Writing the Check is the Easy Part- How to Ask for Help

I was literally hit by a truck five years ago. I suffered physical damage in the form of broken bones, mental damage in the form of PTSD and spiritual damage that to this day, I can’t qualify nor quantify.

I’ve learned much from that experience.

I learned that when your nose is broken and you’re writing a check to cover the plastic surgery, it’s fairly easy. When you need help with your mind and spirit, it’s going to require more of you than showing up for surgery and paying the copay.  It requires a level of vulnerability that most people aren’t comfortable with. I know I wasn’t.

The feeling of being helpless is horrible. 

As soon as they settled me in the emergency department, I began to cry uncontrollably. The nurses thought I was in pain. They thought I needed morphine. I was crying because I felt so helpless and scared. Remember, I had PTSD which basically means the truck knocked rational thinking out of my head. I was so afraid that if something bad happened to me in that ER, I wouldn’t able to defend myself. I had no control over what would happen to me in there. I had no words for that fear. So, I cried.

Have you noticed that it’s easier to admit to physical pain than emotional pain? If you break your leg, you have proof positive in that X-ray. If you failed at a business endeavor, there is no x-ray to show others where your pain at having missed the mark is. It’s like it isn’t real. If it isn’t real then you have no right to suffer.  And yet, the pain we all have due to loss, be it loss of love or loss of opportunity, is not only real but it’s common. You’re not alone and it helps to talk about it.

 The faster you get back on your feet, the faster you can start giving again.

For my PTSD, I decided to try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). I was still having a hard time leaving my house, driving became like an act of heroism and there were panic attacks that were inconvenient at best and terrifying at worst.  When the EMDR therapist said, “Well, we will start with this trauma (the truck) but before you’re finished, we will touch upon all the previous traumas.” I said, “Uh, no. That’s OK. Let’s just do this one and I can be in and out in a few weeks.” Apparently, other professionals, don’t like to be told how to run their practices and we did things her way. This unorthodox therapy was not covered by my insurance but I had no problem paying her the hourly fee per session. Writing the check was the easy part. Delving into past traumas was the hard part. It required that I remember things I didn’t want to remember, tell the truth and admit I didn’t know how to move past certain things.

In a lifetime of giving, it’s OK to take once in a while.

If you ever want  to accomplish any goal in life, you’re probably going to NEED assistance. It can be difficult enough admitting to yourself that your business, a relationship or your life in general, isn’t where you’d like it to be. But then it gets even MORE difficult. You’re even going to have to ASK for that assistance.

I know how hard it is to get past the fear of rejection. The person you ask for help may say, “No.” I know how hard it is to admit you don’t know how to do something or can’t do something alone. No one wants to be seen as “deficient” in any way.

Consider this- in the course of your lifetime, you’ve probably helped lots of people, right? When you’ve helped other people, wasn’t there a certain joy in that? It’s a very nice set-up that we’ve got going for us that in this life: in receiving, often we are giving the other person a chance to feel that joy of giving.  There’s an exchange of energy that’s not too different from the cash for services deals we make every day.

Just do these three simple things to get past the fear of asking for help:

  1. Admit to yourself you need help.
  2. Say in one sentence what you need. For example, “I can’t figure out how to run this webinar software. I really want to get this webinar out there but I can’t get past this issue.”
  3. Say to whomever you are asking for assistance, “Can you help me with this?”

Ask for the help need so that you can get on track, get happy again, start healing and reclaim your life.

Thank you to Ariel, English major, fantastic writer, editor and summer intern for her assistance in writing this post.

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Winning the Suffering Contest

After being hit by a truck on that cold snowy Ohio morning, I was taken to the Emergency Room where I learned many lessons. Sometimes when we are in pain, we  subconsciously enter ourselves in a suffering contest. We find ourselves saying and doing things to “one up” another person in the vicinity who is also in pain, so that we “win” the attention and the sympathy of the other person. The lesson I will share with you today is: when you enter the suffering contest, you may win, but in doing so you really lose. Big time.

True Story

Like any other motor vehicle accident victim, I was taken to get x-rays. The x-ray technician seemed very angry that I couldn’t move quickly from the gurney to the x-ray table. He kept tapping his foot as if to say, “Hurry up!”  I tried to accommodate him by moving as fast as I could which was not fast at all. At one point, he began complaining about what a rough morning he was having. There were lots of accidents that morning and he was very backed up there in x-ray. He even mentioned that he had a rough ride to work that morning. It should’ve been obvious that if you arrive to work, your day isn’t as bad as someone who did not arrive to work. Yet, he went on and on about how tough his morning was. I thought to myself, “Am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy?” “Am I supposed to comfort HIM in some way?” “Is his day REALLY worse than mine?” If I could’ve ran out of the ER at that point I would’ve and taken my chances in the snowy parking lot.

Once I got back to work in the pharmacy, I became aware of how I challenge people to enter “suffering contests” of my own. I began to notice how I judged my coworkers or customers when they complained about things that to me seemed like no big deal.

I became aware of times I wanted to chime in with something that happened to me that was even worse than what the other person was explaining to me that happened to them.

