limitations

Resistance: Your Bratty Kid Sister

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Here is the plain, strange truth: I’m resistant to pretty much everything.

This includes, but is not limited to: things that are good for me, things that I want to do, things that I waited for, things that I chose, things that I planned, things that light me up and fill my soul, things that I love.

As I’ve spent years talking to women about their resistance, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I’m not alone, and this is common, really common.

The resistance usually feels like this: UGGGGGGGHHHHHHH. I don’t wannaaaaaaaa. UGH. Do I have to? UGGGGHHH… Dammit.

Familiar? Most of the time, I can move through my resistance, but other times, it has stopped me.

There is a part of our brains whose job is to keep us alive.  Often called our lizard brain, our amygdala  is programmed to keep us alive by keeping us safe, by keeping us the same. Why keep us the same? Because same = safe. If we are not changing, moving, growing, exploring, or risking, nothing bad will happen, right? That’s what Amygdala, we’ll call her Amy for short, believes.

And at the sight or smell of perceived danger, Amy gets to work, often using resistance as a strategy. It’s a quite effective one, after all.

I’ve had two huge breakthroughs recently with resistance and I owe it all to a shift I made in the way I think about my resistance.

Instead of thinking of my resistance as something in front of me, blocking me, something that I need to push through, I moved it over, turned it into something small and predictable next to me, my bratty kid sister, Resistance.

This idea came to me out of nowhere, as many of my best ideas do, while talking with a client, an artist who’d developed quite a resistance to painting, although she is most alive when she paints.

This client is a brilliant artist, yet she hasn’t been making art. For weeks, we have analyzed and dissected her resistance, so that she could understand it and move through it, and made little progress. And then one day recently, the words just popped up and out:

Bring your resistance along, like a bratty kid sister.

We often think we need to move through our resistance and this daunting task actually keeps us stuck.

What if instead of moving through it, we took Resistance’s hand and moved her to our side, to walk with us?

What if we brought her along, knowing she was part of us, part of the experience, not the enemy, not something to annihilate, but more of a traveling partner? A sidekick? Very vocal, but no longer in power. One that might whine and complain the entire time, sure.

So what.

Once my client moved her resistance from in front of her to the side of her, guess what? Guess who spent the weekend painting? My brilliant artist client, that’s who.

I’ve been practicing this myself, thinking of my resistance as my bratty kid sister, and wow… what a difference.

I never had a bratty kid sister, but as a girl, I remember having friends with bratty kid sisters, and we were often “stuck” hanging out with them. And we did not let them stop us. We still managed to have fun.

What if you just acknowledged the fact that your bratty kid sister, Resistance, is coming along for the ride?

What if you just took her with you, because you have a life to live, you have risks to take and experiences to experience?

You came here for the ride. For the risk. For the adventure. For the experiences.

Within the last two weeks, I have moved my resistance to the side. My bratty kid sister is no longer in the way, she’s along for the ride.

I have taken up learning the piano, after years of telling myself “it was too late” to learn an instrument.

I have returned to writing fiction and started writing a novel, after years of telling myself writing fiction was not a noble or important enough way to spend my time.

And my muse has been responding. I am inspired and ignited and feeling more creative and joyful than I have in a very long time.

Trust your bratty kid sister, resistance to show up, to be there with you. Don’t let her block you anymore.

Take her hand, move her aside and bring her along for the ride.

Might as well, right? It’s way more fun than staying stuck.

The Truth About Changing

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“Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.”
– Fay Weldon

There’s a recent shifting, a new understanding in me that has basically turned my world on its head.

It’s challenged everything I thought about life, about change, about habits and healing. It has turned my business beliefs upside down, it’s shaken up my entire coaching practice and belief system, and yeah, it’s big.

And it’s so awesome. So liberating.

I feel an opening within me that has become bigger than me, I free-fall into it. I’m still not 100% sure how to integrate this new understanding into my business, and exactly how it will impact my life coaching practice, and my life in general. It is monumental.

