I’m Gonna Push Pause

Have you ever wished you could install a pause button into your mind? A way to take just a moment before reacting? Life throws curve balls and as emotional beings, sometimes we react rather than respond. We may revert back to old patterns, say hurtful things, or act in a way that is just out of integrity with our own values. Basically, we are not who we want to be in those moments and we often have to go back and clean up afterward. If we could pause, we could better choose our next action when we find ourselves caught up in emotion.

Through teaching the Rising Strong process based on the research of Dr. Brene’ Brown, I have come to see that by practicing 3 steps, we can have our pause button ready for practice in no time. These steps do not have to occur in order, in fact, they work more synergistically and shift around in order. For the steps to be easier to remember, we can call them The 3 P’s (which is helpful because Pause begins with P as well).

The first P stands for Permission. We must give ourselves permission to feel what we feel. This is truly an act of self-love and it is a way for us to recognize that what we feel cannot be wrong- it is what we are already experiencing. Others may not understand what we feel, and sometimes we don’t even understand it ourselves, but there is no right or wrong about it. Once we allow ourselves to feel it, we can learn more about ourselves and choose how to respond to what we feel in a way that is in alignment with our deepest held values. By giving ourselves permission to feel what we feel, we are also helping ourselves to process through that emotion rather than hold onto it and by doing this, the emotion will pass like a wave. Say it to yourself outloud if that helps- “I have permission to feel what I feel in this moment”.

The second P stands for Paying Attention. This is all about turning our attention inward with curiosity to recognize that we may be hooked by emotion in the moment, to learn more about what we are actually feeling, and to see where we are feeling it in our bodies. This process will increase our awareness so that we can pause the next time we are hooked by emotion and choose our response rather than getting caught in old patterns that aren’t serving us. Paying Attention is really the practice of mindfulness and being fully present in what we are experiencing. This practice can uncover the triggers that got us here in the first place.

The third P stands for Pranayama which is the yoga term for breathing techniques. ‘Prana’ means life force and ‘yama’ means to direct or control. Pranayama is all about directing how energy is flowing through our bodies. If we change our breathing, we can change everything about our experience in our minds and bodies in the present moment. When we are hooked by emotion, we are often in ‘fight or flight’ mode and our minds are spinning out, unable to make rational decisions. Noticing and changing our breath can focus the mind and help to calm the nervous system so that we can make better choices.

So, this week, let’t try out the pause button as a way to care for ourselves and those around us. Let’s practice noticing when we are feeling hooked by emotion, give ourselves permission to feel what we feel, and then focus on slowing our breath. Let’s feel into our body and start to recognize the physical signs of being in emotional response. Let’s slow the breath and practice something like Inhaling 4 counts, Holding 4 counts, Exhaling 4 counts, and Holding out 4 counts or Inhaling 4 counts, Exhaling 8 counts. We are building awareness to enable us to respond to our lives rather than mindlessly react. We are unwinding patterns that we have been stuck in so that we can live in alignment with who we want to be.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Reach out and let me know how it’s going.

Chat again soon,

k

I’m Just A Little Unwell

The ancient science of Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yur-veda) is, in many ways, a preventative practice to enable our bodies and minds to function at their best. This is the science that I use when coaching others into healthier habits and happier lives. This science is about unwinding or preventing the breakdown of the body and mind by recognizing how we are living out of sync with our natural rhythm.

When you don’t make space to listen or time to feel, when you disregard your needs, you lose integrity with yourself. Ignore your body and lose its trust. Ignore negative feedback from your body, emotions, and thought patterns and you lose the opportunity to pivot.

Cate Stillman

What we do consistently day after day is influencing and essentially creating the mind and the body that we will live in next as we are in the continual process of cells dying and new cells being regenerated. That also means that we are currently living in the product of what our habits or actions have been. When we form patterns of living out of sync with our body’s natural rhythm for extended periods of time, it takes a toll on the entire mind-body system and dis-ease sets in. Living in a way that does not support how our mind and body can function best causes the reversal of ease in the body= disease. In Ayurveda, there are three major causes that build up and lead to disease. Let’s take a look at all three.

The first cause of disease is making careless choices. This means failing to learn from previous experience and repeatedly making the same choices again. This can show up in patterns of eating food that we cannot digest well, staying up too late at night even though we feel drained and cloudy the next morning, choosing not to move our bodies even though when we do, our joints and low back feel better, etc. These careless choices build up over time and prevent clarity in our thoughts and our cells. They are those choices that we make when we go against our own deeper wisdom, leading to a loss of integrity with ourselves.

The second cause of disease is disrespecting our senses. This can come in the form of misuse, overuse, or underuse of our sense organs. Everything that we percieve and take in comes in through our sense organs. What we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell informs us about the world around us. From this information, we form our beliefs and views about the world and our experience in it. However, when we overuse and/or neglect those senses, we not only begin to experience a clouded view of reality, but we can also damage our sense organs and burn out the nervous system. The remedy here is honoring when we need silence over constant input from the TV, music, or social interaction; recognizing when our eyes are too tired to read or work more and going to sleep; listening to what we have a “taste” for and what is not appealing to our body’s wisdom.