 Applying the Lessons

Most importantly, I realized that these tactics that I engaged in either consciously or unconsciously were causing me to suffer in ways I hadn’t noticed. Each time I judged, I felt so terrible inside and that feeling sometimes lingered for the entire day. Each time I complained, I felt my energy drain away. I felt disconnected from my customers and coworkersI silently hated myself for being a complainer. I imagine that x-ray technician feels that way every day.

Here are 3 reason why you may enter a suffering contests – how to stop competing and start healing.

1. You want to connect with someone.

It’s natural to want to show someone you understand what they are going through by telling them about something painful you’ve gone through. It doesn’t work, though. What happens is the person who is struggling with something feels like you didn’t hear them. They don’t feel understood. In fact, to make sure you hear them, they may up the ante and tell you even more about their pain and problems. This is where it gets to really feel like a contest with two people trying to win a prize instead of trying to understand each other.  The next time a client or patient brings you their problems, really listen. Take it in even if it feels uncomfortable. Discipline yourself not to share your own pain. Nothing makes someone feel better than to feel that they are truly listened to and understood. You want your clients and patients to leave every interaction with you, feeling good. Remember, you too get to experience the joy of having given someone the care they crave. You get to feel their gratitude. Those are good vibes you can ride the entire day.
When it comes to your coworkers, refrain from entering any and all suffering contests- especially if you are the leader. Everyone loses with this. You may think, that when you share your woes, you coworkers feel really connected to you. They don’t. Even if they nod their head and you feel all warm inside, trust me, they are resenting you for always one-upping them and not listening. Resentment is the number one killer of relationships of any kind.

2. You want someone to genuinely understand and care about you.

Everyone wants to feel understood. If you have been through something terrible, that has shaped you and made you who you are today for better or worse. You may want a pass on something or you may want to be looked at as a hero for having overcome obstacles. There are better ways to allow people to really know and understand you.

You can share an obstacle you’ve overcome if there is a lesson that inspires someone. Complaining never has an inspiring ending but sharing something you’ve overcome can. In this way, you can even share with a coworker or client something you’ve gone through that was terrible, if in the end, you’ve overcome something and your point is that they too, can overcome.

3. You have not acknowledged you own suffering.

Complaining could be just a bad habit you’ve picked up over the years. More likely, however, you challenge others with your suffering because you have not truly acknowledged your pain and suffering. When you try to push something down, it has a way of popping up in the most surprising and counterproductive ways most of the time you may not even notice it. It’s like I was doing when I judged other people for thinking their problems were so terrible. If there is something you’ve gone through like a trauma of any kind, make sure you give yourself the time to heal it.  There are people who make a living helping people get through pain and suffering. Hire one of them. I hired several after the accident. Your pain is valid. Don’t judge yourself for needing or wanting help. Deal with your pain.  It will make you a better friend, partner, professional and healer.

Mary’s Hot Tip

Train your brain to not complain:

It can takes years to train yourself to stop complaining. It’s not easy. It takes discipline but the rewards are well worth it.

When you feel the need to express your suffering, just sit with it. You won’t explode I promise. Not every thought that enters your head needs to be expressed, especially not the negative ones.

When you feel a complaint coming on, stop and turn it around into something positive.

For example, if you want to say to yourself or out loud, “I hate Mondays! I wish the weekend wasn’t over,” instead, say, “This is a week full of possibilities.”

If you want to say to yourself or out loud,  “I wish I was still on the beach,” instead say, “I’ve had my fun and now I get to work so that I can vacation again.”

If you want to say to yourself or out loud, “I hate my boss,” say, “Today, I will try to find one thing I like about my boss.”

Think of complaining as the verbal equivalent of vomiting all over someone. When someone is throwing up, we may feel compassion for that person, but we really also want them to go away and throw up in the trash can. Don’t be the person that people want to go away.

Don’t initiate or compete in suffering contests. You will end up being the one people silently resent. They won’t enjoy working with or for you and you’ll feel that and it won’t be fun for you.

Try compete with yourself instead.  Listen more than you did yesterday. Understand where the other is coming from even if you don’t want to. Stand strong in finding solutions even when others say there are none. You’ll win many things – respect, opportunities, loyalty, peace of mind and happiness. It’s worth the effort.

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Lesson 6: Marketing and Branding Lessons from the ER

Believe it or not, I learned marketing lessons in the Emergency Room.

After being hit by a truck that snowy morning in February, I was taken via ambulance to the Emergency Room. There, I spent hours with many different healthcare practitioners. Most of them did a wonderful job helping me. I don’t remember many of them, but there is one hospital employee that stood out.

She came into the exam room right after the doctor had finished my discharge papers. She asked me questions. I don’t remember the questions; they were most likely about “patient satisfaction” but I do remember this. She said to me, “I see you have some blood stains on the collar of your vest. I can get that out.”

She came over with some hydrogen peroxide and got the blood out. This wasn’t in her job description. I didn’t ask her to do it.

She noticed a problem and offered to solve it. It wasn’t a big problem like getting me on the x-ray table. It wasn’t part of her daily routine. She noticed an unspoken need and offered to do something to make it better. It made a lasting impression on me both as a patient and a healthcare provider.

I changed how I practiced community pharmacy after that and never had a bad day in the pharmacy again. I look for ways to make my patients happy; leaving them with good vibes and a good impression of me and my pharmacy.

These little doses of goodness that I give out, also have the side effect of making me feel good which lessens the burden of working in a stressful environment.

