shame

The Secret To Happiness? Be Sad

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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.

Procrastination Sabotages Productivity

bigstock-Concept-for-procrastination-an-51568768The 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. 

Burning Down The Wall

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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.

 

 

 

 

Better To Be Honest Than “Nice”

In a recent conversation with business women, we examined, at a networking event, how to deal with someone who is only looking to sell and has no real interest in anyone else.

The following suggested replies were offered:

• Tell the person you need to talk to someone on the other side of the room and you’ll catch them later.

• Excuse yourself for a personal need.

• Tell the person you don’t want to monopolize their time, suggesting you re-connect at another time to continue the conversation.

I suggested answering honestly. Tell the person you are not a potential client but would be happy to keep them in mind if you come across someone who might seek their services.

Wanting to be “nice” came up next. According to clinical psychologist George Simon, “Nice people tend to let things slide because they don’t want to seem harsh, but as the saying goes: Give people an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Be “nice” and you resent the person for having to endure a coffee meeting or hoping they will stop contacting you.

The true definition of nice is pleasant, good natured and kind. For many, “nice” has become a strategy to be liked, avoiding conflict. That makes it more about us than the other person.

Learn a new way of being. Pay attention to your own behavior. Notice when you’re being honest and when you’re not. Recognize that it is possible to be polite, respectful and honest. By doing this, we honor the other person and empower ourselves.

It can be uncomfortable when we begin to practice being honest. Start being honest with those whom you are comfortable, for example your spouse, your friends or a trusted co-worker. As your comfort increases, extend the practice to people with whom honesty is more challenging.

 This was published in the Democrat and Chronicle on October 28, 2014.  The Women at Work column is written by members of the Rochester Women’s Network (rwn.org).

Why DO I Write?

I am participating in a blog hop this week. The theme is “Why I Write”. At the end of this, you will find other women business owners who are also participating.

I came out of childhood thinking that who I was was not ok.

I was thin as a child but I thought I was fat. At least that’s what my brothers and kids at school said.

When I was 10, I had a teacher who chided us for answering a question wrong by laughing and saying sarcastically, “My, isn’t that a gem of wisdom.” I felt average at best.

I learned to stay quiet and invisible so as not to subject myself to humiliation, ridicule or abuse.

Dr. Brené Brown’s research revealed that vulnerability is the only road that leads to living a whole-hearted life.

You mean the only way I can be joyous and fulfilled is to be vulnerable? This does not compute! And you can’t make me!

The child in me is still afraid of not getting it right and being made fun of or ticking someone off and being punished.

I can choose not to coach, not to write and live a quiet life of desperate agony. This I know all too well.

But there comes a time when the pain of not speaking up is stronger than the risk of being vulnerable.

I now consciously choose to be authentic and vulnerable and risk putting myself out there. I choose to write because I am tired of being afraid of being hurt and hiding who I am.

Because of the work I’ve done on myself, I now have the privilege of teaching others how to overcome their fear of vulnerability. Through my work as a coach, I help others shed their limiting beliefs and step into their authenticity.

Each successive blog post I’ve written has gotten more and more vulnerable for me.  I try not to compare myself to other bloggers, coaches or anyone who may seem more vulnerable than I. (Iyanla Vanzant says that when we compare ourselves to someone else it is a form of violence against oneself.)

So why do I write? I write to face my fear of not being being liked, being wrong and upsetting people. I write so that others who feel the same way don’t have to feel alone anymore.

I write to be seen and heard. I write because I have to.

Below are the names of the women participating in the blog hop. I hope you will take the time to check out their blogs.

Ileana Ferreras is a powerful coach who has been transforming lives since 2006. She is passionate about partnering with people who are ready to create the life they truly desire.  Ileana asks the questions that clarify goals while tackling the limiting mindsets that prevent their fulfillment. This winning combination causes clients to design and follow through on the actions that produce breakthrough results.
http://www.imagineandfulfill.com/blog/

Joleene Moody is a client closing expert, business coach and speaker. She helps women entrepreneurs significantly increase their income by finding or creating speaking engagements — and then converting attendees to high paying clients.

