Vulnerability is only weakness, if you believe your fears as truths

So the other day my friend was telling me about her and her ex-boyfriend, and how they are trying to become friends. We all know that is a daunting task, but I am a big believer that it is SO worth the while, if you care about them (and yourself and your healing!). Anyway, she was mentioning something that he keeps saying to her that is driving her crazy, and is hurting her. She told him to stop. When I suggested she think about his words from his point of view, and that maybe he didn’t mean them negatively, she said she felt that all the way through their relationship she was the one that was trying to understand him from his point of view, but that he never took the time to understand her.

 

So here we are in this predicament. “I do all the work, and they don’t, so I’m just gonna stop doing the work, to protect myself.” This is a super common reflex, or effort to set healthy boundaries. And, I don’t want to knock it down necessarily, because sometimes this is absolutely what you need. However, why do we feel the need to stop showing love, when the other person doesn’t give it in the same way we do? If we truly love them, it should not matter what we receive in return. And why does it feel like giving “love” with no return, is weakness? 

 

There a tons of definitions of what love is, but some common understandings of it are something like:

-love is accepting someone for all that they are, and all that they are not

-love is giving, selfless, and unconditional

-love keeps no record of wrongs, it does not boast

-etc

 

Love is not actually dependent on the other person. That being said, it doesn’t mean show up over and over for someone who isn’t showing up for you, but there is a way to walk in love, regardless of the circumstance, regardless of the other persons’ reaction, regardless of if it’s going how you want it to or not. 

 

So why do we do this? Why do we stop loving, when someone gets hurt? Or stop loving when someone isn’t giving us the commitment/time/affection/attention that we want? Or is that love at all?

 

Here are some of my thoughts:

 

Vulnerability is only a weakness, if you believe your fears as truths. 

 

Loving someone, regardless of their actions (unconditionally), is not a weakness, if you do not fear. But if you are worried they will abuse you, leave you, hurt you, manipulate you - then that very love and vulnerability, does become a weakness. It does put you out there to get hurt. 

 

In my friend’s case, she expressed that she was afraid he would never “choose” her. But if she truly knows that if he doesn’t choose her, it will be best for both of them, and that it will happen in the timeline it will happen - then she can fully trust. And she can continue to walk in love regardless of his wishy-washy-ness.

 

Often, we are afraid of someone leaving us, so we don’t want to fully put ourselves out there, because then if they leave it will be extra devastating. But what if we were simply not afraid of them leaving us. We would put ourselves out there, and even if they left, we would have an understanding of them because we love them, and chances are we would support them. And in that way, we provide the love and support to another human we care about, that is truly beautiful. 

 

Today I borrowed my friends’ pants (lol) and I had a moment where I was worried about spilling on them. Let me preface this story by saying my friend, whose pants they were, is a spill-er. Constantly dirtying things by being a (beautiful, fantastic) spazz. So I took a breath of ease knowing that, if I spilled, she would understand. And of course I was very careful ;). Silly example, but let’s think about it. Let’s equate her giving me her pants (when I gave her nothing in return), to giving someone love, or being vulnerable. She didn’t give me her pants worried about when I would return them or if I would ruin them or mad at me for taking them without giving her anything; she simply gave them away. Some might think of this as reckless, like I could take advantage of her and abuse that privilege - right? So it is vulnerable. However, her doing this is only a weakness if she believes in her fears. So in this case her fear would be something like, fear of me damaging the clothes, or not doing anything for her in return, or taking advantage of her niceness. But the thing is, my beautiful friend, does not believe those fears to be true! Yes, it’s in part because she trusts me, but I’ll venture to say, in the bigger scheme of things, it’s because she trusts herself to be ok if the pants get damaged, or to communicate to me if I start taking advantage of her and deal with it accordingly. She knows she can handle whatever repercussion comes of it. So the fear, is not a truth, it’s just a maybe thing that might happen one day. And she’s ok with it. 

 

Same thing in love. If you can see your fear, and acknowledge that a) it could happen and b) you’ll be ok if it does, that vulnerability is FREEDOM, rather than weakness. Love becomes POWER, rather than an open wound. 

 

*A reminder that love is not “do everything for someone else”, or something like that. Love is more like, accept someone and try to understand them regardless of if they are doing that for you. Love is care and support for a human, not for what that human gives to you. You can very well, love and care for someone from afar, so be careful that this “love” does not exhaust you. Love is powerful, not destructive. Love is your connection to yourself. YOU are worth it, regardless of what other people do with it. 

Voice your Choice

A few weeks ago I did an exercise called motivational interviewing, and uncovered something pretty big. I went in to the exercise focusing on the intention “being ok with things not being ok”. And came out with the realization that the reason I struggle when things aren’t going well, is not actually about the things, it’s about trusting myself to be able to handle it. 

 

I reflected on a particular situation, where a friend of mine was speaking on some heavy topics online, and I wanted to participate, but was fearful of being judged for my opinion, or perhaps my ignorance. In that particular circumstance, I did speak up, but I began to look at why that was so scary. My surface answer is something like, I don’t know enough about the topic, so I can’t really have an opinion. It feels almost like I don’t have an opinion. But as I work on myself I see that I do, it’s just something I’ve masked for so long for fear of what others will think. And in that situation, what scared me was not actually that my friend, or his friends, would judge me or think I’m ignorant (because, if they did…so what? Then what?). It was that I didn’t trust myself to have the conversation with them, and work it out. Or I didn’t trust that someone would ever listen to me, especially if he is saying something different. This is certainly because I respect him, and think he is intelligent, rightfully so - but the important part is that it comes down to not trusting myself. 

 

It comes down to not trusting my voice, or that my voice is worthy of being heard.

 

 

 

Often I hear people (especially women) something like, “no I don’t mind, really!”. Now, sometimes, these people are completely lying, and truthfully, they are holding on to it underneath, wishing and waiting for someone pay them back for everything they do. But most often - these people really do mean it! They really don’t mind doing the extra work, or doing something they didn’t want to do, or doing a favor for a friend. They are giving, nurturing, supportive people. That’s the truth. 

 

AND…

 

They also are subtly telling themselves and others, over and over again, that their opinion/needs/time are not important. It’s not a big deal to give up hours of their time for a friend, or to go to a different restaurant than they wanted. And while that’s so lovely, and is part of why they are great friends, it is also a subtle reminder that they are not as worthy of support, or the food they wanted, as someone else.

 

And perhaps a little restaurant change and favor here and there is not an issue, but what becomes an issue is when they no longer make their own decisions. It’s easier to have someone else choose the restaurant, because then if it’s bad, at least it’s not on them. It’s easier to let go of an argument and keep the peace, than to actually speak up and communicate what they need, because then if the argument goes badly, they didn’t do it. It’s easier to do nice things for people, than to actually know when to say no or when to ask for help, because then no one can say they aren’t nice.

 

So it’s the same thing: not trusting yourself to be able to handle the uncomfortable conversation, other people’s comments, or a decision that didn’t work out so well. Not trusting that your voice is important and necessary.

 

 

Communicating your needs, and making your own decisions is essential to you creating the life you want. I’m not saying don’t be flexible, or supportive, or easy-going. But just know that without speaking up about what you want, and trusting yourself to deal with whatever the repercussions are - you will never get what you want. If you don’t choose it, you won’t get it. If you don’t speak up about it, no one will ever know that’s what you needed. If you don’t ask for help, you will continually find yourself without help. Trust yourself. Know that you can handle the consequences of your choices, and voice them to your community. 

 

As you begin to uncover your truth and start to speak on it, remember that those around you will not expect it. Remember that they have been conditioned to think that you don’t need help, or that you don’t mind doing the favor. They might not understand you speaking your voice at first. But it is worth it, to undo that conditioning, and allow yourself to step up in your life. 

 

*A caveat, if you feel like you are not struggling with speaking up, perhaps check in and see if you speak up so much that you cut off those that are more passive from making their own decisions. This is a result of a very similar root, so be willing to be patient with others, and trust that you can handle it even if you don’t get to call all the shots. (As I’m writing this, I’m like oh yea- that’s me too. Hah! We can literally be on both ends of the spectrum. Be willing to see that you fit somewhere in here ;) ). 

 

You are worthy of being heard. Your opinions, time, needs, and desires matter. It’s ok to ask for what you want, as long as you take responsibility for what you are asking. Trust yourself to be able to handle the result of your decisions, so that you can speak on them. 

 

Be willing to see your truth. Trust that you can handle the outcome of that choice. Voice your choice. 

Stop Screaming, Start Listening.

So today after teaching my yoga class, the wonderful staff at the front desk were telling me about a lady who, before taking class, refused to pay for a yoga mat rental, grabbed a mat, and stormed off and in to her yoga class. The front desk employee at the time didn’t know what to do, so she let her go. When the manager got in, she was dealing with the situation, prepared to take disciplinary action when the lady got out of class. When the lady returned to the front desk, before the manager could even say anything, she teared up, told the front desk staff that she didn’t know what got in to her, or why she did that, and she deeply apologized. 

 

As the manager was telling us this story, we realized so clearly: the woman’s outburst was about whatever she was dealing with, not about a yoga mat, or the yoga studio, or the staff. It was about HER, and her upset. She just happened to take it out on yoga mats at that moment. 

 

What I think is important to look at here is the fact that the manager, disciplining her for her actions would have done no good. I mean, perhaps she would have learned her lesson not to steal yoga mats, but she wouldn’t have learned her lesson about how to interpret her own anger/upset/reactions. Luckily, in this case, she did it on her own (well, through the power of an hour of yoga, baby!). But in other cases, the manager would have had to deal with it. 

 

So what is the best course of action here? We spent about an hour talking about this, diving into related topics. And I was reminded of this:

 

Every time someone does something rude/inconsiderate/disrespectful/wrong to someone else, it is about THEIR own problems/upset/trauma. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

 

This one is hard to remember, so let’s think about it. When someone cat calls you from their car in a super disrespectful manner, it’s about them not having power in their own lives, and needing to grab it from anything they can. When someone screams at you for cutting them off in traffic, it’s about them not taking into account the amount of time it would take them to get somewhere, and being pissed at themselves. When someone breaks up with you via text message and refuses to talk again/ignores your attempts to communicate, it is about them being too avoidant/cowardly to deal with their own feelings, and how to talk about it. (And I won’t dive in to this because I know it’s complicated, but even abuse and violence comes from the same thing - their own shit.)

 

So YES. Every. Single. Time. 

 

If every single time someone does something to disrespect you, it’s about them, how should we treat them? I mean, does yelling back at them really make a difference? I don’t know. I think yelling back at them, in a way, gets them what they want (subconsciously), which is you being affected by their upset. *Note that this is most often not on purpose nor a conscious decision. It is usually based on some lack of power in their own lives, so you responding to their upset whether in a good way or a bad way, makes them feel important.

 

What can we do then? 

 

We can be there for them. I mean, really, be there for them. Ask them if they are okay. Figure out a way to communicate to them that you are not okay with their disrespect, AND be kind and compassionate towards whatever it is they are going through. Because what happens if we get upset by their outburst, is that we go into this cycle of triggers. What I mean by triggers, is anything that causes you to react based on fear; a reaction based on a pattern developed at a young age, usually due to some sort of trauma (small or large). So, if I let myself get triggered into a fear-based reaction because of them, then they will most likely get triggered into their fear-based reaction once again, and then back to me, and so on and so forth. 