Here are some fun little things you can do for your patients:

If there was a decrease in dose of their diabetes medicine, congratulate them. You can even offer a high five.

If they called ahead for refills, thank them for giving you lead time. People appreciate being appreciated.

If they are getting an antibiotic filled, tell them that you know how hard it is to be sick and that you hope they take some time to rest and heal.

Draw a picture of a heart on their prescription bag.

If you flavor antibiotic for a child, tell the little one that you made the medicine especially for her and that she will get better very soon.

If you sense someone is struggling, even if you don’t think it will help, offer a kind word of encouragement. Something really simple will do such as, “I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time.”

True Story:

A few months ago, I was checking script after script on a very busy Monday. I noticed the name on one of the bags. The week before, I had dispensed some antibiotics for him. I remembered that he was more concerned about being away from the clients he served than recovering from the infection he had.

I stopped for a moment to write a note on his bag that went something like this, “You do good work! Go, fight win!” A few days later, he showed up in the drive-through insisting to see me. When I went over to the window, he told me how much he loved my little note. That made me happy.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If you want to do good in the world, you care about people, and you have your eyes and ears open, you’ll notice things. Just like that woman noticed I had blood on my vest collar. When you do notice something, offer to help with it if you can. When your customers and patients think of you, they will smile to themselves. They may even tell their friends. They will be back again and again for a little dose of you and that is good for your bottom line.

There is always a chance to make a lasting last impression.

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Are You Rushing or Dragging?

Everything has a time and a pace. Lesson number 5 is about how the nagging fear of dragging caused me to miscalculate and begin rushing the healing process.

It wasn’t even a few days after I could walk without too much pain, that I foolishly decided that it was time for an intense workout. I popped in one of the Insanity DVDs and proceeded to do cardio with Shaun T.

Big mistake. Not even halfway through the workout, I strained the ACL on my right knee. Not only could I not workout even lightly after that, but I had to spend more time and money on fixing this new injury.

I wasn’t further ahead, but farther behind.

Have you ever rushed to finish a project so you could impress your boss? Have you ever answered a client’s question with an incorrect answer because you didn’t want to admit that you didn’t know? Did you ever neglect to thoroughly do your research before investing your money?

Waiting is often an option that you forget you have. 

If you are an action-taker and the “not doing” makes you anxious, realize that time you spend waiting doesn’t have to be wasted time. You can move on to another problem, do more research on this one, or ask a colleague to weigh-in on the issues you’re wanting to rush through.

I didn’t stop to think about what I was doing when I popped in that Insanity DVD. I could have avoided this extra pain from the knee injury, as well as the aggravation and expense of fixing it.

You’ve heard the phrase: “Ask yourself this question….” Let’s listen in to some inner dialogue that didn’t happen:

Rushing Me: You must get back to your workouts! P90X Insanity is a good place to start.

Patient Sensible Me: What could happen if I do this challenging workout that involves quick lateral movements?

RM: I can’t think of anything right now so I’m going to work out!

PSM: Wait! I literally just got hit by a truck. Is it possible that my body isn’t ready for this?

RM: Not possible.

PSM: I’ll start with a very low-impact workout and listen to how my body responds.

RM: But I’m going to get fat!

PSM: That’s OK, my long term health and wellness is worth a few extra pounds.

The need to prove something to others is one driving force behind not taking one’s time.

I had things to prove. I wanted to prove that I could get back into shape faster than anyone else. I wanted to prove that I could handle adversity. I wanted to get back to work really fast to prove that I had value.

Having something to prove is almost always about pleasing other people. Don’t spend so much time worrying about what other people think of you. Rarely, if ever, will you get the satisfaction of the “proof” anyway. No one said to me, “Wow! We are so impressed that you came back to work so quickly. And you look so fit!” We all want to be validated, but that rarely comes from the outside world.

Look within for the validation. Focus on making yourself happy. Do your work, be that healing or running a business, for your own reasons , not someone else’s. Remember health, like success is also about what’s going on in the inside. Listen to your intuition. Go at your own pace. You’ll get there.

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Lesson 3: Go! Fight! Win!

After getting hit by a truck, I was taken via ambulance to the Emergency Department and a new member of my healthcare team was added- the most wonderful doctor on duty. He wasn’t part of the team for long but he was the first in a long list of new team members.

These are  a few of the people that helped me recover and get back to work quickly: a surgeon, a Feldenkrais practitioner, a massage therapist who created a process called Muscle Release Therapy, a psychologist who practiced EMDR, a lawyer, many family members and friends.

Whether you are trying to recover from an injury, lose weight, build a business or repair damaged relationships, you probably won’t do it alone. Here are five key players you should consider adding your team:

1. A Realist

This is someone who can cut through the crap and tell you the truth. The day after my accident, seeking advice, I called a friend, a psychiatrist and expert in the mind-body connection. He told me that before do I anything else involving my recovery, I had to decide if I was a victim. If I decided I was a victim, then my body would follow the decision my mind made, and that would affect every aspect of my recovery. This decision would make things better or worse now and on each step of the path. I decided that the opposite of victim was creator and that’s how I would start my journey- as a creator of wellness. Make no mistake, this decision did not require I deny the accident happened. This was perfect first advice. He saw the big picture, knew where the barrier would be, and told me the truth.

