relationship

The Stupid, Terrible Choices of the People We Love

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One late, balmy night this past summer, I’m on the phone with my little brother, my brilliant and very gifted and very drunk brother. He’s a thousand miles away, literally and figuratively. He has struggled with alcoholism for half of his life, he is crying. He is bottoming, though at the time, I’m worried it’s the end. He’s talking like it is. I am terrified.

I plead with him. I know he can’t go on this way, it’s gone too far, it’s gone on too long. His body is tired. His soul is tired.

“This is not your path.” I sob to him. “God wants something better for you.”

“How do you know my path?” He seethes, half slurring, half yelling at me. “You don’t know what God wants! Who do you think you are?”

His words feel like a sock to my stomach, they take the wind out of me. Because they’re true.

I know what I want, of course. I want him to be happy. I want him to conquer this disease and experience a life of healing and wholeness. I want him alive.

But how can I, for one minute, ever pretend to know what someone’s path is?

And can I open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, this actually is his path?

How arrogant of me to think for one second that I know what is “best” for anyone.

To differentiate my opinions from “what is best” is a lesson I have learned, again and again, the hard way.

And sometimes, I learn it in a miraculous way. As of this writing, my brother is several months (sober date 9.2.16!) into his recovery. He is connected to a sober community, creating a new life, with new aspirations, supporting other addicts, after we weren’t sure he would make it out that time. He made it out. He’s fighting the fight, one day at a time.

An addict may need to bottom before they can rise from the ashes. And we need our missteps, bad choices and mistakes to find our way. In fact, our missteps, bad choices and mistakes ARE our way. This goes for others, too.

Even when we think we know what’s best for them.

When we think the ones we love have wandered from their paths, it behooves us to consider that this is exactly their path.

It’s something I have to remind myself of, over and over again, especially in my work as a life coach. And as a human being.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, when ideally, I’d love to see everyone I love and care about happy and “fulfilling their potential”, a phrase I’m growing a little leery of, truthfully. Do we ever fulfill our potential? CAN we ever?

I have big, exciting visions for the people I care about, picturing what I think is their best, what I think they deserve, what I think they can achieve, what I think they should do.

Ah yes, a loving kind of arrogance, but arrogance nonetheless.

A friend writes me, frustrated and broken-hearted that her best friend has again fallen for Mr. Wrong. This time, she’s ended up penniless and homeless after he booted her out unexpectedly. “She is so lost. It’s killing me.”

A client laments over the poor choices of her young adult son, destined, she’s certain, for a life of tragic tales. He just got fired from his job for copping an attitude. He’s smoking too much weed. His girlfriend is under-age. He’s headed down a frightening path, and my client doesn’t know what to do. “He’s my baby.” She cries. Yes, he’s twenty-seven. But he’ll always be her baby.

My response is probably not what they want to hear.

Can you trust that this is their path?

Can you believe that Life is smarter than you?

Are you willing to surrender the idea that you know what is best?

It’s hard to watch people we care about fumble, and ache, and fall, and fail. It’s painful, heartbreaking, even devastating, at times.

We can choose to love them, hold them in prayer. Help, when and how we can. Show up ready to work when they’re ready for change.

But we must be cautious when we find ourselves thinking we know what is best for them. That’s our own agenda. And who are we? And what do we know?

What we think is best may be very, very different of what they came here to experience.

Let’s stop pretending we know, in this great mystery called Life, what is best for anyone.

Our opportunity here is to practice trust. To love without conditions. To take care of ourselves.

Our invitation here is to practice surrender. Again and again.

And yet, isn’t it always?

I Hate Vulnerability

 

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It was a crossroads moment. I was feeling hurt. A few friends were planning a special get-together, and I couldn’t make it on the night in discussion, told them so, and hoped another date would thus be chosen. It wasn’t.

There they were… those sucky feelings from way-back-when. Even though I’ve “done the work”, they still live deep within, and sometimes, when triggered, they still show up. I know on a cerebral level that they are ancient, childhood wounds, I know they don’t apply to this situation. I know my friends love me. Yet, the hurt feelings were there.

