For the past month, I’ve been talking about practical tools you can use to get out of your own way so that getting what you want becomes both easier and more successful – a nice combination to have, no?
Up to this point, the things I’ve talked about – de-cluttering your psychic closets, seeing where you stop yourself, and stopping with the trying so hard – have been about taking a clear-eyed look at some of the thoughts and habits you have that aren’t serving you. It’s such an important part of the process of liberating yourself from old ways of being that aren’t working for you anymore!
It’s also not that fun—right?
I mean, I am HUGE proponent of raising your awareness of the unique magical creature that is you—how you think, what you believe, how you react to different situations. It’s the first step in change.
But sometimes, raising your awareness makes you see all the things you’ve been settling for that aren’t so great. And that doesn’t feel especially good. (That unsettled feeling will quickly turn to relief, I promise, if you don’t try to make excuses for them or blame them on someone else.)
But today, we get to talk about what’s RIGHT about you. Hooray!
“Mommy, I need to show you something.”
I asked her to wait a minute while I finished talked to Teddy. She said she couldn’t. Her face was pained. “PUH-LEEZE!!!!” she said.
So I asked Teddy to give us a minute (he didn’t want to, but he did) and Lil led me to the kitchen to show me something she clearly felt horrible about—her head was bowed and she looked like she wanted to crawl into a hole.
What she showed me was her Silly Putty, which was permanently adhered to a cloth napkin. She felt horrible that she’d ruined the napkin, and she was bummed that her beloved Silly Putty was now not usable. She didn’t want anyone else to know, including her brother and especially her Dad, whom she was afraid was going to give her a loud lecture.
The terrified part made her presence known many times.
Every time I booked a speaking gig, I got sick. Sometimes it was just an upset stomach the day of. Once I completely lost my voice.
Maybe you’ve noticed something similar… say, every time you get close to making something new and exciting happen, your kid or another family member has a crisis.
Maybe something in your life breaks.
Maybe you even have a car accident! (I had one of those.)
When I surveyed women about what they wanted help with the most, two things rose straight to the top of the pile—balancing all the many aspects of your life, and getting out of your own way. So I’m running a series of posts on both, starting with getting out of your own way.
I get why this is such a popular topic—putting myself in a little box that I couldn’t seem to break out of is something that I have experienced in my own life in a few different ways, and it comes up with my clients frequently too.
We all have these hidden beliefs that we don’t realize are behind so many of the parts of our lives where we feel stuck.
For example, I had a client who grew up in a poor neighborhood. Where most of her neighbors were dealing with addiction and poverty, she had a dedicated mom who kept the house spotless and three meals on the table every day. She grew up feeling guilty for feeling any kind of sadness or dissatisfaction, because she knew—and she had it drilled in to her—that she had it so much better than nearly all of the neighbors. Fast forward a few decades, and she’s still got that fear of doing “too” well and not feeling like she’s entitled to feel the way she feels. It makes perfect sense, right? Who wouldn’t potentially feel that way, given a similar upbringing?
When was the last time you felt churned up and raw about something that happened? Something you wished you could simply “let go”?
Maybe it was…
• a comment someone made that you can’t stop replaying in your head.
• a time of transitions and unknowns.
• a conversation that took a wrong turn and left a pit in your stomach.
There are certain instances that take up space in your thoughts and your heart and cast a shadow over everything. No matter how much you try to distract yourself, or how many times you tell yourself to ‘let it go,’ the unsettled feeling stays.
I had an experience this winter when I was trying to schedule a booksigning at a bookstore I know and love. The event coordinator was downright rude, and I got majorly irritated with her and the situation—the details are trivial now, but I was perturbed. My agitated emotional state colored a good three days (that’s a photo I took of myself during that time up top).
C’mon, I know you’ve got something on the tip of your tongue.
Helicopter parents? Man buns? Fake chit-chat at a networking event?
It’s so tempting to declare someone or something as bad. It gives you a chance to feel superior, maybe even righteous. It’s also a lot of fun to have a bitch session with someone else about whatever it is.
Some of the things I used to judge–big time!–are rich people, my husband’s dishwashing style, and know-it-alls.
But you want to know what my judgments of these things got me?
I was ass over teakettle, as the saying goes—I really didn’t know which end was up. For the first two months, the only reason I wanted to get out of bed in the mornings was to smoke a cigarette. True story.
The thing that saved me was the commitment I made to myself when I signed up for the teacher training. I didn’t have to spend much time thinking, wondering, or freaking out about what I was going to do with my life. I only had to show up to class. Once I was there, I knew what to do—listen, practice, do the work, repeat.
Over the course of that year, I got a very clear glimpse of what I wanted to do next. Funnily enough, it wasn’t teaching yoga classes, like I had initially envisioned. Even though it made no logical sense, the thing my yoga teacher training made impeccably clear was this:
I wanted to write.
Blog posts. Magazine articles. Books. I saw how one led to the other, and I thank God I had the structure and the accountability of that training program to sit with the vision long enough for it to become real in my mind. Read more…
Each year, I take a long weekend away from work and family to get together with two writer friends. We stay at an inn in the country, chatting over cups of tea and farm breakfasts. We talk about everything—relationships, money, work, dreams.
On one of our visits, my friend Judi was telling us how she loves the actual process of writing—she likes sitting down at her computer, thinking, typing, and refining her message. She said she even loves the feel of her fingers on the keyboard.
I don’t feel the same way.
While I sometimes have moments of having something flow straight out of my brain and on the to page, I actually sort of hate the act of writing. I do a lot of stopping and starting, re-writing and re-jiggering as I go. It feels more like the lurching steps of a toddler and less like a horse out to run.
I also often have to get pretty churned up to actually sit down to write—I feel the weight of a deadline growing closer, or a nagging to get something down on paper so that I can get it out of my head, or a desire to get something in the can so I can feel accomplished.
But enjoy the feel of my fingers on the keyboard? Not so much.
However, having written is a feeling I truly love.
When I first started working with a coach, I attended in-person retreats with my fellow coachees. Invariably, at some point during the weekend, our coach would pull out the legal-sized printout of a yearly marketing calendar.
<dun dun da DUMMMMM>
I would immediately start sweating. First, as a right-brained person, I have an allergy to color-coded spreadsheets. But it wasn’t just a temperament issue.
I also have a long-standing fear of planning. I’ve been gradually facing and easing this fear in the five years since this story took place, but let’s just sum it up by saying, planning does NOT come naturally to me.
I prefer to be moved by inspiration. To really get excited about something enough to spring into action, I’ve gotta feel it.
This post is for all the endurers out there. You know who you are: When your life starts going sideways, you hunker down and tell yourself things like, “I’ll get through this.” “I just need to hold on a little bit longer.” “One day, things will calm down and then I can relax.” Or, my favorite, “I can handle this.”
Listen, it’s a great thing to have tenacity; to be able to hang on during challenging conditions and come out the other side. Being able to endure is a strength.
The problem is that you can rely on your strengths so much that they start to become weaknesses.
You may be great at walking into a room and reading the energy of the people in it—so great that you then immediately launch into trying to make everyone happy, which is impossible and exhausting. And then you start wondering why you don’t want to be around people.
Or, you may be great at thinking critically. So great that at some point you stop taking in any new information because you’re so busy trying to poke holes in every new idea you hear.