"Tiny" Trauma

I didn’t truly know love until I had kids.
Up until then, I thought emotions were for the mentally weak (I know that sounds terrible). I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to walk around “feeling” all the time when you could just suck it up and move on. I just figured I was stronger than most.

My emotions could pretty much be categorized as some form of either excitement or anger. Sad was never an option. I didn’t even know when I had hurt feelings; I just got mad.

But then I had my son and other feelings began to surface.
Scary, vulnerable love. Fear. Sadness. And eventually the worst one, loneliness.

I didn’t like the way any of it made me feel so I kept most of it inside, including the scary, vulnerable love. When I allowed myself to peek into my heart, it just made me feel broken, unloved, and alone.

Parenting is like having a mirror held up to you every minute.
It’s confronting your own childhood all over again. But I couldn’t make sense of how I’d become so guarded and also so trapped inside. When I searched my past for answers, I had none. No abuse. No major loss. No significant trauma. My parents weren’t even divorced.

It took me a long time to figure it out because I refused to acknowledge that I had suffered. Watching other people with so many valid reasons for their pain, I felt like my life story had nothing of consequence to explain my feelings.

Here’s what I have learned about trauma though. One person’s painful life experience is no better or worse than someone else’s. What matters is how it affects you, changes you, and keeps you from feeling loved and lovable. I have met people just like me who can’t check a traditional trauma box, but who still feel alone and unloved.

It could be a painful sentence someone said. A mistake made once and carried a thousand times forward. A disappointment about what a relationship could have been or should have been.

First, you have to acknowledge that those things we’ve labeled insignificant left a lasting impression. They were our traumas. They made us feel unloved and unworthy. That’s why they matter.

We have to pull up those events and process them so we can move forward without the wall we built in reaction.

Honestly, a lot of the reason I was willing to face my past was for my kids. I could see the way fear of big feelings was making them feel rejected, abandoned, and even unworthy. They deserved more than that. And so did I.

 

I'm super excited to announce that Love Forward starts March 4! If you find yourself stuck in painful relationship patterns, this seven-day course will help you move toward deeper, loving connection. You can find more information here.

Let's connect! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Feel Forward

I used to always know what action to take.
I thought my brain was the most reliable and efficient resource I had. I was a logical, linear, one-obvious-right-path-forward thinker. Planning? Easy! I was comfortable choosing goals, creating steps, and taking action.

Times have changed though.
The more in tune I’ve become with my intuition and creative side, the more unsure I’ve become. I don’t see it as a bad thing, but I don’t always know what action to take next. Sometimes I draw a blank. Or there are way too many possibilities. Which to choose?

Not knowing what to do next would have been stressful or unacceptable to my old way of thinking, but now I view it as a fun opportunity. I can allow myself to feel my way through situations instead of immediately jumping into problem solving mode. As soon as I feel I’m clutching and grasping at an answer or when I’m overwhelmed by all of the solutions, I know it’s time to stop and tune in. Here are the steps I take to do that.

1. Ask a question.
It doesn’t matter if I’m focused on one thing or I’ve got a bunch of different stuff bouncing around. What’s the next step? What should I focus on? What direction should I take?

2. Do nothing.
Doing nothing IS doing something. You have to leave space for the answer(s) to come. For me, that means idle movement. My body has to be active for my intuition to be louder than my brain. Shower, hike, laundry, etc… But that’s just me. Maybe you can sit quietly in meditation or listen to music. Just do whatever works for hearing ideas.

3. Choose a direction.
I’m not expecting a single answer to come to me like a glowing spotlight from heaven illuminating the ultimate perfect solution. The universe knows I want a little more free will than that. I think we get infinite answers but our little human brains can only hold so many. You know how when you’re in the shower it feels like dozens of random thoughts cross your mind? I think those are ALL answers. They aren’t random. But I also know that every thought won’t lead me to the right place. I like to land onto a thought, no matter how completely unrelated it feels. Then I follow it along and see if it has relevance to my question. Are you the one for right now? Are you the good fit? If it feels like a dead-end, I ditch it and capture the next thought to test.

The answer always comes.
If not then, it will come later. Although I have to say that when you set an intention, intuition is pretty reliable. If I state my question before I take a walk and expect the answer by the end, I will get it. The only thing that will block it is me trying too hard to figure it out. The whole process comes to a halt when I try to think forward rather than feeling my way through a situation.

It’s a stretch sometimes. I like answers now. I rely heavily on my brain. I used to think logic was always right. Now I do my best to settle into uncertainty until the answers come. I try to follow my emotions and intuition as they nudge me toward the right path. And honestly, they never steer me wrong.

So the next time you are stuck, lost, overwhelmed, or baffled, give it a try. See what happens when you try to feel forward. Good luck, my friends.