Facebook Frustration

I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.

My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.

When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.

These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!

I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!

I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?

I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”

Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!

Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.

Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.

Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!

I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.

I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.

And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.

Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.

Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!

What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.

But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.

First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.

Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?

It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.

But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.

People-Pleasers Anonymous

“Hi, my name is Linda and I am a recovering people-pleaser.”

My people-pleasing was created as a child because I was looking for my mother and father’s approval. At its peak, it left me feeling tired, drained and disconnected.

I thought this was how I was supposed to live. I thought I needed to put other’s needs and opinions above my own.

Before I knew it, I found myself caring way too much about the opinions of strangers.

At times, I didn’t know who to please or what to believe. I ended up confused and wanting someone else to think for me.

For example, my father was not a golfer. He thought it was a waste of time chasing a little white ball around. He would rather be out riding his horse. My husband, on the other hand, loves golf. Horseback riding… not so much.

Who was right? Was it my dad? Was it my husband?

What if they were both right?

We all look at life through a filter. The filter I created said I needed to make other people happy in order for me to be happy. Not only is this not true, it’s a set up for true despair.

To my dad, golf was a waste of his time because he did not enjoy golfing. To my husband, horseback riding did not bring him the same joy as golfing.

There are endless examples in the world. One person says GM cars are the best, another says Ford and others say BMW. Still others say don’t drive, take the bus or ride your bike.

Look at all of the opportunities we have to choose what’s right or wrong, good or bad for US.

In my peak people-pleasing days, getting it right meant constantly trying to figure out what the person in front of me wanted to hear. This meant that no one got the real, authentic, speaking-my-truth Linda.

I didn’t even know what my truth was so I came across as bland as plain yogurt.

And that was how life occurred for me, bland, no rainbows, no kittens, no chocolate almond ice cream! I learned that it is our thoughts and opinions that add flavor and spice to the world.

The great thing about my filter is that I created it so I can choose to create something different. Now I get to explore MY truths, opinions and likes.

By losing our people-pleasing filter, we are able to step into our authentic power. And by doing that, we inspire others to do the same.

That is truly what the world needs now, not a bunch of “yes” men.

Food For Thought

It’s Spring! Before you know it, it will be time to break out the shorts and swimsuits. Nothing like the thought of having to give up the bulky sweaters and winter coat to create the motivation to get into shape.

Having literally been in hibernation due to illness this winter, I feel like a bear who is emerging from a cave. Unfortunately however, I have not been living off my fat stores. This bear is out of shape and overweight. Wow, that was hard to put out there.

I have had an up and down relationship with food and weight since I was 12 years old and someone called me “pleasingly plump.” I still can’t believe anyone actually said that to a kid.

I remember being taken to Lane Bryant to shop for clothes. Nothing against the store, it has beautiful clothes. But as soon as I figured out that the store was for “bigger” women, I marked myself as fat.

Between 8th and 9th grade my weight didn’t shift but my figure did. No one else thought I was fat except me.

Thus began an endless string of diets. When I was pregnant, it was a relief to be able to eat what I wanted. And it was torture watching the number on the scale go up.

After my second child was born, I was overweight and uncomfortable and decided to join Weight Watchers. It was a wonderful program that helped me plan my meals and I was able to get down to a reasonable weight.

I have been fairly successful in maintaining my weight until I became ill this past November.

As I begin to feel better, I’d like to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have begun by questioning my relationship with food. It turns out how I eat has a lot in common with how I live my life.

I am a planner. I feel most comfortable and safest when I know exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t do well when surprise cake, cookies or pizza show up. I think that’s why I did so well on Weight Watchers.

Planning works until my rebellious shadow kicks in and says, “I’m tired of you depriving me of a good time and good food! Who cares what you weigh!” Suddenly all bets are off.

In life, my pattern has been to go along to get along, push through and restrict and not listen to myself until I reach the breaking point. Then my rebel says “Screw it! I’m going to do what I want! I’ve had enough!”

