Do you dread the holidays?

Whether it’s the divorce, the strained relationships, the passive aggressive agendas or the drunken political commentaries, holiday gatherings can bring out the worse in us. Here are the top 5 reasons why you dread this time of year and how to make it better.

1. You believe you HAVE TO participate. Believing you HAVE TO, is like building a prison around yourself and throwing away the key. Nobody likes feeling powerless. Recognize that you are CHOOSING to participate in this awkward family gathering, because you prefer it over the alternatives. If you opt out, your wife may divorce you, your Dad will write you out of his will, or everyone will talk bad about you while your gone. As concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl once said, “there are two ways to go to the gas chamber, free or not free”. If he can walk to the gas chamber with freedom, surely you can choose to visit your in-laws. Or not. Stay home, go to the neighbors, pass out food to the homeless. Celebrate your freedom of choice with pride, not guilt or blame.

2. You are pointing your finger the wrong way. Although it’s easier to blame our family, what we really don’t like is who WE become when we are around them. Terri turns into a wimpy doormat when she’s around her Mom. Kevin’s own inadequacies get triggered when his brother brags about his accomplishments. Julie gets embarrassed by her children’s poor behavior and becomes “Mean Mommy”, embarrassing herself even more. Realizing it’s YOU and YOUR BEHAVIOR that bugs you, gives you the power to change it. Ask yourself, “How can I be true to myself, even while surrounded by family?” Focus on what you value and ignore the rest. Every time Terri felt overshadowed by her Mom, she focused on the beautiful things around her. Kevin doesn’t value being reminded of his shortcomings, but he does value cheering on his favorite football team. Julie made sure she used HER best manners by focusing her attention on the lovely food and interesting company. Commit to being a person YOU like and experiencing the things YOU value.

3. The holidays bring up unprocessed emotions from the past. We aren’t meant to live perfect & easy lives. We are meant to learn and grow and the holidays can be a time of great teaching, if we let it. What genuine emotion are you trying NOT to feel that the holidays stir up in you? Sadness? Anger? Embarrassment? Fear? Find a quiet place where you can lock the door and allow yourself to feel whatever feeling wants to come up. Ask yourself, “Where in my body do I feel this feeling?” “What does it feel like?” “What color is it?” “Does it have a shape?” “Does it have a sound?” If you can OBSERVE and ALLOW this feeling to be in your body, it will move through you in about 90 seconds. If you avoid, suppress, or fight feeling this feeling, it can stay with you for a lifetime of holidays. Sink into your emotions like you sink into a bathtub. Soak for a while in whatever shows up. When the water gets cold, stand up knowing your emotions don’t have power over you.

4. You don’t like your reality. There’s nothing like a family reunion to remind us that we are still unemployed, still single, still broke, still fat, still addicted, still inadequate and unworthy. But when my clients look at what they say to themselves, they are WAY harder on themselves than any family member. Mom- “How’s that diet going that you started last year?” Your self talk- “Oh God, here we go again, my mom knows I’m fat and lazy and it’s nobody’s fault but mine and I suck. I’m an undisciplined loser.” Mom’s self talk- “I care about her and wish I knew how to help her.”  Make peace with your reality so no one has the power to trigger you. I weigh 50 lbs. more than I’d like to and that’s ok. I am $19,000. in debt and that’s ok. My car is 15 years old and that’s ok. My kid has anxiety and that’s ok. Be sure to speak only facts, not opinions. You are not stupid, poor, fat, or a bad parent. People will always judge you, but you get to decide how you judge yourself and there is great freedom in making peace with the circumstances of your life.

5. You take family too seriously! Stop “shoulding” all over your family and put the FUN back in dysFUNctional. Your family should not be perfect, nice or welcoming. They are who they are and like it or not, they are yours. Pretend like your holiday gathering is a movie, would it be a comedy or a drama? Study the characters, their mannerisms, voice tone, and words, so you can act them out later. Write a script before hand and see how close you get to reality. Watch the movie play out and re-write the ending to make it funnier. Get together with a friend after and see whose family is craziest.

This is your life, your family and your holiday. Make sure the best of you shows up for it. Use it as a time to grow personally and become aware of areas you still need to make peace with. If you are tired of letting the holidays bring you down, schedule a life coaching session with me and we’ll make this your best year yet.