Let's connect! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter,
The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page. 
Also, we have a 21-Day Heart Cleanse starting tomorrow! It's not too late to join--you can find more information here.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

I’ve lived with a liar.
It changes you. It robs you of your natural instinct to trust in others. If you’re exposed to it early in life or for too long, your natural instinct will change. You will begin to expect lies and deceit rather than the truth and honesty. It’s a birthplace of lifelong trust issues.

If I suspect a loved one has lied to me, I struggle to hold my tongue. And when I don’t, it goes like this: I challenge, they defend, the lie grows bigger, they feel there’s no turning back, and we’re in a big fight with our heels dug in on opposite sides. They can’t come clean now. I can’t let it go. It definitely is not the healthiest pattern, and certainly not a loving one.

When it comes to friendships, lying is usually a deal-breaker for me. If I’ve heard you lie to someone else, you will probably lie to me eventually. Same goes for talking trash about people, icing others out of a group, ghosting a friend, etc… I used to think I was the exception, the one person they would never do these things to. I have since learned that there are no exceptions, only a pattern of behavior.

Loving someone who lies and deceives you is heartbreaking.
You want to believe them so badly but you get burned when you do. You love them so much it hurts to not trust them. And they’re usually pretty good at convincing you that you are the problem. You are the one who doesn’t love enough to believe them. It’s hard to have the choices of either challenging them or ignoring the lies. One starts a fight and the other feels a little too much like they pulled it off.

The worst part is knowing this person you love so much hates themselves. And believe me, people who lie carry around a lot of self-loathing. They hate that they do it. They hate that they can’t seem to stop, even lying about completely insignificant things. They hate themselves for trying to convince you it’s your fault you don’t trust them. They hate themselves for creating a false world where they are trapped by their own actions.

It’s painful to love them unconditionally. You are angry and hurt. You lose respect for them. You withhold love from them to protect yourself. But here is what I’ve learned and not always been good at putting into practice. They need more love than ever and you have to figure out how to love while being lied to. I don’t mean saying screw boundaries. Boundaries are crucial when dealing with someone who lies.

But you still need to love.
Not just deep in your own heart where they can’t actually feel it. They need to feel it openly and generously. It’s their only way out. They need honesty and truth from you but also love, because they’ve built a false life and they’re being poisoned by it. Loving them is the only gift to give when you’re not willing to play their game. Truly loving them unconditionally is the light that can keep the darkness from swallowing them up.

Here’s my advice (and I tell you this as I remind myself). You don’t have to call them out, tell them you believe them, or hold your tongue. Just say I love you. I love you too much to engage in this. Here is my boundary. It’s a behavior boundary. It’s not a love boundary. I love you no matter what.


Let's connect! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter,
The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Hello Failure, My Old Friend

I know it’s a weird time to be talking about failure.
Early January is all about big goals and high motivation, right? But you’ve heard the stats. Most people will fail at their resolutions by February. Eighty percent. I read that recently. Can you believe it?! Eighty percent!!!

Look, we’re all going to disappoint ourselves at some point. That’s just human nature. The real mastery comes in how you respond to that disappointment. It’s what you do after failing that matters most.

Here is what I think happens. People have the HOW mixed up with the WHAT. The end goal is the thing you want. The action you take to get it is a completely separate thing.

If you fail at taking the action, then maybe the action is the problem.
You might need a new plan. That’s the beauty of failures. They show us what doesn’t work. If we pause for a minute to think about why something failed, we can usually come up with a plan that might work better.

But people sometimes give up on the goal itself.

They throw up their hands and call themselves a failure. They use the failed action plan as evidence that they’ll never be able to achieve the goal. Some even take it to the next level where they self-sabotage and decide they might as well just eat whatever they want, sit on the coach by themselves after work, and spend money on Amazon. And the next January finds them in an even worse state than they were the year before.

Not you though. I want you to get excited about failing! Don’t let it surprise you. Don’t let it derail you. Let it teach you. You can even plan for it right now. If you are dreading any part of your action plan, it’s already in trouble. Dump it for a different one or find a way to get excited about it.

When you find yourself failing later, pause.
Take green smoothies for example.

Pick apart the current plan to see if it is salvageable with an edit. Do you hate them entirely or do you just hate celery? Do you hate drinking them or making them? Does your blender not chop up kale fine enough? Do you hate drinking something cold in the dead of winter? If possible, tweak the action to help you succeed.

If the plan itself was faulty (you gag every time you try to get one down), what are the different pathways to get you to your weight-loss goal? List every last thing you can think no matter how weird and outrageous. Then, cross off everything on there that doesn’t excite you. Those are not for YOU. Which idea excites you the most?

If you think about it, it’s kinda fun. You are basically being handed the opportunity to revise until you have an action that will fit perfectly into your life. One that will help you actually reach that goal. So welcome in that failure, my friend.

