Monday, August 27, 2012

As We Grow Up...

"As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let us down, probably will. You'll have your heart broken and you'll break others' hearts. You'll fight with your best friend or maybe even fall in love with them, and you'll cry because time is flying by. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, forgive freely, love like you've never been hurt. Life comes with no guarantees, no time outs, no second chances. You just have to live life to the fullest, tell someone what they mean to you and tell someone off, speak out, dance in the pouring rain, hold someone's hand, comfort a friend, fall asleep watching the sun come up, stay up late, be a flirt, and smile until your face hurts. Don't be afraid to take chances or fall in love and most of all, live in the moment because every second you spend angry or upset is a second of happiness you can never get back."
~Unknown author

This is another one of my favorite quotes. We try so hard to avoid being disappointed in life - we don't want to get hurt and feel sad. Yet at some point, it happens anyway. It's part of life, there is no escaping it. 

So we might as well accept that fact and stop being so afraid and living small, and live life to the fullest instead.  I know it's very easy to get stopped in your tracks by fear, so I use words like these to keep on reminding myself. I hope they help remind you, too. =)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Overcoming Fear

On our journey to fall in love with ourselves and our lives, fear is a major obstacle that keeps on coming up again and again. I am not talking about fear of real, physical danger here. I am talking about our internal fears: Fear of not being liked, fear of not being accepted, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of making mistakes, fear of not being understood…the list goes on.

Why are we so afraid? Fear is there to keep us from getting hurt. It is trying to guard us against any negative feeling that would confirm our worst fear – that we are not good enough.  If there is any danger at all that we might not be accepted, approved of or understood, fear will jump in and try to make sure that we don’t take any action that will expose us and potentially hurt us. So we are afraid and hesitate to change our job, start that new business, call to ask for a date, reveal our true feelings in a relationship.  

Fear keeps us in our comfort zone, where it’s nice and safe. But it also keeps us from pursuing our dreams and experiencing joy and success. Because what if the new job was better, the new business was successful, the person said “yes” to the date and revealing our true feelings deepened a relationship? We will never know until we take the risk and try.

Fear also makes us deny our essential nature and suppress who we truly are. What would people say if they knew that I thought this way? Would she still respect me if she knew all my quirks?  So we hold back, censor ourselves, and only show certain parts of who we are. Of course, sometimes we need to edit ourselves, since we live in a society. But if we continuously disguise and hide ourselves, it’s really difficult to accept ourselves.

So there we are, being held hostage by fear. We may hope and wait for a guarantee that if we risk, nothing bad will happen. But there is never a guarantee, so we may be stuck in inaction for a long time. 

How do we get out of this “stuckness”?

One way is by being ourselves, acting and speaking authentically as often as we can. We can start by taking small steps, maybe with certain people or while in certain environments. For example, I have found my dance classes to be a very open and inviting environment to be myself. What groups of people encourage you to be yourself? What places make you feel most at home? How can you express a little bit more of yourself in these environments?

Another way is to practice being uncomfortable.  Taking small risks and trying out new things you don’t know how to do yet helps you with taking bigger risks in the future. When I first started my coaching practice, I realized that I would need to go out there and talk to people and face possible rejection. So I started practicing by taking acting classes (something I had never done before) and going out to auditions (which I was terrified of).  While it was still hard to hear “no” multiple times, I finally got a “yes” to be in the ensemble of a musical. What could you try that feels a little risky? Trying out a new sport, going to an art class, playing an instrument, joining an improv group, learning a new language...

The key is to get into action. As Norman Vincent Peale said: "Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all."

What action will you take this week?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Am Willing

I found this poem a few years ago, but I like to revisit it every so often to make sure my heart is still open and to check that I am still willing to do what it takes, even if it is hard sometimes.

I hope you draw some inspiration from it as well! =)


 I Am Willing  by Margaret Dubay Mikus

I am willing to change what doesn’t work
for me in my life.

I am willing to listen
with an open heart,
without judging.

I am willing to plant
seeds that take a long time,
if ever, to grow.

I am willing to feel
and let go.

I am willing to make mistakes
and learn from them.

I am willing
to live in the present.

I am willing to forgive
and forget in my heart.

I am willing to love as much
as my endless spirit will allow.

I am willing to be seen
in all my radiance.

I am willing to be fearless.

I am willing to be powerful.

I am willing to be peaceful.

I am willing to stand tall
and walk gracefully.

I am willing to sing with my stunning, full voice.

I am willing to allow.

I am willing to let go.

I am willing to change.

I am willing to see
and be seen.

I am willing to hear
and be heard.

I am willing to feel
and be felt.

I am willing to heal
and be healed.

I am willing to love
and be loved.

