Have you ever thought about your relationship to money? I say relationship because we all have a story about money.
I grew up thinking we were poor. There never seemed to be enough money for what I wanted.
Now mind you, I never went without food, decent clothing, anything really. But as a kid, I wanted certain things, as all kids do.
There never seemed to be enough when I wanted things like candy or a toy. I didn’t get an allowance so I would ask my parents for money when I wanted something. The answer was sometimes yes, but most of the time, no. Sounds normal, right?
But as a kid, I made up the story that I couldn’t have those things because we were poor. And my mind took it one step further down the victim trail to, “I can’t have what I want but my brothers always get what they want.”
What my mind failed to realize is that my brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me. They worked on a local farm or at the 5 & 10 store and earned their own money so they could buy what they wanted.
But my mind was determined to hold onto this scarcity mentality.
Fast forward to adulthood. I perpetuated this story by putting all of my families needs above my own. The kids needed new school clothes, ok. My husband wanted to go on his annual fishing trip, of course.
But when I even had the thought of spending any money on myself, my mind immediately went to, “No! You can’t have what you want! Remember, there isn’t enough for you!”
So I became resentful.
When I had enough of my resentment, I would just go and buy what I wanted. Then, guilt set in.
I felt so much guilt from spending anything on myself, I would sometimes not tell my husband what I bought. I thought he certainly wouldn’t understand spending $40 on a tube of face cream.
That left me feeling dishonest and like I was stealing from my family.
I knew I needed to break this pattern of behavior before I could really welcome any amount of abundance into my life.
My best friend, a former financial broker, suggested that in order to break through this, I simply needed some mad money. A certain amount of money each week, I could call my own.
My mad money was mine to do with what I wanted. I could burn it, give it away, buy a bunch of little things or save it for something bigger.
This made so much sense to me and immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders. I know this sounds crazy but this “allowance,” so to speak, opened up possibilities for me to not only get what I wanted but to give up the destructive pattern of guilt and resentment.
By releasing the emotional tie it had on me, I no longer let money control my life.
Now I’m rewriting my money story from a perspective of abundance and having all of my needs met. Even if it’s candy!
What is your “money mindset?” What would you like your relationship to money to be? What is something you can do today to begin a shift toward your new “money mindset?”
How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?
Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.
If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.
They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.
This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.
The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.
But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”
I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.
For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.
We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.
The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.
I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!
If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.
Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?
What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?
Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.
Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?
Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.
Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.
For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.
I hear people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.
In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.
The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.
Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.
In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.
I did this for years.
I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.
You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?” That is exactly what happened.
Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.
There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.
Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out, need to seek professional help)
When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.
Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.
Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.
In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.
When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.
Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.
However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.
This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.
The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.
What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith. That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.
What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?
If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.
How many times have you let yourself be taken advantage of or sucked into someone else’s drama just because you didn’t want to come off as cold or worse, the “b” word?
This was the case with a client who was wondering how to deal with someone in their life who was being self-destructive. She stated that her friend was not only hurting themselves but those around them. Many of their family and friends had gotten so irritated or resentful with how her friend was behaving they stopped having contact with them.
My client didn’t want that to happen to her but she could feel the irritation and resentment beginning to creep in. She did not want to lose the friendship they had built over the years but she also knew she needed to honor herself.
There are two things we can do so that we don’t feel taken advantage of and get sucked into other people’s drama.
- Put a “hedge of protection” around you. In order to not take on the other person’s emotions or negativity, putting up this barrier protects us. But we also have to make it so that our love and compassion can pass through the hedge to them. This is not a physical barrier of any kind it is simply a mental awareness that if we are down in the muck and mire with them then we are no good to anyone.
- Surrender. This does not mean to give up. It means hand them over to their higher power. They are on their path and we are not responsible for the choices they make. Don’t try to change them. If someone is a danger to themselves or others, then by all means, contact the authorities, get them professional help. However, it is not your job to “fix” someone else’s life. You are there to love and support them if they want it but be sure they are driving their life, not you.
A few years ago, I had a friend who often wouldn’t show up when we had made plans. I loved her and I knew this was not her but this was her pattern. Connection was something she struggled with.
This pattern led other people in her life to get angry and stop contacting her. I could feel that beginning with me as well. I realized I could not change her so I knew I had to be the one to change.
I told her that I was not going to show up for any meeting with her unless she confirmed with me the day before. A few times we had a date planned and when I didn’t hear from her, I simply sent her a text telling her that I would not be there and that when she wanted to try again, just let me know.
Because of this, I was able to let go of my resentment and not feel taken advantage of. I chose to honor myself as well as my friend. We now have a great relationship and she lets me know when she can’t make our coffee dates.
What relationships have left you feeling resentful, taken advantage of or gotten sucked into the drama? Right now, how can you practice surrendering and putting up your hedge of protection with those people?
I sat listening to a friend who was recounting a meltdown she had recently. Someone had pushed her buttons and suddenly, she found herself saying things she never thought she was capable of.
Afterwards she felt such regret and said, “This is not who I want to be.”