Keep your eye on the prize and remember: there are limitless paths to get there. It’s just about being willing to re-route when you reach an obstacle and keep going.


Let's connect! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter,
The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Also, we just started a new 21-Day Heart Cleanse! It's not too late to join us--you can do that here.

Relationships That Hurt Us

(more…)

Dropping the Weight

We all keep secrets.
I’ve never in my life met someone who hasn’t kept a secret from someone. Maybe it’s a huge one like being a victim of sexual abuse or having a drug problem. But maybe it’s just a smaller one like how you really feel about something.

Why do we do that? It’s not harmless. Secrets make us feel like liars, like frauds, like inauthentic versions of ourselves. Even the smallest ones leave a dark smudge on our hearts. It doesn’t feel good to carry secrets around. And yet we all do it.

Sometimes we like to play the martyr card and convince ourselves that we’re just keeping that secret to protect other people. Protect their feelings, protect their reputations, protect their experiences.

Other times we tell ourselves that it doesn’t really matter. We don’t want to tell anybody, because that’s just giving the secret power over us. We don’t want it to matter so we bury it.

That’s all fine. Go ahead and do that. But the dark smudge stays. The weight remains.

We really keep our secrets out of fear.
Fear of judgement. Sometimes, we're afraid other people will judge us or feel judged by us. Other times we’re afraid of our own self-judgement. When we touch that secret with our thoughts, we feel shame. We see evidence that we actually are everything we fear to be. And whatever flavor that is, it all boils down to “bad.”

So we come to the conclusion that we can never tell. We can never share that part of us. We can never let anyone know that secret. And the dark smudge stays. The weight remains.

People join my 21-Day Heart Cleanse for a lot of different reasons. They want to become less guarded. They want to love themselves more than they do. They want to bring real healthy love into their lives. They want to move on from something painful or a relationship that isn’t working. Whatever the reason, they all go through the same process and that requires them to look back and reflect.

Guess what they sometimes find? Secrets. Which makes sense, of course, because the purpose of the Heart Cleanse is to do exactly that…get rid of those dark smudges. It can surprise them though. Secrets are buried underneath all kinds of things like revisions, rationalizations, even lies. They can be buried so far down that they’ve been forgotten, completely dismissed or ignored for so long the bearer of the secret doesn’t even realize they are still there.

Acknowledging our secrets can be painful.
Honestly, it can downright suck. But the pain can unlock liberation. Our hearts weren’t meant to wear those dark smudges.

And here is one of the most beautiful things I have the great honor of witnessing. The brave ones, the people that go all-in, they share their secrets. Sometimes with a person in their life and sometimes in the safe place we create together on Facebook. But either way, this is what they report. They feel lighter. The weight they’ve been carrying is lessened. Read that again.
They don’t have to share. It’s not part of the Heart Cleanse. But some do it anyway because they’ve committed to cleaning off the dark smudges. They want to liberate their hearts.

That’s the thing about secrets. No matter what you’re telling yourself about it, the dark smudge stays and the weight remains as long as you keep carrying it.

Excuse: You can’t share it because the world will know you’re “bad.”
Truth: You’re not “bad” and you never have been no matter what you’ve done or has been done to you.

Excuse: You can’t share it because it will hurt someone.
Truth: As long as you carry a secret, it’s hurting you.

Excuse: You don’t need to share it because it doesn’t matter.
Truth: It matters because you matter and your freedom from it matters.

Carrying secrets stands in the way of loving yourself.
So what can you do? Here are some possibilities…

First of all, acknowledge it. Look right at a secret you are keeping and say, “I see you.”

Then, tell it.

Take a baby step and write it down. Just telling it to a piece of paper will make the weight start to lift.
Take a bigger step and tell it to someone you trust, someone who will receive it with love and compassion (this can even be a professional).
Take a huge brave step and share your secret with the person you feel really needs to know this thing about you.

You don’t need to carry this around anymore.
Your beautiful heart was meant to be shiny and light, my friend.

Join us for the next 21-Day Heart Cleanse here.

How to Stop Criticizing in Two Steps

(more…)

Disney vs The Matrix

There’s a reason we all love Disney movies.
Okay, there are a lot of reasons. But I think one of them is that they are so tidy. Not like our regular messy lives. Good guys are good guys and bad guys are bad guys.

The princes and princesses are the clear heroes. They’re just good through and through. They might be rebellious, but it always works out to be just what the situation needs. Even if they lose their temper (ahem, Frozen), it’s not really their fault.

And the villains? They are bad through and through, too. It’s not like they are mostly bad but have this or that endearing quality. They are pure evil.

Disney movies never ask us to acknowledge some of the villain’s “good” qualities. They aren’t good guys just making bad choices. Like, “Oh she just poisons people because she had a really hard childhood, but did you know she volunteers at the local animal shelter?” They’re all the way bad. They also never require us to give a certifiable screw-up hero status. The cussing loudmouth doesn’t get to be the hero. The dingy one? Always the sidekick.

