On April 17th, 2019 by Stacy

Five Ways to Keep your Cool in an Argument

Posted In:
blog | Connection

You can walk into a conversation with the most loving intentions but when the other person pushes your buttons, it’s all too easy to fall into an unhealthy trap.

Having an auto-response (even just to repeat in your head) can be incredibly helpful for staying on the high-energy road, even when the other person’s response threatens to drag you down. Here are some common tricky situations and what to do to keep yourself centered.

They try to engage you in a fight.
People prefer what they know, especially when they are triggered. If communication between the two of you has historically ended in a fight, the other person may want to pull you both back into that familiar scenario. Also, energy likes company. If they feel miserable, they will want you to drop down into that misery energy with them.

Breaking patterns is one of the toughest things to do in a relationship, especially one that has a long history. If the other person isn’t on board, you carry the bigger burden. But even if they never join you in your intention, you can break your own pattern by not engaging.

RESPONSE: I love us too much to fight.

They shut down and disconnect.
Everyone handles situations differently depending on their fear response. Some people fight. Some people flee. When the other person withdraws, it’s likely they are wrapped up in their own emotional reaction. Unfortunately at that point, they may not be able to hear what you are trying to communicate. Also, feedback can be really threatening for people who are easily triggered when they think they’ve done something “wrong.” System shut down is a common response to feelings of unworthiness.

The purpose of communication needs to be for connection and not to point out wrongness. As long as that remains the focus, there is less likelihood of triggering the other person.

RESPONSE: I am expressing myself, because I want to stay connected.

They keep dragging up the past.
Some people feel like the best defense is a good offense. If there isn’t anything to grab onto in the moment to use as an attack, they might bring up something old that they think you did wrong. It’s just a deflection technique.

It could also mean there are unresolved events still causing pain in the present. That’s worth a mindful look at some point. Clearing it up by forgiving and learning from it may put it to rest. However, this moment is for this conversation and it’s important to maintain focus on that rather than get confused and distracted.

RESPONSE: I’m focused on only this right now.

The calmer you are, the more out of control they become.
Sometimes people mistake a calm demeanor as a dismissive one or as quiet judgement, and people do interesting things when they feel ignored. They may double their efforts to be heard by screaming, swearing, and spinning out of control. The more non-reactive you are, the more judged they feel and the more self-judgement they engage in. It’s all just what’s going on in their own mind though.

In order to remain connected, you have to stay and allow. Abandoned is the last thing somebody who has lost it wants to feel in their “crazy” moment. That feels like the ultimate judgement.

RESPONSE: I am loving and will not turn away.

They reject your apology.
The other person may either outright refuse to accept it or energetically reject it by remaining disconnected. People reject apologies for a number of reasons…they don’t believe them, they don’t trust that things will change, they want to punish the other person, etc… As long as the apology is sincere and done properly (without justifications/rationalizations/qualifiers/blame) with an honest intention to change behavior, the other person’s response is their business.

When we’ve hurt someone else, we’ve hurt ourselves in the process because it’s painful to cause someone else’s suffering. By apologizing, we are owning our responsibility and attempting to reconnect. It’s very important that we forgive ourselves in the process, also. That way, we can still release ourselves from an experience even when the other person wants to tether us to it.

RESPONSE: I can forgive myself and move on.

We aren’t always on the same page as our partner, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring our best selves to the tough conversations. Having helpful little tools like auto-responses are a way for us to keep growing, keep loving, and stay connected to ourselves and our loved ones.

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. 

On March 27th, 2019 by Stacy

Five Signs Your Past is Affecting Your Happiness Today

Posted In:
blog | Growth

We all want to feel like survivors of the bad stuff that’s happened to us. Since we're here, I guess we are survivors. However, surviving and thriving are pretty different. Even though you might want to put your head in the air, straight arm the past, and never look back, the past has sneaky ways of keeping you from all the goodness life is waiting to deliver. Here are some of the ways it might be showing up in your daily life.

You are repeating patterns.
Even though it feels like you’ve moved on, you somehow end up in the same kinds of relationships or find yourself experiencing the same types of circumstances and situations. That’s a sure sign that you have some unresolved business to deal with. It’s why people find themselves in codependent relationships over and over or in jobs they hate again and again or in the same kinds of conflicts with people time after time. Something in your past set you up for this pattern and the only surefire way to break it is to find out more about where it came from.

You are holding onto hurt.
Maybe it’s in the form of grudges or perhaps people you can’t stand, even ones you hate. It can be simply waiting for an apology or any acknowledgment that what that person did to you was wrong. The problem is that energy like that is poison to your loving heart. Not only does it give all your power away to someone else or what they did, but it pulls in more of the same experiences because energy attracts like energy. The way to release yourself from that is to visit the source of the hurt, see it clearly, forgive, and let go.

You’ve allowed your experiences to define who you are.
This is particularly sticky if it stems from something you’ve done to harm someone else. When you’ve done a selfish, mean, or lazy thing, you might fold that into your identity. Instead of it being just an incident, now YOU are selfish, mean, or lazy. If you’ve got judge-y words about yourself bouncing around that little head of yours, they didn’t materialize out of nothing. They were born from an experience and a glance back can be the thing that liberates you from those negative definitions. Even being told you are strong can be a heavy weight to bear when you don’t feel like being strong.

