Friday, April 22, 2011

7 Ways to Get Comfortable With Uncertainty (Read Time: 3 min.)

Are you a control freak? Do you have to figure everything out before you make a single move?
Are you afraid to take risks?
Do you have to know that there's at least a 70% chance that things will work out before you step out?
Does uncertainty drive you crazy?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I have one question for you:
How's that working for you?

Life is filled with uncertainty. What makes life an adventure is the uncertainty. If you knew everything that was going to happen in your life before it ever happened, you'd end up in one of two states: 1) bored out of your mind or 2) simply out of your mind. There's a reason why most of us can't see into the complete and total future. Uncertainty is not an obstacle of life; it is the course of life. The sooner you get used to that idea, the more successful you will be in going after what you want.

When people talk about not pursuing a particular dream or goal, the first thing that comes up for them is the uncertainty. How will I know if this is the right path for me to take? What if this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing? What if things don't work out? How will I know when it's the right time? Here's the best part: there is no right time. The only way you'll know if you're supposed to have what you say you want occurs after you've begun pursuing it.

When you go for a goal or dream and doors keep closing in your face and the pit of your stomach keeps telling you that something in this situation just isn't right, that's all the sign you need to know that you're probably on the wrong path and need to make a few adjustments. That doesn't mean you give up the dream entirely. It simply means you need more discovery time to change your plans, be flexible in your approach and try things differently. As you tweak your strategy, your path will become clear. But, if you never leap out on faith and begin the work, you never get to find out if that's what you're supposed to be doing at this time.

Getting comfortable with uncertainty is a course in every single person's spiritual curriculum. Some of us do better in this class than others but we all have to pass it. The key to getting comfortable with uncertainty comes in understanding three points

  1. You don't control nearly as much in life as you think you do. Most of the major life events that will take place will happen whether you like it or not. It's not the occurrence of the life event that you control but it's your response that will dictate to what extent that life event affects you. You don't control people living or dying, getting pregnant, somebody staying or leaving you, getting fired from a job, losing a home in a fire. There are so many life transitions that will happen without your consent. When you truly understand how little of life's occurrences are in your complete and total control, you'll get good with the fact that being comfortable with uncertainty is the skill that you need to master. When you are good with uncertainty, it doesn't matter what comes your way. You know you can handle. You believe that things will work out for the best. This faith and ability to transcend circumstances makes you invincible. Don't live from the lie that you control everything. Live from the truth that no matter what comes your way, you can handle it because you aren't afraid of uncertainty.

  2. You are not Manager of the Universe. In our technologically savvy world, far too many of us think that God isn't required in their lives, that the click of a mouse or the creation of a new scientific treatment is all that they need to cure every ill of life. Here's the deal: God's one thought can fix a lifetime of problems and He operates bigger and faster than anything you can do. Why would you try to subconsciously take on His job when you simply cannot fill those shoes? Why would you want to? There's no employee alive who's going to do the work of the CEO for the production line rate of pay. When you get that you are not Manager of the Universe, that the world doesn't rise and fall based on your ability to "figure things out", you free yourself from the burden and pain of feeling like every decision you make has centuries of consequences. Resign as Manager of the Universe. Let God do his job. Put your intentions out there, take the actions you can take and do all that you can with all that you are but let God be God. There are certain things in life that are God jobs and those things, no matter how hard you try, are not up to you. The sooner you resign, the faster God can work.

  3. It's okay to not be 100% on board with a decision before you make it. When you don't have complete information, there isn't 100% certainty that things are going to work out. Some people have faith that gives them that feeling of 100% certainty but alot of don't. There are some areas of life where we can believe like nobody's business and have faith for years. There are other areas of life where we doubt from moment one. Just because your faith doesn't feel strong enough doesn't mean you don't keep moving in that direction. It takes a mustard seed of faith to move mountains. Resist the temptation to make your faith the reason why you aren't moving forward. Understand that in much of life, you'll have to walk with some doubt as you build up your faith. The problem with uncertainty isn't that you doubt your ability to make the right choice. It's that you live on the fence somewhere between one choice and the other and that paralyzes you from making a move at all. The paralysis is the problem, not the uncertainty about your options. Be okay with not feeling 100% sure. Step out and trust that whatever you need to know will be revealed to you. Take time to get quiet each day and listen for the messages from your intuition. When you get those messages, heed them and move forward in the direction you're feeling called to move forward in. Once you make a choice, don't second guess it. Go with it, listen for guidance and change as the guidance changes. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will you be stuck in doubt and fear? No.

At the end of the day, you'll be in this spiritual class until you get this spiritual lesson. You'll be presented with uncertainty in every which way you turn until you can finally release the illusion of control and be willing to learn along the way. Why fight a part of what life is when it's not going away? Uncertainty is here to stay. It's not the uncertainty of your life that needs to change. It's your perception and dealing with it that needs to shift...

You weren't built to be broken...

How to Support Yourself When No One Else Does (Read Time: 3 min.)

Whose support do you have?

Whose support do you need?

Whose support are you not getting that wish you could have?

How do you stay the course when the people who are supposed to love you most support you least?

These are the kinds of questions that I get from clients all the time. I hear stories about unsupportive spouses, resistant parents, unruly children, and bosses, co-workers, and friends who work a living hell. When someone tells me about the lack of support they have as they fight to achieve their dreams, the 'story' quickly goes to how much easier achieving these dreams would be if this person had more help. If I let the story go on for a few more minutes, what I hear is the frustration, disappointment, and anger that this person feels about realizing that no one has his/her back.

While the emotions need to be recognized and validated, what is such a person to do? You can't force people to support you who don't want to. You can't make people see your vision if they're choosing to be blinded to it. You can't be everything to everyone and still have time to accomplish every dream in the time you'd like to. There's a choice that has to be made here.