It’s all fine for pretend.
But. Sometimes we get trapped in this same fairy tale story in our lives. We keep neat little categories for the villains and the heroes.

You know what else is a good movie? The Matrix. This movie is a little different (and if you haven’t seen it… I don’t know how that happened for you. I’m sorry. But it’s not too late). This movie is about reality. The good, the bad, and everything in between. People actually choose to live a more difficult existence just because it’s real. It’s authentic. THEY are authentic.

When people take my 21-Day Heart Cleanse course, they are basically willing to confront the truth so that they can live authentically. They are walking away from the make-believe world of the Matrix and Disney all at once. Here’s what that can look like though.

The villains we have? Often not quite as “bad” as we made them out to be.
And the heroes? Well, let’s just say that they aren’t the Disney version we might have given them credit for.

It can be a little unsettling. We’ve grown used to the tidy black and white categories. He’s bad and she’s good. Then we go and love the good ones and reject the bad ones. So simple! But also unfair. And incredibly conditional.

If you want to really love your heroes, I mean REALLY love them, you’re going to have to welcome in their failings and screw-ups. It’s not Disney. They are real live humans making real live human mistakes. Just like you. Just like me. And just like the villains.

That’s the other side of accepting reality. Your heart will inevitably soften toward your villains. If you let it anyway.

And if you do, here’s the coolest part. You, my friend, have a little bit of villain in you too. We all do. Practicing acceptance of others is how you practice acceptance of yourself. A necessary pre-requisite for unconditional love.

Disney is a lovely escape. It’s a predictable and comforting way to view life. But living in reality is truth, authenticity, and the only real shot we have at fully, deeply, and completely loving ourselves and the people in our lives.

Hey, let's connect! I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Facing Hard Times: How to Move Forward in Life

(more…)

The Truth Beyond Your Comfort Zone

You know how they say that growth happens outside your comfort zone?
I think that’s only kinda true. Let’s break it down.

I think there are three zones.

  1. Comfort Zone
  2. Uncomfortable Zone
  3. Discomfort Zone

The comfort zone is nice and safe.
It’s familiar and warm in there. Nothing ever changes in this cozy little existence. Including you.

Then there is the uncomfortable zone.
This is when you step outside what feels safe and now it feels unfamiliar and a little disorienting. You don’t know all the answers. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. You’re not certain of the outcomes. But you’re not in pain.

When it hurts, you are in the discomfort zone.
Whether you’ve put yourself there or you’ve been dropped to your knees there by some outside force, you’re not just uncomfortable. You are in pain.

Of the three zones, the uncomfortable situations are a brilliant place for growth. Personal growth can’t happen in a stagnant environment like the comfort zone. But if you are mindful and self-aware, growth is almost a guarantee in the uncomfortable zone. But not so much in the discomfort zone. Will you eventually grow once you’ve survived the pain? Maybe, but there is no guarantee. Hurt can derail the strongest person.

It’s kind of like working out.
When you’ve pushed your body too far and you have that next day soreness, that’s happy pain, right? It hurts so good. It’s a little physical reminder that you are stretching yourself and making gains. But then there are the times when you push yourself too far or are not careful enough and you actually injure yourself. That pain sucks. It knocks you right off your path, because now you have to stop everything to heal first. You might still learn from it but skipping it altogether would have been the preferred option. That’s the discomfort zone.

So how do we end up there?
Sometimes a major loss or huge life change throws us there through no control of our own.
Other times, we’ve ignored the small signs of stress and we end up with something like a stress fracture, a break that comes from too much repeated strain. Maybe we’ve stepped into the uncomfortable zone but we’ve done it in too many different places in our life.

The uncomfortable zone is a little scary but still has some excitement and motivation to it. It’s like going into a haunted house. Frightening but also fun and definitely worth doing. When you are in the uncomfortable zone, you are confident that you’ll grow in a positive way from the experiences. When you are in the discomfort zone, you are just hoping you will survive it and still be okay. One of the side effects of a trip to the discomfort zone is that it usually sends you running back to the comfort zone and discourages you from leaving that safe place.

The trick is to find the sweet spot, isn’t it?
You’ve got to be really careful to monitor your emotions and energy so that you know when you’ve taken one step too far…knowing that line between excitement and anxiety or busy and overwhelmed. But you also have to know if you haven’t taken a step far enough which might show up as boredom, distraction, or monotony.

I’ll leave you with this visual…
Comfort zone = eyes glazed over
Uncomfortable zone = eyes wide open
Discomfort zone = eyes squeezed shut

There is nothing quite as delicious as living a life with your eyes wide open. Make sure you figure out the sweet spot for you and how to make that happen, my friend.

Hey, let's connect! I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you'd like to sign up for my biweekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.