2. A Cheerleader

This is the one who tells you that you can do it no matter what- you can impress your boss with that proposal, you can live on four hours of sleep (at least temporarily), you can figure out what you want to be when you grow up, you can lose that weight, get in shape or survive the debilitating grief. Even after the accident and recovery, I still have a squad of cheerleaders and I also serve as head cheerleader on a few other teams.

3. A Do-er

This is someone who takes care of the daily details so that things keep moving forward. This could be a babysitter, housecleaner, office manager, virtual assistant or spouse. If you’re sinking in the quagmire of endless tasks at home or at work, get yourself a do-er or two so you can get to the business at hand. While I was focusing on my health and well-being, my wonderful husband took care of the daily details of running our home from shopping to driving the kids around. There was no way I could’ve kept the house going at that time.

4. A Navigator

When you’re overwhelmed with all the steps it will take and paralyzed by the obstacles that come with any big undertaking, you can easily lose your way and never reach your goal. My homeopath was the one who helped me navigate my healing and recovery. He’s also an MD, trained in emergency medicine and was very connected to the alternative medicine scene in Cleveland. He helped keep track of the big picture and knew where I wanted to be mind, body and spirit. He prescribed various homeopathic remedies along the way and steered me toward various other practitioners like the ones I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

5. A Healer

Before you freak out and think I mean a voodoo hypnotist with sole access to the Magic Pill and answers to all the questions of the Universe, hear me out. I have a different definition of healer. A healer is a person who is so good at what they do, their work leaves you so much better than before you met them that it seems like a miracle. A healer can be a massage therapist; as it was for me. It can be a tax accountant who helps you bring your business back from life support. It can be a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist who guides you toward a profound truth about yourself. A teacher can be a healer.

Build yourself a good team including a realist, cheerleader, do-er, navigator, and healer and it will serve you well in all you do. You can have more than one in each category, trade them depending on the situation, or bench them temporarily if they’re not needed.

Keep in mind that anyone on your team should not take away your power but rather amplify your power in some way. Anyone on your team should be looking out for your best interest be they a friend, spouse or someone you hire.

As my sister, Beth, and member of Team Sheehan always say, “If the creator intended that we get through life without help, we’d each have our own separate planets.”

 

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Truck Lesson #2: Life is Timing

Do you ever marvel at how many separate events have to line up just right for something significant to happen?

I’m sure you can think of a few incidents in your life where you got the right opportunity or avoided tragedy just because of the right timing and the perfect set of circumstances.

I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t have been “ready” for a relationship with their partner had they met them earlier in life.

The day I was hit by a truck, there were two collisions. The obvious one was my car and a semi truck. The other one I wouldn’t discover until years later. My longing to be well and whole was crashing into my desire to change careers. I’ll get into that more specifically in another lesson.

Some things will happen when you’re ready which may not be when you think you’re ready. That can be frustrating. Here are four ways to enjoy the ride, controlling what you can and trusting in the process that is happening behind the scenes:

1.  Don’t hesitate when an opportunity presents itself. Say, “Yes!” to any chance you get to do something that you really want to do. Don’t talk yourself out of it by making excuses for why you can’t. Even if the experts say it can’t be done, go for it anyway. History has shown that experts can be wrong. Go for whatever seems beyond your reach be that a healing or a trip around the world.

2.  Pause every once in a while to see where you’ve been and remember where you’re going. Re-correcting your course sooner than later to save time and energy. Both a chronic illness and a big career change require many small steps and it can seem you are getting nowhere. Only in pausing, can you notice and appreciate your progress. Don’t move so quickly that you can’t see where you’ve been and forget where you’re going.

3.  Don’t keep relearning what you already know. If you’ve already taken three on-line writing courses, then write that first blog post. Endless class-taking can be a self-sabotaging stall tactic. Keep the progress going with your healing. Don’t continue with treatment that isn’t getting results. Even if you’re afraid you’ll hurt your doctor’s feelings, get another opinion. It’s your body and only you live in it.

4. Don’t rehash past mistakes or fret about the future. I’ve wasted money on healers and career coaches. I refuse to beat myself up about it. It’s unkind and counterproductive.  A shaman once told me to think about worry as windshield wipers that come on in your car on a sunny day. Imagine yourself driving along a beautiful tree lined country road with your window down. You’re breathing the fresh air and enjoying the clear blue sky, when suddenly, your windshield wipers come on. They’re useless and a bit annoying. Your worry is just like that. Using this visualization, you can train yourself to observe my worry which will greatly lessen it’s power over you.

Reinventing yourself takes patience and tenacity.  So does healing. There will be setbacks, disappointment, doubt and failure. All of these can serve you. You can learn from each failure, find certainty in doubt. You can always reappoint yourself.

Remember, only you can create what you are meant to create in this world. No one will write your book, get your job, or create your art. No one will take your dream and make it theirs because you were lacking in some way or couldn’t get it done on time. You’re on your way and everything will work out.

 

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What I’ve Learned From Being Hit By a Truck

On February 2, 2011, while driving to work one snowy day in northeast Ohio, the left side of my car was hit by the trailer of a semi-truck. My car was totaled, my body and mind were broken.

There are so many good things that came from that accident including a stronger mind, a body that has almost fully recovered and a spirit that continues to persevere through many struggles.