Finally, the third cause of disease is living out of sync with our body’s natural rhythm- our circadian rhythm. This is the cause that I see our culture fighting against in many ways. When we eat heavy meals late in the evening, stay up too late at night, live in sedentary bodies, and fuel the building blocks of our cells with processed foods, we are setting ourselves up for illness, difficulty, and disease over time. When we honor how our bodies were created to function, we can get into natural rhythm and alleviate many of of the issues that we may be living with.

Can you identify with any of these causes of dis-ease? Can you see patterns that are working against your feeling healthy and happy? In the coming week, I invite you to take some time to recognize how you may be practicing any of these causes of disease and to take one small step toward change. When we unwind these patterns, we can find more ease in our body and mind.

Our bodies are wise and they do not have the capacity to lie like our minds do. The body speaks in symptoms and when we don’t listen to it whisper, it begins to yell. What has your body been telling you? How can you bring yourself back into balance? If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out. I would love to chat with you about it all.

I will be working on my journey toward ease right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I Love Me

As a mental health therapist, I often see people when they have reached a point of not knowing how to move forward; when they are feeling depleted, hopeless, exhausted, and unsure of what else to do. Many times these people report that they take care of their families, that they dedicate hours of their lives to their jobs, and that they feel they do not have time for themselves at the end of the day.

We can all agree that the world needs altruistic people who are looking out for the welfare of others. However, the empathy, love, and connection must be kindled inwardly before it can be reflected out to others without burning us out.

Self-love and care is the most important thing that we can do for ourselves, but many of us are trained into a different view. Having grown up in the south, I have seen that the experience of many women is the expectation of handling ‘All of the Things’ with grace and to always act as if everything is “just fine”. We are taught to put the needs of others before our own and that to even think of doing anything for ourselves is selfish. These beliefs are both ludicrous and hazardous to our health.

It’s easy to think worn out is normal because the worn-out model is the dominant model for women in our culture. Have you noticed how our culture loves women achievers, even if they’re exhausted every step of the way to the top? – Karen Brody

In every moment, we are making choices. Yes to this, no to that. Why is it that we feel guilty for saying no to others, but we do not feel guilty for saying no to ourselves? If we cannot learn to take care of ourselves first, this will gravely effect our ability to take care of everyone else. We can quickly find ourselves burned out, exhaustion, angry, and unhappy. If we cannot learn to take care of ourselves first, we can also find our bodies breaking down, our immune system failing and illness or disease setting in. This is not how we want to live our lives.

We must give ourselves permission to make our own health and happiness a priority. In order to take care of others, which feels really good, we first have to turn the loving care inward, This is not an option. When I work with someone who has burned out and can no longer function, they often experience a sense of relief simply because they are forced at that point to stop for a while. And their burnout has an affect on everyone around them who is now having to adjust and take care of ‘All of the Things’ because there is no other choice.

Making the changes in our belief system to feel that it is ok to put ourselves first is a difficult one, but we can get there by learning to say yes and no when we need. If we can be real with ourselves and recognize that giving from an empty cup is unsustainable, we can start to see that helping ourselves helps all of the other people that we want to help.

In my online healthier habits course, I often see symptoms of burnout unwind. Small changes to our daily routines can lead to big shifts in our mental, emotional, and physical health.

This week, start to recognize when you are saying no to yourself and give yourself permission to put you first. It doesn’t have to be a huge shift or rudely refusing to do something you have already agreed to. Maybe it is something more like taking a short walk outside when you go to the restroom at work before returning to the obligations that can wait 5 minutes. Or perhaps it is going to bed at 9:00 because you are tired.

Reach out if you would like to chat about your habits and shifts that you may be able to start making. I would be happy to talk to you about it.

I will be taking care of myself right along with you.

Chat soon,

k

And Still, I Rise

As a coach and therapist, I spend my time helping people increase levels of resilience. Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity; to bounce back; to stand back up after getting knocked down. Resilience is our ability to overcome and grow from the challenges in our lives. Resilience is NOT the ability to avoid or resist challenges in life, nor is it the ability to avoid some scarring from the painful events. However, resilience enables us to be shaped by adversity in ways that create more effective and efficient coping for future challenges. And the good news is that resilience is a skill that can be practiced and honed.

In leading groups, workshops, and online courses based on the research of Brene’ Brown, much of my attention is focused specifically on shame resilience. Ugh, I know, that sounds awful. It is actually very rewarding to help others learn to overcome some of the most insidious and destructive thoughts experienced. If we define shame as the isolating feeling that we are in some way so flawed that we are unloveable, and if we acknowledge that humans are wired for connection and cannot thrive in isolation, then shame resilience can be a life saver.

Brown defines shame resilience as “the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values, and to come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection than we had going into it”.

As you can see, simply by definition, shame resilience is no easy task. Just as we learn shameful thoughts and behaviors, we must also expect a bit of work to overcome those shameful thoughts. Because we didn’t come into shame by ourselves, we must connect with others in order to come out of it. And in our efforts to overcome our patterns of shame, we must be willing to try time and again.

The first thing we must be able to do is to recognize when we are experiencing shame. This is best identified by what is happening in our bodies. Shame is such a powerful experience that it triggers the stress response and we fall into survival mode in the nervous system. If we can begin to notice the signs and signals our bodies are showing us, we can not only come to recognize what is happening, but also label it and back out of stress response.