 

What would it take then, to step out of reaction, and into response? How can we respond intentionally, rather than based on some defense that we developed when we were 7 years old? We have to locate our defense. What is your go-to fear-based reaction? It might be something that has been useful in the past. For instance, mine is “baby Jessie”. Baby Jessie has been useful in the past in various facets, one of which is that I know if I cry, you will probably feel bad, and you will stop pushing me. (Oh yes, the guilt trip of all guilt trips). And that gets me out of confrontation or dealing with difficult situations. I mean, I can literally remember getting pulled over for speeding, and crying to the cop. He felt no empathy and wrote me a ticket anyway, but the point is - yep, that’s my defense. 

 

Identify your defenses (there could be more than one). Notice when you are doing it authentically (for instance, sometimes my sweet side is a little bit like baby Jessie, but it is authentic and loving), and notice when you are doing it based on fear and protection. The more clearly you can see it, the easier it is to untangle it. Then, when it comes up, look at it, question it. Ask it if it’s real, or if it’s defense. Ask it if it’s serving you. Instead of simply reacting, and getting triggered by their trigger, look to respond intentionally, thoughtfully, and peacefully. Perhaps, even considering that they must be coming from their own upset, and offer them some love. 

 

Stop screaming, start listening. Stop fighting, start accepting. Stop defending, start trusting. 

Be better BECAUSE you love yourself, not SO THAT you can love yourself.

If you don’t already know, I grew up as a competitive gymnast. As an adult, I now see that a lot of my fears/insecurities/traumas are from this period of my life, both because I was a developing child, and because gymnastics was intense. Now, I’ve known this, and I’ve been working through these fears over the last few years pretty seriously. Made a bunch of headway, to the point where I am usually not triggered into fear or self-doubt anymore. 

 

But I just noticed a new one: 

 

I won’t be loved unless I do better. 

 

Let me explain. 

 

Part of the reason I liked gymnastics so much is because it is so difficult. I was never very competitive against others, but SUPER competitive against myself, and I liked the challenge. I was put in the advanced group in gym, not because I was better than the others, but because I worked my ass off and beat myself up until I did better. I had a hard time quitting. I probably wanted to quit like 25 times before I actually did, and even then, I quit the team, but then started high school gymnastics, and then a year later went back to the team again. Ha. I don’t like to give up on being better. 

 

Maybe this is why I take to self-growth and teaching so well. I love dissecting what’s not working, and making it workable! I love breaking down concepts and movements in order to understand them and enhance them. I love finding ways to grow, so that I can show up even better than yesterday. 

 

So tonight, I had a conversation with a friend. This friend has been like my life coach. In so many ways, this relationship was incredible for me, my growth, and our love. But also, tonight it really hit me that, “life coach” sort of became new version of gymnastics coach in my mind, in that I needed to be better for her in order to be good enough for myself.

 

When I was a gymnast I felt like I was not worthy, unless my coach said good job. If I didn’t do well, I was yelled at, punished with conditioning, and made fun of, sometimes in abusive ways. So only when I did well, did I earn love (or what felt like love, in my mind). That was a learned understanding of love and worthiness. As an adult, that sunk in and became a part of me: “I’m only lovable if I DO good enough” is the underlying belief I’ve lived with. 

 

As I mentioned, I’ve spent years re-wiring this “not good enough” feeling, and working on loving myself. But in talking to my friend tonight, I realized, up until just recently, I was still seeking relationships (friendships, mentors, romance) that would push me to be better, so that I could continue to prove that I’m good enough so that I could be loved. Phew. 

 

Now, this is super subtle stuff, because I want to be clear that this wanting to be better part of me has helped me grow IMMENSELY, and I love it, and am thankful for it. And I still absolutely want relationships that help me grow. However, when my self-worth is dependent upon me being better than I already am, then I can never just be. So that’s when it gets a little tricky. 

In seeing this tonight, I realized I have already, naturally, begun to shift out of that need to prove my worth. And, now that I see it clearly, I can be sure to continue on that path. :)

 

In sharing this, I want to pass along two messages.

 

  1. Note that most of our strengths have a negative/triggered/toxic side to them. Notice the thing you do really well, and check out if there is part of you that is dependent on that thing in order to love yourself.
  2. Why is this even a bad/unhealthy thing? Well, it’s conditional. It’s “I will love myself only IF I am this way”. It is not actually love, and those conditions that we put on ourselves are a big part of our self-doubt, anger, and lack of love all around. 

 

Does that mean you love yourself if you are fat slob that sits on the couch all day? Yes. Does that mean you should be a fat slob that sits on the couch all day? Mmmm, probably not? Unless that’s you’re true calling. :-P 

 

Unconditional love doesn’t mean careless love, it just means, move from love. Know you are worthy of love. AND, push yourself to grow and be better because you love yourself, not so that you can love yourself. 

FULL Responsibility. FULL Freedom.

So often our frustrations come from life not going the way we planned or wanted or envisioned. People not acting the way we hope, jobs not turning out as magnificent as we expect, relationships ending in turmoil instead of eternal love, etc. Being responsible for your life, 100%, can entirely turn these frustrations around. 

 

Being 100% responsible for your life, can entirely turn these frustrations around. 

 

What does that really mean? Well, being responsible means not only having a say in what you do, but it also means owning your part in everything that happens to you. 

 

Last week, a friend/coworker of mine had a little mishap at our place of business. She is new to the company, and she didn’t know the exact rules, so she pushed her boundaries a bit. After this incident, both my friend and my boss called me to talk about it. My friend understood the boss’ upset; however, she also felt like she was not properly informed of the rules by her boss. My boss understood the mishap; however, she also felt like her employee was slightly making excuses for not following the rules. Now, in this situation, I saw both sides, and truly, the solution was better communication. But here’s my point: each side of the story understood the other person, AND was blaming the other person. Now, there’s some value in this “blaming” or addressing where the problem came from, and obviously, in this hierarchical situation, the boss has the final say, regardless of who’s right or wrong. However, on each side, if either person had taken full responsibility of it, it would have gone away. For example, if my friend had simply taken responsibility for not following the rules (EVEN THOUGH she wasn’t fully informed), and apologized, my boss would understand. And, if my boss had taken full responsibility for not informing her of the rules (EVEN THOUGH her employee may have been making excuses), and apologized, my friend/the employee would learn and do better. 

 

So what’s the harm? Because even as I write it, I can feel my own slight resistance to it. Why don’t we just do that, all the time? 

 

Ego.

 

Freakin ego! 

 

Our pride says, “but but but! I didn’t do anything wrong!!!!!!!” And it fights. And it gets frustrated with others, instead of 100% OWNING what it is we did or did not do. 

 

But here’s the thing. Responsibility is not blame. 

 

I know I say this like every blog post, but I’ll say it again: responsibility is NOT blame. 

 

I know that’s a really hard one to grasp, and obviously, certain definitions of it, DO say it’s blame. But go with me here. If responsibility is NOT blame, and I take responsibility, for what I did in a situation that caused a mishap, and the mishap GOES AWAY, why not do it??? Not only is this super practical for resolving literal issues, it also absolves you, the person taking responsibility, of any lingering resentment, guilt, or shame. It allows you to step up to what you did. I mean, it doesn’t have to be bad, but if you messed up the rules, you messed up the rules! Maybe they didn’t tell you, and hopefully communication can improve, but that doesn’t change the fact that you messed up the rules. Acknowledge it, without making excuses, and literally watch it disappear. 

 

I think a lot of what stops us from doing this is fear - fear of what the other person will think. Fear that they will think we’re a screw up, or we are unreliable or something. But in reality, what it does is it shows integrity, honesty, and courage. Plus, the more you take responsibility, the more you get to learn from your actions, and the more say you have in everything you do. Because no longer is it someone else’s fault for you not doing what you want to do - it’s all on you. You get ALL the say for how you show up. You get all the say for the choices you make. 

 

I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough path, in that you have to be willing to make your own choices, but it’s also incredible. You get to let go of other people’s actions, and create your own. Instead of waiting for someone else to mess up for you, just own your mess-ups. Be the powerful one. Step up and say “I apologize for doing that” with no other excuses, communicate if the roots of the problem needs to be addressed, and move forward. Even when it’s tough. Even when they are being mean. Even when they are in the wrong. Yes. Even when they are in the wrong. Your power is larger than you think. 

 

Xo

 

 

I’d love to know what you think about this concept! If you read all the way to the end, please shoot me and email or leave a comment on the site and let me know if you have thoughts, questions, feedback, or even disagreements. This concept is sometimes a hard one to communicate, but it’s a hugely free-ing one, so I want to get better at sharing it effectively. Thanks guys!

Don't do things because of other people...

[So, if you read my blog by checking your weekly email, you may have noticed you didn’t receive one last week. I had planned on writing the blog Tuesday night (as it sends out Wednesday mornings at 8 am). However, I got home Tuesday night after a neuromuscular therapy session (with @organicescape - check them out!), and it was so intense that I fell asleep, slept through all my alarms and woke up at 9 am with no blog written! Ah! My apologies for not showing up last week. Here’s what I have to share.]

 

About two weeks ago, I got a back spasm during one of my Sunday night performances. I noticed it at intermission, and it got progressively worse to the point where I had to leave my show early. If you’ve never had a back spasm, they can be pretty intense. It was located right around my rib cage, which made it difficult to breathe, or move, or do much of anything. Plus, the breath restriction adds extra stress which adds extra spasm. Uuf. 

 

Every time I am confronted with an injury, or an illness, or anything that throws me off, I look a little deeper. What did I do to create this? And no, I don’t mean things like I didn’t warm up enough, or I walked outside in the rain - although that’s important too. I mean, what is off in my energy that is causing this disturbance? This spasm was located at an all too familiar spot on the left side of my back. I’ve had spasms there many times throughout my life. It is located just behind the solar plexus, which energetically is the space of ego (solar plexus chakra, manipura). The ego, as you may know, is a person’s self-esteem or self-importance. I know this particular back spasm so well, I call that spot on my back my “not good enough” muscle, hehe. It flexes when I feel not good enough or unworthy. Now, I know it’s comical to relate these things this literally, but it’s always pretty freakin magical because then, I have the power to release it. Plus, sometimes it’s just that literal

 

So I went home from my performance and I thought, what is this about? Am I feeling not good enough? Am I worried about what people are thinking or doubting myself somewhere? And although I always feel little bits of that here and there, I was feeling particularly strong in this regard, so I knew that wasn’t it. I dug a little deeper, and I found a theme that I had come across a few times over the past few days/weeks. 

 

Don’t do things BECAUSE OF other people.

 

(Now I say “don’t” not with judgement, but with love. As in, you will feel more fulfilled, authentic, and powerful if you don’t, and I want that for you, myself, and all people. But by all means- DO what you please :D.)

