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.

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On October 30th, 2018 by Stacy

Trigger Me This

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

I love getting emotionally triggered.
I mean, I don’t love it like I want more of it. It’s more like a failed experiment. It kind of sucks but you gather lots of good information.

It’s never about what the other person did or who is right or wrong. It’s really just about me. My emotional response reveals everything I need to know about what is going on in my own mind. So I like to take a pause as soon as I can and dig around to find out what’s going on beneath the emotional surface, so I can react differently next time.

Here’s an example of something that happened to me recently.
I was at a concert and this was a band I was super excited to see. But I was feeling agitated for some reason. It didn’t make any sense. I was having a strong negative reaction to the lead singer. What the heck? Who even cares? I don’t know that guy.

The feeling kind of lingered for the rest of the show and I didn’t get to processing it until the next day. What was it about him that bugged me so much?

Step one for me is to figure out what I am feeling.
I try to be very precise about this, because it helps me get to the root a little quicker. What was the emotion? Irritation? That didn’t feel quite right. Disappointment. No. Disgust. Yep, it was disgust.

Step two is to determine what is triggering that particular emotion.
That was easy. It was arrogance. I caught an arrogant vibe off the guy and my response was disgust. I stepped back for a minute to survey my history and this seemed to be a patterned response. Why was I so triggered by arrogance?

Here’s step three.
What does this reaction say about ME? I often try to turn it around on myself as a test. That’s because when I am triggered, it is sometimes by a characteristic that I fear I have or fear being judged as having. Okay. Instead of “I am disgusted by his arrogance,” I try on, “I am disgusted by my own arrogance.” No, that didn’t seem to be the source this time.

So I decided to dig into arrogance a little. What is arrogance anyway? Well, there’s some self-absorption in it. I KNOW that is something that I react negatively to in other people. But it felt like there was more to it.

And then I got it. Rejection. Arrogance contains a little bit of rejection, doesn’t it? It feels like receiving the message that you are not good enough. It feels like the other person is saying, “You are not as fill-in-the-blank as me. I refuse to connect with you. I’m better than you.”

I’d been feeling rejected, not only for myself but on behalf of the entire audience. Here we were, fans showering him with love and admiration, and he wasn’t sending love back at us. Ouch.

Now, I can hear the should in there. He’s supposed to be grateful and gracious. That’s just my own assumptions tripping me up though. He can do whatever he wants. The exercise is for ME. I want to have a different response when I come in contact with arrogance. Right? It’s never about avoiding rejection. It’s about not allowing rejection to cut you. It’s about knowing rejection doesn’t have anything to do with who you are and your self-worth.

Now that I can see it, I can understand my reaction better. All I want is to know myself well enough to sit with arrogance (or any other characteristic) and be completely okay. How I do that is by taking these beautiful opportunities and digging into them. My emotions are awesome indicators of my internal programming. Even when they don’t feel good, I try to welcome them in so that I can learn from them.

You can do this, too.
The next time you feel something, play along.

  1. What are you feeling? Name it. Get specific.
  2. Why are you feeling that way?
  3. What does this tell you about YOU?

There is so much information to be uncovered when you say yes to the investigation. Added bonus: Those “negative” emotions now have a purpose. They show up to teach you about YOU!

 

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 October 16th, 2018 by Stacy

If Casseroles Can't Fix This, What Can?

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

I heard terrible news a few weeks ago.
Awful, devastating, heart-breaking… the worst kind of news. But someone else’s news. My pain was my heart breaking for a friend. It was the projection of how profoundly this will affect people. And it was a realization of how my own life, my children’s lives, my husband’s life and my parents’ lives could change in an instant.

And also a realization of how I still to this day don’t love as much as I want to.

I felt helpless. There are no casseroles that can fix something like that. There are not enough hugs in the universe to make it all better. It just hurts. It will change people forever. I coach adults trying to sort through the hardships of their childhood. I know that things just happen. But. They have a long-term effect on who we become.

That almost makes it harder. To hear news like that.

There is nothing you can do but love.
You know someone you care so much about will never be the same. All you can do is love through it no matter what that will look like. Love from afar. Love up close. Don’t forget to love long after the outsiders have moved on and the insiders still suffer.

We want to do something. We want to act. We want to soothe ourselves by being able to help. That’s a totally normal reaction. I felt that.

I have never come close to touching loss like that. Because of that, a little part of me wants to just give tons of space. And space is super important. For sure. But when the first wave and maybe even the second wave subsides, using that as an excuse is not okay.

Be uncomfortable.
Know that you can never understand, but stay anyway. Be there. Do not be distant because you don’t know how to show up. In fact, ask how you can show up. I learned this from another friend suffering a trauma. Don’t ask, “How are you doing?” Don’t say anything. Just show up and hug. I learned from her to be silent and listen. Your words cannot comfort as much as your solid quiet love can sometimes.

And guess what else I did the day I heard the news? I got my hair done. On most days, I consider this a necessity. I have a LOT of grey hair. That day it seemed so stupid and vain and completely insignificant. So much of what I did seemed meaningless on that day.

Thank goodness the work I do feels purposeful. Thankfully, it was a course-building day and not a client day. That would have been HARD. My energy was way too wrapped up in it. Work actually felt good that day. It felt like I was contributing something valuable, like I had a way to help all of the people who were the insiders of the bad news and have had to survive their trauma but now want to heal.

I have never been so sad and joyful at the same time.
My actions may not directly help my friend, but I know they help others healing from the same experiences.

This blog is a hot mess. I don’t know what I have to contribute other than this…

  1. Give space and love.
  2. Show up and love.
  3. Allow yourself to feel even if it isn’t yours.
  4. Do work that feels meaningful.