Once we are able to calm the nervous system enough to see what is happening, it is helpful to be able to take a step back and remind ourselves that we are not the only person in the world whom has ever experienced something like this and that simply because we are feeling shame does not mean that there is something inherently wrong with us. It means that we are human and we are trying to navigate this journey. Taking a step back also allows a wider view of how this began and what triggered us.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, overcoming shame takes connection with others. Shame encourages and thrives in secrecy and silence, so in order to break that power hold, we must reach out and share what we are experiencing with someone who will be able to give us the support we need. So this step takes identifying the right person, being brave enough to share, and then asking for the specific support that we need.

This is all a process, but with practice it gets easier and we become healthier and more resilient. Remember, shame is a shared human experience, but it derives its power from convincing us that we are the only one. And that is simply not true.

This week, see if you can start to identify what happens in your body when you experience shame. Check out one of the many books by Brene’ Brown or reach out to find a partner or a group who is also interested in doing this work with you. I lead 3 online courses per year based in this work, so reach out to me for more information. Whatever you do, know that you are worth the work.

Chat again soon,

k

Control

We often find ourselves getting upset and knocked out of balance over things that are completely out of our control. We are attached to how we think the world, other people, traffic, the weather, etc. should act. We allow our health and happiness to be affected by these things that we truly have no control over and spend time and energy stewing over it. Then, we actively deny the control that we do have over our own health, happiness, schedule, and relationships. We are an interesting breed.

This week, I have been speaking with several people about the affect our physical body and daily habits can have on cognitive clarity and emotional health. It seems so simple that it couldn’t possibly be so powerful, but indeed it is. If we set our daily schedule up to meet our own body’s needs, we can experience better health across the board- physically, mentally, and emotionally. And then, we will experience better relationships with ourselves and with others as well.

Take a moment to consider that if we are overscheduled, constantly stressed out, not able to sleep well, and eating quick and processed foods, we are setting ourselves up for difficulty and future problems to solve. We cannot expect our thinking to be clear and our coping to be on point if we do not have a stable foundation of a properly functioning body to support us. Our body provides the understructure from which we can deal with the stressors in our lives and if our body is in difficulty, everything else will be as well.

We must realize that our daily habits are setting us up for health or illness in the future. The mind and body that we are currently living in is the result of what we have done regularly up to this point. The exciting news is that we have the ability to change how we feel and that we have more control over our schedule than we think. If we can prioritize our own self-care, we can reap the benefits.

Many work cultures train us into believing that our work comes first; before our own health and what our bodies need to function properly. We prioritize getting work done over eating, sleeping, moving our bodies, and sometimes, even over going to the bathroom. And we buy into the belief that we “have to”. However, we have much more control than we have been taught to believe.

If we wake up early, we could take that time for ourselves to start the day with intention and peace. Perhaps we sit and tune in for a few moments, walk around the block, or to take our time with a bath or shower. Using this time- even just a few minutes- to focus on ourselves rather than going in to work early in a futile attempt to complete the infinitely growing task list can help us to better deal with the stress of the day.

At lunch, if we dedicate the time to actually take a break from work and focus on nourishing our bodies with our biggest, most nutrient-dense meal of the day, we can experience healthier and more effective digestion as well as the energy our brain needs to tackle the afternoon tasks waiting for us.

Scheduling even ten minutes per day to focus on doing something that helps us feel better in our minds and bodies- journaling, reading, exercising, chatting with a friend- we can begin to feel the benefits of honoring our own needs first and we can become more effective and efficient at all of the other things that are competing for our energy and attention.

Changing our perspective on our relationship with ourselves, our bodies, and our schedule can have a positive ripple effect on our relationship with our lives. If we take care of ourselves first, we can then take care of everything else in our lives more effectively as well as cope with the ups and downs along the way.

This week, experiment with how you can schedule in intervals of putting your own needs first. We are aiming for babysteps- a way for you to see that you really do have the control over your schedule. Five or ten minutes a few times throughout the day is not only doable, but a great step in the right direction.

I will be taking control of my schedule right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Everybody’s Got A Hungry Heart

What are you feeding yourself and what are you truly hungry for? On all levels of your being?

Every day, cells in our bodies die and new cells regenerate in their place. On one day, the dying cells may be bone cells or skin cells, and another day they may be brain cells and stomach lining cells. Over time, all of our cells are replaced and this process continues throughout our lifetimes.

We are in the process of creating the body and mind that we are going to be living in. And right now, we are living in the body and mind that are a product of what we have fed ourselves in the past. What we feed ourselves is helping to nourish the new cells and to create clarity and cellular intelligence if we feed ourselves with the highest quality of nourishment that we can.

I am not only talking about food here. Food is a part of it, but I am also referring to other layers of ourselves that require other types of nourishment. We must broaden our view to include things like rest, movement, stillness, and connection. So, let’s take a look at ways we can nourish ourselves on all levels in order to create the body and mind that we want to be living in.

To feed our physical body, we must choose foods that are full of energy so that our cells can feed on that energy directly. If we are eating highly processed foods, our bodies are not getting the optimal nourishment to set us up with cells that will function their best. Whole fruits, vegetables, and well-sourced meats will help our bodies to make the best cells in our physical body. Fast food is not going to contribute to the creation of the healthiest cells. Do you want the Dollar Menu feeding the creation of your brain cells?