At this crossroads, I thought of just sweeping my hurt under the carpet. God knows I’d had many years of practice doing this, it’s a most effective tactic. (NOT.) But I’m “good” at it. Or at least I used to be. I could put on my Tough Girl cape and plow through my hurt feelings and no one would be the wiser. And it would certainly be easier than my other option… Telling my friends my feelings were hurt. (UGH.)

This is how I know I am changing: I chose UGH, over “easy.” Instead of doing it the old way, I chose to reveal, to be vulnerable, to express what was alive and current for me, as messy and embarrassing as it felt to do so.  I did this because my friends challenge me to be brave. They support what is real and true, even if it is not easy or sweet, even if it is messy or ugly. And since I’ve been hanging with these particular folks, I’ve been learning to do this, too. They make me braver.

With the loving nudging of a friend, I swallowed my Tough-Girl pride (my name is Lisa and I’m a recovering Tough Girl.) I stopped pretending everything was okay, and I shared my hurt feelings with them. UGH. This happened more than a week ago and I still cringe. Because here’s the truth. I HATE VULNERABILITY. Not yours, of course, I think yours is super cool and beautiful and all that.

I hate MY vulnerability.

It’s sticky. And messy. And embarrassing. And I feel so… naked.

In vulnerable moments, my armpits sweat, my hands get clammy, my chest gets tight. I want to cry. (In fact, I did, in this instance. Double UGH.) I feel like a baby. I feel embarrassed. I want to hide. Once the reveal is made, I want to rewind.

Yet, more and more, I’m choosing it.

You know why? Because vulnerability is brave. Because I am becoming braver and braver, and ironically, that means becoming softer and softer, toward myself. It means letting the people that care about me know when I am hurting. Because hiding my feelings, sweeping them under a rug is no longer the “easier” choice. It’s becoming more difficult to pull that off. And because on the other side of a vulnerable moment, with the right people, there is deeper intimacy. And intimacy cannot happen without vulnerability. And because I want intimacy.

And, of course, these friends received my vulnerability with tenderness and openness. They didn’t stop loving me, in fact, maybe they even love me a little more, because of my vulnerability. They heard me, they explained scheduling challenges they were working with, they even expressed gratitude, for being let in to what was true for me. They were grateful for my vulnerability. And so was I.

So yeah, I hate vulnerability. And I love it, too.

What about you? Where can you be more vulnerable? Where in your life can you speak the truth, even though it’s messy and uncomfortable? Where and how can you be braver today than you were yesterday?

Maybe someday, I’ll write a blog called “I Love Vulnerability.” Not yet. But today, I can say this.  I’m willing to be vulnerable.

Inclement Weather Announcement

Inclement-weather-announcement-ROTATOR

I’m not sure if you clicked and opened this link because you usually do, or if the subject line piqued your curiosity, but either way, I’m glad you did. There’s something important I want to share.

When I worked at MoveStudio as Marketing Manager, I was responsible for the community email that went out to several thousand people each week. On average, our open statistics were par with industry averages, about 15 to 20%.

Unless there was inclement weather.

In  Dallas, when it snows or ices, the city basically shuts down. Schools, government agencies, businesses, everyone wants to know, what’s open, what’s closed. We burrow and watch the world fold into itself. I love this about Dallas. Coming from Chicago, driving to work through piles of snow and ice, it’s a relief that we just don’t do that here.

So here’s what’s fascinating. At MoveStudio, if we sent out an inclement weather studio closing email, our open statistics went through the roof. Even though, I guarantee, most of those opens were not people who had planned on coming that night.

Thousands of people wanted to read about our decision to close the studio for dangerous conditions outside. We typically had maybe 75 to 100 people walk through our door each night for yoga and dance classes. Not thousands.

Then our regular studio communications would resume, most people would go back to scrolling past our emails, just like the research shows, what most people do with most weekly emails.

Why was that? What could explain this strange phenomenon?

Although I haven’t worked for the studio in a few years, this curiosity always stuck with me.

And I realize, people love inclement weather closings. Whether they are affected by them personally or not.

This week, over lunch with my wise and perceptive dear friend, Jessica, a friend who is also in the helping profession, we talked about vulnerability, revealing our truth, admitting to our struggles and the impact these brave practices have on our businesses.

