Overcoming the fear of being your authentic self

Okay so I’m freaking out a little bit. Safeway just asked me to advertise my life coaching business on their shopping carts. Me? With my PHOTO!?!? Me? The girl who always sat in the back of the room and never raised her hand. The girl who HATED Halloween because people look at you (no matter what you wear, people still look, it’s a lose-lose!). I made sure I was never too smart or too dumb, too fast or too slow, too shy or too friendly. I found safety in blending in and I LIKED it that way.

But here’s the thing….staying small and invisible started to become boring. I became irritable, restless, itching for something new. We aren’t here to live a comfortable, easy life that looks the same as everyone else. We are here to GROW and growing requires us to overcome our fears, and I had a lot.

A friend of mine came to my “Talking to Kids about Sex” parent ed night last week. (The next Time for The Talk class starts Jan. 21, sign up with your kid today!). She had such a great time she told everyone she knew about it. As a naturally gregarious person with a career in sales, people can’t help but become enthusiastic whenever she talks. HOWEVER, as soon as she started talking about HER business, HER passion, she got quiet. She belongs to a travel club that she loves and wants to get more of her friends to join, but when I ask her about it, she deflects, “Oh, well, it’s just a hobby I do on the side.” I convinced her to give me her pitch me on joining her travel club and she stiffens up and switches to a more formal, less passionate presentation. I ask “Why did you tell more people about MY business this week than YOUR business? Her answer is simple, FEAR.-Do one thing every day that scares you.-

Fear of rejection. Fear of people thinking I’m pushy. Fear of people not liking me. Fear of being different. Fear of being seen for who you really are. When you are trying to be authentically you, you are going to separate yourself from the pack. We are social animals so this fear is natural, but rarely helpful. She could talk about my business because it wasn’t personal or important to her. Overcoming these fears gets easier the more you do it.

The first time I admitted that I “sorta, kinda, wanna be a life coach”, I started crying. I nearly had a panic attack writing my “about me” page on my website and could barely breathe the first few times I pushed “publish” on my blog. I’m so used to fear now it’s turned from a scary lion about to attack to an annoying house cat that pounces on your head once in awhile. When we do things that scare us, we don’t just accomplish our goal, we build a meta-skill that we can use every time fear shows up.

I no longer think putting my face on a shopping cart will endanger my life (I seriously believed it could). I’m sure someone will draw a mustache and boogers on my face but I think I can handle it now. I can’t say I will ever be able to shop with my face staring back at me from my cart, or even shop at that particular Safeway, but overcoming one fear at a time is enough for me.

The best books I have read about overcoming fear are…

Playing Big by Tara Mohr

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers

 

What can one small change do?

Imagine two different Moms. Both devoted to their kids. After years of intense time and attention poured into creating a great family, they both start to feel a little unsettled. Things they used to enjoy don’t seem as fulfilling. They have a longing for something new, different but they aren’t sure what. One Mom, I’ll call her Eileen, ignores this longing. She has the life she always wanted and doesn’t understand why she isn’t happy. Eileen tries to be grateful for what she has and keeps busy with social obligations. This longing doesn’t go away. She thinks about trying life coaching but she’s embarrassed and feels funny spending money on herself. In order to keep this restlessness under wraps, she suppresses other parts of her personality as well. She figures if she can just keep her kids happy, and do what she’s supposed to do, that’s enough. She starts gaining weight and worries about finances and the future. As the kids grow into teenagers, Eileen constantly criticizes herself for not being able to lose weight. This self criticism and embarrassment drown out the restless feeling. The thought of her kids going off to college gives her anxiety attacks. Without them, her life will be small and she’ll be left alone with her self-critical, anxious mind, not even realizing that it was her, ignoring her inner longing, that created her current unhappy state.

Now let’s take a look at the other Mom, I’ll call Elena. Elena pays attention to this longing inside her. She doesn’t know what to do but she feels an urge to start playing the piano, something she loved to do as a child but stopped. Playing the piano every day gives her the mental space to hear her inner voice more clearly. One day while watching her kids play at the park, a story took hold of her. This story, that seemed to download itself from the clouds into her mind, followed her home. She didn’t know what to do with it. She loved reading books but she wasn’t a writer. Ignoring this story caused the longing inside to get worse. One day, she was so sick of feeling yucky, she committed one hour a week to life coaching sessions. Working with a coach helped her trust the message her inner longing was trying to send her and move past the fear and doubt that it caused. She felt so free, she started running every day, giving herself more time to for this story to take shape. Eventually, the pain of not writing grew stronger than the fear of writing. Elena joined an online writing group and started getting up at 5:30am every morning to write her story. She continued to face her fears of having it published, having people read it, having people reject it. Elena got so good at facing fears, she felt invincible. Her kids watched this journey of Mom following her inner voice, overcoming obstacles and they learned to do the same. When her teens went off to college, they knew their Mom would be fine without them. They were proud and supportive of her, just as she was proud of herself and excited to have even more time to devote to this exciting life she had created.

