I have been having a lot of fun writing to my facebook community. And I have really been enjoying the comments and support. I recently received this message, “Allison, your daily posts have been helping me start my day off right-they are better than oatmeal!” With that being said, I thought I would offer my posts to my non-facebook readers and perhaps make some new friends along the way:)
DO I HAVE TO READ THIS?
Pull “have to “from your vocabulary today. You don’t “have to” do anything today. You can stay in bed all day, call in sick or shop til you drop with your credit card. Will there be consequences…sure. “Have to’s” trigger our anxiety button and take up precious mind space. Remember you do have a choice. What do you “want” to do today? Or what are you going to choose to do today? I loved the one comment I received after writing this post, “I like using “get to.” I get to do THIS today!
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DESIGN…AND REDESIGN…AND REDESIGN
How are you going to design your day today? We can either let life happen “at us” and react. Or we can consciously create a plan for the day. I am a big fan of plugging in self-care (of course!). By consciously setting a design with intention we are more apt to follow through. Now your design might be screwed up by 9am (i.e. your child wakes up with a fever and so there won’t be any work or workouts today) and so your day will call you forth for a re-design (now that my child is not going to school, I am going to focus on some much needed connection time with him/her). Just because you need to re-design, it doesn’t mean your day is doomed. It means you get to stay in the drivers seat of your own personal school bus and recognize you have choices.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
We are “meaning making” machines. If we don’t have the full story on a person or situation we get creative and fill in the gaps. Very few of us are sitting on the sidelines simply observing. Rather we are busy spinning tales of what that quiet person is really thinking. We are making up stories why that person always seems to have a scowl on their face. And we are creating scenarios of why this person obviously doesn’t like us because their email was short or how our partner doesn’t love us anymore because they seem to prefer going out with their friends. The stories are endless, juicy and filled with drama. The trouble is very few of us stop at the recognition that this is what the mind does, it makes up stories. Instead we take it a step further and we actually believe our stories. And then we have an emotional reaction. We fret. We feel anxious. We might even cry. And then the stories start to spin out of control and we create more stories with more intense emotional content. Who needs to see a movie? We have our own going on all the time. So what do we do? STOP yourself mid-sentence and say, “I am making up up a story, ” it could be true but it might not be. It is simply a story. And then we can investigate. Now most of us aren’t going to go up to a stranger to inquire about their scowl. We can often nip the emotional reaction when we become aware that we are in “meaning-making mode.” But if we put on our brave cape we may approach our partner, co-worker or friend and say, “hey, I am making up a story that you are upset with me, is it true?” or, “I am making up a story that you don’t love me anymore, is there any truth to this?” This act stops the stories and propels us into reality. And then….when you can, have fun with this…especially when we are making up stories about strangers. “Wow, that was a juicy creative story I just made up” or “check out my mind this morning…it is BUSY!”
THOSE DAMN SPIRITUAL TEACHERS WON’T GO AWAY!
Many years ago, I heard a spiritual teaching that has continued to resonate with me. “Love everyone, but some people you want to love at a distance.” This has been such a fantastic guiding principle for me and I have been able to pass it on to my children and clients. In my experience, this way of living has allowed me to witness some toxic behavior in others that stems from their own pain, rather than engage. By not engaging with someone’s toxic behavior, we are giving them the opportunity to look within and take personal responsibility for their own pain. When we do engage with someone’s unhealthy behavior, we offer them a much needed distraction (because it is your fault now!) and while they experience relief, we end up exposing ourselves to negativity that doesn’t belong to us. Observation is an important component in this. If we observe someone being unkind to others, they are people you want to love at a distance. It is not up to you to save them, to lick their wounds or clean up their messes. If you observe someone who bothers you and you simply don’t like them, you are not a bad person. If you force yourself to be with them out of guilt or feel like there is something wrong with you, most likely you will experience consequences. These are people you want to love at a distance. Many years ago I had a neighbor who was clearly in a lot of emotional pain. She would gossip and do unkind things to all of her neighbors. Knowing this prior to moving in, I never approached her. However, when she approached me I offered her a smile and kept our conversations very brief. And I would always wish her well. In the past, I would have felt the need to call her out on her behavior, or felt it was up to me to heal her or fix her. There will always be people that we don’t connect with, share different values or people who express their pain through unkindness. It could be co-workers, family members or members of your community. You don’t need to be mean, you don’t need to give them the cold shoulder or ignore them. Be kind, be brief and have an exit strategy. By engaging in this act of self-care we have the opportunity to spread the peace that we so desperately need in our world today.
WHY? It’s a three letter word but oh so powerful! This little word has the capacity to run @ lightning speed on the hamster wheel of own personal mind space. WHY did he say that to me? WHY is she so rude? WHY did I get sick? WHY did she have to die? WHY did I say that stupid thing during that important meeting today? WHY can be helpful SOMETIMES. It can bring us to that place of curiosity. It can inspire us to dig deeper. But it can also become our own personal crazy maker. Because sometimes the answer to WHY never comes. So much of life is a mystery and there are no answers. We aren’t always in control. So instead of WHY we can say…I don’t know WHY he said that to me. But I have a choice. I can ask him or be with the unknown. And quite honestly there are no answers to many things including cases of illness and death. Consider dropping the WHY from your vocabulary. Instead you can acknowledge the incredible discomfort of the unknown. The mystery. Allow yourself to feel this…give space to this. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
ANGER IS MEANT TO BE RESPECTED
Love this by Julia Cameron, “Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us where our boundaries are. Anger show us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and let’s us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. Anger is a sign of health. Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction. We are meant to use anger as fuel to take the actions we need to move where our anger points us.”