I wondered aloud, does vulnerability hurt my business?

I am certain there will be more opens on this post than my average.

I have also noticed I get the most click-throughs when I am revealing a struggle, a pain or a personal issue.

Why? Part of me wants to center the explanation around about people’s love for drama, that they actually enjoy watching someone struggle. That there’s a spectator in all of us that loves to grab the popcorn and watch the show.

The other part of me wonders if it’s something deeper.

The question of how vulnerability impacts my business has become increasingly relevant lately because I am learning more and more, to be vulnerable.

I am learning to reveal what is true, what is current, what is alive in me, and that isn’t always pretty, or comfortable, and it doesn’t always fit with the image people have of me, or the persona I have created.

I’ve been meditating on this lately, because it matters to me more than ever.

Do people love my inclement weather more than they love me?

Is it okay for my business if I reveal my own struggles, my own journey, my own humanity?

Will you still hire me to support you, if you know that I’m still working through my own shit?

Here’s what I think will happen, the more I reveal to you, the more I share my vulnerabilities and struggles with you…

Some, just a few hopefully, really do just want to watch me fall, with sadistic pleasure. These are the ones that revel in other people’s failures and struggles so that they can feel superior. In today’s lexicon, we call them “The Haters.”

Some will be disappointed, and withdraw or disengage, because I am not living up to whatever they were projecting onto me, and my human flaws and frailties and struggles become unappealing, in their search for a hero, an icon, a one-dimensional caricature of what they wish I was, projections of what they wish they were.

But, I want to believe, that some, hopefully you reading this, will draw closer to me, and my work, when they understand that I am always in process, just like them. And any projection of perfection or “having it all together” placed on me was one that they created, and that I perpetuated, (and the other way around) in order to feel safe.

They are the ones that might even breathe a sigh of relief, and they will feel a little less alone in their struggles.

I am a little nervous to find out which you are. No matter what, I’ll be okay.

If you find yourself in the last group, thank you. I’m glad you’re here.

Now let’s take care of one another.

Because I am in it, with you.

We are in this together.

I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of work this year, in supportive community and on my own. I told a group I’m in that I feel like I am dissolving. But really, upon more thought, I said: It’s my shellac. It’s crumbling off. This shiny protective covering I’ve worked so hard to maintain, it’s losing its hold. It’s becoming obsolete. I am no longer interested in presenting just that version of me to the world. There’s so much more under here.

But that’s scary. Terrifying even. And exhilarating, too. It’s a striptease of the soul. What if you don’t like what you see?

It’s not that what you’ve seen up til now, if you’ve been following my work, isn’t real. It’s simply that there’s so much more.

Just like you.

What do you show? What do you reveal? How do you decide?

This is how we do it: One truth at a time. One reveal. One vulnerable moment. One brave share at a time.

Let’s do this together. I’m committed.

So yeah, it’s getting’ real up in here. You have been warned.

Inclement weather perhaps? Maybe some. I’ll bring the flashlight. You bring the candles. Let’s take cover together, and ride out the storms.

Through it all, we’ll feel more alive, more connected, more real.

Are you with me?

Warning: Some People Don’t Want You to Grow

Jealousy-300x168Shining too bright, eh?

Not everyone likes when you grow.

When you quake, it shakes their ground, too. Especially the people closest to your fault line.

Understand this: You are an evolving creature, radiating brighter than ever before, making empowered choices. You are changing. And some people hate that. They don’t even know that they hate that, they might never admit that they hate that, but when you change, and they do not, it’s a reminder. You become a mirror of what they are not. And most people don’t like reminders of what they are not.

Quite often, the ways you are changing also have direct implications for them, and the dynamic of your relationship.

They might have to pick up the slack in the relationship, or around the house. They may need to make more effort. They might have to change their minds and let go of preconceived notions or outdated beliefs about who you are. They might have to grow, too, to keep up with you, and this doesn’t always go over well.

Unfortunately, it’s a rare and preciously self-aware person that can say “The growth and change you are experiencing is making me uncomfortable and I feel scared. So in order to not act out in a way that is hurtful to you, I’m telling you what’s going on.” Nah, hardly happens like that.