It became clear that her automatic reaction when triggered was to fight. She had developed that survival instinct as a little girl and it’s still there even though she’s an adult.
Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “shameless audacity.” I think of it as having guts, nerve or backbone.
I think this woman has chutzpah. And not all of us do.
There are those whose first reaction is to run away when there is confrontation. I fall into this category.
However, when I avoid the uncomfortable situation or person, I end up feeling defeated. My confidence and self-esteem take a hit.
A few years ago, the leader of an organization was continually putting me down. Even though they stepped over the line, I lacked the chutzpah to say, “I won’t be treated this way.”
Because I am a person who chooses to lead with my heart, I mistakenly viewed standing up for myself as being arrogant. But each time I backed down, I felt weak and like I dishonored myself. This was not who I wanted to be.
I had heart and not enough chutzpah. My friend had chutzpah and not enough heart.
Chutzpah by itself can come across as arrogant or mean. Heart alone can be viewed as weakness and a doormat.
The sweet spot lies where we have both heart AND chutzpah (heartzpah?! :). It’s not easy to find that place, it takes practice.
For fighters, it means forcing yourself to take a time out before you start saying things you’ll regret.
For those of us who take flight, it means giving yourself permission to stand your ground.
I think Brené Brown said it best, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back. Just stand your sacred ground.”
It can be scary and uncomfortable as we practice something new. But that’s where our growth lies, in those scary, uncomfortable places. And there is great joy and peace of mind knowing that you can handle anything or anyone who crosses your path.
In order to be the person you want to be, what do you need to practice more of, chutzpah or heart?
I have a friend with a background in finance and was very successful in the corporate world. A few years ago, she left her high paying, structured job, decided to downsize and began living simply.
She became a free spirit who flows from one thing to the next with very little planning.
For as long as I have known her, she has resisted structure.
I am in awe of her because I am the opposite. I love structure. I like making plans and knowing what’s going to happen and when. It makes me feel safe and in control.
I enjoy creating my to-do list and then checking things off. I like how I get things done and how I feel at the end of the day.
Lately, our conversations have turned to improving our eating habits. Of course, I began by logging my food intake. This helped me keep track of what I was eating and I felt accomplished at the end of the day.
My friend fought this. She wanted the freedom to choose what she wanted without the constraints of having to plan. However, since she didn’t have a plan, she would come home from the grocery store with things she really didn’t want.
When I don’t have a plan, I find myself standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what to eat. Then I end up eating way too many chips or cookies. All the stuff I’m trying not to eat.
Recently my friend found an eating plan that felt right to her. It called for planning meals and weighing and measuring her food.
After following this plan, she came to the realization that being free spirited was not freedom at all- it was chaos.
With her new eating plan, she felt more free than she had in a long time because she didn’t really have to think about it. She has set guidelines to follow and as long as she stays inside those she feels satisfied and happy.
So that must mean because I’m a planner, things are copacetic with me. I wish.
Because I usually get results, I think, “if a little planning is good then a lot of planning is better.” The drill sergeant comes out and begins whipping me into shape.
No matter what I do, it’s never good enough for the drill sergeant. I become miserable and I end up quitting or working myself so hard I burn out or get sick.
In any area of our lives, if the pendulum swings too far toward free spirit, it can lead to chaos and no results. Or if our plan is too rigid it may trigger the drill sergeant which can lead to results but not sustainable ones.
We need to aim for somewhere in between. And it always helps to have a supportive friend to share the journey.
The number of chronic procrastinators has quadrupled in the last 30 years to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at Chicago’s De Paul University. It is an insidious habit that will sabotage your success and drain your energy.
Fear of making a mistake, fear of failure or even fear of success can be causes of chronic procrastination.
Procrastination may be a problem if you:
•Have been financially impacted because you didn’t cash a check on time or delayed filing your taxes to the point of incurring fines or penalties.
•Have become exhausted and/or given up working out because you had to watch just one (or two or three) more episodes on Netflix before going to bed.
•Are constantly making excuses because you are late.
•Friends, family or coworkers point out your procrastination or the consequences of it.
The good news is procrastination is a learned behavior. With the proper structure and lots of practice, new habits can be formed. It will take time and patience though.
“Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” according to Dr. Ferrari.
Here are a few steps you can take to begin to break the procrastination habit:
•Make a to-do list of 5-6 things daily.
•If necessary, begin by tackling just one and break it down into small steps.
•Pay attention to your thinking — if you notice you want to procrastinate, decide to just keep going.
•Acknowledge and reward yourself for what you have accomplished.
•If you find yourself procrastinating, don’t judge yourself just focus on the next item on your list.
As you begin to take even small steps, you will notice your production increasing, your energy level rising and your happiness begin to grow.
This was written for Rochester Women’s Network’s column Women At Work and was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on April 21, 2015.
In 2013, I took part in a fire ceremony conducted by Marcela Lobos (picture above is me with Marcela), a Chilean Shaman, that changed my life.
It was a cool September morning at the Omega Institute. Down by the lake, a fire had been started and we were instructed to find a stick.