I’m lucky to be alive and well and incredibly grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned from the truck accident.

In celebration of that anniversary, I’ve come up with 11 lessons; which is convenient because I’m starting in February and plan on sharing one a month with you until December 2016.

May you never have to be hit by a truck to learn:

Lesson #1: Be Careful What You Wish For

My entire life since age twelve, I’ve obsessed about the bump on my nose.

I hoped and prayed for the courage and money to, one day, have rhinoplasty.

My nose was broken that day the truck hit my car. I asked the plastic surgeon, “While you’re in there, could fix this bump?” He said, “It’s not that simple. Six months after you heal from this surgery, come back and I’ll fix the bump on your nose.”

I didn’t go back for that second surgery.

I realized that the bump on my nose was part of what made me who I was. From that day on, I never wished my nose or any part of my body was different. That decision was a step on the path toward self love and acceptance.

Do you obsess about some part of you that you think is “wrong”? Look at yourself again and see something that you do like. Something that needs no fixing.

Every time you catch yourself lamenting your flaws, change the channel and be grateful for something you really like about yourself. Eventually start to practice accepting those things that you really want to change.

Make this practice a habit and it will serve you well. You may even begin to notice the good things in other people instead of just the things that you think are wrong with them.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re probably doing more things right than wrong. You may be smarter than you realize, more talented than you let on and stronger than others know.

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Are You Constantly Downsizing… Your Self?

I had a best friend, Jackie, for many years until we grew apart.

This friend was a professional coach and healer.

In the beginning, I was her client and she helped me a lot.  I am, to this day, very grateful for the results I attribute to her work. She is truly a gifted healer. As time went on, however, my anxiety and depression just weren’t getting any better. My progress had stagnated, but I kept my appointments and continued to pay for her services.

Eventually she began asking me for advice.  I would drop everything to be there for her every disaster, struggle, and celebration. I started helping her with articles and presentations. I was happy to help at no charge because she had helped me so much as her client. We were friends and besides, it was fun for me.

The Downsizing Clues were Everywhere

  1. I couldn’t see for a long time that something needed to change in this Exhausted Business Womanrelationship. There were signs, but I was not seeing them:
  2. I helped create a huge presentation for her, which she discarded at the last minute.  I wasn’t informed that she was tossing it, and didn’t receive so much as a ‘thank you’ for my time and effort.
  3. She was giving less and less during my paid sessions with her, and I was giving more and more during our friendship talks.
  4. When I started my coaching business, I asked for referrals and she dismissed my requests as a burden.  She had given other coaches business in the past, plus she knew the quality of my work.
  5. I asked again for referrals just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. Was I not good enough I wondered to get a referral from her? She never came right out and said why she would not refer clients to me even when people she knew were asking for the services I offered.
  6. I felt irritable and sometimes angry after the coaching sessions I was paying her for.
  7. My husband began to take issue with the relationship. “She’s using you,” he would say to me.
  8. My inner wisdom kept whispering in my ear that I was selling myself short and that I needed to change the dynamics of the relationship.

Resizing to Reality

I decide to listen to my intuition-

One day I gathered my courage and told her that if I was going to keep giving her advice, that she would pay me for it just as I paid her all these years for her services. If she wanted me to work on a project, I would need to be paid for those services as well.

Listening to one’s intuition is like looking into a big, crystal clear mirror that reflects back what’s inside of the heart and soul. I saw how being in this relationship meant sacrificing a part of myself in exchange for her love, approval, and acceptance.

I never heard from her again.

The World is Your Mirror

On an unconscious level, I had entered into an agreement that I would play “small” and never reach my full potential so I could be safe and hopefully loved. The agreement also included a clause that I wouldn’t trust what I knew to be true; I wouldn’t trust my intuition.

I didn’t enter into this agreement with her as I had originally thought.  The truth is, I made this agreement unconsciously with myself.

Our eyes point outward so that stuff is easier to “see.” Listening to our intuition and owning our own “bigness” requires us to turn our gaze and look inward.

The invisible fine print of the agreement played out in my relationship with Jackie – I was in a constant state of not being good enough and not owning my talents and abilities. I couldn’t see that I was the only one holding myself to that contractual state of depressed potential.

Signs That You May Have Entered into a “Less Than” Agreement:

  1. You catch yourself semployment agreementilently nodding when someone implies directly or indirectly that you are not good enough in some capacity.
  2. You feel bad about yourself after an interaction with someone – irritable, annoyed, shameful, or sad.
  3. You hang out with people or do business with people you really have little in common with – who don’t add anything to your life or business, in an attempt to fit in.
  4. During an interaction, you pretend you don’t  know something so the other party/ parties aren’t intimidated by you. You dumb yourself down.
  5. You stop being outrageous – you tone down your personality.
  6. You have a habit of turning your victories into defeats.
  7. You confuse being kind to yourself with self-indulgence.
  8. You think saying, “No” or “I need to think about it” is being mean.
  9. You vie for the attention of people that put you down – trying to prove yourself to someone.
  10. Your significant other or trusted friend feels that someone in your personal or business life is taking advantage of you.
  11. You give too much away of your knowledge, services or time. This doesn’t mean that you never give of yourself, but if there’s too much of an imbalance you will become depleted and resentful.
  12. You have a chastising inner voice that’s just relentless, even when you did something really well.
  13. You find yourself apologizing for being yourself.