To feed our energy body, the body that, on some levels, helps us to cope and manage both on the physical and mental levels, we must think about moving our breath. This means breathing deeply and taking time to move our physcial body every day. Exercise of some sort moves energy through our bodies so that we shift from being in a state of stagnation to a state of expansion and growth. There are tons of breathing techniques that can also do the same. Why don’t we try both?

To feed our mental/emotional body, we must allow ourselves to feel what we feel, process what we are feeling, and direct where the mind goes. Meditation, mantras, and affirmations are very helpful here. They feed the mind and emotions to be in a state that allows for helpful thoughts and emotional regulation. Meditation does not have to be sitting still. In fact, we can often combine moving our bodies with clearing our minds. We must recognize that all of these levels connect to each other.

To feed our wisdom body, we must take time for rest and listening to our body’s needs. We must trust that our bodies know what they need and be able to quiet down enough to honor what the body is asking for. When we are tired, we should get rest. When we are hungry, we should eat. When we are in need of movement, we should move. We often override the body’s signs and signals of what it is asking for and then later pay the price. Our body cannot lie to us and it is extremely wise. Creating space within to hear our inner wisdom will allow us to know what all of our layers need.

To feed our bliss bodies, we must tune in and connect with true ourselves, with whatever our higher power is, and to recognize our connection to those around us. Deep bliss comes from allowing ourselves to be authentically who we are. It comes from connecting to ourselves, to others, and to the universe at large. Bliss comes when we remember that we are the soul that lives inside of this body on this journey.

So, what are you feeding yourself? And what are you deeply hungry for? Take some time this week to explore what you need to shift in order to deeply nourish yourself.

I will be working on this right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I Won’t Back Down

What is holding you back? What are you allowing to limit you? Sometimes we make up stories in our heads that keep us quiet and doubting ourselves. At the moment of deciding to put ourselves out there or not, we are most susceptible to believing stories that limit us. When we choose not to share our ideas, not to put our work out in the world, or not to live in support of our authentic selves, we also fall out of alignment with who we truly are.

So, what is keeping you small? Some of the common culprits are expectations, comparison and judgment, and they all feed into fear.

We shape our behaviors, decisions, and lives around the stories in our heads. And those stories may have been planted there by other people throughout our lifetime. We may be believing someone else’s opinion about ourselves and our ability to contribute uniquely to the world. Because of this, there must come a time when we are brave enough to question the validity of the story and reorient ourselves if needed. We are the authors of our story and when we realize that, we can free ourselves up to live the life that we long for.

We may be living a life based on what we believe we “should” be doing rather than what we are passionate about. We may be attempting to fulfill the expectations of others which is draining and frustrating as we are living someone else’s life. In order to feel fulfilled, we must show up and stand up for what we believe in and who we authentically are. Even if it means going against what is expected by people we know, society, or the critic in our heads. Doing what we think we “should” be doing rather than what we are deeply passionate about contributes to feeling depressed, empty, confused, and hopeless.

Many times, we may start off on our own path, feel good about what we are doing or creating, and then compare our work to that of others. This is often where everything falls apart. As we fall into the trap of comparision, we can find ourselves lacking in some way and begin to doubt that what we have to offer is “good enough”. We pull back, change direction, or decide not to put ourselves out there at all. Comparison can kill creativity and we must remember that what we have to offer is rare and special because it is our authentic contribution to the world created out of our own unique style.

We may also hold back on making ourselves and our ideas known out of fear of judgment. We may predict how others will see our work, assume we know what others will think, and then limit ourselves based on those assumptions. Yes, those assumptions can even be based on past experience, but that does not mean that our future will bring the same. Also, in our current culture of social media, people do often more openly judge others from the safety of their electronic device. But, this, so frequently, is their poor attempt at feeling better about themselves and it really has nothing to do with us. Those who seek out things to criticize and judge in others are battling their own fear of being judged.

So, will you allow fear to hold you back? If so, you may never experience the deep satisfaction of living the life you want as who you authentically are. You may miss out on connection and belonging, and instead live your life attempting to fit in. This is no way to spend your days. Be vulnerable. Be brave. Now is your chance. Find your support section and walk into that arena standing up for yourself and what you believe in. Live your life. It’s hard and it’s scary, but it’s worth it.

Give it a try just for today. And then tomorrow, try again.

I will be putting myself out there right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

This Is My Fight Song

In my roles as a Mental Health Professional, a Yoga Therapist, and a Yoga Teacher Trainer, I am frequently cuing others to increase their awareness. I coach things like noticing sensations in the body, the feeling of breathing, and thoughts that are floating or flooding into the mind. Throughout this process, I am also encouraging the effort to become aware without getting caught up in judging or labeling what is found. It is a practice of simply noticing in order to be better prepared to respond rather than react, thus directing how the story goes.

I frequently refer to Brene’ Brown and her powerful work in growing courage, connection, and compassion. She is a master storyteller and she recognizes the effectiveness of painting a picture so that we can understand on a deeper level. In my teaching, coaching, and counseling this week, I have been using her image of The Arena as a metaphor for the places in our lives where we show up in bravery to act in alignment with our values and who we want to be. This can be a big, life-altering situation, but more often than not, this is how we show up in our lives everyday; the hard work of choosing to be our authentic selves.

