Empower

Anger is Your Friend

I know, I am not supposed to make a statement like that. I realize many of you are convinced that anger is a bad emotion that must be kept under wraps at all costs.  I am sure there are some of you who have been told that it is not acceptable as a woman to express anger and that it is better to just stuff it rather than speak it out loud.  I have been told that anger is not ladylike or that I can be “bitchy” when I stand up for myself—assertively of course. There have also been times in my life where others attempted to shame me for my willingness to say the things others would not dare say even if they were secretly thinking it.  We all seem to have strong opinions about expressing anger, but the one thing that seems to be overlooked about anger is the announcement that it is making when it shows up in your life: your boundaries have been violated.

Anger is not the enemy that should be suppressed when it arrives on the scene. Use it to help you figure out a few things about your self like your deal-breakers as well as your real thoughts and feelings about a person or situation. Anger is your friend because it will help you to understand who you are and what you are about at your core. It cuts right through the social mask we all put on to be liked and accepted by others to expose you to your real inner truth. Anger gives you the opportunity to assess whether you have placed unreasonable expectations on yourself or others.  Consider this, if we were not meant to feel anger then the creator would not have endowed us with the ability to get angry in the first place.

Of course anger that is not expressed in a constructive way (no hitting others or name-calling please!) and is instead repressed, will cause unnecessary stress in the body like high blood pressure (the saying, “that just makes my blood boil” is true).  Anger without out an outlet starts to simmer, then boil until one day it is triggered by the most trivial comment or behavior into a full out explosion. So what is a woman to do when she is angry?

  1. Admit to yourself you are angry and give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
  2. Dig deep; keep asking yourself why you are angry until you can’t go any deeper.
  3. Give yourself time to process and understand your anger by running or engaging in some other type of strenuous exercise (burn off steam).
  4. Have the difficult conversation needed to be clear about your boundaries with others.
  5. Apply what you have learned about yourself by making different choices going forward.

Despite what you have heard, anger is your friend because it helps you to see clearly what is most important to you. It shows up in your life because it is trying to tell you that something is wrong. It is a warning, so heed it.

 

Empower, Heal

Tales of Woe: How to Stop Giving Your Power Away

Have you ever observed yourself going on-and-on about the disappointments and sorrows bringing you down in life?  Do you often tell tales of being victimized by others or external circumstances? Let’s be real: we are all guilty of this at times in our lives, especially when the chips are down and we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. What is important is that we observe how we tell our stories, because it will have a huge impact on our lives. If you are the victim in most of your stories, have you considered what the pay off is for you being in this role?

In order to take back your power, you have to be mindful of what you speak into existence, and more importantly, the story you tell yourself about the circumstances you are in or have been in. In order to be powerful, you must learn how to be the hero in your story. How do you do that? By becoming aware of the victim and hero persona that lives inside of you and deciding to tell your story as the hero. Let’s take a look at these personas that live inside of all of us.

How to Spot the Victim

 When you are in victim mode, you are not interested in finding solutions to the problems in your life: you are interested in telling anyone who will listen about the your  disappointments in your life. You find yourself getting caught up in things from the past that cannot be changed no matter how many times the story is told. It is all about what others are doing to you and how you are the blameless bystander caught in the crossfire. Does this sound familiar?

At one point in my life, this was my star role: I loved nothing more than to tell anyone who would listen to me about my painful childhood or the cheating boyfriends of my past. The one thing that all of my stories had in common was that I was helpless—the victim—and the pay off was the support and sympathy I received from others. I was not interested in actual solutions to my problems, but I wanted nothing more than to tell you all about them—over and over again.

Of course at the time, you couldn’t have convinced me I was playing the victim role; after all, I had all of the evidence of wrongdoing I needed. What I failed to realize is that by telling these stories over and over again, I was actually disempowering myself. I felt hopeless, exhausted and just plain tired of the circumstances I was in or talked about from my past. I didn’t make the connection between what I was saying to myself—and everyone else—and my lack of self-supporting actions. I was waiting on someone else to rescue me and make it better. If your story consists of what you can’t do/have/be because of ________ (fill in the blank), you are stuck in victim mode. How will you ever rise to be the powerful person you were created to be if it depends on the behaviors of others? Think about it, if you believe someone else holds the power to your life working out the way you would like, how does that make you feel?