ARE YOU REALLY LISTENING?
I woke up this morn @about 5:45a.m. I had heard a scuffle downstairs a few minutes prior to getting out of bed, knowing that I would descend upon the morning kill our cat brings in (through the cat door!). Of course, there is a huge dead bird in our dining room…feathers everywhere! As usual, I walk over this rather large lifeless bird to do my morning work/emails/writing (this is called not wanting to deal so early in the morn). After about a half hour of writing, my cat comes inside howling, looking for breakfast and purring proudly while he sits on my lap. So I turn around to feed him and the bird is not there. I think, oh, the cat must have grabbed him. But no, the bird is at the door just like a family pet, waiting to be let out. I open the door and he flies rather eloquently to freedom. How could this be? In Jacob Marley’s opening line, this bird was as “dead as a doornail.” In coaching, we engage in something we call, “third level listening.” This is where the life coach the and the client use everything that gets played out in the session and either work with it (or take mental notes of it). Whether one calls it God, Source, Spirit, Energy, Universe, metaphor, if one listens deeply there are clues and messages all around us. Everything from the phone getting disconnected, a bad reception, a trapped squirrel in the window during a session, a butterfly landing on your knee or a child screaming outside the office door, the world offers you endless opportunities to connect your outer world to your inner world. This can also happen throughout your day and the more one listens, the more themes appear to emerge.Just as I intend to listen to the message that was proffered this morning in such dream-like imagery, I ask you to pay attention to what is happening around you today. Ask yourself some coaching questions. In my “dead bird” scenario, some questions I might ask are, “Do I feel like a part of me is dead or asleep? Do I feel disconnected? Am I feeling lost? Invisible? Where do I feel trapped in my life? What in my life is calling forth to be resurrected? Do I take everything at face value? What will it take for me to taste freedom? The metaphors and questions are endless. The answers are right in front of all of us if we practice the true art of listening.As I sign off, another battle ensues in the background. This time a chipmunk. Such rich information to contemplate.
UNEARTHING YOUR CORE VALUES
Every person and experience you encounter today is an opportunity to move you closer to who you are and who you are meant to be. Who are you excited to see today? Pay attention to everyone you meet today; the cashier at the grocery store, your neighbor, co-worker, family member, etc. And now pay attention to your experiences; a meeting, going to work, doing the dishes, tending to your child, starting a new project, etc. etc. . Now tune into your level of excitement (we call this the alive-o-meter in coaching). What is your internal and external response during these encounters? Does this person or situation energize you? Do you feel more jazzed as you interact with this person and engage in this experience? What about them makes you smile? What about them or that experience brings more aliveness into your life? For example, “I love his sense of adventure, I love how she is always learning new things, I love working with teams, I love playing outdoors with my child, even when it’s cold. “Those answers….those are your core values (in the example above the core values are adventure, learning and growth, teams/groups, collaboration, nature). This is who you are. You might be disconnected from it/them, but they are hints from the universe leading you to your true path.
ANOTHER UNCONVENTIONAL WAY OF UNEARTHING YOUR CORE VALUES
You would be lying if you said that you adored every single person on every level. There will always be the person, real or fictional (Lady Mary), that you don’t like. You might be embarrassed to admit it. You might politely avoid them. The same can be said for experiences. Perhaps you dread team meetings, going to the grocery store or attending certain establishments. So here’s the good news. Every negative person you encounter today and every negative experience you have today is a powerful teacher/teaching. Each has the ability to move you closer to your true essence, your core self. If you followed my post yesterday and did the exercise you learned that the attractive qualities in others and experiences mirror who you really are. Today we will take this one step further. Examine what you don’t like about that certain person and that certain experience. Physically or mentally note what you don’t like and then search for its opposite characteristic. These are your core values! So for example, i despise long and unproductive meetings. I find them confining and boring. Thus unearthing my core values of free spirit, movement and adventure. Lady Mary in Downton Abbey really bugged me! I found her exclusive and cold. She steps on my core values of connectivity, authenticity and inclusiveness. There are no bad values. They are all beautiful because they are you.
TOOLS TO HELP YOU THROUGH A CRISIS
We will all experience great emotional pain in our lifetime. No one is immune. Our emotional immune system will be compromised. it is essential during these times to attend to the basics to help you keep your head above water. Get seven or more hours of sleep. Sleep will most likely be fitful or not come at all. Nap when you can. If you need a sleep aid, don’t be the martyr. See your doctor. It won’t be forever. Eat. You won’t feel like it. You might want to turn to junk. Choose healthy. Ask for healthy. Exercise. You won’t want to. Do it anyway. A walk. A run. A vigorous workout. Bodywork. Massage is not a luxury in these circumstances. It can be more productive than talk therapy during a crisis. See if the body worker can bring their table to your home. Ask for help. Use your supports. Vent your anger, frustration, sadness to them. Use your journal. Seek out a therapist, your pastor, a life coach. Stop “shoulding” on yourself. Do what you want, what feels right, honor your sacred self. Reschedule appointments, Get everything off your plate that drains your energy. Including people. You need to hold on to any energy you can muster to heal. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Have a friend do your laundry, have a neighbor do your lawn, ask your family member to sleep over, hire babysitters. Say YES, YES and YES to all those who offer their support. Use your Village. Doing all of this will help you move through the healing process rather than staying stuck in a tunnel of despair.