Marcela, dressed in a colorful sarape and a beaded headband, told us that we were to choose something that we did not want to take home with us. It could be unforgiveness, resentment, anger, ties to an old relationship, etc.
We were then instructed to breathe onto the stick to symbolically transfer that which was to be left behind into the stick. Then, one at a time, we were to step up, kneel down and place our stick into the fire.
But there was one more thing we had to do.
When one knelt down at the fire, another of us was to come up and stand behind her to cover her back. This was a form of protection, because our sister, kneeling at the fire, was in a vulnerable position.
When I heard this, I began to weep as I suddenly realized that I had never felt like anyone had my back.
Standing there with tears streaming down my face, I knew this was something I needed to change.
The part of my soul that was weeping longed for authentic human connection, with myself as well as others. But that was impossible because of the wall I had up. I needed to know that I was ok and that someone was on my side.
When I was younger, I had trusted only to get stabbed in the back. I had been hurt and betrayed so I had chosen not to be vulnerable with the people in my life. Up came the wall.
I realized vulnerability was not only what would bring down this wall I had built, it was the key to learning how to trust and to living a happier life.
Vulnerability takes practice. It is uncomfortable, it can be messy. And I often don’t get it right. I learned that it is not good to be vulnerable with just anyone. I can count on one hand the people with whom I can be completely vulnerable.
Practicing vulnerability has deepened my relationships and brought a level of joy I haven’t felt before.
I have learned that life is more fun and less stressful when we can just be who we are and trust that we have people in our life who have our back.
I am not a feminist. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and came to believe that a feminist was an angry, bra-burning woman who hated men.
I love men. Some of my favorite people in the world are men; my husband, son, dad and brothers are at the top of the list. So I decided long ago that I was not a feminist.
But what is feminism really?
The definition is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
This brings me to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech. She said:
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”
Feminism is not about women being angry and demanding our due.
Patricia Arquette is talking about advocating for ourselves just as vigorously as we do for our loved ones and the causes that we feel so passionately about. It is about us knowing our worth and working toward receiving the same treatment and pay as men.
We have, for too long, gone quietly about our business take caring of everyone else, giving ourselves what’s left, only to find there is nothing left.
It is time to stop being stingy with our compassion and acceptance when it comes to ourselves.
We must give ourselves permission to ask for what we want but first we must know what we want.
It is time we speak up and let our voices be heard without judging ourselves as arrogant or self-centered.
It is time we help lift each other up and stop calling women who assert themselves a bitch.
Go for that thing that may seem out of reach. Celebrate yourself if you get it. Heap yourself with the same compassion you give others if you don’t. Then go out and try again.
If we live our lives modeling feminism then not only will our daughters learn to do the same but our sons will grow up to be feminists too. We owe it to ourselves to do this, we owe it to future generations.
Recently our son noticed how his sister loved to play music on her smartphone but had a very cheap speaker. The sound quality wasn’t all that good but we never heard her complain about it.
Our daughter’s birthday was coming so he decided he would get her a new, better quality wireless speaker even though she had not asked for it.
When she opened the gift, she let out a squeal of delight. She was completely surprised because, although she wanted a new speaker, she had not asked for it.
Her delight was magnified because her brother was paying attention to what she liked (her music) and what she needed (a new speaker).
I think there would be less ugliness in the world if we simply paid attention.
I believe most people want to know they matter and what they have to say matters. We have a tendency to be so caught up in ourselves that we forget to pay attention to what’s going on around us.
When we aren’t paying attention, our children can think we don’t care, our spouses feel neglected, even the people we meet in the street can be left feeling that we are cold and detached.
My grandfather taught me what a gift it was to pay attention. Everyone agreed he was a great guy. When asked why, they would say that he made them feel special. All he did was pay attention.
When I was talking to my grandfather, it seemed like we were the only two people in the world. He would listen attentively and ask questions that pertained to what I was saying. He made whomever he was speaking to feel special because he payed attention.
I have also had the experience of people who talk incessantly and are not the least bit interested in what I have to say. Whether it’s true or not, I am left with the feeling that they really don’t care about me.
As a volunteer for Step By Step (a non-profit organization that provides empowering workshops for women who are, have been or are at risk of being incarcerated), I have had the privilege to work with veteran workshop facilitator Sally Kohler. Sally writes and facilitates the workshops for both women in jail and for when they come out.
Sally pays attention to the women who sit in her workshop. She is accepting and listens intently therefore many of them feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives.
Because Sally pays attention, these women begin to feel worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
I have witnessed people transform their lives simply because someone took the time to pay attention to them.
The great thing about paying attention is that you can begin now and it doesn’t cost you anything. I suggest you begin by paying attention to yourself.
Pay attention to the thoughts you have about yourself. If you wouldn’t say those things to your children or your best friend then why are you letting them clutter your mind. Pay attention and let them go.
By paying attention to what and, more importantly, who is in front of us, we affirm that they matter. That simple act serves to bring more love, understanding and peace to our world.