How to Spot the Hero

The hero is willing to sit in the driver’s seat and take on all the responsibilities that come with that, including telling the truth about all of their experiences to date like the rotten childhood or betrayal of friends and lovers. They do not deny or pretend that everything is fine when it is not; but, they do own their power to choose.  They understand they are in fact powerful and tell themselves empowering stories like the great life lessons they have learned and how it has set them up for future successes. Their focus is on what they are capable of doing rather than on what others are not doing or didn’t do. The hero understands that controlling others is not an option no matter how many times you beg, plead or get angry. The hero understands they have the power to change their lives one choice at a time, and although it may not be an easy choice to make,  it is always available.  The hero understands the power of narrative and takes control of their story by actively engaging in behaviors that affirm and support their sense of self-worth and value.

It All Comes Down to You

 In the end, you must decide for yourself how you will show up in the world. The truth is, being the victim is easy because it requires no personal responsibility; but, it also requires you to give your power away to something or someone “out there.”   In order to take back your power, you must give up the ghost of the victim mindset; it is uncomfortable, nerve-racking and induces a lot of fear because it means you are in control. It means you understand and acknowledge your power as a creator of your life and your destiny. It means you have a choice. Will you choose to live your life as a victim or as a hero?

Empower, Inspiration

Hazards on the Road to Self-Empowerment

Have you be been making positive changes in your life? Maybe you have completed your degree, received a promotion at work or eliminated some bad habit like eating fast food. You know you want a better life for yourself and you have developed some good habits to move you in that direction, but what you did not expect is how uncomfortable you would begin to feel in old, familiar relationships. You know, the ones that stay exactly the same no matter how many years go by? You weren’t told about the increased sense of isolation and loneliness you would feel when you attempted to go “back” to old places with familiar faces.

The problem is your mindset is changing but you are attempting to hang out with people who haven’t changed and have no interest in changing.  One of the hardest things about growing and evolving is letting go of the things and people who no longer serve your highest good. It can feel like a betrayal to move on without people who have been a part of your life for a long time.

When you begin to take responsibility for life, you take action to solve your problems rather than sitting around complaining about them; your desire to succeed supersedes your fear of failure and you are willing to try new things; you separate yourself from the crowd by deciding what you want to create in your life rather than letting life decide what you will have.  As you become more willing to live an empowered life, many people will have to exit your life, and it is usually the people who are not interested in paying the price to have a better life. It is uncomfortable and heartbreaking at times, especially when this calls for separation from some family members. It can feel like your world is being ripped apart—it is—because of the exposure to new ways of being in the world. Your beliefs have changed or expanded, so it will be impossible to find comfort with people from your past who maintain the same set of limited beliefs from back-in-the-day that you now know are not true. And it is not just you: the people from your past will often be uncomfortable around you because your presence serves as a reminder to them that what they believe to be true is inaccurate. The bottom line is no one wants to be proved wrong about what they believe is possible because then there are no more excuses; it creates a situation where they are forced to get real with themselves about what they are not doing in their own life to improve their circumstances. This is not exactly comforting and welcoming, so don’t expect a warm reception.

Do not—I repeat—do not attempt to return to old relationships with the hopes of finding comfort or being warmly embraced by those who have the same mentality they had 10 years ago. At times, growth does require pain, and you will experience loneliness as you let go of what once was true to embrace the new, improved person you will become. Even if you can’t see it now, the initial sense of isolation and loneliness on the journey to empowerment will pass. You will find new people who align with your expanded beliefs about the world and your place in it.

Empower

2 Keys to Creating a Successful Life

When I say the word service, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  My own answers surprised because of how many negative associations I had with the word. I found myself saying things like doing what others want me to do; giving more than I get in return in order to be perceived as a “good” person; doing things for free because it is the right thing to do; and finally, I viewed service as something I did for another because I was paid to do it.  My old view of service was narrow and misguided because it was based on the belief of service being about duty and obligation rather than an act of love and contribution. In fact I would argue that the quickest way to success is to see service as an act of creativity and a way to make a contribution to society.