Instead, there’s the acting out.

The resistance, the arguments, the distancing, the gossip, the jabs.

There might be snide or snarky comments or complete verbal punches in the gut, that take the wind right out of you. There might be knockdown-dragout arguments. It might even feel like the world itself is crumbling.

There might be a complete and radical breakdown of the relationship, where a choice has to be made, and it may be the most difficult, painful choice you have ever made.

No one ever said evolution would be easy.

But there’s no turning back. You can’t ungrow. You can try, in all sorts of unsavory, self-sabotaging ways, but even THAT is growth, believe it or not. No, you’re here.

You are evolving, you are growing in delightful, beautiful ways, and to some people, that’s just scary.

They have ideas  and beliefs about you, after all. And when you shake up someone’s ideas and beliefs, it makes them feel wrong, and feeling wrong is one of our least favorite feelings, so we will do what we need to do to stay right. Feels safer, after all. We’ve all done it. It just sucks when it happens to you. At you.

But what if it was happening FOR you?

Guess what? It is.

The distillation process gets hot. And then, there is purification.

Go ahead, grow.

Let those old skins peel and fall from you.

Become the next evolutionary version of you, without apology, without shame, without regret.  Trust your path. Claim your power. Own your shine. And know that there is a place, a world, a reality, where your shining brightly does not diminish the light of others, where you are invited and encouraged to be your most amazing, fabulous, beautiful, radiant self, with others being their most amazing, fabulous, beautiful, radiant selves.

I know this because it’s the reality I live in. It’s my address, and I won’t settle for living elsewhere.

When you shake things up, things get shaky.  Hold on to something stable, ground your feet, and keep growing.

You’ll be okay. In fact, you’ll be more than okay. I promise.

 

 

Original post date 10.1.13.

Adventures with Ego (My Clever, Cunning Sidekick)

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You may have heard me say many times that I am not an “ego-basher”. I don’t wish to kill my ego, or destroy it, or even transcend it at this point, because, well, I’m human and I’m here to have a human experience, and egos come in handy while being human. They make the short blip of our human experience that much more… human.

Instead, I like to think of Ego as my sidekick. A crafty, clever, cunning and paranoid sidekick that likes to arm wrestle my heart and soul for power.

Ego needs to be kept in check. She brings her own unique qualities and gifts, perhaps for another blog, but when left to her own devices, with uncanny finesse, she can rapidly turn any situation to shit.

Take last night, for example.

My fiance’ Matt came home and wanted to share a story. He even set up the story to let me know it would be a feel-good story.

He was at the gas station, filling up. A young woman, my daughter’s age or younger was having car trouble, and quite upset. Without getting into car-talk here, he helped her. He helped her, her car started, it felt good, she was grateful, and he felt blessed by being able to bless her, and get her back on the road.

I could feel myself, while he told the story, getting triggered… I was not able to celebrate his good deed. Ego was activated. Silly jealousy laced with insecurities and I blurted snottily “What makes you think I’m impressed by your tales of rescuing the damsel in distress?” Sweet, huh?

I even managed to follow up with a nice jab (more like a low-blow) in there about a long-ago relationship choice he had made before we met that still bugs me (or I still enjoy judging)– I’m talking a story more than ten years old! Ego lets nothing go.

Then, I saw it happen before my eyes: the pride and glimmer in his eyes deflated like a pierced balloon. He shook his head and shot some angry comment at me, and Ego felt nice and smug and best of all, right and the rest of me, my heart and soul, felt like crap.

I tried the “I’m sorry baby, but…” still holding onto my righteous (and ridiculous) position. That didn’t help him or me feel better. Because it wasn’t an apology, really. It was righteousness in disguise as an apology! Ugh, I’m ridiculous.

I wanted him to understand what I meant, that I was right, that I was entitled to my feelings of jealousy and insecurity and yada yada yada. I totally made the story about me. And organically, it had NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. At its root, I had stolen his moment, I had hurt his feelings, yet I was too caught up in my own stupid head drama to even catch it. I wanted him to understand me.