Little things, over time, have a big effect. Learning to trust your inner guidance, going to bed 30 minutes earlier, cutting out soda, signing up for an art class, listening to Happier or other uplifting podcasts, hiring a life coach are small changes that can have a long lasting effect. As the new year approaches, think about one little change you can COMMIT to. Little changes grow into habits from which bigger changes can emerge. If you try to overhaul your whole life at once, it’s difficult to sustain.

When you get quiet, what do you feel yourself longing for?  It doesn’t have to make sense right away. Some of my clients have mentioned things like “I want to wear a business suit and heals” “I want more time in nature”  “I want to make money”  “I can’t stop watching HGTV”. These are all important things to listen to!

Don’t just go through the motions. CREATE the life your inner guidance is telling you is right for YOU!

Want more clarity on listening to your inner guidance and defining what’s next for you in 2017?  Come to my vision board party on Jan. 16th!

Ready to try life coaching?  I’ve got spots open for 2107. Sign up for your free initial life coaching call by clicking here. 

It’s the Supermom Superbowl!

December is here! It’s GO TIME in the land of Supermoms. Are you ready for the Supermom Superbowl?

The smell of pine trees, the twinkling of lights, the cranky teens studying for finals, the late nights finishing projects and the last minute requests (“I need black pants, red glitter and a secret santa gift by tomorrow!)

Ah, the joys of the holidays! Save some sanity with this one simple strategy, decide ahead of time.

List all the things you love and look forward to this month. Then list all the duties and responsibilities that fall on your shoulders, beyond your normal duties, between now and January. Your list may look something like this….

Buy presents for kids, bake cookies, take holiday photo, send cards, donate to toy drive, drive to look at lights, attend church service, decorate gingerbread houses, contribute to class party, take the kids to visit Santa, host Hanukah party, wrap presents, ride the “train of lights”, clean house for company, volunteer, go caroling, help with the winter production, spend time with extended family, watch Christmas movies, string popcorn, buy teacher gifts, deliver gifts to neighbors & friends, do Christmas crafts or handmade presents for family, go to the Christmas tree lighting in the city, cook holiday feast, hang exterior lights and decorate, make plans for new years, etc.

Christmas stress
but you feel more like this…

No wonder we go a little nuts! This is quite a list above and beyond our already full to-do list!

Christmas stress
You want to feel like this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now rank each item on your list on a scale of 1-10. The highest number means you are so excited about this one thing, you can hardly do anything else. When you think about it you notice your body (not your head) reacting with a feeling of expansion, light or freedom. The 1 on your list means you feel heavy or tense when you think about it. You want to curl up into a ball and hide or run away. Your head might say “but I love doing that” but your BODY reacts negatively. You don’t have to know why, you just have to acknowledge how your body reacts and give each item a number between 1-10.

Once you have your list ranked between 1-10, take anything that scored a 7 or lower and ask yourself, “Could I just decide NOT to do this?”  There is so much freedom in deciding!  Your energy goes where your attention goes, so if you hold an exhaustive list in your MIND, without eliminating anything, you will be depleted before you even get out bed!  Deciding NOT to do something frees up your energy and creates more enjoyment of the other items on your list.

Are you having a hard time eliminating anything? It might be because you want evidence to prove you aren’t “Mom enough”. So many of us have perfectionistic pictures of what “good moms” do that we create these unrealistic expectations for ourselves. You can choose to stress your way through the holidays and feel exhausted yet accomplished at the end, or you can reduce your expectations and enjoy every aspect of the holidays.

Try this – mentally make the decision to eliminate your lowest scoring items and just see how it feels for a few days to have made the decision. Make the decision to feel calm and peaceful, while being proud of all you accomplish.

Are you worried about politics coming up at your holiday celebrations?

The house is all decorated for the holidays, the kids are happily running around with their cousins, the smells from the kitchen fill the warm house, and someone starts talking about Trump.