 

So what does not doing things because of other people really mean? Just hours before this spasm hit me, I was having a really lovely conversation with a new friend. We were talking about how if we were to get well-known for our writing or speaking, for instance, we would have critics. We would have internet and real-life trolls who would say we are ugly, or stupid, or don’t know what we’re talking about. We would have people judge us, and be vocal about it. And in that moment I realized, part of the reason why I want to host yoga retreats, write blogs and books, speak at events, and share and teach in general, is because I also know it will test me. Just being a teacher holds me accountable for my mood, and my integrity with myself and what I’m teaching. Taking that to the next level, takes me to the next level. So if/when people critique me (or straight up sh*t talk me), I want to be able to hear them and take their feedback, AND not take it personally at the same time. I want to have the strength and wisdom to know that their harsh words are about them, and my only job is to be me. I want to not change myself because of their opinion or upset.

 

In my past, I looked at my back spasms (and other injuries) as like warning signals for what was going on inside. And I’ve had a lot of success with healing my injuries completely, by releasing what was emotionally unstable. This time, it felt a little different. I looked at this concept, this concept of not doing things because of other people, and I started to see it everywhere. But it didn’t feel like this injury was a warning sign for what I was already doing, it felt more like, a push forward to where I want to go. Like I can finally step out of the “I’m not good enough” story, and be where I am. Once I saw this, the spasm started to soften. Within a day and a half, it was gone. 

 

(4 days later, it came back strong! haha. It snuck up on me, even though I had been feeling good all week. I quickly went back to this concept, and thought, where am I doing something because of someone else? This time, I located it, shared it with a friend, and the spasm released within an hour! Pretty crazy.)

 

So let’s go back one more time - what does it mean to not do things because of other people? Does that mean don’t do things for other people? No. It means do things for other people when it’s an authentic expression of your love for them (and for yourself for that matter). But when you find yourself doing things for other people to make sure they still think you’re cool or something, that’s where we find ourselves doing it because of them, and their opinion. 

 

Some examples: 

-drinking just because everyone else is drinking

-changing who you are because your partner wants you to be something you’re not 

-doing a job because your boss will like you more

-not telling someone how you feel because they might argue with you 

-etc

 

 

Start to notice the decisions you make. Notice if they are because of someone else’s opinions or judgements. Notice if they are to “keep the peace”. Notice if they are to impress, or to fit in. If you find yourself wanting to do something for a friend or a loved one - check yourself. Notice if, even subtly, you are doing it so that they will like you more. Sometimes, just noticing it has us switch the intention! I can do the very same action for a friend, but instead of doing it so they like me, I can do it because I love and support them. If you realize you don’t actually want to do the thing (like go to an event for a friend, or something like that), check in and see if some part of you is doing it because of their opinion of you. If so, consider not going, but expressing your love for them in a way that is authentic to you. 

 

This is funny business, because I’m certainly not saying be self-centered and never show up for anyone but yourself. I’m simply saying, connect with yourself first, and express your unconditional love by authentically showing up - not for approval, appreciation, or likes - but FOR you and FOR them. In this way, we stand for true support and love. <3 

Is a mistake really a mistake?

A few days ago I was struggling with a decision. I couldn’t figure out why I was so stressed over which way to go, a or b, so I sat down to meditate. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and quickly realized that I was so afraid to make a mistake. I realized that what I really wanted to do was a, but I would completely flip when I thought of the possible negative consequence of doing so. I was so afraid that if I chose a, what I wanted to choose, it would be a mistake/it would cause something bad to happen. But here’s the thing, b was a crappy option. It didn’t sit well with me, I knew it was “safer” in terms of risk of mistake, but the “negative consequences” were a sure thing, in my mind. It felt like perhaps I just needed to trust myself, so I dug a little deeper. I asked myself, what is this business about being afraid of making a mistake? What is a mistake anyway? What makes it a mistake, versus just a decision? 

 

The answer came to me and my whole body got lighter: 

 

There is no such thing as a mistake, if you are in full responsibility. 

 

In other words, even if negative consequences occur due to my decision, if I made that decision in integrity (ie I thought about it, I knew what I was doing, and I was aware that I may not get the outcome I hope), my decision can never be a mistake, simply because I am fully responsible for it. I made the decision prepared for any outcome, and I can continue to move forward, owning my choice.

 

Now, being 100% responsible for every decision, is tough! It is so tough. That means owning even the decisions you make on the fly, or while drunk, or when upset, and they may not be the best. BUT YOU GUYS:

 

With full responsibility comes full acceptance. 

 

Full acceptance = unconditional love. Full responsibility means you get to live IN, THROUGH, and WITH love. Always. To me that's worth it...

 

A couple reminders: 

 

  1. Acceptance does not mean complacency. So for instance, this doesn’t mean just accept every consequence of everything you do, and keep doing stupid things. Lol. It means, that perhaps some decisions will lead to not so good outcomes, but rather than beating yourself up for it being a mistake, perhaps you can look at it as an opportunity to learn about how you got there, and what you can do to create a better outcome in the future (**not what someone or something else can do! Super important that you stay in full responsibility).
  2. Responsibility does not mean blame. (I’ll say that one again - responsibility does NOT mean blame). So if the negative outcome occurs, that also doesn’t mean to blame yourself for your decision. Remember, that decision was not a mistake, IF you can stay true to the fact that you made it, and you knew what might happen, and continue to own your decision and step forward. Responsibility feels powerful and energizing, albeit scary at times, so you know you’ve skipped over to blame if you feel crappy and upset about it.

 

My point: you might still make “mistakes”, according the normal use of the word. You are human, and it’s ok if every decision is not the perfect decision. However, if at each moment you are showing up to the best of your ability; if at each crossroads you are taking the time to make a decision based on logic and intuition of trusting yourself and what you think is best; if at each moment you are truly doing the best you can and taking responsibility for that: no decision will be followed by regret. When you know you’ve done everything you could, there’s nothing anyone can do to disempower you. 

 

You can begin this at any time. If you feel you have not done your best in the past, that is ok. And even if you don’t do your best tomorrow after reading this, that is ok. Just start where you are. Start taking responsibility. Start owning that it wasn’t your best, and move forward with your best. Start where you are. Start now, and then do it again tomorrow, and then do it again in a week when you’ve forgotten already. ;)

Web of Lies

Once upon a time, there was a 16 year old Jessie. She and her sister threw a party at their parent’s home. When the neighbors called the parents, Jessie and her sister did the only thing they could think to do - they lied. They made up some story about how it was just them hanging out and some stranger brought the booze. (ha). But then a funny thing happened. Because they lied about how the party started, they had to lie about the happenings of the event. So they lied to cover up the original lie. And then they lied to cover up the lie to cover up the lie. And before they knew it they were in a web of lies, too big to keep track of, and they didn’t even really make sense anyway. Well, long story short, when they walked in to the discussion with their parents, and there was a pile of jello-shot garbage (that they had clearly made themselves) on the counter, they knew they were busted. In a way though, it was a bit of a relief. Keeping up all those lies would have been tough! 

 

What do we and 16 year old Jessie have in common? Why am I even sharing this? 

 

We do this to ourselves. All the time. Since we were babies. One day, a parent or a teacher punished you for doing something bad, for instance, and you thought in that moment that you are not good enough (in some way). You decided, in fact, that you are not good enough. And as soon as you told yourself that lie, you went to work to cover up the truth. You went to work finding evidence and data that supports the lie that you are not good enough. (I use the phrase not good enough, because it is usually some form of that, but it might be useful to look at what phrases and beliefs are buried within you, specifically!). 

 

So why do we do that? And what do I really mean? Well, let’s look at an example later in life (because when you are a baby you really are not processing all of this, nor are you really responsible for it yet). Say, your boss calls you in for an assessment, gives you a couple of pieces of feedback. A few positive ones, a few “room for improvement” ones, and there’s one that sticks out. She comments on an incident where you made a bad call for the company. This bad call in particular you knew it was a bad call, and the only reason you made it was because you went out partying the night before and you hardly slept and you were not awake or prepared by the time that moment arrived. Now this piece of feedback hit you in the gut. You immediately feel guilty about it. You apologize, or make up some excuse why you made that call. You go back to your desk and you (quietly, subtly) tell yourself that you are a screw up, and you don’t deserve her support. 

 

Let’s go back to the 16 year old lie real quick. Why did Jessie and her sister lie? They lied because they knew they were going to get “in trouble”. What that means is something like getting grounded, or getting yelled at, but really its about having that terrible look of disappointment from the parents, the disapproval. So, in this adult case, it’s sort of the same thing, but in this case it’s less about your boss punishing you, and it’s more about yourself. You know that if you stay with the truth, which is that you made a bad call because you didn’t sleep enough because you were out partying the night before - then you will get in trouble with yourself. You will be mad or disappointed with yourself. You will judge and disapprove of yourself. This hurts. It hurts to have to deal with letting yourself down. So just like it was easier to blame a friend for bringing the booze, it’s much easier to blame the fact that it’s just because you are a “screw up”, than to accept that you made a mistake and repair it. If you are screw up, you are expected to, well…screw up. So at least then, no one’s disappointed. 

 

So now, you’ve told yourself this lie that you are a screw up. The next time your boss comments on your work, you have to cover for this. You have to make sure this lie still lives up, otherwise you’d have to face the disappointment. So, she says something, and you immediately look for ways to support the lie of being a screw up. It often feels like a relief, like, “oh, that’s why he said that. I shouldn’t even be working on this project anyway - see? I’m a screw up.” 

 

Now it may not be this literal, in fact, it’s probably not. However, it is happening all the time. We rationalize our lies so that we can “feel better”, but really all that does is get us further and further into the web of lies. 

 

Notice what you are telling yourself. Like, deeply, what do you believe about yourself? And how do you support that? Do you secretly just wait for the casting director or choreographer to say “thank you” instead of “please stay”? Do you subtly want your partner to leave you to support your belief that no one sticks around for you? Do you, deep down, wait for someone to insult you so you can prove to them that they are wrong? These are all cover ups for our lies. These are all ways in which we look to fuel the lie that is protecting us from truly showing up for ourselves. From truly taking responsibility for our lives and being ok with the repercussions. Fully. Good or bad. 

 

As always - this is extremely subtle. So if you’re still reading and thinking, “what? No! I don’t do that! I would never do that!” Look again. Dig deeper. Stop feeding your BS. Step into your power. 

You Spot It, You Got It

Over the last week or so, multiple friends have come to me seeking advice and guidance on how to deal with a discussion/issue/argument that they are having with a loved one. And, in seeing it back to back in multiple different scenarios, I was reminded of something so incredibly important: what you are upset about, is what you are doing. Always. (As an adult, at least.) And the main reason we don’t see it that way, besides the fact that we are blinded by emotion, is that people have different manifestations of the same struggles. 