I milked my crappy feeling for a while, then realized I did not want to feel crappy, wasn’t on the agenda for the evening.  I started thinking about it. Heart guided these thoughts… I realized that I had basically hijacked his moment, made it about me, and now we both felt shitty.  Ego, you are so crafty!

Finally, my heart put her foot down. Yes, Heart has a foot. Heart decided just friggin’ apologize. No justifications, no excuses, no positioning. Just an apology.

“I’m sorry I made you feel bad, baby. You didn’t deserve that. You’re such a good man.”

And I meant it. Because it’s true. He is. And damned if I’m going to let my Ego distract me from that.

While Ego didn’t win the battle last night, I’m sure she’ll be vying for power again. That’s what she does, after all, that’s how she survives. And she LOVES to feel threatened, insecure, triggered. It gives her purpose and passion and power. She gets to steer for a little bit, ruin a good story or an entire night, if she has her way. She gets off on this stuff, you know.

Luckily, Heart and Soul are onto her, and they stopped her in her tracks, turned the story around and saved the night. Love wins (this one.)

Save some you for you.

Pie
I hate this stupid meme and I’ll tell you why.

Somewhere along the line, we learned that putting ourselves first was bad. Somewhere along the line, we began believing that the needs and wants of others without regard of our own. Somewhere along the line, we gave and we gave and we gave, until one day, we realized, we had nothing left for ourselves.

Moms get the messages perhaps more pervasively. Take the dumb meme above for example. I hate it. Here’s what its saying:

–          A good mother sacrifices her own desires for the desires of others.

–          A good mother willingly misses out on sweetness and pleasure, because she’s a good mother.

–          A good mother will lie to deny her own longings.

–          A good mother matters less than her family matters.

All a bunch of hooey. But it’s not just moms that get this message. We women have been hearing it our whole lives. The mark of a good woman is sacrifice and selflessness. Maybe men get the message, too. I don’t know, as a woman I can only really speak in the context of what I and so many of the women I know and love have shared with me.

I’ve worked with women who cannot even answer the question “what do you want?” because it’s been so long since they’ve considered themselves and their desires. (At least when we FIRST start our work together.)

For the last couple of months, I’ve been sharing with you what I believe to be the biggest, deadliest blocks to our ultimate expression, our joyous radiance.  We’ve discussed a bunch of them, like negative self-talk, shame, blame and old stories.

The final and seventh in this series is what I’m talking about now. Giving it all away.

We are spread too thin. We say yes to things that scream no inside. We obligate ourselves to the point of emptiness. It’s no wonder you don’t have energy to create the life of your dreams. You have saved nothing for yourself. Your resources and reserve are depleted.

It’s time to become self-centered.

Many of you have heard me say “You say self-centered like it’s a bad thing. Well, who else am I supposed to be centered in?”

I’m not saying that a certain amount of sacrifice, generosity and commitment are required by us in our work, our relationships, our families. But what I am saying is the amount and degree to which we extend ourselves is often self-destructive.

When there is no time and energy left in us to tend to our own dreams and desires, we burn out. We become zombies. Walking among the living, but completely disconnected from our own life-force. Like a sack of motion and duty.

Brene Brown in her beautiful book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” says “Most of us have shame triggers around being perceived as self-indulgent or self-focused. We don’t want our authenticity to be perceived as selfish or narcissistic.”

So we give away all the pieces of pie, metaphorically, and claim we don’t really like pie anyway.

Save some pie for yourself. Count yourself in the slicing and dividing.

Save some YOU for YOU.

And trust me when I say this: When you save some you for you, everyone wins. You’ll find yourself a more present, patient and engaged lover, wife, mother, boss, employee… whatever it is you do in the world, you’ll do it better.

How do you start? How do you go from being spread too thin and others-focused to centered, grounded and a self-care pro?

Like any other change: one choice at a time. It feels uncomfortable at first, I’m not gonna lie. I have coaching clients who have to struggle with some guilt and discomfort just to attend their coaching sessions, as it takes them away from where they think they should be focused, and seems so self-indulgent.

It’s like a muscle. There will be some soreness at first, but eventually it gets stronger.