I love you all so freaking much. Kisses and hugs.

 

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 September 26th, 2018 by Stacy

Emotional Manipulation

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

I got mad at my husband this morning.
He didn’t do something he was supposed to do and I ended up having to do it. Like super mad. It happens in relationships. I’m human. So is he.

But then I stayed mad. Being a coach, it’s just become a habit to mentally dig into my unpleasant emotions (especially if I’m reeeaaally stuck). Plus, I know that whenever I’ve got negative emotions directed at someone else, I’m feeling disappointed. That’s a red flag for me that I’ve got some expectations in place and am living in my should story instead of reality. So I set off on a little mental inquiry.

One thing I knew for sure was that I was manufacturing emotions. Mad showed up. No big deal. BUT. When it was naturally ready to exit, I started telling myself a story about all the ways he takes advantage of me and I blah blahed myself down the martyr hole. So Mad got to stay as a lead character.

Okay, Stacy, drop the story.
Why was I choosing this narrative? Why did it feel necessary? Because truthfully, I could feel that I was choosing it even if I didn’t want it.

It seemed I wanted to be mad at him as some kind of protective measure. The simple and loving response would just be to say, “Hey, when you didn’t do that thing, I had to do it instead and I really didn’t have time for it. Help a girl out next time? Thanks, sweetie!”

But somewhere in my mind I had some weird programming that didn’t trust that tactic. I seemed to believe that if I didn’t deliver feedback with my mad energy attached, he wouldn’t change the behavior. Like the request itself wasn’t enough. I had to get mad, too.

How lame, right? Doesn’t that just encourage the other person to make sure they don’t make you mad again? It isn’t so much that they'll want to help you out more.

It’s so manipulative, right?! I mean, not that I was consciously trying to manipulate, but once I took a step back and really looked at it, that was exactly what I was doing. Manufacturing emotions to manipulate someone’s actions. Gulp.

I very much believe that everything showing up in my life has a purpose.
None of it is random. All of the ways my husband challenges me (read pisses me off) are there to help me grow.

Perhaps this was a beautiful opportunity for me. Where else was I using my emotional reaction to manipulate people into doing what I want? That sounds harsh, I know. But, intentionally or not, it felt a little true.

And there is a flip side. Where did my original idea come from that people won’t show up differently if there isn’t an emotional reaction? Do I do that to others? Do I keep showing up the same lame way for someone until they get mad or hurt or sad about it?

I don’t know that it is reflected so much in my actions, but I can see it in my thoughts. The people I am the most afraid to disappoint are the ones that have an emotional reaction to what I do. Isn’t that interesting.

That just seems so backwards. Then again, maybe they’re accommodating and forgiving because they’ve already done all of this same work and let go of expectations. It’s definitely something for me to keep working on.

I share this little experience with YOU for a few reasons.
1. EVERYONE has all the emotions. Nobody out there, including me, gets to avoid them.
2. There is a big difference between natural emotions and manufactured emotions.
3. We sometimes use emotions to manipulate other people, even if we don’t know we are doing it. Let’s stop that and see what happens.
4. The people disappointing you have been put in your life for a reason. Take some time to figure out what that is, my friend.
5. Let’s make sure we keep showing up for ALL the people, not just the ones throwing emotional fits.

That’s all. Love you.

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 September 4th, 2018 by Stacy

The Biggest Lie of All

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

I remember the first time a boy broke my heart.
I was devastated. I was totally and completely broken. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I just wanted to sleep so that I could forget. And I remember how much it sucked to wake up and have reality come flooding back in. It was the most painful thing I’d ever felt.

Here is what I wish someone had told me back then. I wish someone had said, “This is not about who you are, love. This is a life experience. Nothing more and nothing less. It hurts to lose something but it doesn’t change how worthy you are of love.”

I wish someone had told me that because I believed the opposite. When that boy cut me loose, I felt discarded and unworthy. It validated every fear I had deep within me. That rejection felt like it was more evidence of me not being good enough.

But we all do this, right? It’s just a part of the human existence to believe this lie.

What happens to us is because of who we are. Bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.

And would I have even believed something different? Probably not. I was just a young teenage girl. Unlearning that lie is something we all have to do on our own. Turns out it was going to be many years before it was my turn to unlearn it.

Let’s imagine being able to look at experiences as just a part of life and not about who we are.
For example, there is a huge difference between experiencing a loss and experiencing a loss you somehow deserved because of who you are or what you did.

Loss is just loss. It’s incredibly painful. It can even feel like you’ll never survive it. Losing something you love hurts (even if what you are losing is just a possibility you were holding onto). But you never “deserved” it.

Here is what I believe now.
I’m going to suggest that it is the truth for you, too. None of the “bad” things that have happened to you had anything to do with who you are. None. Not when your heart was broken, your spirit was crushed, or your body was abused. Not when your mind failed you. None of it was about who you are.

YOU decided that it was. Just like I decided it was. We decided to allow our experiences to determine our self-worth. But I am here to tell you that who you are is so much more than that.

When you realize that you can just unlearn that lie, you are liberated. The problem is that you are also human. So, like me, you get to do it over and over and over again. It’s like human Groundhog Day. We keep waking up forgetting that who we are has nothing to do with what we experience, so we have to unlearn it again.

That’s okay. It’s all a part of life. All a part of being human. I just want to leave you with this.

You are not bad. There is nothing wrong with you. People have hurt you but that is not about you. It’s about them. People might even try to convince you that it’s about you. That’s about them, too.

You are perfect and nothing can change that. No matter what.

The magic is in believing that truth.

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.

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