For Americans, discussing politics at the dinner table has changed from an intellectual, logical discussion to something highly emotional and divisive. If you are worried about the topic coming up at your family gathering and ruining your festive mood, I created a healing meditation recording for you to listen to. With politics as they are, it seems the only way we are going to create positive change is with a spiritual solution. When we can recognize our similarities instead of our differences and do our job to heal the broken parts of ourselves, change has a better chance. If you dislike the contentious political climate in our country and worry about it infiltrating your family gatherings, try this healing technique to create peace within yourself first, and then allow that peace to impact those around you. It’s a combination of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy techniques and the Hawaiian healing technique of Ho’oponopono and it works.

CLICK HERE to listen to the 20 minute meditation 

Thank you! May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from conflict. I wish you a peaceful and loving Thanksgiving to you and all who sit around your table.

The hardest blog I’ve ever written

How one racist comment changed me for the better, and hopefully this election will, too.

When I was about 10, I was playing a game at a neighbor’s house across the street. My friend Maria named her character Xiang Xiang, after a few rounds, she asked me why I wasn’t including her character in the game. I said I didn’t like her because her name made her seem like a “ching-chong-chang”. She burst into tears and ran out of the room. I ran after, trying to explain that I wasn’t talking about HER, just her character. (I didn’t know this was a racially offensive statement. I learned it from a friend’s house who would say it every time our local reporter, Connie Chung came on the news channel and the family would laugh.) Despite my pleas of innocence, I was sent home devastated, guilty and have never been the same.

Making my friend Maria cry was the worst and best thing that ever happened to me. To see the extent of pain I could cause another human being by repeating such a casual remark opened my eyes and helped me become a more compassionate and loving person. If she had been in middle school, she probably would have held her emotions in and acted un-phased. She might have gotten angry and lashed out, or retaliated in some passive aggressive way. Instead I had the privilege to see the real, authentic grief that my comment had caused, teaching me to never make a racial slur again, and also, to stand up to others who do.

This sums up how I've been feeling since the election.
This is how I’ve been feeling since the election. My nephew Alex says it all.

Having our country elect a racist, misogynistic bully has shaken me to the core.  As I watch him assemble his cabinet, I feel anger, fear, grief and I know that these emotions are not the place to take action from. Fear and anger is how Trump, Pence and Fox News became so popular in the first place. I want to prevent the suffering I inflicted on Maria that day, and prevent the suffering I caused myself for the following 15 years, beating myself up for hurting someone so deeply. For now, I am taking time, allowing myself to feel my feelings and getting coaching on my negative thoughts. I’m trying to use this pain to connect to other racist, misogynistic Trump supporters who feel they are better than others. I get it, I think my way is better, too! I imagine there are many white, Christian Americans who feel their patriarchy and status are threatened in our changing world. Perhaps they are feeling the same way I am now are relieved to have others sharing their pain. As I do my work to heal this part of me, I like to think I am helping them heal their fear and anger as well.

What I know for sure is that if Hilary had been elected, I would have remained complacent. I know that emerging from this election, I will be a stronger, more outspoken pusher of peace. I will continue to practice loving all God’s creatures and creating a peaceful world, but I need to step up my game when it comes to creating the change I want to see in the world.

When my summer camp girls tell me they can’t stand up for themselves because no one else is doing it and they are afraid of backlash, I will teach them how to change themselves so they can change the culture. (and hope I am also empowering women who vote the way their husbands, churches, and social media channels tell them to, without doing any of their own research).

When I see Moms at the playground afraid to discipline another person’s child, I will show them how to do it with kind authority. (and hope I am also empowering Moms to stand up to any mistreatment they encounter so kids learn that there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable by everyone in our culture.)

When my daughter wants to pretend like “everything is fine” instead of dealing with friendship conflicts or school injustices, I will role play with her until she knows how to advocate for herself.

When my son encounters racism, sexism, and white superiority (as he does everyday at his privileged high school) I will teach him that it’s his civic responsibility to protect and be a voice for those who are vulnerable. (and hope that people of color, our LGBTQ community and women of all ages can trust a caucasian man to use his privilege to protect the rights of others.)

I will join and participate actively in groups who stand for the things I believe in. I will donate to organizations that support the causes I believe in.

I will not take action from fear because I know no good will come from it. I will not take action from sadness because this is not the time to be weak. I will not take action from anger, but I will use anger to fuel my passion to make the world we live in a kinder, more loving place.

The moment I made my friend Maria cry with my racial slur, I became determined to never cause or create suffering for another human being.  My intention for this election is to be grateful to it for creating the most powerful and loving generation of men, women and children our country has ever seen.