What choice can you make today? How will you slice your pie?

The terrible truth about speaking your truth

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“Speak your truth…” The memes declare. “Be authentic!” We are preached at. “Keep it real!” and so the messages go.

We know, deep down, that truth-telling is a brave route on our path of growth. That doesn’t make it easy.

There are some truths about speaking the truth that not many people speak truthfully about.

Telling the truth doesn’t come without consequences.

It’s not always the best feeling in the world.

In fact, sometimes, it downright sucks.

Speaking our truth is often a path more prickly than pruned, more dangerous than safe, more risky than we may even realize.

In the last week, I have had my own first-hand experiences with this, and have seen it going on in the lives of others, so much so that I’ve wondered what planetary forces might be affecting us as we transition into spring this week.

Here are some things to keep in mind when approaching your time to boldly speak a truth, whether its to create new boundaries, establish respect, ask for more, or have that tough conversation you’ve been putting off for too long…

  • First, consider your desired outcome. Do you want to end a relationship? Are you establishing new criteria for what you will accept? Are wanting to burn it all down in an outrageous and passionate fury-of-Kali move? Establishing your desire will help determine your strategy.
  • Most likely, you are not going to feel “ready” or “comfortable” doing it. Waiting to feel ready or comfortable might have you waiting forever. To move forward in your unready discomfort is a bold and brazen act of self-respect.
  • Decide if you are willing to risk burning bridges or experience some fall-out. Decide if that’s something you want, or can live with, and proceed accordingly. If burning bridges is not your desired end-goal, choose your approach, and your words, carefully.
  • You may have to experience some pain. Or even cause it. The aftershocks from this pain might tremble long after the conversation is over.
  • Return to your original desired outcome, again and again. This desire is your touchstone when you’re in the thick of it. Remind yourself, repeatedly of what it is you really want to come of the truth-telling. Let your desired outcome guide your words and actions.
  • Truth is relative. Take full responsibility for yours, and know that others also have a right to theirs.
  • You may lose friends, supporters, clients, even money. Are you willing to be with the empty space that loss will create in your life?

Another thing to remember… Things come out a lot better if you plan how and what you want to say, rather than wait for the intensity of a breaking point, when emotions are heated or out of control.

Unfortunately, many of us wait to speak our truths until we are so fed up, angry, buttons pushed, provoked, triggered, irritated or activated that our emotions take the wheel, and we might say things more damaging, cruel or hostile than what we intended.

When we speak the truth using the path of the heart, letting love guide us, pain is minimized, wreckage and debris is easier to clean up.

In some cases, it may make sense to request an “appointment” to talk some things out, in order to have a ready listening receiver, as opposed to the blindside and catching someone completely off guard. It can change the outcome dramatically.

Eventually, after the talk, after the fallout, after the burning and the hurt, there is a feeling that will rise up from within you that feels like courage, a stronger sense of self-respect, a greater surety about what you want and don’t want, and what you will tolerate in you your life.

Eventually, you will feel more whole, more alive, more the you that you want to be in the world.

Plan, think, pray, contemplate, consider the consequences. And go forward, bravely, as if your life depends on it. Because, well, it does…

This then, is the good news: When you take a stand for your life, life responds dramatically, swiftly and oftentimes, more beautifully than you could have ever imagined.

Lower the Drawbridge, C’Mon!

Helping-Others“The refusal to ask for help is a kind of sickness in itself. The refusal to ask for help is not rugged individualism but ragged individualism and it is a function of fear.

Not that there’s nothing to fear. Asking for help is a formidable art and requires that we lower the drawbridge.”

– Gregg Levoy, “Callings”

My name is Lisa and I’m a recovering Tough Girl.

Yes, it’s true.

My stubborn refusal to request or receive support has been played out in varying degrees of the pathetic, comedic or ridiculous.