When we are in the arena, awareness is of utmost importance. We must recognize that there will be many voices that we can hear as we are in the battle of showing up for ourselves to be seen. Being aware of who is showing up to see the fight will help prepare us to more effectively respond when we need to.

As we flow through the moments of living in alignment our values, honoring who we truly are, standing for what we believe, and putting ourselves/our ideas/our work out there for others to see, we must be aware of the audience.

There will be people watching us and throwing out judgment and criticism who have never stepped foot in the arena themselves. They will point out how we are doing it wrong and give lots of advice on how we should be doing it. These opinions come from no experience and typically a safe distance from the actual work we are doing. Kind of like coaching from cheap seats or dropping criticism on social media. But, we must also recognize that these voices often rise up from within our own minds.

There will also be people that we may not even realize are watching us until they voice their assumptions about us and make it clear that they were betting against us from the beginning because we do not look, think, have, or believe what they do. In many ways, these folks support the “Us vs Them” way of thinking and can often influence others to support their opinions. These are the guys who are expecting us to fail, are closed off to changing their view, and have made their minds up about us based on stereotypes and fear.

We will also have some critics watching and picking apart our every move. Critics can share information that will help us to grow and this is why we give their opinions such weight. The problem is that we often give them so much power that they train us into a mindset of comparison, scarcity and shame. These voices can point out all of the ways in which we are not enough and can also sneak in and switch sides after telling us that they are showing up as our support section. And again, this role is often filled in our own minds.

The support section is where we must fill the seats with people who are empathic and compassionate. Those who will show up for us and remind us that we are not alone. We must also work to do this for ourselves and to show up in the support section for others.

Once we are aware of these roles, we can be better prepared for how they show up when we are putting ourselves out there. We can ignore the advice from those who have no experience, live in our values to overcome stereotypes, and take the constructive criticism that will help us to grow while leaving the comments that are shameful and worth-centered. We can also recognize to whom we should go to for support. Some people will never be able to show up in our support section. When we are aware of this, we can find those who can give us the support we need and also return the favor when needed.

If we are not aware, we are at the mercy of the story writing itself. Once our awareness grows, we can make the choice to respond- or not- and then move forward as the person we want to be, writing how the story ends. We can better show up and fight for what we believe.

This week, start to notice who is showing up in your arena. Focus on the support section and be sure to fill it before the games begin.

I will be doing the work right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Here I Am, Baby

Yesterday, as I was leading group therapy, we had a new member join the group. I asked the others to introduce themselves and to share what it was like for them on their first day in order to encourage connection in the group. Several members described feeling nervous, unsure, scared, vulnerable.

Ah, vulnerability. The word alone makes some people uncomfortable. We run from it, deny that we are susceptible to it, and we may even feel avoidance around vulnerability in others. It is a powerful thing. Vulnerability is experienced and described differently by everyone, but the definition Brene’ Brown shares really describes why it is so uncomfortable.

“Well, then, sign me up!” said no one ever. This definition does not exactly promote the warm fuzzies or the desire to feel this on a daily basis. It does, however, shine a light on the reason so many of us struggle with vulnerability.

We are exposed to expectations around how to respond to feeling vulnerable in many different settings. In our families and schools, kids can be ridiculed and redirected for displaying emotion or labeled as a “crybaby”. Ideas and creations can be minimized and critically judged, making it less likely that they will continue to share their ideas.

The leadership and culture of our workplaces sets the tone for what is acceptable there. Employees can experience strong motivation to not display emotion or share what they think and feel for fear of backlash or loss of respect. Men and women can also have very different expectations modeled for each gender, affecting levels of trust overall.

The media teaches us what is acceptable through movies, shows, the actions of celebrities, and social media. Many times, what is modeled and taught is not helpful. The current culture of social media can be quick to attack from a safe and sometimes anonymous distance. If we come to believe that vulnerability is weakness, we will most likely do all we can to avoid this experience altoghether.

The belief that vulnerability is weakness is dangerous to our emotional health. Because vulnerability is at the very core of feeling, it is at the very core of everything that gives our lives meaning. It is intimately intertwined with the emotions that we want to feel and it leads to character strengths that enable purpose.

We cannot love another being, or put our creative endeavors out into the world, or bravely stand up for ourselves without taking a risk, feeling uncertain about how it will all go, or opening ourselves up. These things are born from vulnerability and courage, and they all lead to growth and strength.

If we want to have the rich experience of living into and feeling into our lives, we cannot choose not to be vulnerable. It’s a part of the human experience. The good news is that vulnerability and courage come together and when we can bravely show up in our lives as our authentic selves, we can experience connection, belonging, and meaning.

So, this week, I invite you to explore what vulnerability is like for you. Dig in to your beliefs around vulnerability and think back on times when you were brave to see how vulnerability played a part.

Comment below about your experience. We will share in your growth and bravery. And reach out if you feel you need support. I will be practicing right along with you. This week, I am experiencing vulnerability around caring for a very ill and aging pet. How are you showing up?

Chat again soon,

k

The Rest is Still Unwritten

Are you writing your story or just doing your best to navigate the plot line every day? As we look out into the future, we have the ability to take over as the author of how our story goes and make ourselves the hero rather than the victim.