Everything does NOT happen for a reason

This was not in my plans

My house was bustling with excitement. I’m getting ready for my first, big product launch and planning a fun, life coaching group for Moms.  We are enjoying our out of town guests and planning our end of summer party.So much fun stuff happening…… and then, disaster hit.I went to bed and the kitchen, family room, and all my plans for the next two months went under water.Water gushed from the dishwasher and soaked the heart of my home.

My plans are derailed. Our house guests left early, hungry, because I couldn’t feed them. Our kitchen, unusable. My living room, no longer available for group meetings. My launch, postponed. My brain, filled with the sound of 10 fans and a dehumidifier blasting 24 hours a day. I feel like I’m trapped in a hot, dusty, airplane hangar with whirring helicopters that won’t stop. I feel helpless and lost.

As I sit in the backyard, washing my dishes with a hose, trying to regain some sense of control, a thought comes to my mind, “Everything happens for a reason”.

Bull Shit.I’ve heard that throughout my life and it’s a stupid lie.How do I know?Because it feels like crap when I think it.

Our bodies tell us what is true and what is a lie. The girls in my summer camp are always surprised how easy it is to know when you are lying to yourself.The lie feels heavy, icky and tense.The Truth, on the other hand, shall set you free.The truth isn’t always pretty, or happy, or easy, but it ALWAYS tastes of FREEDOM.

LIE – My friend should not have moved away.

TRUTH – I miss my friend. I wish she still lived nearby.

LIE – There is too much bullying going on in schools today.

TRUTH – Kids today could benefit from social development skills.

LIE – Bad things keep happening to me.

TRUTH – Things happen and I keep labeling them as bad.

You might find comfort in the thought, “Everything happens for a reason”. If this thought brings you peace and freedom, then it is TRUE for YOU. For me, it feels heavy & helpless so I know it’s a lie. I MUCH prefer to believe, “I decide what I make things mean.”

Client: I lost my job.

Me: What do you make that mean about you?

Client: That I’m a loser and will never get ahead. (lie)

You can decide that “Life sucks and then you die.” Or you can believe that, “Unexpected things happen and that’s ok.”

Client: I’m bored with my life.

Me: What are you making that mean about you?

Client: That I’m a horrible person! I should be grateful for all the good things. (lie)

Are you really horrible or is boredom just a sign that you are ready for more?  Here are some of my favorite thoughts clients found to be true for them:

1. There is something here for me to learn, that I couldn’t learn any other way.

 

2. This is happening FOR me, not TO me.

3. It was always meant to happen this way.

4. Love is always an option.

5. Love values struggle as much as it values ease.

I don’t know why my kitchen flooded when it did. I haven’t decided what I want to make it mean yet. But I know I will choose something that feels amazing and powerful and truthful because that’s how I roll.

How about you? Do you like the thought, “everything happens for a reason” or does it feel like a lie? What lie are you telling yourself that is keeping you weighed down?

Helping kids with empathy

News of the shooting in Newtown, CT. is vibrating through my body.  I can feel the weight of it: the suffering, fear, shock, desperation, anger, and grief.   It shows up in me as real, physical pain:  stomach ache, headache, tension in my neck, jaw, abdomen, crushing chest, and a feeling like boiling blood I know well as anxiety.  I live on the opposite side of the country and yet I am connected to those parents, teachers and kids at Sandy Hook Elementary in a very real way.  When I was a kid, and heard tragic news like this, I didn’t know how to handle my emotions.

Whether the scary stuff on TV was real or imaginary, as a kid, it felt the same.  I was afraid, but I didn’t know what to do with my fear.  It seemed the right thing to do was to “feel bad” for others.  My big, empathic heart couldn’t handle the guilt, grief and fear.  This wasn’t my pain or my problem, but somehow I thought that if I suffered, I could alleviate the suffering of others.  If I joined them in grief, if I carried the burden with them, I could lessen it.  I was wrong.  All this got me was decades of chronic pain, anxiety and a fear of bad things happening. I tried writing notes and donating money, but it never felt like enough.

Tragedy’s, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, are opportunities to teach our children healthy ways to deal with their emotions.  It can be hard to notice if your child is reacting in these ways but asking them what they feel, and what they do with that feeling, is a good place to start.  Many kids (and adults) will cope by….