Service is not about giving with no end in sight; service is all about giving from a place of overflow. It requires you to be in sync with your spirit in order to understand what you naturally do from a place of love, joy, and enthusiasm. I know this idea may seem puzzling at first glance; after all, creativity is often associated with being fun, bold, daring and inventive; service, in the sense of making a contribution, brings up words like serious, formal, credentials, and outside approval.  They seem to contradict each other at first glance, because one comes from within and the other appears to be based on external approval. But look again; you make a contribution to society when you are operating in alignment with the love and joy that is within you. This is where all creativity comes from.  When you are right with yourself, you are creating from a place of love. You are contributing to society in a positive way by connecting with others at the soul level, and that is powerful. For example, some are blessed with the ability to communicate and create positive changes in society through the use of language or music. Think about the author who writes a book because she decided to listen to her creative urge and it ends of having a profound effect on many. The book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert comes to mind as I type this sentence.

For those of you out there who insist you are not creative, the truth is we are all blessed with creativity. Think about what you naturally excel at.  What gets you excited and energized? This is your creativity in action. It has nothing to do with being a good painter, sculptor or dancer—although you may be creative in this sense. It is really about being unapologetically yourself by acting in alignment with your deepest truth because it brings you joy. The act of honoring yourself by using your creativity uplifts others, and that is service at its finest.

Empower

Growing Pains: The Path to Creating a Life You Love.

How many of you are daydreaming right now about your ideal life while sitting in a cubicle in some nondescript building? Does it seem like the world is passing you by? Do you tell yourself: I will create my ideal life, but first I have to…. (fill in the blank).Whether your reason for not creating a life you love is money, time or relationship drama, the truth of the matter is there is a simple way to start designing a life you love today. And that way is to learn how to take concrete things from your daydreams and bring them into your environment now. In other words, you start practicing now how to grow into the person you desire to be. What do I mean by that? Let’s answer some key questions first.

  1. List five things your ideal life has in it. Here are some examples to think about. What do you do for work?  How do you dress? What types of people are in your social circle? How do you spend you free time in your ideal life?  What kind of activities are you involved in?
  2. What is one thing you think is missing from your present life that you have in your future life? Again, think concrete when answering this question. Maybe your future self has a certain type of degree or a million dollars in an investment account. The options are endless.
  3. Imagine you daydream has become a reality. What would you do differently in your day-to-day life? The more details the better.

Ok, now you have the clarity, so it is time to embrace the growing pains.

The only way to make the daydream real is to live it now. You must stretch yourself to a new level one small detail at a time. Let’s say your future self is an advertising executive who wears expensive suits and and carries a leather satchel. Guess what you are going to do? You are going to go out and purchase these items and wear them now. If you don’t have unlimited funds at your disposal, it is time to make friends with the resale shops, vintage stores, or thrift stores. The point of answering the above questions is to get you to step into the life you daydream about now. This gives you a chance to embody this new identity in your present life and it will increase your confidence and competence as it becomes more familiar to you.

Yes, it is going to be uncomfortable at first because it is unfamiliar territory. You can expect to stumble around in the dark as you attempt to orient yourself to this new way of being. Think about it: you are attempting to give birth to a new life. It is a process and there will be pains along the way. Growth occurs in spurts and you will not get it right the first time around. That is ok!  Keep moving towards what you want anyway because taking the time to get right with yourself and what you really want will right everything in your life.

Act, Empower

F.E.A.R. of Flying

Lately, I have been experiencing these fleeting moments of clarity that provide me with a sense of peace about moving towards one of my dreams—on the one hand—only to be overwhelmed by feelings of trepidation. I run to the precipice filled with excitement about creating a new life and just as I am about to fling myself into the abyss, I stop dead in my tracks and start running back to that old familiar place. And quite frankly, I don’t want to hang out there anymore.

How many times in your own life have you stopped yourself from pursuing one of your dreams? Did you tell yourself it was because you didn’t have the money, connections or experience to have those things you’ve envisioned?  The more excuses we come up with, the longer the list becomes on why it’s not possible to fulfill our dreams, so we abandon them and opt to zone out watching Netflix instead.  The fear of flying has a tight grip around our neck, so we never attempt to find out what we are actually capable of.

