On January 15th, 2019 by Stacy

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

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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.


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On December 4th, 2018 by Stacy

Disney vs The Matrix

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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.

On July 10th, 2018 by Stacy

Why Won't You Get Mad with Me?

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The other day I was accused of “refusing to engage in mutual outrage”. Now at first glance, this seems to align pretty well with my values. I don’t like feeling outraged. Outrage has all kinds of things that I would rather not participate in…negativity, criticism, judgment, rage. I find that kind of energy incredibly draining and my response is to turn away from it as fast as I can. No problem, right?

Well actually, kind of a problem. At least for me and where I am in a very important relationship because I think what the person was really getting at was that I was refusing to connect. By rejecting the attempt to engage me, I was in some way, rejecting that person.

When setting boundaries becomes the problem.
Some people need to learn to set healthy boundaries. But not me. I’m very good at setting boundaries. Maybe a little too good, actually. My challenge is the opposite right now. I am working on removing my guards, loosening my borders, and not being so quick to draw lines.

I didn’t have to pick up a pitchfork, but I didn’t have to be dismissive either. I think the piece that was missing was an acknowledgement. What I was doing was refusing to “see” the other person, because I am afraid the energy might be negative.

Based on absolutely no evidence other than my extreme discomfort around anger, I concluded a long time ago that if I engage someone’s rage of any kind (even outrage), it will just add fuel to the fire and create an inferno that is going to consume me. So my compulsion is to run and if I can’t physically get away, I withdraw.

What I have are “unhealthy boundaries” that I’ve put in place out of fear of being hurt by someone else or getting sucked into their energy vortex. But that causes me to turn away from people instead of running toward them.

Unconditional acceptance.
Intellectually I know that by acknowledging a loved one's "negative" emotions means they won’t have to keep fanning their own flames to get my attention. I just somehow haven’t put that into practice enough in my own personal life. But I’m working on it. I’m trying to stay. I’m trying to turn toward. Even when I’m afraid.

Here is why.

Sometimes, you are in a relationship with a person who is going through a challenging time. You know they’ll come through it (probably), but being in it with them is super unpleasant. I don’t want to abandon my loved ones when they are in that moment, in that negative energetic space. I mean I want to but I don’t want to want to, if that makes sense.

What I really needed to do for that person and for the people I love is to acknowledge their outrage (or whatever other emotion they are feeling that is making me uncomfortable), to see them rather than dismiss them, to connect with them rather than to reject them, to turn toward rather than away.

That’s the loving choice for me right now. And it’s a departure from what is so often talked about in personal development. True, we need healthy boundaries. True, we reflect the energy we surround ourselves with. But isn’t it also true that we all have shadows and dark times and want more than anything to be seen then? Bumping up against someone’s fortress in our painful moments is the last thing we need. So I’m working on taking mine down so that I can love more fully. I might not engage in a mutual outrage, but I will at least try to acknowledge yours.

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 weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

On May 8th, 2018 by Stacy

How to Find the ONE

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Universal Yearning
We all want to be accepted. We all want to belong. We all want to be loved. I know that about you, because I know that about me. It's our human nature. These are the desires that drive our actions.

We were not meant to make this life journey alone and in isolation. And yet, we so often choose to do so. Sometimes people say they want love and connection but instead of going out and finding it, they stay in their heads and in their houses waiting. Waiting for it to come. Waiting for it to arrive on their doorstep. And while that may feel safe, it isn’t going to work.

If you really want it, YOU are the one who needs to make it happen. I know that it isn’t easy. It takes courage to take a risk knowing that you might get rejected.

But I also know that it only takes one. One new friend can open up your entire world. They may not be THE ONE, but please do not dismiss people too quickly. If they are not THE ONE, they might be the person who introduces you to THE ONE. Or introduces you to their brother who introduces you to his best friend who runs into a colleague that shares a similar interest with you and before you know it, THE ONE will show up in your life.

Tribal Longing
When I first moved to Boise, I knew nobody. Not a soul. We moved right before Thanksgiving and winter came fast. In my neighborhood, that means that everyone goes into hibernation. But I didn’t know that at the time. It just felt like a ghost town to me. Plus, I worked from home so it was just me and my one-year-old. I remember standing at the front door waving goodbye to my visiting family as they drove away after Christmas. As the car turned the corner and disappeared out of sight, I was hit with a devastating realization. I was completely alone. I cried for the rest of the day.

But after I was done with my little pity party, I vowed to find a friend. And I knew that if I was going to find the ONE (or ones), I was going to have to start by meeting people. I was sure that I would eventually find my crew but they were not going to trudge through the snow to my front door and find me.