Some of my “Tough Girl” gestures have included (but are not limited to)

  • Ignoring the guide words in the top corners of pages in the dictionary, because I could find the words myself, thank you very much.
  • Lying thirsty in a bed because I didn’t want to seem ‘needy’ by asking for water. After surgery.
  • Refusing to read directions on Rice a Roni, and ruining dinner, because “Directions? I don’t need no stinkin’ directions!”
  • And of course, who can forget the agonizing dark days when I have stared at the phone, deep in my despair, crying, feeling broken, longing to reach out to a friend, but immobilized. By what? Fear of rejection? Fear of appearing “weak”? Fear of being needy? Fear of vulnerability? Yep.

It’s taken a lot of inner work, some great therapy, lots of journaling, some incredible epiphanies, and some brave experimenting but yes, I am learning how to ask for support. I am learning how to risk feeling vulnerable. I am learning how to dance with danger by requesting help and receiving it, too. Ooooh! Crazy, huh?

All that tough girl stuff got boring… so now I choose to experiment in the Love Lab of risk, vulnerability and intimacy. So far, so good.

I am learning that the payoff is worth the risk: deeper intimacy, miracles and fierce support from a loving Universe and its humans that are ready and willing to show up for me (when I lower the drawbridge and invite them to show up for me. Wow, imagine!)

Yes, I’m still a Tough Girl when I need to be. And sometimes, when I don’t. But those guide words in the dictionary? They sure come in handy.

How easy or difficult is it for you to ask for help? When have you needed support but have held back in requesting it? What holds you back?

I dare you to ask someone for help. Turn to a friend, a relative, someone you’re drawn to but haven’t crossed that line with yet, and ask for help, advice, company, support. Put yourself out there. Take that risk. It’s exciting and dangerous, and I am betting you will be supported in your request.

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new front cover TODLExcerpted from my book, Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for Your Sacred, Sexy Soul. Now through the holidays, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite chapters from the book, available on Amazon.com, while I revive and reignite my creative fire with some much needed rest. Enjoy!

Boundaries, Baby!

Boundaries1I have a saying about boundaries: You usually don’t know what one is until it’s been crossed.

I have a new boundary that I’d like to declare, based on some recent not-so-pleasant experiences. Without going into details, and keeping in mind that there are two parts to every story, I will give you the condensed version of mine.

I’d been working with an individual for the last few months on some important projects. He has thing called “his way” that seems to be justified by the people in his circle…“Oh that’s just his way,”  a euphemism that was somehow supposed to excuse his behavior.

I found his communication style unpleasant, completely lacking in warmth or kindness, even rude.

I felt uncomfortable approaching him with any questions, his responses were always short and curt, I didn’t like the way I felt, when I was dealing with him.

I am a huge proponent of kindness as a business skill.

I believe that the two seconds it takes to type a “hello” or a “thanks!” is worth more than some people realize.

I also believe that I get to choose who I work with and who I don’t.

I respect myself enough to not align with people who have shitty attitudes. Just that simple.

My fiancé and I had a great discussion recently, where he inspired me to create a business boundary around mutual respect and kindness.

As the creator of my destiny, and my business, I don’t need or want to do business (or anything, for that matter) with someone who is not going to treat me with the same respect and kindness I extend.

I know people are drawn into our lives for a reason. He has definitely been a teacher, revealing to me a new standard, a new criteria for anyone I align with: Simple kindness. Reciprocal respect. Warmth.

Yes, I only want to work with warm, kind people.

It feels good to declare this, and I hope you will consider your life, your interactions, your tolerances. What are you done with? What are you ready to declare? Is there a new boundary coming forth that you will commit to, today?

It’s always a little scary to draw a line, to close a door. Especially for recovering people-pleasers like me. But I trust in a universe that responds to my acts of self-respect. And I know that this shift will create a ripple effect that will attract people into my life and my business that I enjoy working with.

It is not too much to ask to enjoy working with the people I work with. I am the CEO of my life. I love and respect myself enough to choose with care.

I decide who gets in and who doesn’t and I am the boss of me.

That might mean I need to sever relationships that feel ugly and unrewarding.

I’m proud to say I’m okay with that.

 

Getting the Support You Need

As an occasional offering, I invite you to write with your questions or topic suggestions. I will answer all either privately or in this space. It’s my intention that my words will bring hope and new clarity. Here’s one…

a-alone-1530422Dear Lisa,

I could use some perspective on how to reach out for support when that isn’t my usual M.O., without freaking out the people I am reaching out to.