I am willing
to be fully human.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Allow Those That You Care For To Be What They Choose For Themselves

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves, without any insistence that they satisfy you." ♥
~Wayne Dyer 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Making Your Dreams Come True

Have you ever wished for something and worked hard to get it, only to find out in the end that it didn’t make you as happy as you thought it would?  It definitely happened a few times in my life: working my way up in a career that wasn’t fulfilling me, moving to a new neighborhood that didn’t really suit me, making time to take a break and do nothing but then ending up feeling bored… Achieving your dreams is a great thing, but how can we make sure we go for the “right” dreams – the ones that will actually make us feel happier when we reach them?  

I just read an excellent article by Martha Beck: “How ThreeSimple (But Powerful) Words Can Put You On The Path Of Happiness.” She talks about how she helped two women achieve their goals - one hoped to start a business and the other wanted a baby - only to have them end up feeling more distressed afterwards than they were before.  The problem was that they hadn’t probed deeper into what they really wanted to experience and how they wanted to feel (in their cases, contentment and being loved.) Instead, they were focused on the situation they wanted to achieve (building a business and having a child.) Unfortunately, reaching their dreams brought them more stress and pressure, rather than contentment and love.

Here is the simple 4-step process Martha outlines in her article that helps you focus on the experience you want to create:
  1. Think about some dreams or goals that have been on your mind (For example: start a new career, lose weight, become a movie star…) and pick your most ambitious one.
  2. Imagine what your life would be like if you realized your goal. Really put yourself into it: What does it look like? Who is around you? What do you hear and smell? What are you doing?
  3. Begin to list adjectives that describe how you feel in your imagined scenario (For example: Energetic, free, secure, understood, relaxed...) Pick the 3 adjectives that describe your feelings the best.
  4. Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives. Rather than waiting to achieve the big goal you had outlined, you can start now by focusing on things in your current life that can make you feel that way. This will give you an instant lift and help make you happier right now.
As you go through these steps, you might realize that the big goal you had is only one way to get the experience you really desire, and you may find new ways to feel the way you want. Maybe you’ll realize that the goal isn’t as important as you thought. Or you may still feel that it is important to pursue it, even if there are drawbacks. Either way, now that you know what it is that you really want to experience, you can focus your efforts on what matters the most to you. And the beauty is that you can begin RIGHT NOW!

So here are the 3 adjectives I came up with (with my personal definition):
- Valued (I matter. I am important. I am respected.)
- Productive (I am using my talents. I am competent. I am helpful.)
- Connected (I collaborate. I belong. I am part of something greater.) 

What are your 3 adjectives?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The One Thing We Can Never Get Enough Of

 "The one thing we can never get enough of is love.
And the one thing we never give enough of is love." 
~Henry Miller

Monday, August 6, 2012

The 6th Pillar of Self-Esteem: Personal Integrity

When we act in line with our personal values, we act with integrity. If we behave in a way that conflicts with our values, we respect ourselves less and our self esteem suffers. 

This means we need to know first what our own personal values are, which may take some time and experience.

If we value honesty, reliability and trustworthiness, for example, the questions become: Am I honest with myself and with others? Do I keep my promises? Can others count on me?

And here is the true test: Do my words and behavior match? It’s one thing to say the “right” thing and another to put it into action. Many people talk about honesty, fairness and commitment. But it’s another thing to actually keep your word, stick up for other people and honor your commitments when it is hard to do so or when others may not agree with you.
I have found this pillar a very difficult one to practice. As much as I strive to live up to my values, I find that it is extremely hard to always live up to them. I may find myself coming up with a white lie to a friend, in order not to hurt their feelings. I make commitments to myself of what I will get done, then find myself procrastinating. I fail to say how I really feel in order to keep peace and harmony.

We need to remember that like all the other pillars, this is a practice. As we aspire to be honest, reliable, and trustworthy and live up to our values more and more, we increase our self-esteem. But as part of the process, we invariably run into situations where it becomes difficult to practice our values and we occasionally fail. What then?

1.   We own the fact that we did what we did without beating ourselves up (self-acceptance).
2. We seek to understand why we did what we did (with self-compassion).
3. If others are involved, we acknowledge to the other person(s) the harm we have done.
4. We take action to make amends for the harm we have done.
5. We firmly commit to behaving differently in the future.

In practicing Personal Integrity, we raise our self-esteem. We may not be able to do it perfectly, but that is ok. If we set our intention, do the best we can and strive to improve, we increase our self respect. In the process, we might realize that some of the values we held no longer serve us or are not as important as we previously believed. I used to value independence a lot, and while I still believe that it is helpful to be able to stand on your own, I now value connectedness much more than I did before. We redefine our values over time: it’s all part of our journey of personal growth.
What are your most important values? What would happen if you lived 5% more in line with your values? 

Personal Integrity is the 6th Pillar from Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s book “The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem.”