I do know my work is becoming much richer with this new understanding,  much more loving, and compassionate, and effective.

Wanna know what it is? It’s this:

Everything is perfect. There is nothing to fix.

Your path is your path. Your unfolding is yours. There is no reason to force yourself into changing. In fact, it won’t work, if you are forcing it.

Having built my business on helping people change, as you can imagine, this is a game-changer.

Lately, I wonder if much of the self-improvement culture we live in today isn’t a bunch of bullshit. By our relentless pursuit of being “better”, we can never be enough.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, you are perfect, just the way you are. Don’t change!” would I stop it from blooming, at its own natural time? NO. It was designed to bloom.

If I witnessed a flower bud, and said “Flower bud, open. Open now. You were meant to bloom. Work harder. Push. COME ON! Why are you still a bud?” would it open any faster? NO.

Yes, it was designed to bloom. But at its own perfect pace.

Just like us.

Is an unopened bud any less perfect than an flower in bloom?

There is no forcing evolution. Evolution will not be forced. Emergence cannot be rushed. Blooming happens when its meant to. Not a minute before. Not a minute after.

The problem with much of our self-improvement thinking is that we are spinning our wheels, spending so much time, energy and money trying to shape ourselves into better versions, new and improved, always, relentlessly trying to change. Wondering why we can’t change. Wondering why we can’t shake this habit or that dependency. Frustrated as hell that we can’t reach that same goal we’ve had for 20 years, or that we haven’t succeeded manifesting our deepest desires and are still not the people we want to be.

We are missing the point.

And we are missing the perfection available to us in the present moment.

Am I saying don’t try? Of course not. Your desire, your intention, your trying is how you will get there, when the time is right, after all, but we also need to take into account the natural, organic ways we shift, when it’s time to shift.

We change when it’s time to change.

A caterpillar when it cocoons does not weave its humble abode around itself to cozily sprout wings and emerge all butterfly-beautiful, oooh! No. It’s a much uglier process than that.

The caterpillar first must deconstruct, actually deconstituting itself into black liquid. Caterpillar soup. From those cells, something new begins to take shape. But not without becoming complete mush before then. And here’s something new that I just learned… in that black soup process, the old cells fight the new cells.

While the new cells struggle and work to become butterfly, what is old, familiar, outdated is still struggling for survival. Can you relate?

When making the changes you want in your life, there will likely be struggle. It won’t be easy. Sometimes you will be fighting for your life. I’m not saying don’t fight, don’t work, don’t try.

I’m saying trust the process. Trust your own evolution.

I also know that you can’t crack open a cocoon anytime you want to set the butterfly free. I’ve learned the hard way, when I was 10. It was devastating and I felt like crap, I had destroyed the butterfly before it was even ready to be born, by trying to rush its perfect process.

So this is the great paradox… when you want to change, work at it. But know that if it’s not time for change, it won’t work.

Everything is perfect. Nothing needs fixing.

When it’s your time to let go, you will let go.

When it’s time to release old habits, you will be able to release them.

When it’s your time to make painful decisions, you’ll bravely make those decisions (not without being scared, don’t get me wrong. Bravery and fear are by no means exclusive of one another.)

When it’s time to leap, you will leap.

When it’s time to know, you will know.

When it’s time to crack out of your shell, you will fight for your life to break free.

And when it’s time to bloom, you will bloom.

Applying this level of acceptance and trust to my life and to the lives of those I care for and work with has been challenging at times.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

But luckily, becoming this new version of who I am brings with it the capacity to accept and trust life, on life’s terms, and I know, when it’s time… it’s time.

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin

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Shock Yourself: Loosen the Labels that Bind You

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Photo courtesy of Flickr Hive Mind.

“I am not the type to let people in.”

“I am the least domesticated person you’ll ever meet.”

“I can’t save money.”

“I always let fear stop me from what I want.”