Life’s Lessons

For years, I justified playing small. Here is what I’ve learned:

You may rationalize that it’s better to play small than to be alone. In fact, it’s much better to be alone. Besides, nature abhors a vacuum – that space will soon be filled with those who value you and see your true worth and potential.

If you pretend to be less than you are, this will make others feel good about themselves. The illusion is that in making yourself small you allow other people to see their own bigness. In fact, when are all you can be, you hold the space for others to do the same for themselves. You lead by example and will inspire many people to do the same, even if you never know it, even if they never tell you.

You may be under the delusion that being liked will make you happy. Being yourself will make you happy, and if being yourself means being great, then by all means, be great!

Null and VoidConfident Business Lady.

Tear up that agreement! You don’t even need a lawyer. You can bare witness yourself as your own best advocate. I’ve since torn up that agreement to play small. I don’t hold myself to being “less than” to make anyone else happy or even to make myself comfortable. I’m going to try being uncomfortable in my full potential – in my way of being in the world and expressing myself. My bigness. Once the agreement I made become conscious,  I knew I could not uphold it. I’m absolved from minimizing myself.

If you see some of the signs listed above, as yourself what agreements you may have unconsciously entered into.

Our agreements have expiration dates. What’s yours?

What’s the “Less Than” Agreement you’ve been living with?

What kind of new agreement would you like to write for yourself?

Please add comments below so we can support each other in the reality of our bigness.

Posted in intuition and relationships, Self help

What Are Some Strategies for Coping with Stress

When I emerged from my self-imposed cave, everything looked shiny and new. I couldn’t wait to dive head first into all the stuff I was avoiding before I entered the cave. My excitement was tempered by the thought of returning to the pace and lifestyle that both burned me out, and landed me in a larger pants size. Instead, I decided to cool my jets for a minute and think my approach through. I decided that the logical next step was to bring the cave to me this time, and incorporate all that I had learned from checking out.

 Steal some of these ideas for incorporating a retreat into your life. Be sure to check in at the end of each day, week, and month with yourself. Take note if you realize that you aren’t calmer, happier, and more energized than before.

1. Don’t Even Jump, Let Alone Ask, “How High?”

Eliminating most outside stimuli made me notice how much of my time is spent reacting to outside stimuli. I was a slave to it. Do you jump when you get a text? Respond immediately to a FB post? Do you answer, “Yes” to each and every request made for your time or energy? If so, you may want to keep a little bit of energy for yourself. Stop and think before you respond to anything. If it can wait, you may not have to respond at all. Before you know it, you will have saved yourself substantial time and energy that can be utilized elsewhere.

2. Draw the Line and then Don’t Cross it.

 As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I realized that I am not my business. This is a revelation that needs to be incorporated into daily life. You are not your business, career, or job. You are separate from it, even though you bring much of who you are to it.

 This is good news.

 I was having lunch with a colleague and she began to tell me about a big problem she was wrestling with. Since I’m not my business, and I wasn’t “on the clock”, I could just be myself. How lovely it was to just sit and be understanding. I was able to hold the space for her to fix this problem herself versus jumping in with my assessment and solution.  Although it may have been welcomed, it wasn’t ASKED for. If she wanted my input, she can ask directly and make an appointment. What a huge relief! When I’m working, I’m working and when I’m not, I’m just myself. I don’t have to be “on” all the time, and neither do you.

What Are Some Strategies for Coping with Stress

3. Enjoy the Joy.

 Make a list of the things you like to do. The things that serve no purpose in your life but to give you joy. I reconnected with some of the things I like to do, such as create something. I made the sculpture I referenced in my last post, went for lots of walks, and enjoyed music while in the cave.  Make doing one of the things you love to do a part of your day, your week, or your month. No multitasking either – meaning really tuning into the music and not just having it as a distraction while you are doing dishes or fixing the car. If you’ve forgotten what you love to do for fun, ask your parents, your siblings, or your childhood friends.

4. Stop Trying to Multi-task.

 You can’t do more than one thing at one time anyway, so focus only on the one thing you are doing. We think we can violate the laws of nature by doing several things at one time for the sake of efficiency. They’ve done studies and there is no such thing as doing more than one thing at a time. What is actually happening is that you are focusing back and forth from one thing to the next. If you are good at it, and have a swift mind, it seems like you are doing more than one thing at a time. Like the sand in the hourglass, only one grain can go through the most narrow part.  Life is happening in the now and if you aren’t present, you’re going to miss a lot of good stuff. When you ask yourself, “What are some strategies for coping with stress?” this one should come to mind immediately.

5.  Master your Mind.

 When you take time off and tune out the outside noise, you begin to notice your own thoughts.  Does your mind like to find things you did wrong in your past and bring them back up? Does your mind come up with all sorts of excuses for why you can’t do this or that? Do you talk in a negative way to yourself?

 One student said to me the other day, “I’m moving on to what I want and I’m not ready!” I asked her, “Is that really true?” She thought for a moment and then admitted that she was indeed, ready. I said, “Then stop proclaiming that you aren’t ready.” She was putting mental energy into something that she really didn’t want which is to be “not ready.” She chose a different sentence for when this thought showed up, “It’s here and I’m so ready for this!” Don’t be bullied by your own thoughts.