 

Let’s break this down. For one friend of mine, her defense or go-to when things get tough in a relationship is to push the other person away, or to run, and it manifests in ways like blocking them, avoiding their calls, not answering, etc. And actually, now that I’m writing this, this was a theme in each of the women I talked to this week. They were all trying to avoid the situation by busy-ing themselves, distracting from the pain, and not talking to the person. In the first case, it was extra clear because the man in her relationship has the same defense. So he literally sees her avoiding, and what he does to cope with it - is avoid her. And then she gets mad for him avoiding her, and she distracts herself and avoids him. Kudos to them for not letting that go too far, but….it’s a pretty silly cycle. In the other cases is not that obvious, but it’s the same thing. They distract and busy themselves in order to not confront the pain of the conversation or relationship, and their main complaint is that the other person doesn’t see or hear them. But by not showing up to the conversation, they are clearly not seeing or hearing the other person. What you see is what you do. 

 

Now the thing is, this can look very different. For example, another friend of mine felt like he was really showing up for his relationship. He was taking initiative in having the uncomfortable conversations, and being there for her. And I commend that, I think that’s super important and necessary. However, he was upset with her for not showing up for him. She was doing the avoiding thing, and I’ll agree, it seemed she was not there for him. But here’s the thing, in the conversations they were having, he was showing up to get her to see something. He was showing up to prove to her that she could take the next step in this relationship, and help her grow. And while I agree, personally, with what he was saying, and I believe in his desire to do the best thing for the relationship - he was also not showing up for her and what she needed in that moment. She needed not to be pushed, but to be listened to. 

 

In almost every argument, the complaint is that the other person is not listening. And almost every argument, that can be solved by….guess what….listening. If I blame you for not listening, what are the chances that I’m really listening to you? Really truly, where you are. Even if I’m “right”, even if I’m being more loving than you, or showing up more than you, or less emotionally destructive than you, am I actually doing what I ask of you? 

 

I sat in on an argument between brother and sister, and I think that was probably the most clear. There were plenty of dynamics in the conversation, and lots of different subjects were covered, but because I was just sitting there on the outside, it was so clear that this was the basis of the conversation: she was blaming him for her pain and he was blaming her for his pain. And then, because of that, he was blaming her for blaming him, and she was blaming him for blaming her, both claiming that the other one doesn’t listen. It was like, what he said triggered her and then her reaction triggered him and so on and so forth. Over and over and over and over until someone can’t take it anymore and the conversation is over. 

 

What if we stopped blaming the other person for our upset? What if we, instead, did what we wanted done to us. You remember that saying when you were a kid, “treat others the way you’d like to be treated”? Now’s your chance. 

 

 

Now if you are in a situation like this right now, or thinking about something you’ve gone through in the past, I bet not blaming them for something hurtful is really tough. I bet that feels vulnerable and icky. I bet that feels like not a smart move, like you can’t let them off the hook. But here’s the thing - try on not blaming them, and taking responsibility for what you are doing. Try it on. And really look at it. In the brother sister example, they both hurt each other so much. It can feel uneven when you’re personally hurt, and because in this case he shows his hurt in a different way than she does, it’s hard to see that it’s all hurt- but it is. But if he can take responsibility for hurting her, he will see that she is human and was just doing the same thing he was. (And often this will have her want to do the same, or visa versa.) In my mind, this is less about forgiveness, and more about responsibility. If you can see that you are doing it, you get to own that, and you almost automatically forgive them because you’ve realized you’re doing it too. 

 

*A caveat - for some of you, you might be stuck in blaming yourself for everything. This is just a trick of the mind that makes you feel helpless. I’d encourage the same process - look at what is upsetting you. What is the other person doing, that hurts you? And then take responsibility for what you are doing to them.

 

We could talk about this for days, going into details of all the ways this can happen (and you know, call me if you want to, because I love talking about it! lol), but remember that it really can be that simple. What you are upset about, is what you are doing. What you are seeing in another person, is what you see in yourself. The anger, blame, and hurt comes from the self. And rather than letting that defeat you, let it empower you. That means YOU, and you alone, have the power to transform any relationship, any argument, any circumstance into love and freedom. You have the power to create an opportunity for connection even in the yuckiest of circumstances. And I bet, doing that will make it easier to see when it’s time to walk away, for instance. It will make it easier to see your truth, when it’s not clouded with upset and hurt. 

 

You spot it, you got it. Check yourself. LOVE yourself. :) 

What keeps us stagnant?

This weekend, I watched these incredible videos (still one more in the series to go) about medical intuition. A medical intuitive, is an alternative medicine practitioner that intuits the cause of physical or emotional illness. It sounds a little crazy, but if you let go of your preconceptions about it - it’s pretty incredible. Anyway, in part 2, she talks about why people don’t heal, and ironically, this is a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. (She, is Caroline Myss, here’s the link, you’re welcome: https://www.soundstrue.com/store/science-medical-intuition-course/free-video-series?hatid=102910b9f9017db47f23342cf522cf&partner=2140.)

 

The concept is this: we get power from our wounds. We get a payoff from holding on to our negative thought patterns, our illnesses, our weaknesses. If someone says, "come out tonight!" You can’t say “I can’t tonight, I’m feeling really good.” It only works if you are feeling bad, and without having any reason to feel bad, you have no excuse. And while in theory, that sounds amazing, it’s harder than we realize. It takes a real commitment to RESPONSIBILITY over your life and your decisions. Like, every single one. Not just once in a while. Because if you have nothing else to blame, you have to step up. 

 

So we get something from our smallness. And by something I don’t mean joy, happiness, peace, fulfillment. No. I mean, we GET to blame something for our unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and lack of growth. We GET to be right about not being good enough. We GET to avoid being wrong or messing up, because it’s always the fault of something or someone else (or even a part of ourself that we can write off, like an injury). Now, is this actually beneficial to us in the long run? Of course not. But does it feel good? Oh yea it does. At least in the moment. It relieves us from the pain of actually looking at what we are doing to show up for the life we want. The pain of looking at if we are there for our friends, or being a good significant other. The pain of assessing if we are truly putting the work required to get the career or financial status we desire. Because if we look at it, and we realize we aren’t showing up in the way we want to, we have to address it. Once you see it, you have to address it. Your gut won’t let you not. But if we can avoid that by blaming something else, we don’t have to. 

 

Now, you might be thinking “I don’t do that. I never blame other people or things!” But let’s take a look at some examples.  

 

1. When I was a kid, I was a competitive gymnast. Like training 30 hours a week, not allowed to go out of town during competition season status. As I started getting into the more advanced (and therefore dangerous) skills, and started getting older, I started getting consumed by fear. I went through various phases of this, but it started manifesting in a funny way towards the end of my competitive career (and I only realize this looking back at it). Towards the end of my school day, I would start to feel really sick. And I mean, actually sick - sore throat, headache, feverish, stuff-y nose - the works. I would be just sick enough that I felt like crap, but not too sick to miss gym (because, you don’t miss gym unless you are dying). So I would go, and throughout practice I would constantly be thinking, “I could do better if I weren’t sick.” I would sometimes even say it to my coaches (although they didn’t stand for excuses, so it was mostly in my head). I used my “sickness” to make myself feel better about not being good enough, because at least I had that to blame. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized, I made myself sick! I mean, I didn’t consciously do it, I didn’t mean to - but I definitely did that to myself. Why was I never sick enough to stay home?….Yea. I did that because I GOT something out of it. I got to be free of responsibility for getting yelled at by my coaches. Phew!

(PS - this was a huge realization for myself now a days when I get colds, or even injuries. Often it’s a manifestation of a similar thing! And often, I can literally heal myself once I see it.)

2. Today I was talking to a friend about something she was upset about. She essentially agreed to do a creative project that she was not totally comfortable with. (People pleasers know what I mean - she kind of felt like she should do it, even though she really didn’t want to). So she did the project, and was uncomfortable and unhappy the entire time. After the fact, she was really upset with herself for doing it, and felt like there were some consequences for her in being a part of it, which I won’t go into. After being on the phone with her briefly, I realized that she was stuck in blaming the person that asked her to participate. She felt like they were not considerate of her and they kept their project moving without waiting for her to be ready. Now, I don’t know the full story, perhaps they pressured her, or were rude about it, that’s definitely possible. And if so! That is certainly on them to apologize, or be more considerate when asking someone to do something that they are not comfortable with. AND, getting stuck in blaming them is not productive. Now, I don’t think she realized she was blaming them, or that this was holding her back. So let’s understand why this is important - getting to blame someone for something we do not like, helps us prove the story in our heads that bad things happen to us, or that we never get what we want, or that people don’t understand us, or that we aren’t strong enough/good enough in some way. It allows us to continue to be right about a story that keeps us small, because that feels good. It feels easier to accept. But this is us living in our wound - the wound of being just a victim to the circumstance (or sometimes, literally a victim to abuse). 

 

I believe I’ve clarified this in other posts before, but just to be clear again - BLAME is a way to discharge pain, RESPONSIBILITY is accountability to your actions. Very different things. So how do we get out of this cycle of our wounds giving us power? We own up to what we are doing. Everywhere. All the things. This is tough. You may think you are doing it now, but you probably aren’t yet, and maybe never will fully. But you can begin. And just beginning, and letting go of some of what you “get” from being wounded, can free you up immensely. It can allow you to forgive people more easily, to move on from uncomfortable situations simply learning and knowing what to do next time, and to literally stop getting sick or injured and have nothing in your way!

 

You guys have heard the break down of disease is dis-ease, right? Let go of the uneasiness that comes with blaming someone for something crappy they did, or feeling bad for not being able to do something because you are sick, and literally heal your body. Your wounds are not you. And you are strong enough to stand without them. 

Fear is a funny thing...

Fear is a funny thing. I spent all of January (some of you were with me) talking about, thinking about, and writing about making choices based on faith instead of fear. I saw it everywhere, and I really stepped out of fear in a big way. Since then, I made huge steps towards creating some goals that have been in the works for a long time, but have yet to come to fruition due to fear blockages. And not that since then, fear hasn’t come up, it has - but it has been way more minimal. I see it, and I feel it, it maybe makes me feel a little shitty, but I felt so connected to my faith or my purpose in each step that I just kept moving. 

 

About a month ago I started feeling a little more stuck, and these past few weeks have been like running with a 100 lb weight on my back. Now, there’s lots of things behind that, like…the wearing off of the new years goals (lol), needing to shift into new conditions, etc, but the main thing I’m seeing, right now, is the I’m at the cusp of actually doing the things. I just launched my teacher training program, to happen this summer; I’m sending out my choreography reel and all kinds of vulnerable things to people; I’m embarking on another yoga retreat, with the goal of expanding nowhere in sight. I’m short on money, but high on hopes, and oh my goodness, IT’S SCARY! 

 

It’s like, you know when your friend convinces you to do something scary, like ask someone out at a bar, and you agree, but then as you actually start to process doing it you’re like, “yea but shouldn’t I do this first?” And “but what if they are in a relationship?” And “I don’t think I should do that, because that might be rude, and then I’ll send a bad impression”, etc. It’s like all the second guessing floods your brain. Now, in a surface level version of this (like perhaps, asking someone out at a bar), it can be quite obvious that these thoughts are just doubt popping in. But life tends to be a little more complicated, and man we are good at making those thoughts seem rational, important, and even wise. We train ourselves to listen to them. 

 

So what do you do when you’re about to do something “scary” and those thoughts start popping in? How do you know when those thoughts are telling you that you are truly not ready, and there is more to address before you act? And how do you know when those thoughts are only happening because your BS meter decided to go on break, and your fear jumped in and took the wheel? 