So I signed my little toddler up for music and gymnastics classes, showed up to every story hour at the library, searched for and joined random playgroups, and said yes to every invite that came my way. I also did the hardest thing of all which was to actually start conversations with people. It wasn’t going to be enough to just show up. I had to show up and connect.

Most of the time, it didn’t work out. I met lots of nice people I knew were not MY people. But guess what happened? I also met women who are my inner circle fourteen years later. I met the women who would feed my family through two difficult pregnancies, who would drop everything to rush to my aid, who I would laugh with and cry with, and who would nurture me through all of the phases of my life.

Take a Leap
You just have to stop waiting and go find your one. Start anywhere, start somewhere. Sign up for classes, join groups, say yes. You’ll find them eventually, but it’s not magic.

Here are the four steps you’ll need to take.

  1. You have to believe that they are out there. I promise that they are, but YOU have to believe it. Will you meet plenty of people that are not for you? Yes. But remember, they just might lead you to the one. It was my unshakable belief that I would eventually find my people that kept me hauling myself and my child out of the house all winter long. I knew it would eventually pay off. You have to believe that though. That is how you get through the rejections and the wrong fits.
  2. Make the decision to get up, get out, and go searching. Mine didn’t magically show up and unfortunately, yours aren’t going to either. It is up to you to find them.
  3. You have to look for your people where your people are. I was looking for young moms and putting myself in places where they hang out. It doesn’t make sense to hang out at the gym all day waiting for that person who likes knitting as much as you. You have to go where the knitters are. If you are looking for a single guy and all you see around you are women, you are not in the right place for what you seek. That being said, the simple rule is you want to be doing the things you love and doing those things with other people as much as possible.
  4. Take the first step and start the conversation. Put your phone down, take out your earbuds, get your nose out of the book, and connect with the people around you. It’s not enough to just show up. You’ve got to stretch yourself and make that first contact.

Not everybody was blessed with a big family or a group of friends that found them or the perfect partner that seemed to have just shown up out of thin air. But everybody deserves all the love that comes with those things. So go out and get yours, my friend.

 

Hey, let's connect! I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you're interested in joining the next 21-Day Heart Cleanse, you can find info on that here.

And if you'd like to sign up for my weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

On April 24th, 2018 by Stacy

How to deal with the silent treatment

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If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the silent treatment, you know it feels awful. You’ve been iced out and it can feel like it is up to you to make the first move.

We want to close the gap.

In your mind, that feels like a major step. It’s risky to know you might be the one in hot water. It’s scary to invite someone to share their negative emotions with you. However, it is a very important and courageous step to take in our relationships. Your ego is going to be kicking and screaming the whole time, because it is so resistant to anything that will make you feel bad. But you might march forward anyway and bravely ask the big question, “What’s wrong?”

Ever get this answer? “Nothing.”

Wait, what? Here you are feeling vulnerable and scared and this is what the other person comes back with?

This is what I think is going on when that happens. Despite the fact that you won the battle with your ego and chose to approach the person, you are actually asking them to take the bigger risk. You didn’t have to share anything. You didn’t tell them how you were feeling. You didn’t offer up anything other than a question. Your courage was all internal. They are the ones who have to take the external step and actually say something aloud.

They have to be willing to share their pain. And if someone is hurt, they are probably feeling rejected. Why in the world would they welcome another potential rejection? Simply answering that question might make them feel too vulnerable.

Plus, we added a layer of judgement by using the word “wrong”. It automatically positions them as right and whatever has happened (maybe you) as wrong. That might create an obstacle to a love-based conversation. We have a much better shot at connected communication when we leave right/wrong out of it. Those types of exchanges just end in blame and fault rather than at the feelings behind what happened.

What if we try a different approach?
Let’s lead with vulnerability and love. Share how you are feeling and then ask something more neutral.

  • I’m worried that I hurt your feelings when I… What’s going on?
  • I feel sad that you are not talking to me and really want to hear what you have to say. What’s going on?
  • I don’t feel connected to you but I really want to be. What’s going on?

It’s probably not going to be a much bigger step for you since you already made the decision to inquire. But the change in approach can be huge. By adding in your feelings you are sending the following messages…

  1. I care about you and our relationship.
  2. I am open to whatever you might need to share.
  3. I want to hear about how what happened made you feel.

The more we practice opening conversations in this way, the less scary it is to approach the person in the first place.

The silent treatment is used either because the person isn’t ready to share or they are trying to punish you for an injustice. Approaching with your feelings and a neutral question can be helpful in both situations. After all, we just want to re-establish that connection and get love flowing again. Sometimes, we have to be the first one to jump in and how we do it can make a huge difference.