The struggle to overcome fear, or rather learning how to act despite the presence of fear, is very real and sometimes difficult to recognize. For example, sometimes my fear shows up as common sense and under the guise of being “responsible” by making statements such as the following:  Think about how hard you have worked to get where you are now; are you sure you want to throw all of that away to take a chance on an unknown? What if you lose everything?  You are an adult now, so it’s best to stick with the path that has been working rather than taking a risk on something new. Is it just me who noticed how convincing the last statement appears by pleading with me to do the “mature” thing?  I realize now I have been caught up in keeping up appearances of being a responsible adult at the expense of venturing out to pursue another one of my dreams.

How many times have you stayed in situations you have outgrown because you tell yourself it’s better to stick with the tried and true and remain safe?  But isn’t that the real illusion? We lie to ourselves about being safe where we are instead of realizing we are trading expansion and happiness for misery, bitterness, and regret over the road not traveled as the years go by. We are here to expand in order to reach our full potential, but that cannot happen if we are not willing to take a chance on ourselves over and over again

 

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FACING THE UNKNOWN

The first step to move through the fear is the awareness to call it by its true name: False Evidence Appearing Real. It is not a “sign” that you should not move towards your dreams or other desires (as long as it’s good for you and doesn’t harm others in the process) because you have doubts. Everyone has doubts and anytime time you think about trying something new, fear will make an appearance.  The trick is to not allow yourself to get so overwhelmed with visions of disaster that you don’t act at all. Instead, focus on the next step you can take right now.  That is how you start to train yourself to move through the fear rather than become paralyzed by it.

Another thing I find very helpful is to learn how to give yourself permission to be a beginner. This can be tough, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you have years of experience and therefore a sense of mastery. Being a beginner requires a willingness to be exposed and out of your element. There is a learning curve, so treat yourself with respect by accepting you may do something very badly in the beginning. Another way to respect yourself is to take baby steps towards your desires and praise yourself for the small accomplishments. The encouragement works wonders and gives you the motivation to take another step tomorrow. Do not overwhelm yourself by focusing on perfection! Remember, you are a beginner so act like it!

Finally, become aware of how your fears cause you to act in self-destructive ways so you can control your environment.  What are your go-to avoidance patterns? Do you suddenly “need” to get on social media and waste three hours instead of applying for that new dream job that excites you?  How about blocking your social media accounts at set times and focusing on taking a  step towards your desires?  If you suddenly find yourself feeling compelled to do the “responsible” thing like clean your house or call your mother back, why not head over to the library to start writing your book for just one hour right now? You can clean up when you get back and don’t bring your phone with you!

I would love to hear some other suggestions from you on how to move through the fears of flying.

Empower

My Home. Myself.

What state of mind are you in? Take a look around; is it working for you? Do you possess such a thorough understanding of yourself that you are able to effortlessly improve the quality of your life by eliminating bad habits, relationships or any situation that is not contributing to your highest good?  I didn’t think so. We are all traveling along the road to self-mastery and looking to improve by understanding all that we truly are. It is a process to understand ourselves at a deep level, but I have found one way to get a grasp on this is by observing my state of mind in action. And what better way is there to do this than by taking a personal inventory of your home. After all, your home tells the story of your beliefs.

I have heard psychologists and life-coaches talk about everything in your external environment being a reflection of what is going inside of you. So, when it comes to your home, have you paused long enough to observe your thoughts in action?  Is the story that is on display in your home in alignment with where you want to go and the life you aspire to live? Or, are you surrounded by an outdated version of your life that does not reflect your current desires or beliefs? I had some interesting revelations when I started to pay attention to the things in my home. I will share a couple of my experiences with you now.

I recently walked through my house and discovered I had photos on display of people I no longer have good relationships with. A particular photo was from a vacation that I took with a person who had done some pretty hurtful things on that trip. The funny thing is, I was actually having a difficult time setting boundaries with this person. I was trying to figure out a way to have this person in my life but at a safe enough distance that they could no longer wreck havoc in my life. I guess my compromise was to hang photos of this person in my house to remind me of the many bad times we shared together, so I could continue to feel bad about staying in the relationship. I immediately took the photos down. I am interested in good vibes only, especially in my home.