You’ve picked up limiting beliefs.
If you hear yourself say “I can’t” or “I’ll never,” it’s very likely you’ve got a limiting belief in operation. I can’t quit my job. I’ll never find my soulmate. I can’t tell anyone that. I’ll never lose the weight. Totally normal. Humans have limiting beliefs because our brains are trying to make sense of the world. But they came into existence as a result of our experiences. Once we are able to see the mental process that started in our past and runs our decisions today, we can begin to bust through those limitations.

You are isolating yourself based on a story.
It’s in our nature to revise the past. We do it to protect ourselves. Sometimes we edit something that happened to make it so much worse so that we’ll never put ourselves in that kind of danger again. That isolates us from other people as we avoid anything even remotely similar or it isolates us from ourselves as we reject a piece of who we are as too terrible. Other times we change the story so that the real facts don’t hurt quite so bad and we don’t have to feel that pain when we land on a memory. Most of the time, we are just trying to feel worthy and good enough but lies and falsehoods take an enormous amount of energy to protect and keep us from living an authentic life. Freedom comes from standing nakedly in front of the real story in our past and accepting ourselves entirely.

The past might feel like a scary place but so many people are living a life that is falling short of what they want in their hearts and in relationships that don’t come even close to what they deserve. As scary as that look backward may seem, the real bleakness is what won’t be realized if you don’t take the plunge.
No fooling, a new 21-Day Heart Cleanse starts April 1! You can find more course details and registration 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. 

On March 12th, 2019 by Stacy

Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Anger

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

Anger is unpleasant in all shapes and forms.
Whether it’s a bubbling pool of lava beneath the surface or a full-blown eruption, it doesn’t feel good. Not for the person feeling it and not for anybody around them.

What’s interesting about anger is how often it indicates something deeper is going on. If we get curious about it, we might learn something about ourselves. Here are five questions you can ask yourself the next time you feel anger (rage, irritation, frustration, bitterness, hostility, and any of the other forms it takes).

What is your anger hiding?
Anger can be a cover for something a little more tender. Maybe your feelings are hurt. Maybe you feel embarrassed or inferior. It doesn’t feel safe to expose those vulnerable emotions so we elect to be angry instead, and that feels protective. Unfortunately, this can become a habitual response to more delicate emotions to the point where the angry person can’t recognize what the anger is masking.

What is your anger protecting you from?
Fight is one of the fear responses. Even when the fear isn’t a physical threat, fight might be your go-to response. When you feel fear of abandonment, rejection, or helplessness for example, you might get mad instead. Attack first can be a very effective defense strategy. It keeps people from poking around and exposing your fears. What it doesn’t do is get rid of fear. As long as you leave it unexamined, fear will stick around.

What are you resisting?
We all want the world to be a certain way. Even though it would be such a peaceful and happy existence if we all just willingly accepted the reality of our lives, we don’t. We resist it. We get mad about it. It’s not supposed to be like this! If you ever hear the words “supposed to” or “should” bouncing around your head, you are probably also experiencing some negative emotions (like anger). Resistance really is futile because it doesn’t change anything. Acceptance is the remedy for resistance.

What are you viewing as wrong?
Justice and righteousness are the fast paths to anger. When we think of something as “wrong,” that can cause instant frustration, irritation, or rage. In fact, if you are hanging out with someone who seems awfully angry a lot of the time, odds are they have very strong opinions on what is right and what is wrong in the world. That right/wrong thinking doesn’t influence circumstances. It just makes people miserable. Letting go of our righteousness is the peaceful path.

Is your anger related to this circumstance or something from your past?
So often the current event triggering our anger is actually exposing a wound from the past. We think we are mad at the person standing before us when we are actually reliving a rejection, humiliation, or violation from another time in our lives. That’s the reason things get blown so far out of proportion sometimes. The present moment is being weighed down with the painful experiences of similar events from the past. The only way to lighten the current reaction is to resolve those past experiences.

By asking ourselves these five questions when we are gripped by anger, we can release the hold of that negative emotions. All of our emotions are windows into our inner worlds. They tell us about who we are, what makes us tick, what motivates us to do things. Taking the time to investigate what is behind our emotions when they arise, can be an enlightening experience. They are opportunities for us to learn about ourselves and grow into something even more magical than we already are.

 

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. 

On February 12th, 2019 by Stacy

"Tiny" Trauma

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

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. 

On January 29th, 2019 by Stacy

Feel Forward

Posted In:
blog | Mindset

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.

On January 15th, 2019 by Stacy

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Posted In:
blog | Connection

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.

On January 1st, 2019 by Stacy

Hello Failure, My Old Friend

Posted In:
blog | Self-Mastery

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.

  • Just because you can’t stand green smoothies doesn’t mean you have to give up on your weight-loss goal.
  • Just because you can’t sacrifice your Starbucks habit doesn’t mean you toss in the towel on your financial goal.
  • Just because you hate online dating doesn’t mean you should stop looking for your soulmate.

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.

On December 18th, 2018 by Stacy

Dropping the Weight

Posted In:
blog | Ego

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.

On December 4th, 2018 by Stacy

Disney vs The Matrix

Posted In:
blog | Connection

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.

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On November 13th, 2018 by Stacy

The Truth Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Posted In:
blog | Growth

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.

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