As we determine who we want to become and how we want to feel, we must first acknowledge where we are now. The small habits that we act on daily are creating the mind and body In which we are living. We are constructing our experience and our identity by what we do repetitively. By recognizing those habits and where we are now, we can see the back story; the starting point for the next leg of our journey.

It is also important to know that once the decision has been made to change the direction of the story, or make changes in how we are living our lives, resistance will pop up. Sometimes resistance comes from our environment and others around us, but many times, it pops up in our own minds. The character that we have been (our old identity) speaks up against change because he/she doesn’t want to be written out of the story. Often, that character will make up really convincing stories about how badly the change will go and how those we are close to will be negatively affected by the change. This is when we must do some fact-checking. Our old identity is spreading fake news in an effort to stay put.

If we can ready ourselves and expect resistance in the process of taking control of our story, we can continue on the journey. Viewing resistance as a sign that we are on the verge of growth will enable us to overcome the challenge, to let go of the doubts of our past self, and to push through in order to move toward who we want to be.

Tuning in to how our future identity would handle challenges can also help us to overcome them by acting “as if” we are already that next best version of ourselves. Once we determine WHO we want to be and begin to believe that we can, in fact, become that person, we must listen to the confident voice of that story hero rather than screaming rant of our past identity who is spreading fear, doubt, and difficulty. And some days, this will be a true battle.

We must be honest about the stories we have been telling ourselves and brave enough to own our story so that we can rewrite the ending. The excuses that pop up as roadblocks and detours along the way will be valid. But, at that moment, we must make a choice; to act in a way that will take us closer to who we want to be and the life we want to live, or to continue down the path that will keep us stuck in the old identity and safely away from growth.

So, what’s it going to be? The way to become the next best version of ourselves is to act as if we already are. To listen to the brave voice of that hero and to make our decisions based on what that person would do.

Our future is at stake here. It’s time to become our own hero.

This week, begin to explore the stories that you are telling yourself about your experience and yourself. Do some fact-checking to see if these stories still fit or if they need to be updated. And then begin to plan small ways to change direction toward who you really want to be.

I know you can do it. And I will be working on my story right along with you. Reach out if you need support. Or an editor.

Chat again soon,

k

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Ah, the body. Our most constant companion. Our oldest friend. There are a few things we should recognize about the body. The first is that our body is extremely wise, it knows what it needs, and it cannot lie in asking for what it needs. The second is that when we ignore what is going on in our mental and emotional world for long enough, the body will speak out against it.

Yesterday in leading group therapy about how we numb, avoid, and withdraw from what we are feeling, several group members began asking about somatic symptoms that they are experiencing. Somatic means ‘related to the body’ or ‘physical’ and these are the signs that the body is speaking up about what is going on in the mind. Not all physical symptoms can be traced back to an emotional root, but many can.

We often ignore, numb, and avoid feeling things for so long that we become unaware and unable to describe what we are feeling. So, to get the group back into their bodies, we began by describing how different emotions feel in the body. We discussed how depression can feel like the body is heavy, drained, and that doing anything takes more effort than there is energy available for. We discussed how anxiety can feel like electricity running beneath the skin, butterflies in the stomach, and an inability to focus on anything. Anger can feel like tightness in the muscles, clenching the jaw, and heat in the face, to name a few examples.

Next, we looked at how the body speaks to us in the form of symptoms. And how we often do not make the connection from the physical symptom to the emotional trigger because it took so long for us to actually begin to listen. We sometimes recognize the symptom, but then we let the mind take over and we tell ourselves that if we honor what the body needs, that will take us off course in some way. However, the opposite is actually true. Overriding what the body is asking for is only prolonging our journey toward health.

The symptoms we experience can vary greatly from person to person and can represent just about any issue. Perhaps we catch multiple colds during a very stressful season at work or maybe we experience low back pain during a time of feeling unsupported in what we are trying to do. It could look like chronic indigestion and heartburn during a time so challenging that we are unable to digest what is happening or perhaps we lose our voice when we are afraid to speak up for ourselves.

Our body can be our best advocate, but we must learn to listen. Rarely do any of these symptoms happen “all of a sudden” and very often they can be traced back to mental/emotional triggers. One of the most helpful things we can do is to take the time to check in with the body and ask it what it is trying to tell us.

This week, give it a try. Take some time to be still, breathe, and then literally ask the body part where the symptom is presenting what it is trying to tell you. You may be surprised at the how clearly you receive an answer. You can have this conversation out loud or in written form, but give yourself permission to channel the message that you may have been avoiding. This awareness will give you the ability to make changes toward health.

I will be listening right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Time After Time

Routine. The word alone makes some people yawn with boredom. The idea of being locked in to the same ole thing time after time. But, I would like to introduce you to the idea of the freedom that comes with routine.

Throughout the day, we use our energy in many different ways for many different things. We have competing demands to be met on the physical, mental and emotional levels and all of these demands use up energy. We know that physical demands are a drain on our energy reserves, but what about highly emotional experiences and problems we are working on solving? One of the most common energy-sucking culprits we wade through every day is decision making. The number of decisions we make on a daily basis is overwhelming and by the end of the day, we are suffering from decision fatigue.