  1. Worrying, pulling-back from life, living small and fearfully, breathing shallowly, just in case a threat shows up.  Constantly staying in fight or flight, when there is no immediate danger, is horrible for your emotional and physical well-being and does nothing for those suffering. You can read more about my results of living this way. This adds more fearful energy to the world, which causes us to do things like horde weapons of mass destruction and maintain the right to bear arms against our neighbors and classmates.
  2. Get Mad – We can be angry at the shooter, the NRA, video games, the president, the lack of care for mentally ill, anyone.  For many people, anger is more comfortable than fear so they stay here, hoping it will lead them to productive action.   This is the “fight” response, in action.  It feels good to use it and get the energy out, but adding more of this angry/fearful/fighting energy to the world is just going to result in more violence.
  3. Get Tough- Many times, big hearted kids (and adults) will grow tough exteriors to mask the really deep feelings and negative thoughts they think about themselves.  They ignore, act cool, like they don’t care, deny their own dark side, and try to act perfectly, sometimes even self-righteous. (The emotion will be looking for a way out so don’t be surprised if they explode at a dead cat in the road or missed soccer goal).
  4. Guilt/Sadness – Somehow we get the idea that if we suffer along, it helps alleviate the burdens of others.  When I feel sad and guilty, that just adds more suffering and depression to the world.  Instead, feel the grief and guilt in your body and transform it into love.  Hug your kids, appreciate your life, but do it from a place of love, not fear.   (You’ll know the difference because love feels expansive, fear feels graspy and scarce).

In order to send love to Newtown, Connecticut, you have to feel it in yourself first.  The first step for all of us is to acknowledge and label their emotion.  When a big, scary, yucky feeling gets named, it diffuses it and makes it easier to manage.  Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” or “What am I trying NOT to feel?”  Is it anger? sadness? guilt? fear?  Then acknowledge that no one is perfect, nor were we meant to be.  We all have the potential for darkness, given the right brain chemistry and environmental circumstances.  Look for something you have done or said you feel bad about and forgive that part of you.  (Notice where you feel the guilt in your body and what color it is, then breathe into it and relax around it until you can transform it into a color that feels like love, seems weird but it works).  Once you can forgive yourself for your shortcomings, you can fill it with love.  From this place, you can then send gratitude and love out to the world, the victims, the troubled soul of the shooter, everyone.  Pet your dog, sing Christmas Carols, cook something delicious, make a list of things you love about yourself and your kids.  Do whatever you can to shift to the state of gratitude and peace.  The world doesn’t need more suffering.  The world is hungry for love.  Take this opportunity to role model for your kids how much power they have to feel and send LOVE.

I need money and I need it now

“I need some money and I need it now. I don’t care what I have to do, just please hire me. I’ll do anything.”

Does that make you want to hire me? If so, help-a-holics anonymous might be your next stop. Most people are turned off by desperation. Just like that kid sophmore year that wouldn’t stop calling & following you around, desperate energy repels people.

Whether you are looking for a job, a partner, a babysitter, or a contractor, never do it from desperation, hate, or fear.
“I can’t stand my job and I just need to work for someone who isn’t an ass.”
It’s really hard to help you with that.

Joy sells. Confidence sells. Love sells.
“I love what I do, I am ridiculously good at it, I’ve made people very successful by doing it and I’d love to come and do it with you.”

“I am super organized and love to plan down to the smallest detail. I’ve gotten high praise for my ability to bring things and people together in a collaborative way. And what really makes me come alive is using these talents in a way that not only improves the environment, but improves the way people experience and play in their world.”

This gives me a clear picture of who you are and I WANT to help you find more JOY and LOVE. I also want to help your potential co-workers, customers, and the environment by introducing you to them.

“I’m looking for a babysitter who isn’t an idiot and maybe even cleans up their crap once in awhile.”

Hmm, I can think of about 2,000 people who fit that picture but I don’t want to call any of them for fear that you’ll say the same about them.

“I’m looking for a babysitter who loves being with my kids. One who can keep my home clean and organized but lights up at the sound of my children’s voices and uses her time with them to express her own creativity and unique self.”

The perfect person just came to mind, I’ll message her right now!

“I am looking for a kind, open-minded partner who likes to be active outdoors. Someone who sees the silver lining, but also likes to delve deeply into serious topics.”

I don’t know that person yet but I have the picture in my head so as soon as I meet him/her, I’ll call you right away.

People naturally like to help. We like to connect our friends and share our wealth of knowledge. When you are descriptive like this, it gives us a vision, a picture of what you are looking for. It brings someone to mind that I can immediately connect you with.

