on things that really matter. You can do this!

Now I’m going to throw in an extra point that ties together the preceding ones.

Find Your Zone of Genius. When the above items are aligned, the struggle will end. Instead you’ll greet each day with excitement and anticipation. Each day will be a celebration of who you are. You’ll fall in love with life all over again. That is the reward for matching mindful intentions with sustainable actions. It’s magic!

If you’re still searching for your zone of genius, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you achieve the life you deserve to live.

New Rules for Leadership You Can Use to Influence Real Change

“To watch people push themselves further than they think they can, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s really human.” ~ Abby Wambach

Leadership has always been based on a hierarchical model — where a few have power and control over the many. But in the 21st Century, the in-your-face boss is no longer the only model for successful leadership. Nor is it the most effective one! We have discovered new rules for leadership that are building a new model — one that employs a more expansive and collaborative approach.

I believe leadership is an innate ability of every person. Even if you doubt you have it, believe me, YOU DO! And the good news is that you can enhance, strengthen and refine it. If you don’t believe me, think about the many ways you already lead others today. For example,

  • You lead your family members to become the best they can be.
  • You lead your friends in ways to make their lives easier and better.
  • You lead your business peers through supportive networks that lets each one use their unique skills so you can achieve a shared vision.

WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game.As a woman, I’ve been on a journey to discover my own unique brand of leadership. I recently stumbled across another great resource for refining my rules for leadership. I found them in a book by Abby Wambach, WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power and Change the Game. I highly recommend you read it. She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion and is noted for her leadership skills as she helped transform her soccer teammates into one of the most successful, powerful and united Wolfpacks of all time.

I wholeheartedly agree with her 8 new rules for leadership that encourages women to “claim their individual power, unite their Pack, and take their lives, families, careers and world further than they could have imagined.” In the list below, I share her rules for leadership along with links to articles you can read on my website that share similar lessons. (If you order the book, let me know what you think!)

1. “Create your own path”. This is something I’m passionate about. Only you can live your life and bring your gift to the world.

    1. Celebrate the Unique Person You Are and Stop Being a People Pleaser
    2. Finding Your True Self – The Key to Embodied Leadership
    3. Find Your Zone of Genius and You won’t Have to Hustle So Hard
    4. Embodied Leadership – A Lifelong Practice that Leads to Excellence and Mastery.

2. “Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve”. This is so true! Gratitude is an essential part of your mindfulness practice. And you can’t wait for success to come to you.

    1. How to Fully Utilize the Power of Gratitude in Your Life
    2. 3 Tips to Get You Headed in the Direction You Want to Go.
    3. Feed Your Ambition & Catapult Your Leadership Career to Success.

3. “Lead now —from wherever you are”. No longer do we lead from out in front. We can guide from the sidelines as we encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative.

    1. 5 Principles of Thoughtful Leadership Makes Good Leaders Even Better
    2. 7 Ways to Model Purpose Driven Leadership in All Aspects of Life

4. “Failure means you’re finally IN the game. Personally, I don’t think in terms of failure. Instead I consider each setback as an opportunity to learn something new about myself.

    1. Overcoming Fear of Failure – One of the Most Valuable Lessons Learned in Life
    2. Failure Leads to Success When You Know this Olympic Secret

5. “Be FOR each other”. This is where women really shine as leaders. We know how to collaborate!

    1. Women – Use This Secret Advantage to Secure Leadership Positions
    2. How to Develop True Emotional Intimacy between Friends

6. “Believe in yourself. Demand the ball”. So many times we get in our own way and keep ourselves small by feeling inadequate or unprepared.

    1. You Don’t Have to Be a Natural Born Leader to Make Leadership Your Career
    2. How to Deal with Fear – Ten Ways to Cultivate a Fearless Mindset
    3. When Opportunity Knocks – are You Ready to Step Through the Door?

7. “Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders”. I do believe it’s our responsibility to shape a better world by nurturing and empowering others.

    1. 25 Ways Highly Successful People Make Us Feel Better About Ourselves
    2. 7 Strong Leadership Scenarios: How Do You Measure Up?
    3. Develop Leadership Skills in Women Who Want to Make a Difference

8. “You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack”. I love how we can create a synergy and accomplish so much more when we work together.