So, what does this have to do with routine? If we can arrange our daily schedule so that some of our tasks are automated, meaning that they become habits we don’t even have to think about, then we can free up energy to be used in other ways.

It really is true. The ancient science of Ayurveda teaches dinacharya- daily rhythms- as a form of energy efficiency. This is the practice of healthy daily routines to correct imbalances on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. One of the focuses of dinacharya is creating a regimen that will allow us to take a break from making so many decisions every day.

Decision fatigue is a real thing and people in sales and marketing benefit from it greatly. Why do you think the check out counter is littered with impulse buys like candy bars, magazines, bracelets, sodas, etc.? At the point of checking out, you have already made so many other decisions throughout the store that you just want a little something to make you feel better. After hours of taking care of yourself and maybe kids too, working in or outside of the home, and a day full of decisions including choosing NOT to do or eat or drink something all day (we call this willpower), we can easily fall into the trap of buying things online we don’t really need, eating junk food because it is quick and accessible, or staying up too late watching TV. All because our brains simply cannot drum up the energy to make another decision.

Have no fear, energy saving routines are here! Changing things throughout our day and our environment can set us up to alleviate some decision making. A few things to think about are:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day.
  • Spending a few minutes in silence checking in every morning upon waking.
  • Planning out meals for the week and batch prepping for a few days at time.
  • Eating the same thing several times during the week (ex. eating the same lunch every day or eating the same meal for dinner one day and lunch the next.)
  • Set a specific time or interittent times throughout the day to move your body every day.

Of course, creating a routine will take practice and effort at first. But, once these habits become automated, a great deal of energy is freed up to be used for clearer and more creative thinking, better coping, and more overall enjoyment of the day. It can also be helpful to find a partner or tribe working toward the same goals for accountability.

This week, check out your daily schedule and see where you can create some routine in order to find more freedom. As always, I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Who Do You Love When You Come Undone

Last week, I wrote about taking the time to look at our personal values. Digging in to the core beliefs that drive our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors on a daily basis. (You can refer back to that blog here.) This week, let’s continue to inspect what we value by looking at how we invest our time, energy and money.

Marketing and advertising professionals are incredible at their jobs. They spend all of their time working out ways to get us literally bought in to what they are selling. And it works! We spend our money on things that we are convinced will make us feel better about ourselves. We buy into the promise of the thin, happy person on the commercial who can balance work and kids and fitness and stress perfectly simply because they wear that brand of clothing. We buy into the idea that we can be as happy as the couple in the fairy tale picture that is painted if we just drink that brand of alcohol. We pour money out for stimulants, numbing agents, shiny objects, memberships, subscriptions, prescriptions and loads of other items that promise instant gratification or the illusion of easy change. And then we give up on that one when it doen’t work without our having to work and we repeat the cycle with the next flashy promise.

We have be duped into believing that we won’t have to invest our time, effort, and energy into changing. Only our hard earned money. What a bargain! If this one quick fix will work, then I can feel better, so I will pay top dollar for the short cut.

When we feel overwhelmed and exhausted, unable to think clearly or remember simple things; when we are snapping at our kids, our spouse, our coworkers, people we don’t know; when we are experiencing digestive issues, sleep issues, and autoimmune issues, why is it that we act as if the best we can do to make it through is to drink more of the expensive coffee during the day, to try fad diets that leave us feeling like a failure, and to take the edge off in the evenings with the help of a glass or two of our favorite numbing bevy? Is this really how we want to spend our lives?

We have actually been consistently and repetitively trained into believing that we cannot actually change things ourselves, but that the products, pills, and promises are the way to the promised land. We are successfully pouring all of our attention, energy and money into other people’s pockets one expensive impulse buy at a time. And then we feel let down, disappointed and often like a failure when it doesn’t magically work. Isn’t it time that we value ourselves enough to truly invest in ourselves?

I believe we value our health, happiness, and sanity more than all of the things we are investing in, but we aren’t sure exactly what to do. To make real and lasting changes will take a serious investment of our energy, time, and sometimes money, but the changes can last forever. It won’t be easy and we will have to stick with it because actual changes are not instant.

We must be brave enough to take a long and discerning look at our lifestyle and learn how to make the changes to support better sleep, weight loss if needed, reduced inflammation, a healthier immune system, improved coping, clearer thinking, and better relationships with everyone around us. And once we do, we will be living our lives according to what we value once again.

Commitment, consistency, and continuation of the changes are key to success. And sometimes this does require also investing in education, coaching, and the accountability of a group of others who are also doing the work. However, the return on investment here is well worth it.

We must also step away from the excuse that others in our lives come first because those others are negatively affected by our not being our best. Investment in others begins with investment in bettering ourselves.

When we feel we are at the end of our rope and we are desperate for our thoughts, bodies, and lives to change, who are we going to invest in? We can continue to make the quick fix and numbing companies richer and richer or we can choose to invest in ourselves and reap the benefits for years.

This week, take some time to assess how you can better invest in yourself. Ask others who are doing what you want to do how they are doing it. Reach out to coaches, therapists, trainers, etc. and ask about the time and money they know it takes to make real and lasting change.

I will be doing the work right along with you. (And I would be happy to do the work with you as your coach- simply reach out to me and we will set up a time to talk.)