“I just want to be with someone who isn’t a cheap, lazy bastard.” Makes me think maybe it’s good to be single for awhile.

You are worth more than “just someone kind” or “just a job you don’t hate where you feel respected.”

Dream bigger, imagine with perfect details, then tell us, all of us, about your dream. We all want to help make it come true.

Here’s my dream: I am loving my phone/internet class called Leading Your Teen:  Live Your Best Life So Your Teen Will, Too.  I love it so much, I’d like to teach it again in March, but I’d also like to expand and teach a class for parents with 1-5 year olds.  I’m looking for Moms who love their kids and want to do what’s best for them, but without sacrificing who they are in the process.  I want Moms who err on the side of “over-parenting”.  It doesn’t matter if they are working or at home, but that they are interested in support for shifting out of worry, getting the most out of their life, and watching their children thrive.  If you know anyone who wants to create a more peaceful, purposeful relationship with their kids, please connect us so I can put them on my interest list.  Thanks for helping me make my dream come true!

Who were you meant to be?

When you were little, you knew EXACTLY who you were and what was right for you.  You were on a mission: you were alert, focused, intent, but your body was relaxed.  If someone tried to keep you from accomplishing your goal, you screamed.  In fact you didn’t let anything or anyone stand in your way.  You worked hard all day, but it felt like play. 

This is exactly what my clients are yearning for:  connection, passion, love, play, belief in their abilities, joy and meaning.  This is what it feels like when you are living your best life and doing what you were meant to do. Whether we call this your essential self, your original genius, or your inner wisdom, it is how we are meant to live.

Not once, while trying to master your block tower did you think to yourself, “I really should be learning to walk.  I see Kylie is walking already.  Sam is talking up a storm and his Mom seems so happy about it.  Maybe I should focus on building my vocabulary?”

You NEVER thought, “What’s wrong with me?  I used to love trains and now I hardly play with them at all.  Why can’t I just stick to one thing?”

You didn’t question your own instincts.  “Everyone else seems to playing on the slide.  I wonder what’s wrong with me?  I just want to tinker with my toys, maybe I should be more like the others?”

You complained loudly when you didn’t get to do what you wanted, but you never thought, “When am I going to get rewarded?  I’ve been working my ass off on this macaroni necklace, why isn’t anyone noticing how great it is and compensating me for my time?”  It never even dawned on you to ask “What’s in it for me?”  You just did the work you knew you were meant to do.

Your Original Genius knows when to rest and when to move on.  It doesn’t wait for people to give you permission to do what you KNOW you want to do.  It’s driven, passionate, and full of purpose. You KNOW what you love, what your purpose is, and it’s still inside, whispering to you all the time.

Where does this passion and certainty go?  Often, it gets left behind at middle school. Adolescence is the time parents see their child’s essence fading into “group think” and “shoulding” (as in, I should be more than I am). It’s normal to want to fit in and be accepted by peers, but as parents, it’s important to help our kids stay connected to the essence of who they are.

Tom went to medical school and was told Primary Care is the wave of the future.  Everyone should go into General Medicine, it’s the most responsible & secure choice.  Being a responsible guy, Tom complied.  Only to find himself miserable wiping noses and diagnosing ear infections all day.  Any interesting case that came through his door, he had to refer out.  Anyone that knew Tom’s essence, knew he was a specialist.  He loved to go an inch wide & a mile deep.  Think of the time and money he could have saved if his parents had steered him towards his essence, instead of what was safe & popular?  After 5 grumpy years, he went back to med school and is now a brilliant pediatric anesthesiologist and thank goodness!  If people are putting my child under the knife I sure as heck want them to living their purpose and doing the job best suited to who they are meant to be.

Imagine a world where EVERYONE is expressing their wisdom, their essence, and their original genius.  Your waitress is thrilled to serve you and help you enjoy your dining experience.  Your babysitter thinks your children are amazing little creatures and joyfully shares every detail of her time.  Your dentist loves inspiring you to take great care of your teeth and creates a relaxing environment you and your children look forward to going to.  This is the world I want to live in.

Want to help your teen make good choices, while helping yourself at the same time?  Join me on my FREE phone class Tuesday, October 30th at 12noon, PST.  Leading Your Teen:  Live Your Best Life So Your Teen Will, Too!