    1. Strong Convictions – The Secret to Becoming an Influential Leader in Your Community

Even though leadership is an innate part of us, it can lay dormant, buried, disguised, or unappreciated. Are you ready to step up and apply these rules for leadership in new and exciting ways? As Abby Wambach says, “You never know if you can actually do something against all odds until you actually do it.”  If you’d like to team up with me, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together we can accomplish great things!

Become Counterphobic — Get OUT of Your Comfort Zone and INTO Success

Fear is a natural and essential part of growth. When you become counterphobic, you can consciously choose to step out of your comfort zone and into success. “Take risks sometimes… It’s not normal. It’s not easy. But oftentimes, it’s very, very rewarding.” ~ Tony Dungy 

Become counterphobic? What does that mean? It’s your behavior and attitude in response to anxiety; instead of running away from the source of your overwhelming fear or anxiety, you actively seek it out, hoping to overcome it. It’s going counter to or against your natural inclination to stay in your comfort zone.

Your comfort zone is a place where you feel certainty and predictability, because you’re surrounded by what’s familiar. You’ve already mastered everything within the confines of this zone, so it feels cozy. But the downside is that there’s nothing to challenge you, nothing for you to learn, to conquer, to experience. Everyone has the potential to go further! Yet, if you allow your comfort zone to restrict you, you won’t reach your full potential, because you won’t be able to take advantage of opportunities that come your way.

What situations make you fearful? Public speaking? Marketing your business via in-person networking? Confrontational situations? Learning new skills? Putting yourself out there where everyone can see your vulnerabilities? Whatever your fear, you can become counterphobic and turn that fear into an opportunity.

Here are some suggestions:

Reject rationalization. A common reaction when you’re afraid is to minimize the benefit you’ll get if you participate. This gives you permission to give in to your anxiety and fear. You tell yourself dismissive statements like: “It’s not that important.” “I don’t need to do that, if I do this.” “I didn’t want to do that anyway.” These statements may be true, but they may be your way of avoiding the thing that makes you uncomfortable.

So ask yourself:  If you had zero anxiety about it, would you do it and benefit from it? If so, you’ve identified your fear. Now you can mindfully use my Tea Time Exercise to reassure all of your Parts that you’re safe and everything is alright. Then plot out the baby steps that will keep moving you toward your new intention or goal.  

Customize your approach. There is seldom only one way to accomplish something. If approaching it head-on scares you, circle around from the side and work up to it, step by step. Customizing your behavior like this makes you successful, while being true to yourself. It helps you take control and make it your own.

Embrace accountability. Progress happens when you measure the success of taking daily baby steps. It’s easy to get down on yourself, to talk yourself out of doing things outside your comfort zone. That’s when a coach or mentor can really help you to keep going despite the discomfort you feel. They help you see the situation and yourself through new eyes. They can point out adjustments, which will make you more effective.

Get real. We all tend to have certain habits or behaviors that we resort to when we feel uncomfortable. Upon closer examination you might discover that indulging in them is keeping you stuck in your comfort zone. For example, you might feel discomfort so you grab your go-to self-help tool — a book, a recording, a YouTube video of Tony Robbins. That sounds good. But if you don’t go and do what causes you discomfort, what good has the self-help tool done? In reality, it’s become a way for you to hide in your comfort zone.

Show insight and widen your perspective. Assuming you know everything or leaping to conclusions are ways we put our own slant on a situation, when there is no basis for those judgments. And we tend to use those assumptions to behave in a negative, limiting way that keeps us in our comfort zone. For example, you might be talking with a client who seems defiant and uncooperative. You proceed to tell yourself how you’ve failed to reach her and it would be best to cancel future appointments. What you don’t realize is that she had terrible personal news that threw her off balance and she needs you more than ever. Getting your wires crossed, you retreat back into your comfort zone, without inquiring and digging deeper into what could be a messy conversation.

Fear is a natural and essential part of growth. When we become counterphobic, we can consciously choose to step outside of our comfort zone. The next uncomfortable thing then becomes a little bit easier.

Make the brave decision that the time has come for you to take your first bold step toward the biggest future you have imagined, however far off the beaten and comfortable path that may take you. I invite you to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you become counterphobic so that you can lean into what makes you uncomfortable and achieve your full potential for success.

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