Chat again soon,

k

Strength, Courage and Wisdom

Values. What we hold to be most important; what we deeply believe in; our guiding principles. A value is a way of being or believing that gives direction to our speech, behaviors, and thoughts. Our values drive how we live our lives. They are our WHY.

When we are in touch with our values, we know who we are and we have the freedom to move into the world from that stable place. We can choose the words, actions, and life direction that will support who we want to be and we can feel good about it. We can also find the jobs, people, and places that feel in alignment with what we deeply believe. When we are out of touch with what we value, we experience unease and discomfort in who we are. We fail to get the results we want and we lose sight of who we want to be and how to get there.

Sometimes in life, we live outside of our values. We act in ways that do not align with what we believe, we allow things to occur that do not feel good, or we say things that are the opposite of what we really believe in an effort to try to fit in. We make choices every day to live in integrity with our values or not. When we are acting out of alignment with our core values, our mind and body will reflect that.

When we are anxious, hurt, or feeling threatened, we can also find ourselves dropping our values and acting wildly different than the person we want to be out of fear and/or protection. But then afterward, we feel crummy and we often have to go back and deal with other issues that were created- in relationships with others- when we were acting out of integrity with our own beliefs.

Life is challenging and we must carry a clear sense of our values with us so that we can overcome the difficulties that will arise. We must re-evaluate what is important to us regularly. Revisiting our values, redefining who we want to be, and sharing those values with the people close to us will help us feel more fulfilled in our lives.

Defining our personal values will help us to more easily live our lives as the person we want to be. Clarifying values in a marriage or family will help to get everyone involved on the same page and will alleviate issues created by moving against each other. Solidfying the values of a business helps to build on the original inspiration for the company, attract employees to uphold the values, and to reach the intended audience.

This work is deep and vulnerable, but it is the most powerful work we can do to get in touch with living our lives as our essential and authentic self. When we take the time to define our core values and live mindfully in accordance with them, we can more easily reach our goals and live the life that feels good to us.

Take some time to explore your personal values. Assess if you are living in a way to support what you believe. Investigate if your work feeds into or on your values and how that feels. Discuss your values with those close to you and create common value statements together.

There are many values and many values assessments available for free online. Here is the link to one by Darren Hardy:
http://joelboggess.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Core-Values-Worksheet.pdf

Give it a try. And then reassess later to change them as it feels right. Write your top two or three down and post them where you can see them frequently. Discuss your values with your friends and family and share the assessment with them. Imagine a world full of people living in alignment with their core values. That sounds nice.

I will be reassessing my values right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I Saw The Sign

Have you ever felt as if you were trying to balance more than one you? Like there is a part of you that cares greatly what others think and values what you are “supposed” to do with your life and then there is also a deeper part of you that longs to do what just feels right for you?

In her book Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck describes these two parts of ourselves as the “Social Self” and the “Essential Self”. She tells us that the Essential Self is the true and natural expression of our essence and that it directs us toward our true calling in this life. Our Social Self is the product of domestication and training in our lives by our family, culture, community, society, etc. Our Social Self will help us get to our true calling, but it cannot find the way on its own.

The problems arise when we defer to our Social Self and the Essential Self is silenced. In this situation, we can find ourselves living a life of doing what others think we should do and missing out on what would be truly fulfilling for us. But, don’t get me wrong, we do need the Social Self so that we can function in society with others and have the skills to follow the longings of our Essential Self.

When we are living from the Social Self, we are concerned with the view from the outside and we are often in a state of contraction as we are attempting to shape ourselves into something other than what we deeply desire. If we can relax into the Essential Self and allow it to direct us in our lives, we can find more joy and contentment as we experience a life that soothes our soul.

So, how do we find balance between the two and how do we know which we are currently following? For some, it is obvious, but for others, we have been listening to our Social Self for so long that it is difficult to see that we are not honoring the desires of our Essential Self. Have hope. Our mind and body consistently send us signs to let us know if we are wandering away from the Essential Self or moving toward it.

When we are living our lives out of sync with our Essential Self, our mind and body will try to tell us to change course by making things a bit more difficult. One sign to look for is feeling drained and exhausted when going to a job or situation that is not in alignment with our Essential Self. We may feel sluggish and drained when going to work and then experience a burst of energy at the end of the day and on weekends.

Another sign to look for would be frequent illness and difficulty remembering things or thinking clearly. When we are moving away from our Essential Self, our body is in stress response. This means that proper function of our immune system is supressed and our brains are in survival mode just trying to make it through the day. We are working against our ability to thrive.

Regarding our attempts to be socially involved with people who will pull us further away from our Essential Self, we have a built-in ability to sabotage those relationships from getting off the ground. We seem to lose all ability to interact with tact or grace with those people. Have you met someone you thought would help you out professionally only to act like you have never been out in public before? And then later find out that the person you were attempting to be involved with acted in a way that would have gone completely against your beliefs and values? You can thank your Essential Self for that.

If we can start to tune in to these signs and see them as such rather than judging ourselves for not being able to force things that work against our Essential Self, we can live a life of joy and fulfillment. Of course, it takes time and practice to really get in touch with all of the ways that we are naturally directed toward our Essential Self, but it’s definitely worth it.

So, start to take inventory. Notice when your mind and body are working against what you are trying to do and assess if that is really the direction your soul is longing to go in.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k