6. Notice Nature.

 Doesn’t it feel good to get outside digging in the garden, planting flowers, mowing the lawn, washing the car, or taking a hike? Nature is restorative. It’s good for your soul to spend time outside. Even if you’re just walking across your parking lot to work, stop and look up at the sky. It’s wonderful thing, that sky. Eat your lunch outside beside a tree. Notice how it’s both strong and delicate. Appreciate the fact that it came from a tiny little seed. Notice how the sun hits the leaves and how the shadows fall. Observation is a good skill to develop. When you observe, you appreciate more and judge less. What are some strategies for coping with stress is a sentence that nature never asks itself as it is always responding appropriately.

7. Defeat an Inner Demon.

 Speaking of noticing, have you noticed anything about yourself that doesn’t serve you? Anything that brings you down and gets in the way of realizing your dreams? I noticed that I eat in front of the television. “How could you NOT know you do that?” I was asked by someone (who should have been minding his own business). It’s not that I didn’t know I was doing it, I just didn’t know it was a problem. I’ve probably been doing it for quite a while, but I began to notice it, and it’s like a double whammy for numbing out – the eating without focusing on the food made me eat more, and the mindless TV watching was keeping me from feeling my feelings! We have a rule in our house: no eating your feelings. I found a way around that one by being numbed out when I eat. Well, no more! It’s now a rule – no eating while watching TV. It’s liberating. What activity are you engaged in that doesn’t serve you? Consider conquering this behavior. You can do it.

8. Carve Out Time and Guard it with Your Life.

 Even the tech people of Silicon Valley do a sabbatical from the computer where they totally unplug from the Internet from Friday night until Monday morning. If they can unplug for that long, you can go a few hours without Facebook. Every week without fail, carve out a time where there is no work, no media, no worrying…just being and/or having fun. It can be 48 hours or one hour every week. I suggest an entire 24 hours, as it takes some time to settle down inside. This is time for fun and it’s non-negotiable. Oh, someone wants you to help them with something during your day of sabbatical? Say, “No.” Schedule it for another time. You have to be serious with this fun time. Guard this time and hold the space for the sacred act of ‘not doing’.

9. Quiet the mind.

Your mind can be doing other things aside from trying to figure out what are some strategies for coping with stress. Medition Your may not be your thing. If it is your thing, or has been, bring it back to your daily life. Some people meditate both morning and evening. Some meditate for an hour at a time sitting in the lotus position. It’s OK if you have never meditated before. You can start right where you are. Take 10 minutes just to observe your own breathing while sitting quietly.  This might be all you need to find that energetic calm state that meditation can bring. Meditating helps you realize that you are not your body nor your mind. It also helps you to observe your thoughts, and you will be less likely to be carried away with worrying.

10. Start to Finish.

 There is nothing quite like the simple joy of a task completed. Finish one simple task each day or night. This could be cleaning the kitchen sink, organizing something like your pen drawer, or packing tomorrow’s lunch. Give yourself bonus points if you stay focused on this task to practice being in the now. There are few things that we can start and end in a short time frame, as most of life is a process. When you have more time, you can paint that wall, fix the dishwasher, or straighten out the closet. It just feels good to have that satisfaction of a task completed well.

 Bring any restorative practice to your daily life. Choose any one of these or one of your own. You are wonderful and have tremendous value. The world needs you. Take care of yourself – mind, body, and soul so that you can be your best and do your best.

What are some strategies for coping with stress that you use each day?

 What’s your favorite way to enjoy yourself, take a little break from life and rejuvenate? I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

Posted in intuition and stress Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Stay in the Game By Checking Out a Little Each Day

When I emerged from my self-imposed cave, everything looked shiny and new. I couldn’t wait to dive head first into all the stuff I was avoiding before I entered the cave. My excitement was tempered by the thought of returning to the pace and lifestyle that both burned me out, and landed me in a larger pants size. Instead, I decided to cool my jets for a minute and think my approach through. I decided that the logical next step was to bring the cave to me this time, and incorporate all that I had learned from checking out.Steal some of these ideas for incorporating a retreat into your life. Be sure to check in at the end of each day, week, and month with yourself. Take note if you realize that you aren’t calmer, happier, and more energized than before.1. Don’t Even Jump, Let Alone Ask, “How High?”
Eliminating most outside stimuli made me notice how much of my time is spent reacting to outside stimuli. I was a slave to it. Do you jump when you get a text? Respond immediately to a FB post? Do you answer, “Yes” to each and every request made for your time or energy? If so, you may want to keep a little bit of energy for yourself. Stop and think before you respond to anything. If it can wait, you may not have to respond at all. Before you know it, you will have saved yourself substantial time and energy that can be utilized elsewhere.

2. Draw the Line and then Don’t Cross it.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I realized that I am not my business. This is a revelation that needs to be incorporated into daily life. You are not your business, career, or job. You are separate from it, even though you bring much of who you are to it.

This is good news.

I was having lunch with a colleague and she began to tell me about a big problem she was wrestling with. Since I’m not my business, and I wasn’t “on the clock”, I could just be myself. How lovely it was to just sit and be understanding. I was able to hold the space for her to fix this problem herself versus jumping in with my assessment and solution.  Although it may have been welcomed, it wasn’t ASKED for. If she wanted my input, she can ask directly and make an appointment. What a huge relief! When I’m working, I’m working and when I’m not, I’m just myself. I don’t have to be “on” all the time, and neither do you.