 

If you can, pause reading and watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG-F_rRVdLc

 

(Thanks Will Smith…<3).

 

What he basically just explained, is that - fear IS BS, “the point of maximum danger, is the point of minimum fear.” So the fear you feel, before something scary, is completely inauthentic. Because when you are actually in danger, you are not in fear. You are in sync. You just act. Fear, as felt before the action, is the emotion that decides how we act, not the emotion that happens from acting. 

 

 

Last week, I went in to have a very very (very very very) simple medical procedure done. Before going in, I had an idea of the amount of pain it would cause, and in my head, given some previous experiences, I thought this procedure was going to be extremely painful. A few hours before, I was training at cirque school, doing handstands, and my back spasmed. I cooled down, stretched and headed home to take some Advil before my appointment. I realized as I walked home that the spasm was coming from my psoas. The psoas is a hip flexor muscle, that connects the spine to the thigh bone. They call it the “fight or flight” muscle, because it’s the muscle that triggers when you have to like, run from a bear. The thing is, now a days, we are not usually running from bears, so often, our psoas triggers for no reason. This is what I believe happened to me. And as I was driving to the appointment, I started to get so scared of the possibility of pain, that I was shaking. 

 

Now, long story short - the procedure was literally painless (LOL), and obviously all the fear was for nothing. But the point is this - FEAR of something in the future caused me to unneccessarily fire a muscle that was not needed, FEAR caused me to spend 2 hours worried for nothing, FEAR tried to do everything it could to stop me from doing the scary thing, which in the end, when it happened, was not scary at all. Now, to give you a little positivity here, I realized that this is what was happening, I called a friend, and I calmed myself down. And not that the freakin hour and a half in the waiting wasn’t still torturous, it really was, but the spasm had already eased up and my back was already relieved. 

 

I also want to add one caveat, as I often do, to say that fear does have a place. Fear is an important part of our evolution, because it helped us survive. It helped us choose situations that led to less pain, more safety, and that is why we are here today. However, for most of us in this modern world, we are confronted with less life-threatening things on a day to day basis, and have lots of time to spend thinking about things, so fear kicks in to keep us safe from doing things are just slightly uncomfortable. 

 

When you feel fear creeping in, you have a choice. Use it as a checkpoint, or a stopping point. Let the thoughts that come from it control your decisions, OR look at the thoughts as just thoughts, and decide what you are willing to overcome. Believe in yourself, AND hold yourself accountable to being safe and prepared to the best of your ability. Fear is here FOR you if you let it. It's up to you if you let it take you down. 

Conditional Self-Love...doesn't work

You know, when I was younger, hearing people talk about how to be a “good person” in any way would have me get defensive and down on myself. Like if I didn’t meet all the criteria (the criteria, sometimes given by a stranger speaking their perspective), that automatically meant I was a bad person. So I either had to 1) prove to myself (or to them) that I wasn’t, through rationale, excuses, and defense mechanisms, or 2) beat myself up over it, and feel terrible about myself as punishment. 

 

Now some of that was a skewed perception of who I was. For instance, if someone said, “if you want to be a good person, you must be really giving”, I tended towards hugely discounting all the ways that I DO give, and still making myself feel bad for it. (Ridiculous I know - but check yourself, you might do it too). Some of it, though, was based on something a little bit heavier, deeper, more engrained. It was based on my conditional love of myself. Basically, I had an idea of what it meant to be a good person, (obviously hugely based on what other people thought a good person was!), and if anything I did didn’t line up with it, I felt ashamed. (Not just guilty, as guilt is the willingness to acknowledge you could have done better, and then learning and aiming to do better. But deeply ashamed.) So ashamed that I could hardly admit to myself that I didn’t fit this perfect mold of what it meant to be a good person in my head.

 

I’ll give an example. At the end of my yoga classes I say the phrase “to be understanding, loving, and giving, rather than be understood, be loved, or receive” (a section of my family prayer!). There were days where I would say that, or say the prayer to myself, and think, oh goodness, I’m only focused on being understood, I’m such a terrible person. As if “I’m only focused on being understood” = “I’m such a terrible person.” I would immediately love myself less. I would doubt myself, and put myself down for being so selfish. Which of course, in turn, led me to be more selfish in my conquest to cover up how selfish I was being! I needed to make it seem “ok” so I could still qualify as a good person, and pretend to be “ok” with myself, even though I wasn’t. Instead of, simply admitting to myself that I was really focused on being understood, instead of being understanding and compassionate with others, and then DECIDING to change that. It’s like it’s so simple, we don’t even know how to do it. And I think it’s really tied to this (among other perspectives and terminology): our conditional love for ourselves. If I no longer love myself because I was a little selfish in a conversation with a friend, or because I got mad at a student for being late, I’m in big trouble! Because you guys - I’m human, and sometimes, those things are gonna happen. And that has to be ok. I have to be allowed to do that without being punished, or loved less. AND, I must be able to see it, learn from it, and choose how to move forward, knowing that I want to be better for myself and for others at all times. 

 

Phew. That was kinda heavy. Why am I sharing this? Well, this week I started reading a book called, “This is How We Rise” by Claudia Chan (thanks for the rec Haley, if you’re reading this!). She talks about making the shift in mentality from “me over we” to “me for we”, essentially meaning, serve others before serving yourself. As I was reading, I felt remnants of that defensive Jessie going - “but what about self-care!” “I DO serve others! Don’t I?” And “oh no, am I a terrible person? Am I not doing enough for others?” She even touched on it, she said, 

 

“Now if you’ve done the work of personal growth, therapy, or coaching, the idea of serving others before serving yourself may sound ludicrous. We’ve been taught that we need to put ourselves and our self-care first in order to bring our best selves to our careers, families, and causes. I believe and preach this message too. But there is a difference between self-love and being self-centric. Self-love is keeping your bucket replenished and full so you can bring your most fit self to the external realms of your life like family, workplace, community, and neighbors. It is optimizing the health of your physical, mental, and financial state so you can best serve your life’s purpose. Conversely, being self-centric is investing in all of these areas but for the sole purpose of serving yourself. Self-centric people mainly put themselves front and center on their own stage and spend their lives consumed in establishing their image, as defined by societal clichés of making more money, being more popular, having more social media likes, wearing the right brands, living in the fancier house, and so on. In reality, the more we chase these superficial things, the further away we get from having sufficiency and peace. The satisfaction that comes from gaining the material is always temporary.” 

 

Now real quick, let’s debunk this: WE ARE ALL SELF-CENTRIC. Some of us more than others, some of us rarely, some of us all the time, but we all are. And if you’re not with me yet, keep reading. It’s not necessarily about the fancier house, although that is a more dramatic manifestation of this feeling. It’s about the need to BE something in order to feel good about yourself. So if it’s that you need the expensive car to feel cool, there ya go. If it’s as subtle as you need your boss to like you to feel good about yourself, boom. It’s the same thing. And it’s self-centric even in the moments of self-doubt, as you are still worrying about how you’re performing negatively, you’re still consumed but your own lack of self-worth, you’re still trying to prove to yourself that you are lovable, instead of being present for others. 

 

Ok now real quick, if you are anywhere near where I was (and still sometimes find myself), let’s clear something up: NONE OF THIS IS BAD OR WRONG OR ANYTHING TO FEEL BAD ABOUT. It’s simply life. We are humans, we have egos. We are going to need to be seen, to feel important. It’s our nature. And it’s ok. 

 

But the beauty of this discovery, is that we can use this information to develop ourselves. No, it’s not bad that you had a moment of being self-centric; but you can look at it when you catch it, and decide to learn from it. Decide to look at your values, rather than your ego driven reactions, in order to make a better choice next time.

 

One more example. My friend was talking about sharing an experience with her father. She did this coaching program, and her coach told her she’s lazy. Hah. What he meant was something very specific, in that she is not putting all the effort she could to making her life work. He was not simply insulting her, and she knew that. She actually really heard him, and is now making steps to not cut corners, and really be in integrity in her life. However, when she shared this with her dad, he could hardly let her finish the sentence before he got upset about her coach calling her lazy. He went into defense mode, don’t talk smack about my daughter! Which of course, is lovely, thanks dad. But if she had done that with her coach, if she had heard her coach’s word and immediately shut him down because of the perceived insult, she wouldn’t have heard that she has room to make her life stronger. She wouldn’t have seen this pattern in herself, that her coach so keenly spotted for her. Now I’m not saying that type of intense coaching is for everybody, but I am saying - when we put up our defenses, we BLOCK ourselves from growing. Same in my past when I would immediately get worried I wasn’t good enough, and would spend all my energy defending myself to myself. Because of that, I couldn’t even begin to see how I was slacking, and how to be better. I couldn’t even let myself be with it, because it was too scary that it meant I wasn’t lovable. 

 

This just doesn't work. 

 

When do you get defensive? Start to look at it. Ask it what it’s doing, and why it’s doing it. Look at your ego, challenge it to unconditional love. Let it know that even if you did something bad or weren’t being your best, that it doesn’t mean that you are bad. It just means you did something bad. See it. Learn from it. And watch yourself level up. ;)

For or Against?

I’ve had a few moments in the last week or so, where I’ve felt really passionate and/or upset about something, and I get really motivated and driven. It gets me excited to do something about my upset. And while I think that’s lovely, I have to ask myself - is this really me, or is this just a reaction? And if it’s just reaction, what’s actually true to me? And does acting from reaction really create what I want? Reaction has us working against the thing that upset us. It has us throw all our energy into defense. Into the negative. Into "NOT that”. Proaction has us working for the thing that we really want. It has us throw all our energy into offense without letting the few goals scored against us get in the way of our movement. It has us work from the positive, the inspiration. It has us create what we actually want. 

 

When we are upset, our passion/emotion kind of blinds us from what’s real. It feels so real because it’s exciting, all consuming, sometimes uncontrollable. It becomes an obsession or addiction or be upset at someone or something in order to make ourselves feel better. But that’s not the truth, it’s not your authentic processing or decision making. So how do we get to the truth? 

 

 I’ve found again and again that often, the truth is very close to the reaction. For example, let’s say you go to an audition or a job interview, and you don’t get it. There are two common reactions: 1) feel not good enough and helpless or 2) feel like they don’t deserve you anyway and screw them! Although these seem like different reactions, they are really just two sides of the same coin: fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of never achieving dreams. Fear of not being seen. And although the second reaction seems like the powerful one, it is still feeding into the fact that this audition says something about you and your worth. And if that’s the case, in order to be okay, you have to say screw them. You have to put them down in order to keep your worth safe. 

 

Not only is this kind of crappy, it also proves to be ineffective. It puts you in overdrive, proving to yourself in others that you are good enough. It has you throw all your eggs in the defense basket, and save little for the offense. But the truth doesn’t need to be proven. The truth just is. Knowing your worth is not something you have to squash others to see, you just see it. 

 

But here’s the thing. These two reactions are really close to important truths, and important tools for growth, it’s just that the upset blinds us from it. Number 1 comes from the truth that perhaps there is something for you to work on, to make yourself more effective at your job. And number 2 comes from a very healthy, and necessary, decision to not let others’ opinions make you feel bad about yourself. But both are flipped into this reactionary, defensive, fear-based emotion, instead of solid, effective thought and action. 

