Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walking Through Fire

One of the reasons that it is difficult for people to stand up for themselves is they fear the consequences of living an esteemed life. What I mean by this, is that when you start being true to yourself, and you begin challenging the way things are in relationships, people often react in a negative way. This doesn't always mean they are bad people, or they shouldn't be in your life. It often means that they are scared of the changes you are making and worry about how it will affect them. So what happens is that both partners end up scared and fearful.

When this happens, it is important to be clear with those you love. Let them know that this is about being you and that you need to make these changes. It is equally important to let them know that you want them to be right there with you. When this works well, people get the opportunity to grow together and it benefits everyone concerned.

When this doesn't work well, and people decide that they are not going to accept change, than you can be left with the pain of loss, as well as the pain of growing. It often feels like becoming who you are means walking through fire. (Martha Beck calls this "The Ring of Fire" in her book Steering by Starlight). At this point many people decide they can't do it, and go back to their old way of life. They change their story to read something like this, "I tried to get what I wanted, but it didn't work, so I am stuck living this way." They can go telling that story for a very long time. Others begin to feel the pain, and instead of moving backwards, they stay stuck by finding ways to avoid, deny, or anesthetize the pain. They use behaviors such as overwork, smoking, drinking too much, and overeating. All of this is done so as not to feel the pain.

Neither of these ways of dealing with pain works well! In fact, both of these options can last far longer and be much more agonizing than actually feeling the pain. What does work well, is stepping into the fire. You may be thinking, "There she goes with those crazy ideas again. No way am I going to walk into pain!" Let me explain this course of action to you. When you decide to walk forward even if you are terrified, what happens is that you find something you may have lacked before. That thing is courage. You stand up straighter, you square your shoulders and you say, "Let me have it."

Then what occurs is pretty amazing. When you decide to accept and deal with the pain of loss in your life, and the pain of growing, and willingly walk forward in your life, your ability to gracefully feel, embrace and resolve pain is unbelievable. When you do this, the pain is processed, felt, released, and you move through it much quicker than if you try not to feel it, or to avoid it at all costs.

So here is my suggestion. Is there any pain, grief, or loss, that you are not dealing with at this moment? I want you to spend fifteen minutes a day over the next week, taking that pain or loss out and examining it. Look at it, describe it, feel it, embrace it, and release it in any way that feels right to you. This might mean crying, yelling, going to the beach and throwing rocks till your arms hurt, writing about it, using what works for you. Then I want you to let it go, until the next day. Let it go, and get up and keep moving towards your life. And then do it again the day after that.

I know you can do this.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Walking Your Talk

Last week I asked you to think about the times in your life when you haven't stood up for yourself. This included times when you were the one who was pushing yourself down, and not living the way you wanted.

This week I want to talk more about what to do when you feel as if others are holding you back, pushing you down, or not allowing you to grow and change. So, what do you do then? Good question. I don't want you to think there is always an easy answer. Sometimes it takes time to get to the place where you are ready to change, and ready to risk the fallout of being authentic and true to yourself.

The first thing I want to ask this week is, are you ready to move forward? Are you at that point where you know that if you do not do this, that you are consciously choosing a jail sentence, a death sentence, a slow erosion of everything you stand for? Okay, I am being dramatic. What I know is the more sure you are that you are ready, the easier it is to move forward. So if where you are is still more comfortable than changing, stay there. Do nothing. Wait until you are ready, and then move ahead.

If you are ready to move ahead, here are a few suggestions on how to begin:

  1. First spend some time thinking about what you want and becoming clear on your needs. For example, if you want to get an education or go to school and your partner or parents are not enthusiastic. Think about exactly what you want to do, explore ways of doing it, and explore the costs and financing available. When you know all you need to know, it is much easier to be clear with others.
  2. Once you have clarity on what you want to do, ask yourself if you can move ahead with your plan without the help and support of others. In the example above, can you go to school without support from your parents or partner? If this is true then it is simple to move on to the next step. If it is not true, how can you make it true? Can you do something to get in a position to do this without help. If so, do it. Now you can move to the next step.
  3. Present your plan to the interested parties. Ask your partner or parents to sit down with you and share your plan with them. Start with something like this, "I have decided to go to college. Here is my plan. (Detail where you are going, and what you are majoring in, and your plans to follow through and pay for it). I am excited to be doing this and will keep you posted on my progress." If they start finding reasons you can't go, or telling you you shouldn't, simply answer with, "I understand you feel that way. I am confident I can do this without your support." Whatever you do, don't get into an argument, or let them feel they have control over whether you follow through or not.
  4. The final step is just doing it. Walk your talk. Act as if. Follow through with your plans and don't let them spoil it for you. If you find that they are constantly interfering and trying to stop you from moving forward, there is a simple way of letting them know that won't work anymore. Take a couple of deep breaths, look them in the eye, and say, "I plan on moving ahead with this. It is very important to me. I would like to have you as a supportive person in my life. I understand that may not be possible right now. So, I will simply do this without that support." And then do it.

We will keep working on this. It is not easy, but I know you can do it.

Take care,


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Standing Up!

In my last post, I began a discussion on building self-esteem in order to better love ourselves. I want to continue this with how to stand up in situations where we find it difficult.
First, what do I mean by standing up for ourselves. Most of us can relate to this in situations where we are being bullied in our relationships at home or at work. There are many places where we don't stand up for ourselves that may be much more subtle, and sometimes we put our own constraints on our self without anyone else being involved.
For example, when I married my husband there was a point in the first year of our marriage where I decided consciously that "I can just sit back now and work at the hospital and quit looking for adventures and just keep doing the same thing until I can retire." My husband never suggested this to me. But I was putting these brakes on myself because I was now secure and it seemed what I was "supposed" to do.
Thinking about this situation, I have to laugh at myself because it so ridiculous if you really know me. Here I was pushing myself down and no one was asking me too. Not too long after this I sought help from a support group and it wasn't long before I began following my heart and began coaching and finding every adventure I can! So fast forward to this year, when my business and my career have taken off and I was feeling that I wasn't getting the support I wanted from by husband. We talked about this and he was scared about security, and whether I would be able to accomplish all I wanted. I agreed with him that he had the right to be scared, but I told him "this is something I am going to do because I love coaching, and creating, and traveling, and although I love you, I can't give up myself for anyone." Fast forward again until now, and it's clear to both of us that my business is successful and my husband is more and more supportive all the time.
Last week I asked you to commit to doing one small thing for yourself and stick with it to build self esteem. This week, I'd like you take a look at where you push yourself down and stuff yourself away and don't stand up to others or your own thoughts. All I want you do is begin to look at these and next week I will expand more in how to stand up for yourself with others.
Until then,