 

Hey, let's connect! I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you're interested in joining the next 21-Day Heart Cleanse, you can find info on that here.

And if you'd like to sign up for my weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

On April 17th, 2018 by Stacy

Rules for Telling Stories

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I recently took an awesome course about using live video and story-telling as a way to spread your message. I learned a few very important things in taking that course, and I’ve created three story-telling guidelines for myself as a result.

1. Stories are most powerful when they are used as a way to connect with other people.
Sure, stories have other functions. They can be used to teach, to entertain, or to call for help. But within each of those motivations, the underlying purpose should always be to connect with another person.

We’ve all been subjected to stories that present the story-teller in a certain light but don’t create a connection with the audience. They are stories that are interesting to the speaker but not at all interesting to the listeners.

We can also feel when a story creates a love-based connection. And especially, when it doesn’t. I’m talking about stories that are meant to manipulate and create a false connection. Or stories that entertain or create a connection at someone else’s expense.

2. If you are the star of the story, it is your story to tell. (And if you are not…)
I have been in many situations where my family re-tells a story that makes them laugh hysterically but hurts me inside. And even more often, I have been the one laughing without realizing that it might be hurting someone else. It seems obvious now, but I really never saw that perspective before. Part of that came from me thinking that by finding the humor in it, the other person would find it less painful. That’s how I frequently use humor with my own stories. But that is a huge assumption that has caused me to be just plain insensitive.

I’m also guilty of telling someone else’s story. Sure, I might be a secondary character but that doesn’t give me the right to tell it. It’s really not my story to share.

3. Stories should be told with sensitivity and truth.
There is some grey area here. What about stories that teach and connect in a loving way but also have the potential of hurting someone else?

How do we reconcile a situation where we are the star of the story from our own perspective but someone else is the star of the story from where they are sitting?

Do we share a story that is someone else’s story when we are worried about them? I think we’ve all seen the danger in not telling a story just to protect someone or in keeping a story secret based entirely on fear.

Let your heart guide you.
What I have concluded is that we have to be gentle and kind in how we approach stories that fall into the grey areas. We have to make sure that we are sharing true facts and the truth of our heart and mind and not an exaggerated, embellished, creatively revised version of the story.

We also have to make sure that we are telling the story with the intention of creating a loving connection. That’s the most important take home for me.

These wouldn’t be the lessons I learned unless I was guilty of not following each of these guidelines. I’ve bored people. I’ve told a story to create intimacy with someone at someone else’s expense. I’ve told stories just to make me look good. I’ve told stories without considering the effect they would have on others.

Stories are such a compelling way to share yourself. They also allow us to share our messages and there is nothing I want more than to spread the message of love. But the process of spreading that message has to be undertaken in a loving way itself. My intention for these guidelines is to do just that and to honor myself and the people I love within the stories I tell.

As long as we are keeping the purpose of loving connection as our focus, our stories are a great way to share the moments of our lives with others.

 

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 weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

On April 10th, 2018 by Stacy

Mama, do you love me?

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blog | Connection

What if they don't feel your love?
Just because our heart is bursting with love for someone doesn’t mean that person necessarily feels that love. Where I worry I’m blowing it is in my parenting. Children everywhere, both young and grown, struggle with feeling unloved and sometimes it is because parents aren’t able to show them that outward expression of love.

Loving someone and showing it are two very different things. We can love someone unconditionally in our heart. We might know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is nothing they could do or that could happen that would make us stop loving them. Then, there is the expression of that love. It’s this second one that ends up being conditional. And unfortunately, the second one is what the other person experiences.

When you are a parent, you love your child so unbelievably much that all you want for them is to have a happy life. But there lies the problem.

Truly unconditional love requires mindfulness.
First, there is the matter of what we think a happy life is. That notion contains within it all of our own fears and what to avoid because we’ve learned that some experiences are painful. It also includes of all our successes and what has brought us happiness, along with the assumption that those are the same things that will bring our kids happiness.

Second, it places us in a state of judgment about the person we love and the choices they make. If what they do aligns with our beliefs, goals, and values, then we decide that is great and we might outwardly express our approval (child reads this as love). In the opposite case, however, when we see what they are doing as wrong or not good, we might outwardly express our lack of approval (child reads that as love withholding). Our concern for our children might come out as disappointment, frustration, anger, or silence.

This is dangerous territory for a parent. This is where our love gets lost in translation. We can love unconditionally all we want deep within our hearts, but it doesn’t create a loving connection unless the child feels it. They need the outward expression. They need the loving words, the loving touch, the loving acceptance of what they do and who they are. I’ll repeat that last part… the loving acceptance of what they do and who they are.