 

Now, I’m not saying never get passionate or upset about things - I do think this creates motivation for change. However, watch yourself when you are really fiery. Notice when that is driven from fear instead of faith. Notice the way you jeopardize your strength, by moving from anger. Notice when you are putting others down along the way. Notice. So that you can act more powerfully. 

We Never "Arrive"

As many of you know, I just got back from my yoga retreat in Yosemite. For those that don’t know, my retreats are a 4 day, semi-local experience, of all women focused on their self-growth and personal power. We embark on a weekend of looking at and uncovering insecurities, fear, and trauma, in order to create and become the women we truly are. One of the experiences is a nude photoshoot in nature - the intention being to have us confront those insecurities, fears, and traumas right away. In other words, this weekend is a weekend of self-work more than it is a weekend of vacation or relaxation. That being said, it can be truly magical, eye opening, and relaxing in that we do yoga, experience nature, and connect with great people. Anyway, the retreat I did in January was super lovely - everyone was kind of on the same page, weather conditions worked in our favor, and the group left feeling love, gratitude, and connected to each other and themselves. But I remember feeling a little off, personally. Feeling something like, I could have done better, or I wasn’t prepared that time, or something like that. To be honest, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it just felt a little off. So I prepped for my next retreat, only two months away, I had to get going. 

 

Meanwhile I’ve been focusing on a few other things as well - my upcoming teacher training program, my choreography, some dance endeavors, etc. And there was this subtle feeling I had as the March retreat got closer, like, I’ll just do this retreat, and then I’ll focus on the other tasks. Sort of like, “I know what I’m doing now. We will just conquer this retreat like we have in the past, and move on!” Which I think is a lovely thought on one hand. It’s filled with confidence, trust, and intentional priorities. However, it also had me expect things to look a certain way, and to approach this with the same intention as I have in the past. 

 

Long story short, this retreat was definitely not like it has been in that past! Yosemite proved to be difficult weather and distance-wise. We had a bunch of hiccups like flat tires, wrong directions, no service, compromised sleeping situations, etc. And this group of women was not quite as in it as usual, so there was some difficulty diving into the yoga/connectedness/vulnerability part of the trip. Now, this retreat was absolutely lovely in so many ways, and the women were perfect for this experience; and, it was a lot of heavy lifting on the facilitating end. 

 

All of this is to say that, while the experience was still incredible - there was something oddly tough about it. So, throughout the retreat and upon the drive home, I really started to look at it. Like yes, I know the weather was unpredictable, and shit happened like flat tires, but, really - why was it so heavy this time? Why did I feel like there was so much resistance at each step of the way? 

 

Now - a couple things. I realized a few days before the retreat that our theme for this round was to find acceptance that our plans and expectations are always going to change, so to really be present at each step along the way, re-center, re-asses, and move forward. Basically, be ready for shit to go wrong! And of course as I saw that theme come into play I was like…damnit. Because that means I have to be ready for it! hah! So I knew it was coming, and it definitely was an appropriate theme for this particular trip. But even in knowing that, I was still struggling personally, and as the facilitator. So I looked a little deeper.

 

Then it hit me. The material I teach is not totally authentic to me and what I want to create with this brand. If it were, these hiccups would be way less tense. I realized that yes, my retreat is certainly focused on self-growth, and comes with work and focus, not just relaxation. But not as much as I believe to be beneficial. In other words, I actually want the retreat to be tougher and more intense: I want to create a greater transformation in a short amount of time, which requires pressure, intensity, and a willingness to have breakdowns. And to be really honest, I have been sort of unwilling to bring people to that place, for fear that it will be too hard for them, and they will end up not liking it. Now, to be fair - this is a legitimate business decision, to cater the retreat to the audience that is interested, because I definitely want the business to grow. But also, to soften my intention because I am afraid people won’t sign up, or won’t like it feels a little crappy! 

 

My point in sharing here is this: I am so focused on staying true to my self in creating the life and career(s) that I want. I am so focused on being whole and complete on my own, and not needing external validation for my confidence. I am so focused on moving from faith rather than fear. And yet - I STILL MISSED IT! I knew I felt a little off, but I couldn’t see what it really was for months. 

 

No matter how much we work, no matter how confident and in tune we feel for a period of time, no matter how successful we get, we never arrive. We never just know, this is it, I’ve made it, no more worries! No, there is always another layer. And as soon as we let ourselves sink into that, we are bound to miss some vital awareness to our growth. 

 

Stay present at each step along the way. Be willing to see where you are compromising yourself and be willing to choose what to do from there. And, know that if you don't, the universe will find a way to show you ;).

 

Thanks to my retreat teammates and participants for being so down so roll with me this round, and all for supporting. It's making these steps possible! xo

Our Attachment to Meaning, and How it Blocks Us

We tend to attach meaning to everything. We are meaning making machines. 

 

When we are little, we are talk to speak, which is essentially an agreement of symbols representing our interpretation of the truth (I’m reading The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Jose Ruiz - give it a read!). In other words, our vocabulary is based on a lineage of experience, and perspectives that create the full meaning behind a word; and, that meaning is distinct in each individual, family, culture, country, social class, etc. So, our ability to communicate and express the “truth” is deeply flawed and unreliable. 

 

Ok, so what? Well, if each of us attaches a slightly different meaning to the same word/concept/behavior, etc, we are in a constant state of, at least slightly, misunderstanding each other. What’s more, is if I am attached to my understanding of something, but I see evidence of something contrary to that, it becomes upsetting, and my mind has to work on overdrive to prove that it isn’t so. For example, if I have an idea of what it means to be a woman (from my mother, media, culture at the time of growing up, etc), and then I see myself or another female doing things other than what I know to be lady-like, I am now judgmental of that person. As in, they should be behaving one way, but they are not, and now they are no longer good enough for my description of what it means to be a woman. 

 

We do this to ourself, ALL THE TIME. I would say that’s where most of our judgement comes from. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend, who is also a dancer, about how being “not good enough” for a job or in a class for dance is like terrifying and emotional, but being “not good enough” for an acting job or something that we haven’t trained in our whole lives, is totally ok. Why is that? Because we have attached a deep meaning to what it is to be a dancer. We have been doing it for so long that it has become synonymous with our identity, to the point where, if I’m not good enough, it brings into question the entire concept of “I am a dancer”. It forces me to judge myself up against some impossible standard of what that means to me (and if I’m in that place, I’m of course going to do that to others as well). 

 

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a family friend. I said something about my love life, and what I got in return was a lot of judgement. Luckily, we are both emotionally intelligent, and we pretty quickly talked about why that happened (also because I’m not one to stand for that…I pretty much stopped responding until we could get to the root of it!). So we discussed, and we quickly realized this: she sees me as a strong woman. Strong woman to her, comes with a specific set of behaviors, and what I had just said, in her mind, did not match that image or ideal. (This is sort of like the thing where when you meet your idol in person, they are not as good as you hoped, because they’re like…human. You know?). Now, my friend and I quickly resolved this, and we have a deeper understanding of each other, and we love each other very much, but here’s the problem with this stuff - if her and I hadn’t talked about it, we certainly would have started to take space from each other, if not totally split. Personally, that is not a space that I want to be in, so I would no longer put myself there. What’s happening when we do that is we are holding on to a view that is not only an impossible standard, but it’s hurting us and others because now we think that that’s the only way to be “strong”! Which is insane! Especially because, I know, that what I was describing to her, among other things that she may disagree with, are the epitome of what make me strong - my vulnerability, my willingness to trust others, my ability to set boundaries and love myself deeply, etc. And yet, those were the very things that immediately led to judgement. 

 

To go a little deeper, no longer talking about my friend, but all of us - when we judge something for not fitting into our personal idea of what we think something should be, we eliminate the possibility of us learning how to grow in that area. Part of it is a lack of understanding, because we hear a word or a phrase and we go “oh no, that’s not strength!” without fully understanding what that means. But if we start the conversation from that assumption, we leave no room to actually understand, because it’s already been placed into the “not strong” category in our heads. It’s not moving. We are feisty when it comes to being right, so as soon as it’s landed there, uuf. It’s there for a while. 

 

To give another example, I have been seeing this one a lot within relationships and in talking about relationships. Last night, I heard about someone highly respected in the dance community, who was cheating on his wife for years in secrecy, with another women who also had a husband. The news was devastating to a lot of the community. I found myself getting kind of upset. But let’s get clear. I’m not upset about the cheating itself, I’m upset about the lying. The lack of communication. The inability to address this early on, so it doesn’t become devastating. Not only because that’s hurtful to her, and their relationship (and so many people’s idea of what a good relationship looks like!), but because it spurs on some very yucky stereotypes of men and women, that just exacerbates this cycle of distrust, non-communication, and fear. 

 

Here’s the cycle (and I mentioned it briefly in another post, so you know I like this one lol): men are liars, women are crazy. Look, we are human, sometimes people sleep with other people. Sometimes people freak out and get overly emotional. Sometimes we say hateful things, and do things to hurt another person (often without even realizing we are doing it). But what cheating and lying about it does is it adds proof to our stereotype that men are liars. It’s literally building evidence for this meaning that comes with being a man. (Not saying that that’s not there for certain behaviors in women too, but generally speaking, this stigma comes up a lot with men). Now, not only does the ex-wife of this man have a skewed idea of all of his behaviors, even the good ones, but so do we as a society. We now see something similar in someone else, and we go “oh no! That means they must be lying!” We build up our walls. Women get more and more afraid that men will cheat, and men get more and more on the defensive of having to prove that they won’t, and we end up living in defense, instead of in truth. And YOU KNOW WHAT? That very defense is what causes in the inability to talk about it in the first place. That very defense is what causes the need to lie and cheat in the first place! AH! 

 

Look, I’m not saying it’s ok to cheat, but if that’s something you feel like you need to do, talk about it. NOW. To someone. Figure out how to communicate it. It’s OK to have needs. It’s ok to be unhappy and not know how to deal with it. It’s OK to be attracted to other humans. All of those things are ok. But as soon as we weigh it up against some standard of what we think monogamy is supposed to be, or some standard of don’t ask don’t tell, or some standard of what it means to be a “good man” or a good person, we block ourselves from having the ability to really listen to ourselves. Because if we are attracted to another human, does that really make us a bad person? I think no, but if we are unwilling to look at it, and instead we act on it in a way that hurts you and others? Definitely not rackin up points in my brain. 

 

Phew, ok. That was a lot. 

 

So what does this all mean for us (besides if you’re thinking of cheating, or telling your friend off about her personal life lol)? A couple things:

  1. COMMUNICATE. Be willing to let go of your definition of what it means to be a good person, or whatever it is, to actually listen (including and especially to yourself!). Be willing to see your truth, instead of what you think it should be. 
  2. We have the ability to create whatever we want. You know, in the example I shared about my friend, I wasn’t hurt at all, and I could have been. She was harsh with me, at times. But instead of getting hurt, I wasn’t because in this case, I was so confident that my choices were right for me right now, that they are “strong” choices for me, that her words didn’t affect me. Why is that? Because I’ve decided what it means to me to be a strong woman, and all that it comes with; and because that is a part of my ever-changing definition, I get to create my reality in each step I take. I get to decide how to be the strong woman I want to be at every moment. 