“I hate when attention is on me.”

“I’m not ever putting myself in a vulnerable situation again.”

“I could never do that.” (Insert your “that” of choice.)

One of the most pervasive and restricting things that keeps us from living life fully, and experiencing our own fullness, is not our circumstances, it’s not our budget, it’s not our past, it’s not our external limitations.

It’s the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

I hear them all the time. Sometimes, in my own head.

Here’s one I used to tell: I am not the domestic type. I felt strongly about this, because I wanted to feel “wild and free” and to me, being domestic was the opposite of these feelings. I feared it would feel restrictive. Lame, dull.  If I surrendered to domesticity, I’d lose my feminist card, and turn into some sort of Stepford wife.

On a deeper level, the last time I really, truly embraced domesticity was my very short, and very shitty first marriage from the time I was 19 to 21. He had turned out to be an abusive, controlling monster. So maybe on some level, I tied the two together and promised myself, never again, not me.

It wasn’t until very recently I began to challenge this old story, and realized, to my amazement, I can feel wild and free AND domestic. These days, I’m certainly less “wild” than I used to be, (thank goodness) but I’m creating a new definition of who I am. And I love it.

I am domestic. There, I said it. In fact, this is new. It’s just been sinking in, the last couple months.

Like most mornings, this morning, I spent the first few minutes out of bed tidying up the house. My fiancé, Matt and I just moved in, almost three months ago, and while that “honeymoon phase” newness of the house has slightly worn, I still find this act of tidying up to be a meditation of sorts. A blessing, a gift. A prayer.

As I fiddle around, arranging pillows on the couch, throwing in a load of laundry or wiping down the kitchen counters, watering a plant, I feel a giddy sense of joy at the simplicity of my newfound domesticity. See, I was notoriously a self-proclaimed “non-domestic.” Sure, I kept my apartment tidy before the house. But I never cherished tidying up. That is just friggin’ weird.

But here I am, doing it. And when I do, I notice a presence, an awakeness, peppered with gratitude, to be alive, to be sober, and present, to be clear-headed, to be home. In myself. I’m home.

And then, I find wiping the counters, arranging pillows, watering a plant, these simple acts of keeping house, become an act of devotion, a way of saying “Thanks, God.” Me. And upon realizing this, I shock myself.

So how can you shock yourself today? How can you challenge your own binding labels of who you are, and who you are not?

I don’t think it’s just cool or interesting to challenge and loosen the labels that bind us. I daresay, these are acts of defiance, radical acts of revolution. Evolution. And doing so may be imperative to your growth.

Granted, no one knows you better than you, I won’t argue that, but when you definitively declare, out loud to the world, or quietly inside, who you are, or who you are not, you create a box around yourself. Your own little personal prison- how cute! You might decorate it, hang pretty curtains, but as long as you refuse to leave it, as long as you don’t dare explore what might be outside of its walls, you’re in a self-inflicted prison. Isn’t it time you broke out?

Guess what? The box is made of cardboard. Grab a butter knife.

Pretty much every day, in my work, and in my life, I hear definitive declarations of what people think they are and what they think they are not. I listen to stories of limitation and people fighting passionately to live by them, hanging curtains in their cardboard boxes and yes, like I said earlier, now and then, some of the stories I hear are my very own.

Thankfully, almost every day, I also see people defying their own stories and limitations. I see women bravely doing what they thought they could not do. I see courageous souls willing to risk what they think they know about themselves, and the deceptive comfort that comes with that, to explore the other side of that cardboard box. And wow. When they do, amazing, miraculous, transformative and powerful things happen.

Magic happens.

I challenge you today to choose a label or a story or a definitive declaration you’ve held on to, and shock yourself. Do the opposite. Be the opposite. Open up to the possibility that what you think you are is not the be all, end all of who you are.

And watch the magic happen.

You are all things. You contain multitudes.

Why not experience as many of them as you can, in this fleeting moment we call life?