I also realized a piece of artwork that had been hanging in my dining room for a few years made me feel sad and depressed when looking at it. It was a painting that showed couples walking down a street on a rainy day carrying umbrellas, but there was one woman walking alone and following behind everyone else. I clearly identified with this woman walking alone three years ago, but it seemed inappropriate now. I asked myself: how has this scenario played out in my life? And I finally admitted to myself that there were many things that I was just going along with in my life that I was not truly happy about it. Then I dug deeper: did I pick out this painting because it represented the sadness and sense of drudgery I was feeling in my life at that time? Did I believe that someone else would lead me to where I wanted to go? I know that’s deep, but on some level I was drawn to the painting because it did reflect what was going on inside of me at the time I purchased it.

In its place, I hung a painting of a woman gazing out a large window overlooking a city skyline at night. I was instinctively drawn to it a few months ago and now I understand why. It accurately reflects where I find myself at this time in my life. I am at a crossroads and I’ve been contemplating what my next move will be. I have been exploring new options and there are still many unknowns at this time. It seems that the concept rings true: the objects in my home do or did reflect what was going on inside of me.

Now it is your turn to do a little detective work around your house. Take a walk around and consider the following questions:

  1. Is your home cluttered and disorganized? What kind of thoughts or behaviors are you engaging in that clutter your mind?
  2. Do you appreciate and value yourself? Look around at the things in your home. Are they well cared for? Are you wearing things that make you feel and look your best?
  3. Have you intentionally selected the things in your home with care or do you have a bunch of things that you don’t really care for taking up space in your home? In what other ways do you allow things, people or situations to take up space in your life that you don’t really care for?
  4. Have you incorporated objects into your current environment that reflect the life you aspire to live?
  5. What are the pieces of artwork and/or photos hanging on your walls telling you about yourself? About your relationships with others?
  6. Are there old, broken, and outdated objects in your home? In what ways is your thinking old, broken and outdated?

Now that you have reviewed the above questions, start affirming the vision you have for your life by creating a space that is in alignment with your new beliefs and dreams. Changing your current environment to reflect who you want to be can be as simple as throwing out all your ratty and tattered clothing, or getting rid of clothes that do not make you feel your best. It can be disposing of all those photos you have hanging up that remind you of bad experiences or broken relationships. Maybe you will decide to display uplifting quotes and only photos that make you feel joyful and excited. You could affirm your new life by literally bringing in new life in the form of a houseplant or fresh-cut flowers. You may decide to paint a room a bright color such as orange or yellow to create an uplifting mood.

The point is this: If you are considering making some positive changes in your life like starting a new career or ending a toxic relationship, help facilitate the process by creating a physical change in your home environment. Prepare yourself to receive your desires by creating an environment that is in alignment with your aspirations and get rid of all of the things that do not reflect the person you want to be. If you change the things in your home, you change the story and you will change your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empower

A Simply Abundant Life

I have spent the last few years of my life eliminating unnecessary spending on activities, things, and people who do not contribute to my life in a meaningful way. I started down this path in order to live a life that was more intentional, fulfilling, harmonious and abundant. Traveling on this inner road to happiness, I discovered an awesome book by Sara Ban Breathnach titled Simple Abundance (I highly recommend it!), and lately I have been listening to podcasts that promote minimalism as a lifestyle.

Now wait a minute, I know what you are thinking: why would anyone in his or her right mind be interested in deprivation? And furthermore, isn’t simplicity the opposite of leading an abundant and successful life? Believe me, in my former incarnation I was all about having and doing everything to excess, because I thought that this meant I had arrived at success’s door. I had a closet full of clothes, many with the tags still on them, and yet I still couldn’t seem to find anything to wear. I had tons of purses, shoes, jewelry and other “stuff” which usually just sat around collecting dust. Unfortunately, the balances on my credit cards kept increasing as well as my stress level.

Looking back, I was overwhelmed and the literal manifestation of my overwhelm appeared in many areas of my life, including: closets bursting at the seams with stuff I had long forgot about, overdrawn checking accounts, no savings account, and the mental and physical exhaustion that comes from having to maintain and organize so much stuff.  I wasn’t successful; I had made the mistake of seeking happiness from accumulating more things rather than looking within to figure out who I was without all of my “stuff.”

