vulnerability

The Truth About Your Relentless Inner Critic

How-To-Silence-Your-Inner-Critic-733x4401

“The day of unfailing, gorgeous confidence isn’t coming.
Self-doubt will always be a part of what we each work with as we take steps to play bigger.”

– Tara Mohr

Sorry to share this dismal news, but guess what? It really isn’t that dismal, I promise. Keep reading!

Almost every client that hires me expresses her desire to possess more confidence. In fact, I do not know a single person without some degree of insecurity and self-doubt, at least some of the time. And the ones that claim otherwise are faking it, I am certain.

Unfortunately, I think some of us imagine a day in the future when we will move through the world with a complete lack of self-doubt, 100% self-assured and self-confident at all times, and remember with a sweet nostalgia, those days gone-by when we used to feel insecure or unsure of ourselves. “But not anymore.”

As Tara tells us above, that day is not coming. There is some good news though, before we take to crying in our coffee and giving up the fight for a confident life of boldness and courage.

Tara goes on to say, in her profound and stirring book, “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message”

“The name of the game is not eliminating self-doubt. The name of the game is learning how to let the inner critic do its thing, without taking direction from it. The goal is to hear the inner critic’s voice but not let that voice determine your choices.”

See, I cannot and do not promise anyone I coach the erasure or elimination of self-criticism or doubt. But what I do know how you can transform your relationship to it. I’ve done it. But let me clarify, it’s not something that gets “done” and “Bam! All finished! Glad that self-criticizing phase of my life is over!” I wish.

Living a life untethered and undetermined by my self-criticism is an everyday practice. And when I slack, trust me, insecurities and self-doubt flare up like a pain cycle.

And one more zinger I’ll share from Playing Big… “You don’t have to win the argument with your inner critic; you have to step away from the conversation.”

Step away from the conversation.

When we begin to shift our lives from playing small to playing a bigger game, we can bank on and anticipate our inner critic to jump into position, like a sleeping guard that monitors the borders of our comfort zones. Because the Inner Critic is an expression of the safety instinct we each possess. It’s just doing its job. It feels threatened when you leave the safety of your comfort zone.

Our Inner Critic thinks that by relentlessly belittling us, frightening us, reminding us of our supposed flaws and shortcomings that we will stay nice and safe. Fortunately, we can begin to see this ploy for what it is- safety measures.

We can begin to observe the craftiness of our Inner Critic and separate its voice from our truth. We are not the voice.

We can begin to employ tools and techniques that will quiet the voice. Not with violence or anger, but with love and compassion. For real!

So let’s start there, with the noticing. When it turns up its volume, we can even begin to greet our Inner Critic with a certain sense of gratitude, for it surely must mean we are treading outside of the boundaries of our comfort zones, crossing the border from ideas to reality, and we then we can say “Thank you for doing your job. But I got this.” as we boldly move right through it, blowing it a kiss on the way.

 

 

___________________

Originally published September 2015

 

I Hate Vulnerability

 

vulnerability

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?

Rebel Against Your Own Excuses. Do the Thing.

no-more-excuses

Well, I did it.

I’d been avoiding it forever, I had a million great excuses why I was not “ready” to create SacredSexyU videos.

Because I was so sick of hearing myself say I needed this or that to create high-gloss, high-glam videos, I realized this morning that the only way I was finally going to get past these excuses was to blow past them.

By rebelling against my own “shoulds” and being the very opposite of what I had thought I “had” to be (glamorous), this morning, I finally did the thing.

And I did it without makeup on or my hair fixed; I wasn’t even dressed, guys.

Did I feel awkward at first? Yes.

Did I feel uncomfortable? Yes, for a little bit.

Did I feel vulnerable? Very yes.

And then guess what happened? I had a video.

And more. I feel braver now. Suddenly I am no longer afraid of video. They will only get better from here.

My excuses are gone, I did the thing.

What’s the thing you’ve been wanting to do, but your excuses have kept you stuck?

How can you totally rebel against your excuses? How can you blow past them?

DO THE THING.

You know The Thing. That thing you’ve been avoiding, staying safe in a nice cushy nest of excuses. You know exactly what I’m talking about. I dare you to tell me what The Thing is, in the comments below.

And while you’re doing things, will you please subscribe to my new YouTube channel?

Without further ado, here it is, my Thing. I did it.

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.

******************************
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!

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?

*************************
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

*******************************

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.

Let’s Get Naked.

1936322_173245293472_3785284_n“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”
– Brene Brown

Last night, I began a new session of the Burlesque Experience, with thirteen brand new students. In the opening circle we start every semester with, we go around and the women share why they are there, why they have invested their time, energy and money, what brought them to the Experience.

It’s always exciting and a little anxious, there is nervous laughter and friendly banter and an opening up starts to happen… and there is always crying.

The first person who starts to cry will usually try to choke back the tears, usually apologizing, sometimes fanning her face in that gesture we do to send those unbidden, unexpected tears back into our heads.

And then I urge her… Give yourself permission to cry. When you do, you open the door for all of us.

Immediately, magically, when she gives herself permission to cry, there is deeper transparency and authenticity in the circle. Every time.

I want nothing more from my work than to create a safe place for people to get naked. I just had the soul-tingling experience of realizing that this is paramount to my life’s work. Getting naked together.

We are all scared. We all have wounds. Let’s stop pretending. Let’s stop hiding.

Let the tears fall. We all need a safe place to get naked.

I am not a sadist. I do not enjoy seeing people cry. But I have to admit, when someone cries in my presence, there is an opening that occurs in my heart, and a flood of love and appreciation flows from me, into the world.

As many of you reading this are aware, a giant part of the work I do is helping women get naked.

The Burlesque Experience is a six-week journey that culminates into a beautiful, magical show, and yes, each woman gets up on that stage in front of a couple hundred cheering people, and strips for them. As you can imagine, it’s downright petrifying and beautiful and amazing.

As they cheer and hoot and holler, she undresses, she teases, she beguiles, she amuses, she entertains.

But there is something going on that’s much deeper, it’s kind of a secret, actually…

Getting naked is healing work. Whether you’re taking off your clothes and showing an audience your glorious, amazing body, or you are shedding a mask, letting tears fall, showing your soul, revealing the soft tender parts of you that have been hidden.

Stripping for an audience the first time is a life-changing event that puts you in control of your life, your energy, your body in a terrifying and exhilarating way. It makes you vulnerable. It makes you beautiful.

I have the honor of supporting women through this process, but the more I think of it now, the more I realize, there’s nothing I love more than getting naked with people and seeing them get naked, both physically and metaphysically.

Let’s get naked.

I’m not talking about taking off our clothes. (Although you know I fully support that, as described above.)

I’m talking about taking off our masks.

I’m talking about taking off our costumes, you know… the ones we wear all the day, to get through life, to do our jobs.

To survive in this dangerously challenging world… The masks and disguises we created to stay safe, to avoid vulnerability.

So why do I secretly bask in the energy that is created when someone cries in my presence?

Because they are getting naked. And that’s sexy.

Because they are being brave. And that’s magical.

Because they are revealing their hearts, their souls. And although I love the thrill of burlesque and a good old fashioned striptease, I’m much more interested in a different kind of strip.

The stripping away of masks, of fronts, of costumes and disguises.

Let’s get naked, eh? You can leave your clothes on, but show me your soul.

Because vulnerability is beautiful and you’re sexiest when you’re real.

 

 

***************************

photo by Dee Hill Photography