And I don’t mean acceptance of the things we don’t really care about. For example, I don’t care if one of my sons grow his hair out or loves a boy instead of a girl. Those things don’t disrupt my values. But bring home a “C” or lose another jacket, and I might want to call that “unacceptable” because I’m judging it as bad according to my own beliefs about what leads to a happy life. Acceptance is so much easier when our children are playing by the rules.

And when we are accepting, unconditional love is easier to express. But, it is not their job to do the “right” actions in order to get the love. It is my job to focus on what prevents me from accepting and thus, outwardly expressing love.

Stop the spin cycle.
There’s a line from a Pink Floyd song that goes, “Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you.” I think about that line when I know I’m not expressing my love. Because that is how it happens, right? I have my own belief about what my child is supposed to be doing. He’s not doing it. Therefore, I express disappointment or frustration. He feels that as lack of acceptance and love. So he learns what to fear, because he doesn’t want to feel unloved. It can be a terrible cycle, and I’m the only one who can stop it.

The place to stop it is my own fear-based core beliefs and my judgments. When we have love-based beliefs and are able to accept others (and ourselves), outward expressions of our unconditional love flow with ease.

When I think about my sons and how much I love them, it inspires me to do anything I can to make them really feel that love. I want them to know how unconditionally I love them. I want to be able to express it generously and emphatically, so they know it without a doubt. But I know that work is mine.

 

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 weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

On March 20th, 2018 by Stacy

When They Learned it from You

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blog | Connection

Here is one of the downsides of walking around guarding yourself. The obstacles you have in place preventing you from giving and receiving love may transfer to people you care about very much.

They have to build their own walls to protect themselves from you.
Remember that they just want love, too. It can be too painful to want love that you are not getting, so they might begin to retreat from you and hide behind their own walls. That doesn’t mean they are silent and withdrawn necessarily. People hide behind all kinds of things…bubbly, funny, calm, dependable…everybody has their own mask and if you know someone well enough, you can feel how that mask is like a cement wall between their tender heart and yours.

That can be especially hard to swallow if you decide you don’t want to block love anymore. You are finally ready to be loved and love, but this person you love so much doesn’t want to let you in.

It can’t always be undone either. All you can really do is work on removing your own blocks and hope that over time you become “safe” and they will be able to trust that you can love them just how they are. But they may not choose that. You can’t make someone bring their wall down. You can’t do it for them. They have to decide to do it themselves.

And boy is it easy to judge yourself for this.
I’ve done that way too many times. I’ve witnessed the way my children have grown to protect themselves and seen how familiar it looks. Too familiar. And if I am honest with myself, it’s not really surprising. I have to turn back towards me in those moments and acknowledge that I’m largely responsible for it. When that was too painful because of all of the guilt and shame that went with it, I would cover it up with a story.

  • Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s because of this other experience or relationship.
  • He was born like that and has always been that way.
  • It’s probably just his age.

But it’s all just a story.
And I’m not the only one who tells it. People everywhere who have loved from behind a wall have taught the people in their lives how to love “safely” and when faced with the truth of that, made up excuses and rationalizations for it.

And really, it doesn’t matter if they’ve already got their guard up. Like I said, we can’t bring the safe house they’re building down. Only they can.

We can kick and scream and tell them we want them to let us in, but they might not. When we can’t fix the situation we’ve created, it’s tempting to go back to judging ourselves as being the worst parent, spouse, sibling, friend ever. But that is the absolute opposite of what we need to do.

It is because we judged ourselves in the first place that we started to live behind our wall. And it is because we judged others that they began to live behind their walls. All any of us ever really wanted was to be loved and when that love wasn’t given to us freely, we built some protection. We hid safely behind our own mask.

The very first and most important thing we can do is accept ourselves as we are.
Acceptance of all the flaws we have and mistakes we have made. That has to happen in order for us to love ourselves. We need that ability to love ourselves in order to come out from behind our walls to love others. Think about it. If we know that we are lovable and worthy, we don’t need to seek that evidence in someone else’s judgment of us. And the better we get at accepting ourselves, the better we get at accepting other people so that they don’t need their own wall to feel okay with us.

But it starts with us. And as painful as it may be to witness the walls people have built as a response to us, it is the perfect place to begin. Acceptance isn’t only for when we are pleased with ourselves. Acceptance is necessary in every moment, especially the ones we are tempted to be ashamed about. Acceptance and love for ourselves. Acceptance and love for others.

 

Hey, let's connect! I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

There's a new 21-Day Heart Cleanse starting soon... you can find info on that here.

And if you'd like to sign up for my weekly newsletter, The Love List, scroll to the bottom of the page.

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