 

One more example: for 28 years, I’ve been a night person. Everyone knows, don’t talk to Jessie in the morning. Not a morning person. No no no no. On December 30, I decided I wanted to wake up early. It wasn’t like a new years goal, it wasn’t like I decided to force myself to do something against my will, it was like, “I’m gonna be the person that wakes up at 6 am”. So I did. And then I just kept doing it. I have woken up before 8 am pretty much every day since, minus a couple of days after late performances. Do you know what was stopping me before? My attachment to, “I am Jessie, and I am not a morning person.” That’s it. I was attached to that. It’s easier! haha. And then, I simply decided to change it. And now I have. That’s IT. 

 

You get to decide what meaning you put on things. If you let your attachment rule you, you never get to learn. You never get to actually see what you truly want, because you are blinded by these inauthentic rules that you’ve been accumulating since childhood. And you know, you hurt yourself and your loved ones :(. 

 

You guys - we are changing every day. BE PRESENT at every single moment. Be willing to change your perspective at every. Single. Moment. And watch yourself evolve into the person you really want to be. That’s within your power. 

Listen To Your Body

Last week, I kept finding myself exhausted and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I did have a busy week, filled with things like video shoots and events and subbing classes. I also had a few really late nights and definitely lost a good chunk of sleep. (It also happened to be the time of the month…which never helps). But a little busy-ness and a period has never stopped me before, and yet I kept finding myself knocked out on my couch in the middle of the day (and I am not a napper). 

 

About two years ago I discovered something about myself, that you guys may understand, or have a similar pattern: when life gets rough, I get sleepy. In my younger years, I went through some phases where I was quite depressed; during those time periods I would sleep like 10 hours a night, sometimes more! In recent years, and when I discovered this, it’s a little less blatant, but it’s still present. I noticed one day as I was getting ready to perform my choreography, that for some reason instead of feeling all the normal feelings like excitement, nervousness, etc, all I could feel was sleepiness. Like my eyes could barely hold themselves open. I thought, “hm, that’s weird. I slept plenty. I had coffee. What’s going on?” Later that week or month, I was in yoga and noticed that when I’m in an uncomfortable pose, one that I have to breathe through, I often nod off. Me trying to meditate, was just a snooze fest! So I put the pieces together - when the going gets tough, Jessie curls up and goes to sleep. Oops. 

 

So back to the present. This past week I was feeling really tired, and I could tell that it wasn’t just the lack of sleep and the busy-ness. So I investigated. What’s going on? Am I avoiding something? Am I afraid of something? Am I attached to some outcome? Upon first glance - no dice. I ran into a couple of options, but they didn’t feel right. So I kept going home and resting as needed, and continued on. 

 

Sunday, literally as I was teaching yoga to my dancers, I think I mentioned something about dancing or choreographing, and it hit me! This last week I focused on my choreography career a LOT. I filmed two pieces of choreography, I put out my choreography reel to the public, I worked on an EPK to send to my agents and potential clients, I looked at studios/events/people to submit to, and I reached out to a couple of connections in regards to building my future. Pursuing this realm for me is scary because I worry that I am not experienced enough/reputable enough to build a career. I worry I haven’t done enough yet to try to do what I want to do, and I get overwhelmed. So I get sleepy, because those are really uncomfortable thoughts, and rather than sitting with them, my body is like, nope! Shutting down. 

 

Here’s the magical thing - I realized it, and I was free. I’m now awake, alert, and ready to work. I am aware of my insecurities, but they don’t rule me, or hold me back, or make me sleepy. Wow.

 

What do you do when things get tough? When a difficult task lands on your desk at work, or you push yourself through scary territory? It might not be sleepiness, it could be that you run and hide, or you go workout a lot, or you eat a lot of pizza, but notice it. Become aware of it. It is a warning sign. It’s your body saying I DON’T LIKE THIS. And your job is to catch it. Often, once you realize you’re doing it, your need to do it disappears!

 

Now a little caveat- I was talking to a friend just after I had this realization, and she shared that she feels the same thing when she doesn’t want to do something at work. She gets really sleepy when a shitty task gets handed to her. She’s observant and self-aware so she realizes what’s happening, and yet she can’t seem to shake the sleepiness and get it done. It gets so overwhelming that a nap must occur first. 

 

So sometimes it doesn’t disappear just from realizing it. What’s the difference? Why not? In my experience, this is because in my friends case, she doesn’t actually want to be doing her job. It’s something she does because she needs to make money, and it’s not too terrible, so she continues to do it. But for her, sleep is a great way to get out of doing things (haha - subconsciously! Not intentionally). For me, sleep is defending against a fear that is not worth worrying about, is really annoying and is getting in the way of me doing what I really want to be doing. 

 

See the difference? In my case, I know that I want to continue, and move forward despite the discomfort. In her case - the discomfort is a sign that she may actually want to look at if and how she wants to continue.

 

 

Listen to your body. Notice when it’s trying to tell you it’s uncomfortable, whether that’s a stomach ache during a scary meeting, or a need to get drunk after a long week. Sometimes, the body’s reaction will disappear when you discover you don’t need it - our mind is extremely powerful like that. Other times, your body will be the key to opening the door to a whole new career path/relationship/adventure that you didn’t even know you wanted. Not to mention that staying present to this stuff helps prevent and heal illness, injury, and chronic sleepiness! Seriously. 

 

Listen to it. It’s there for you. 

STOP ASSUMING!!

Since last week I’ve been thinking a lot about assumptions. About the way we create a story in our heads before anything has shown that to be the case. About how our brains feel the need to fill in the blanks at all times, even if we have no data to support that fill in. This is one of the things that makes us so powerful and intelligent, because our minds are meaning-making-machines. They are built to figure things out, and I personally love that so much. (If you know me, you know sometimes I love it too much!). And yet, I would say it’s also the thing that gets us into the most trouble, and causes us the most suffering. 

 

This week I’m teaching a yoga class focused on transitions. In yoga, it’s really easy to hear a pose name, picture the pose in your head, and just hop into it, assuming it’s going to feel the same way it did before, or hoping that you are are magically able to get it better this time. But if we just focus on the pose itself, we often end up throwing ourselves off, or skipping some essential safety steps/building blocks of the pose. This is how we get injured, or how we plateau at a level of the pose because we don’t have the actual foundation to go further. Essentially, it’s easy to fake the end result, but in actuality, the process of getting there IS the thing that makes the pose. 

 

Now this not me saying the same old “enjoy the journey” concept. Although, yes I hope you do. It’s more about the fact that if we actually do want the end result to be successful, sustainable, and enjoyable, we HAVE to go through the journey intentionlly. We have to be present in it, make decisions within it, and be aware and patient with each step we take. 

 

In yoga, this looks like really setting things up from the ground, moving mindfully, each movement creating the foundation for a piece of the pose. It requires a deep awareness of the body, coordination, and at each step - not assuming what needs to be done. In other words, until we get there, and experience it fully, we might not realize that to lift our leg in the way that is required to advance in a pose, we actually have to adjust the pelvis, or push into the ground in a particular way. Things that wouldn't necessarily be connected or assumed, but definitely are. And each step of the way, we have to check in with that. (Note that when I say we “have” to, what I mean is that if we don’t, we are much less efficient, the end result is often less sustainable or less stable. So it takes more time and focus to do, but will in the end create a stronger, more powerful version of the pose). 

 

Same in life. 

 

Coming back to assumptions. I think this gets messy when we start assuming that what we want, actually looks and feels the way we think it will. Because then at each step, we are simply trying to force it to be like that, rather than what it actually needs to be. And if it’s not feeling that way, we often destroy ourselves or our mission before we even get there, because we were not willing to be present with the process. 

 

For example, I was talking to a couple of friends about relationships this week, and started to see the assumptions we carry with us from relationship to relationship. Now, each individual person’s are going to be very unique and specific, depending on how they were raised, how they’ve been treated, their experience with different types of men/women, etc. But let’s go with a coupe of general assumptions. Often, a woman assumes a man is going to cheat, based on data of previous relationships or seeing men in the world and knowing “that’s what they do”. Opposite side of the same coin, often men assume that telling a woman the truth about his intentions and actions would hurt her, based on data of previous relationships, or seeing women freak out or get really hurt by it. Now of course, both of these things are true sometimes. However, just because a man is a charming man, or likes to talk to people, does not mean that he will cheat, and just because a woman is sensitive or emotional, does not mean she can’t handle a real conversation about intentions, or actions. And these assumptions put us in a vicious cycle, not only in the case where man meets woman, with these nasty assumptions attached, but also in our society, everywhere, all the time. We get used to men cheating, and we get used to women overreacting, so instead of calling each other out, and creating empowered humans, we end up enabling them to continue to be that way. It’s expected of them, it’s already assumed, so might as well live into it. 

 

This becomes a problem because then, how do we actually build a solid relationship? If that is our end goal, how do we get there, when we are too busy assuming what it’s going to feel like? Instead of taking the time to get to know the other person in every situation, we jump into a relationship and hope it can handle the pressures of all the expectations we’ve put on it - while still holding on to our assumptions about it. Yea…that’s not going to work. Just like kicking into a handstand, putting pressure on yourself to stick it, but still assuming it’s not going to require any core work, shoulder stability, or confronting a fear. Haha - not possible!! 

 

My point here is this, look at what you want to create for yourself, whether it be a yoga pose, a relationship, a career goal, etc, and yes visualize it, think about how it might feel, all that good stuff. And then as you start to step towards it, be vigilant in your studies of it. Be honest in looking at yourself and how you are truly showing up for it. Be willing to change your course, to let go of some fears, or to release an assumption of how you’ll feel in it, and watch the magic of that goal come towards you! But hold on to your assumptions and force it, and watch the goal either get accomplished and feel terrible, or simply get further and further away. 

 

Connect to yourself. Check yourself. Fill in the blanks yes. But be willing to re-write those fill-ins as needed. 

 

:)

Make Your Own Decisions

So yesterday I realized that in various situations, I was making a (subtle) assumption about another persons intentions/desires, and then making my decisions based off of that assumption, in order to please them. However, if you don’t yet know the real mystery about people pleasing - the truth of it is that it’s for our selves. I was doing that in order to “please them”, but really, it was to save myself the trouble of letting them down because that would make me look bad or feel bad or have to deal with having a difficult conversation, or whatever. 

 

As I looked deeper at what was going on, I realized this stems from my inability to quickly decide what’s right for me and what I want to do, often for fear of it not working, for fear of others not approving, or for fear of it affecting someone else negatively (and then it’d be my fault). 

 

This is kind of an old problem for me. I’ve grown out of a huge chunk of my need for validation in order to make a decision, I’ve grown out of people pleasing for the most part, and I am always the one that’s willing to have the uncomfortable conversation (lol). So where was this coming from? It was an old pattern. An old pattern I experienced with some past business partners, and in some past relationships. A pattern where I rely on the other person to make decisions for me, but hide my true feelings about it until I don’t know what happened but now I have no say in the relationship. And this has me feel like the victim to the circumstance right? It has me feel like I am being pushed around by a bully, but actually, I am simply not saying and doing what is truly right for me. 