Although I call myself a spiritual person, I don’t feel safe in the unknown. Because I like to be in control, I have a tough time surrendering to my Higher Power.

Unfortunately, God doesn’t send out emails with an update of what’s to take place in my life that day, week, month or year.

By choosing to practice surrender and trust, I can cultivate the faith that God is in all things, especially the future.

I am a secretive eater. People rarely see me eat sweets or foods that I consider “bad.” I’m afraid they will think “Wow, she really should not be eating that! Take that cupcake away and get that woman a celery stick instead!”

In life, I have always had a passion to learn more about God and how to live a life that is authentic for me and help others do the same. I felt resistance to following that passion because I am not only afraid of what others will think but I had fear of failing, not being good enough and being rejected by the world and even those I love.

So I would hide. I wouldn’t talk about my dreams or my fears. And I wouldn’t talk about God. I did NOT want anyone to see me as a Holy Roller!

I put on a happy face to look as if all is well even though I was miserable inside. Until I decided I couldn’t take living this way anymore and began working with a coach.

Since becoming a coach myself and doing the work to connect with myself and especially God, I am now living a more authentic and joy-filled life.

Practicing not using food to numb my feelings helps.

I have once again set out to get myself in shape. I’m not sure what that will look like but I know I am older, wiser and will be more compassionate with myself.

My plan is to listen to me and listen for God. And to ask myself questions such as, am I getting in shape for me? For others? For God? How will being fit and healthy impact my relationship with God? With others? With myself?

If you’re interested, I definitely recommend reading Ganeen Roth’s book Women, Food and God and following her guidelines along with me.

We’re in this together. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey to God, health, fitness and the life you are meant to live!

Power Through Pain

I was diagnosed with shingles around Thanksgiving. While the blisters have long since gone, it is taking longer for the pain to completely dissipate. My doctor informed me that I could have residual pain for up to a year. (For more information about shingles go to http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-topic-overview)

While I would not wish this illness on anyone, it brought some lessons that have been life changing.

Because I had shingles over the holidays, I told myself that I would hunker down and take good care of myself. My plan was that when the first week in January came, I would get back to work and my normal routine. However, my body had something else in mind.

I found that even though the pain had lessened and I was able to take less pain medication, my stamina was low. I was fatigued by 3pm and even if I took a nap, I was exhausted by 7pm.

I was frustrated and wondered what was wrong with me. After all, I “should” be better by now because I had taken good care of myself. Right?

My mind was full of useless internal (and some external) whining. I was thinking about how this wasn’t fair… I was afraid because I needed to get back to work because money doesn’t grow on trees… I began thinking that my family probably thinks I’m a slacker and I just need to suck it up…yada, yada, yada…

Suddenly I could hear Eckhart Tolle’s words ringing in my ears. What if I totally accepted how I felt each moment, no stories, no pity party, no internal dialogue? What if there was no place I needed to be? What if I was exactly where I “should” be?

For that day, I decided to clear my head of all the “shoulds” and judgments. I simply did what I could and what felt right.

And here’s what happened, I connected with a colleague and a friend on the phone, created a good portion of a workshop, ate a delicious and nourishing breakfast and lunch, washed, folded and put away a load of laundry, dusted and vacuumed the living room, showered and wrote this.

As soon as the pressure to be somewhere else was gone, I was free to be exactly where I was. I realized that a lot of my fatigue was caused by me not accepting how I was feeling.

I also realized this is how I do life, I fight it. I worry about what others think. I’m always trying to figure out what will make those around me happy. I battle between what I want to do and what I feel I “should” do. It’s a constant fight, no wonder I’m tired.

By accepting what is, there is nothing to push against. And by listening to my own inner wisdom, I empower myself and rely less on the approval of others. As a consequence, it frees up a lot of mental and physical energy.

Needless to say, this feels great. And this way of being has to be more conducive to healing.
It’s clear this is something that’s simple and powerful but not always easy. And I will continue to practice.