Generally speaking, I am mostly level-headed and together and don’t typically ask for moral support from my friends or family.

They will either freak out that I am “not completely fine and normal” or won’t have any perspective that would actually help me.

How do I overcome my resistance to asking for help because I’m fearful of upsetting the people that I would reach out to or I’m already predicting their reactions as not helpful.

For instance, I wouldn’t want to call my mom and be like “I’m not dealing very well” cause that would burden her for weeks that somehow the possibly most together person in her life isn’t “okay”. I can’t call my BFF cause his reaction would be “that sucks.” Knowing that my husband is managing enough with his current struggles and burdens, I cannot turn to him.

Signed,
Need It, But How Do I Get It?

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Dear Need It,

I relate very well to your resistance and struggle reaching out for help, all too well! It ain’t easy!

Especially if over the years, you’ve owned the title of “The Strong One,” because the Strong One handles it all herself. The Strong One needs no support, and is the one doing the supporting. The Strong One has her shit together, carries on with valor and courage and is Teflon tough and ugh… being the Strong One is exhausting.

I used to joke, and actually still do, that one day, I will start hosting clandestine meetings for the “Secret Society of Strong Ones.”

We will meet monthly to cry.

It’s actually not a bad idea.

Some of the best advice I ever got was from my therapist, Bob, many years ago.  It happened like this. I was in trouble, but I couldn’t fathom turning to anyone for support, not even my husband at the time, Johnny…

Bob: How would it feel to you if Johnny came to you and said “Look, I’m not doing so well. I’m struggling and really need your support right now.”

Me: It would touch me deeply. I would feel honored. And I would do everything I could to support hin in the way he needed. It would feel like a gift, to be able to show up for him during a difficult time.

Bob: Right. So when you hold back asking for help, you deny others the gift of being able to show up for you, you cheat them of the opportunity of being there for you.

BAM. Changed my perspective, instantly, completely.

I’m not going to say it suddenly became easy to reach out for help when I needed it. It’s still incredibly difficult.

But I trust my needs for support as part of this beautiful cosmic dance of intimacy we get to share with others.

We give. We receive. We need. We offer. We hurt. We help. We heal. We heal each other.

And this dance relies on vulnerability for its rhythm.

I’m going to suggest three things to you.

1.Resign your position as Director of Protecting Others from What is Really Going On. It’s an unfulfilling, lonely gig, and you deserve to be supported in the same way you support others. I repeat: You deserve to be supported in the same way you support others.

2. Get clear on what type of support you are needing. Let your intimates know, very specifically, what you are needing. That right now, you need a compassionate ear or a shoulder to cry on or a place to vent or a safe space to be real with what is current without their advice or fixing. Or maybe with their advice or fixing. You decide.

Sounds scary because it is and it requires vulnerability, but like a muscle, when you practice, it gets stronger.

3. Broaden your circle of support. I love the saying “Stop going to the hardware store for milk.” It sounds like you already have determined that the type of support they will offer may not be helpful. There is support all around. Make a list of other people you know truly care about you– even if you’ve never “gone there” with them– this could be a perfect opportunity to deepen those relationships.

If that doesn’t work, check out 7 Cups of Tea. They offer free, confidential and professional counseling online.

We are wired to need one another.

Sure, you could “get by” without reaching out. But by risking your own reputation of being the Strong One, by deciding that you will no longer shoulder these burdens alone, by opening your heart to telling the truth about what is current and real for you now, you become more YOU, more authentic. You will experience deeper intimacy in your relationships, and you will gift others with the opportunity to show up for you in a new way.

You can find the support you need.

It’s there. It rarely comes knocking.

We ourselves must do the knocking.

So start knocking, sweet sister.

I wish you courage and send you love,
Lisa

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The suggestions and opinions offered on this site are not meant to dissuade any reader from seeking the advice and care of his or her own appropriate and licensed health care provider. The reader is strongly encouraged to seek out and establish a meaningful relationship with such a provider who will have the opportunity and responsibility to examine him or her and offer individualized health care suggestions and services.