 

Now, a couple of caveats. 1) That doesn’t necessarily mean the other person isn’t a bully. In my past, sometimes they are! But, that also doesn’t change what I am doing to exacerbate the situation. 2) That also doesn’t mean that I should just say what I want at all times, stomp on people to get my way, and anyone that’s in the way of that can leave. No. But it does mean that there is room for me to actually listen to what I want, before going along with someone else, and to communicate that in a way that allows for compromise and mutual understanding. 

 

So what’s the point of sharing this? Well, the past few days I’ve been kind of bothered, and it took me until yesterday to realize that it was this. During that time, I was communicating to friends and observing situations, and now looking back - I’m seeing this pattern in them too. Where do you make assumptions about other people? And how does that affect the way you see them, and the decisions you make? In the moments where you feel like the other person in a relationship (any kind of relationship) is not doing what you want them to do, or a situation is not working out the way you want it to, is there room for you to take responsibility for your end? 

 

See, when we are upset with someone or something else, it is actually about us. ALWAYS. Otherwise we truly wouldn’t be upset. 

 

I’m gonna say that one again - when we are upset, it is about US. ALWAYS. 

 

That doesn’t mean you are wrong or terrible or fucked up or anything of that nature. It simply means you have the power and ability to create the situation that you want. Look at what you are doing, what assumptions you are making, what decisions you are making, and decide if you are actually in line with what you want. I’ll warn you, this is a hard thing to see. Our ego steps up when we go to do this and it says “BUT I’M DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT” (and don’t get confused, that is the SAME as “I’m doing everything wrong, I’m terrible”). So be willing to see beyond the ego, and check yourself out. What do you truly want? What are you doing to create that? 

 

 

 

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a quote from the lovely book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson (pardon the language today!).

 

“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is a itself a positive experience.” 

 

Instead of making assumptions about how someone or something should be better, what if we accepted what is, and moved forward with compassion and understanding towards the self and others? Look towards growth, not cover up. Look towards showing up, not pointing the finger (at the self or others). Look to move from acceptance and love, not the need to fix. 

 

I share my stories with you to hopefully inspire you to look within and see in yourself the ways you do these things. They are not unique to me, nor to you. They are for all of us. And we are so easily programmed by our upbringing and society and media, that we tend to slip into patterns unconsciously. Remove the judgement. See them. 

 

xoxo 

You are exactly where you need to be

So yesterday my dad and I were talking about how when a person gets sick, they are prescribed medication to help the illness heal. However, if the drug creates some side effects, they are often prescribed a second drug to help ease the symptoms. This often (if not the first round, the second or third round of this) counteracts the healing that the first medication set out to do, or at least dulls and complicates it. This can obviously lead to a whole mess of drugs on top of drugs, mostly just to cover up symptoms of other drugs. It can get difficult to treat the root of the problem with all of that, even if some of the drugs are doing just that. 

 

I got to thinking. How do we do this in life? There’s a point where our symptoms get bad enough, that we feel we need something to ease the pain. In the medical field, that’s more drugs, but in life - it can be almost anything. It could certainly be drugs still (I would say mostly recreational though), or it can be alcohol, or it can be sex, or it can food, or it can be Netflix, or it can busy-ness - anything that we use to make ourselves feel better. Anything that we use to deny our true feelings and just feel good in the moment. 

 

Now of course, just like in medicine, there are certainly times where that is necessary, and totally ok to use as a means to get through something. But at what cost? And when is it time to actually delve into the feelings, emotional or physical, and let them work themselves out? And how do we learn how to bare that?

 

At some point, we have to stop numbing. 

 

I think this is a tricky line, and there is some balance to be had because removing all coping mechanisms isn’t necessarily the answer, but I also think in general, we can benefit from being a little more aware of when we are crossing that line. It’s easy to get caught in the story, ‘this makes me feel better in the moment, so therefore this is helping me get better overall.’ Whereas actually, that feel good moment is often inhibiting our growth. Being aware of the choice is important, so that we can again step out of it, and not get stuck in false feel-good.

 

 

Last week I wrote about how everything is FOR you, as in, for you to learn and to grow. And with that comes the fact that it is also showing up at that particular moment because you are capable of handling it. But if every time it comes up, we run, or hide, or push it away, we never get the benefits of it. 

 

This weekend I had a moment (well, like 2 hours) where I was really frustrated and upset with the fact that various people were not responding to me in a timely fashion. I was taking it personally. I felt like they didn’t want to talk to me, that I was annoying them, that they didn’t care about what we were talking about/doing. Although I knew all of that wasn’t really true - telling myself to not take it personally over and over again only got me so far! 

 

I realized that in my past, when something like that would happen, and I was taking it personally, I would just look for something or someone to make me feel better. I would need someone to apologize, tell me they love me, etc. And although I definitely started to do that this time, I realized through my growth, I now need to not cover up the feeling of taking it personally that they didn’t call me back. I need to not get their approval to make it better. I need to just sit with the fact that I took it personally, and those feelings are not true, and I love them anyway. And by numbing those feelings in the past, or needing them to make me feel better, I have literally kept myself in this loop of taking it personally. 

 

The point is, if everything is FOR you, it’s not only about the learning lesson itself, it’s also about the fact that you are ready to tackle that challenge. That it has arrived in such a fashion because it is time you see it. And perhaps, if we stop covering it up with band aids, more meds, and external validation, it can actually heal. We can stop getting triggered so easily and deeply. We can communicate more honestly, without the subtle guilt trip of needing something from someone else. We can take responsibility for ourselves, without feeling like we need to be responsible for someone else to do what we think they should do. We can love ourselves for our feelings, even if that feels yucky, because we actually get to know them and understand them. Coping mechanisms are important. Medication that helps ease nasty side effects - important. But when you are coping, know that you are coping. Know that there’s something else going on, and that it might cause problems of its own, if not addressed. 

 

Care for yourself by being grateful for your strengths. Choose and show up for the challenges that are given to you. Love and accept what comes along the way. You are exactly where you need to be, right now. Struggles and all. Live in it. Love it. Love yourself.

 

<3

Everything is FOR you

When life gets frustrating, it can often feel like bad things are happening to us. I’ve heard in myself and in those around me this past week a lot of, “I am so fed up,” or “I am doing the best I can”, or “how could they do that to me?”. These are the phrases that come out when we feel helpless. When we feel victim to the circumstances. When we feel like we are doing everything we can to create the result we want, and yet it’s just not working. Whether it’s because of another person not participating, or because of the circumstances just not lining up, it can feel overwhelming. 

 

The problem is, when we do this we not only discount our power, but we end up hurting ourselves. It’s painful to sit with the fact that someone we love could do something to harm us. It’s painful to think that our best for something we really want is just not good enough. It’s painful to think that we have to keep showing up for something that is not showing up for us. 

 

There are two important things to pull from this: 1) people are generally doing the best they can, at all times, and 2) the frustration we feel is FOR US to learn, not against our progress or to hurt us. 

 

1) I finished Rising Strong by Brené Brown last week, and it was by far a great read. There was a story she told about her getting frustrated that I think is really relevant, so I’ll summarize it here. She got invited to speak at a conference, that she did not want to be at, but she felt pressured or felt like she should, so she agreed. Since the moment she agreed, she despised everything about it. In particular, she couldn’t stand her roommate when she arrived at the hotel. Her roommate was rude, loud, uncleanly, among other “annoying” things. She spoke, and left as soon as she could. On her way home she realized she was annoyed with everyone around her. Everything was bothering her. She knew at this point that it was time to look within, so she scheduled an appointment with her therapist. After describing the frustrating story of her crude roommate, her therapist said an awful sentence, “isn’t it possible that your roommate was doing the best she could?” Brené denied this statement, and left with her frustration still in tact. There was no way that was this woman’s best. So she started asking everyone, ‘do you generally think people are doing their best?’ Mostly, to her dismay, the answer she was getting, was yes. She then asked a friend, who she knew shared her general pessimism, and would probably give her the answer she was looking for. Her friend said no, as she’d predicted, but then went on to rant about how ridiculous it is that not all women breast feed, and how they essentially are terrible if they don’t. In that moment, Brené realized the answer to her question was yes, people are doing the best they can. She personally couldn’t breast feed when she was raising her newborn; she tried the best she could, but she could not do it. So yes, people are doing their best. 

 

So what does that mean for our frustration? It means we gotta stop blaming, and start listening. When that frustration boils up and just wants to say, “I can’t do this anymore!”, you know it’s time to slow down, listen to yourself and others, and remember that we are all doing our best. 

 

One other thing to note about Brené’s story, is that the reason she was frustrated in the first place was because she agreed to do something she did not want to do. The conference (according to her story) did seem to be run terribly, her roommate did seem to be terrible, (ha!), but that doesn’t change the fact that she agreed to be there. She was not forced into it. She decided to be there. And THAT is what causes our frustration - OURSELVES! We choose our circumstances, we choose what we step in to, even though it doesn’t feel like it in the moment when someone is being mean, or things aren’t working. The point here is this - usually frustration is telling you to take responsibility for something you have chosen: a relationship, a job, a lifestyle. It asks you to look at the root, and decide, is this something I really want? And if not, you have an easy answer, walk away. But if so, step up, take responsibility for your choice, and know that it comes with challenges.

 

2) Which brings me to number 2. Everything is FOR YOU. This week, I was getting frustrated with a friend. I felt like she was being really inconsiderate to me, and I was feeling like “I am doing the best I can! What more can I do!?”. But when I looked at it, I realized that I am the one that is pushing her away. I realized that I was not accepting a part of her, a part that I actually love very much, because I felt like I couldn’t be there in that way right now. And, after days of being frustrated with not only her, but all kinds of things and people around me (like Brené on her trip home), I realized that if I didn’t address this frustration in me with her, it would continue to show up. You know that quote, “What you resist, persists”? Well, here it is. When you let one frustration build, it starts to feed into all your circumstances. And it feels like everything is doing that to you. (You know that ‘why me?’ feeling?) But of course, we know, it’s FOR YOU to learn. Those obstacles, those challenges that you keep bumping up against, are placed there for you to look at yourself. They are there for you to make sure you are showing up in the way you want to be, so that you can be even more successful and fulfilled as you continue on your journey (whereas, in the moment in can feel like it’s working against you attaining what you want). 

 

Know that challenges arise because you are ready for the next level. They are gifts! But the more you push them away, and blame other things and people around you, the tougher they get, and the harder they get to see. So when you feel yourself wanting to blame another person for what you’re feeling, or when you feel like nothing is working, or when you feel like you’ve been wronged and you deserve better, it’s time to look within. It’s time to ask yourself, why am I frustrated? This doesn’t change another person’s actions, and it’s very possible that they could be doing something wrong or mean or whatever, but your frustration is yours to deal with. Look at it. Own it. Let it go. It will keep showing up, until you let it go. 

 

xoxo