3. Enjoy the Joy.
Make a list of the things you like to do. The things that serve no purpose in your life but to give you joy. I reconnected with some of the things I like to do, such as create something. I made the sculpture I referenced in my last post, went for lots of walks, and enjoyed music while in the cave.  Make doing one of the things you love to do a part of your day, your week, or your month. No multitasking either – meaning really tuning into the music and not just having it as a distraction while you are doing dishes or fixing the car. If you’ve forgotten what you love to do for fun, ask your parents, your siblings, or your childhood friends.

4. Stop Trying to Multi-task.
You can’t do more than one thing at one time anyway, so focus only on the one thing you are doing. We think we can violate the laws of nature by doing several things at one time for the sake of efficiency. They’ve done studies and there is no such thing as doing more than one thing at a time. What is actually happening is that you are focusing back and forth from one thing to the next. If you are good at it, and have a swift mind, it seems like you are doing more than one thing at a time. Like the sand in the hourglass, only one grain can go through the most narrow part.  Life is happening in the now and if you aren’t present, you’re going to miss a lot of good stuff.

5. Master your Mind.
When you take time off and tune out the outside noise, you begin to notice your own thoughts.  Does your mind like to find things you did wrong in your past and bring them back up? Does your mind come up with all sorts of excuses for why you can’t do this or that? Do you talk in a negative way to yourself?

One student said to me the other day, “I’m moving on to what I want and I’m not ready!” I asked her, “Is that really true?” She thought for a moment and then admitted that she was indeed, ready. I said, “Then stop proclaiming that you aren’t ready.” She was putting mental energy into something that she really didn’t want which is to be “not ready.” She chose a different sentence for when this thought showed up, “It’s here and I’m so ready for this!” Don’t be bullied by your own thoughts.

6. Notice Nature.
Doesn’t it feel good to get outside digging in the garden, planting flowers, mowing the lawn, washing the car, or taking a hike? Nature is restorative. It’s good for your soul to spend time outside. Even if you’re just walking across your parking lot to work, stop and look up at the sky. It’s wonderful thing, that sky. Eat your lunch outside beside a tree. Notice how it’s both strong and delicate. Appreciate the fact that it came from a tiny little seed. Notice how the sun hits the leaves and how the shadows fall. Observation is a good skill to develop. When you observe, you appreciate more and judge less.

7. Defeat an Inner Demon.
Speaking of noticing, have you noticed anything about yourself that doesn’t serve you? Anything that brings you down and gets in the way of realizing your dreams? I noticed that I eat in front of the television. “How could you NOT know you do that?” I was asked by someone (who should have been minding his own business). It’s not that I didn’t know I was doing it, I just didn’t know it was a problem. I’ve probably been doing it for quite a while, but I began to notice it, and it’s like a double whammy for numbing out – the eating without focusing on the food made me eat more, and the mindless TV watching was keeping me from feeling my feelings! We have a rule in our house: no eating your feelings. I found a way around that one by being numbed out when I eat. Well, no more! It’s now a rule – no eating while watching TV. It’s liberating. What activity are you engaged in that doesn’t serve you? Consider conquering this behavior. You can do it.

8. Carve Out Time and Guard it with Your Life.
Even the tech people of Silicon Valley do a sabbatical from the computer where they totally unplug from the Internet from Friday night until Monday morning. If they can unplug for that long, you can go a few hours without Facebook. Every week without fail, carve out a time where there is no work, no media, no worrying…just being and/or having fun. It can be 48 hours or one hour every week. I suggest an entire 24 hours, as it takes some time to settle down inside. This is time for fun and it’s non-negotiable. Oh, someone wants you to help them with something during your day of sabbatical? Say, “No.” Schedule it for another time. You have to be serious with this fun time. Guard this time and hold the space for the sacred act of ‘not doing’.

9. Quiet the mind.
Meditation may not be your thing. If it is your thing, or has been, bring it back to your daily life. Some people meditate both morning and evening. Some meditate for an hour at a time sitting in the lotus position. It’s OK if you have never meditated before. You can start right where you are. Take 10 minutes just to observe your own breathing while sitting quietly.  This might be all you need to find that energetic calm state that meditation can bring. Meditating helps you realize that you are not your body nor your mind. It also helps you to observe your thoughts, and you will be less likely to be carried away with worrying.

10. Start to Finish.
There is nothing quite like the simple joy of a task completed. Finish one simple task each day or night. This could be cleaning the kitchen sink, organizing something like your pen drawer, or packing tomorrow’s lunch. Give yourself bonus points if you stay focused on this task to practice being in the now. There are few things that we can start and end in a short time frame, as most of life is a process. When you have more time, you can paint that wall, fix the dishwasher, or straighten out the closet. It just feels good to have that satisfaction of a task completed well.

Bring any restorative practice to your daily life. Choose any one of these or one of your own. You are wonderful and have tremendous value. The world needs you. Take care of yourself – mind, body, and soul so that you can be your best and do your best.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy yourself, take a little break from life and rejuvenate? I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in intuition and rest

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