I had been living some marketing campaign’s idea of success. I had no time for relationships with others, let alone myself, no time for reflection, and no time for traveling. These were the things that were actually important to me; yet I complained about not having enough time for these very things. I had failed to see how my constant striving for more of everything was contributing to my own unhappiness.

I had unconsciously tied myself to a grueling, never-ending work schedule because I couldn’t afford to not work. And frankly, at that time in my life, I had never entertained the idea of cutting back on my consumption in order to work less. Sadly, I continued to buy into the myth of owning lots of things to be happy for many years. Then one day it finally hit me: It is up to me to define what success looks like and to start making choices in alignment with my values. This is where the beauty of simplicity and minimalism has assisted me in creating a truly abundant life.

The practice of simplicity and minimalism has given me a sense of freedom I have never experienced before in my life, because I now make conscious decisions based on love and that are in alignment with my values. I spend my resources (time and money) in alignment with my truth. It’s not about being cheap or deprived. In fact, in terms of buying things, it’s all about luxury and abundance because I only buy things I absolutely love and adore. If that means I have to save money in order to purchase the item, then that is what I do. No exceptions.  And the same applies in every other area of my life. Outside of my required commitments, I carefully choose how I will spend my time. If the thought of hanging out with someone or doing something does not excite me or add value to my life, I don’t do it.

Practicing minimalism and simplicity has brought a deep satisfaction because I am no longer motivated to buy things because it’s the latest trend or because its on sale. I no longer open my closet and exclaimed; I don’t have anything to wear!  I am no longer terrified of opening up a credit card bill or worried about my clothes, my house, or my car being acceptable to others because I love it.  It really is just as simple as pausing to ask yourself: Do I love it? Does it add value to my life? If not, act accordingly.

Empower

Inner, The Critical Zone

Who is your worst enemy? Do you actually believe this person resides outside of you? Have you forgot about the inner voice that loves nothing more than to sabotage your efforts by providing an endless stream of criticism and off-the-cuff remarks about your worthiness? Oh, you still don’t know what I am talking about? You know, that annoying voice of your parent or some other authority figure that lives inside of you and loves pointing out all of your past failures, apparent short-comings, and therefore your general unworthiness of receiving anything good in your life until you fix all of the things that are wrong with you. Yeah, that voice.  Welcome to land of fear that shows up as false beliefs. This is the home of your inner-critic and we all have one.

It seems that a distinguishing trait of the inner critic is to focus on some form of fear, and it repeats the same narrative over and over again. My critic has many lines it tries to force-feed me, but its favorite attack line is: you can’t have what you really want. You must settle like everyone else! Where did I pick this false belief? Maybe my mother who was projecting her fears about life onto me when I was kid. I am not sure, but the point is, I accepted this and many other false beliefs as true. At times, I felt ambivalent about going after what I really wanted and I missed out on some opportunities in my life, because I allowed myself to be held back by the constant chatter of the enemy within. I didn’t think about where my negative beliefs came from or discerning if the statements were actually true.  I just let the narrative play over and over again in my head unchecked.

The Way Out

One of the most effective ways I have found to silence the voice of my inner critic is to question if there is any truth to what it is saying to me. I find it helpful to think of experiences I have had in the past that contradict what it is telling me.  For example, I have had many experiences in my life where I did get exactly what I wanted even though my inner critic loves to tell me this is not a possibility for me. I can shut her down with “the facts”, but on occasion she will resurface again to evoke fear and doubt about what I am capable of doing, especially when attempting something new. In those moments I remind myself of past journeys I have taken into the unknown that turned out well.

And if all of the above fails, I repeat particular affirmations to myself like the following: I am worthy, I am capable, and I am enough. I have found them to be effective in directing my thoughts to creating new possibilities for my life in a space of love rather than fear. Remember, the critic cannot live in a space of expansion and possibility because it is all about constriction, lack, and general fear of the unknown. If you find your inner critic invading your thoughts, see if you can’t silence him or her down by using one of the above techniques.