When you don't have the support you need, how can you still achieve your dreams?

It won't be easy but there is a doable way to stay the course, even if no one else is willing to help you with it. The answer is simple: support yourself. How you do that is where it gets more complicated. Supporting yourself means you choose to have more faith and trust in who you are and what you're going after than anybody else does. Your faith becomes your immune system against the pain and anger you feel towards those who aren't on your side. In being your own personal cheerleader, you have to create a support system that exists outside of the people you originally thought would be in it.

That means you have to step out, meet people, connect with like minded individuals who can share you vision. It means you surround yourself with books, articles, audios, and videos from people who have a vision and who've accomplished that vision. You listen to the success stories of people and pay particular attention to the obstacles they faced and how they overcame those obstacles.

It means you don't talk about your vision with people who can't see or who won't support you. Talk about the weather, what's for dinner, how your day went at work but don't put your heart on the line knowing that it's going to get stomped on. That also means that even though those people aren't as supportive as you'd like them to be, you choose to love them anyway. You honor the good you see in them and you cast aside their inability to be who you need them to be. The sooner you can accept others for who they are, the sooner you can let go of the pain, hurt and disappointment of who they might never be for you.

Supporting yourself when no one else does requires that you trust yourself, believe in yourself, and hold on to the truth that whatever is for you will show up right on time. This means you don't act out of rush or desperation. You don't make choices because you're afraid that someone else is going to convince you not to make the choice. When you feel pressured (by yourself or others) to rush to a decision on something, 99.99% of the time, that decision will be a mistake. You can take the time you need to decide which path to go down. Nothing has to be decided today.

There's skill in trusting yourself. It means you don't rush but you also don't delay. It means you look for signs of what to do next and you put your faith and trust in those signs as you move forward. Trusting yourself requires that you are willing to make mistakes but it also means that you know that you will learn from whatever mistakes you make.

At the end of the day, rather than wasting time complaining and hurting over the people who "should have" supported you but don't, focus on fully supporting and trusting yourself. You are all you need to succeed. Other people can leave your life but as long as you never leave you, the success you obtain will be the result of what you give to it. Other people's support is nice and to get to your dream faster, it is necessary but if you don't have that at the moment, it doesn't mean you stop pursuing the dream. It simply means you go at a different pace while you search out and create a new inner circle of support. You can do this. Never confuse other people's limitations with your abilities. Let people have their limiting beliefs. Trust and support youself enough to not make theirs yours...

You weren't built to be broken...

Why People Postpone Their Happiness (Read Time: 3 min.)

We create our own happiness.

If that's 100% true, why is it that most people spend more time waiting to be happy than actually being so?

The answer lies in understanding why people postpone their happiness.

Most of us think that happy translates into a better state of being. When we think of happy, we think of more, better, bigger, increased and transformed. Happy, in this definition, becomes the ability to acquire what isn't currently there. Can you see the problem with that? If I have to have more to be happy, then I never will because I'll forever be on the journey to getting more. If happiness is an ever-improving process, then there is no arriving and staying at happy. Once you get the next promotion or find that next great relationship, you'll also find the next thing you want to pursue to be "happy."

What people won't say about this hamster wheel of a pursuit is that alot of people like being on the journey to happy because they're scared to live there. We like the feeling of being on the hunt, of working towards happiness, of cherishing the victory of finally finding it and the taste for adventure that comes when we discover that there's more happiness to go after once we arrive. It's a double-edged sword. You want to be happy but when you get there, you find something else to pursue so you can be even happier than you are right now. How's that working for you?

Truth be told, people postpone their happiness because they don't know how to be satisfied with the happiness they can create right now. Most people are afraid that their happiness, if they enjoy it too long, will disappear. If they always feel the longing for something more, they can also feel the safety of not getting too comfortable with the happiness available now. If you aren't afraid to lose what you've got because your focus is always on what you don't have, there's not as much to lose. If you can find full satisfaction in your life right now with things exactly as they are, there's a vulnerability that's required to enjoy the moment because should the moment change for the worse, you still lose.

What if, no matter what happened next, you could be happy now?

You can! Happiness, like change, is a personal choice. You don't have to have anything or anyone to be absolutely happy. All you have to do is choose to be so. It's time to say to yourself, "I'm not postponing my happiness anymore. I'm not waiting for the next best thing to come along. I am the next best thing. I was the next best thing two decades ago, two years ago, two months ago, two hours ago, two minutes, two seconds ago and I will be the next best thing as long as I have breath within me." How powerful is that?

When you choose to be happy for all that you have right now and you get good with enjoying every second of today, you free yourself to receive so much more tomorrow. Happiness does not come in the form of a new relationship, a new job, a new baby, a new car, or any new thing outside of you. Your happiness is you and choosing it now means you have to be willing to forgo spending most of your time in a future life that hasn't happened yet so you can fully embrace the life that's moving in and through you right now. Can you do that? Yes, you can...

You weren't built to be broken...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let the Perfectionism Go... (Read Time: 3 min.)

What does being perfect mean to you?

If perfection is something you can't possibly achieve, what's the reward your perfectionism attains in trying?

When your best is never good enough, how do you love ALL of who you are?

At some point, we perfectionists have to come to grips with one truth:

Being perfect never made anybody happy.

I was writing a lesson today called "Getting it Wrong is Key to Getting it Right" and I was thinking about how my perfectionistic tendencies have been operating in my life lately. I consider myself one of those "driven" people. I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to which means when I don't achieve a certain thing or land in a certain spot by a certain amount of time, I have nobody to blame but myself. That then leads me to work harder, heavier, go for more, accept less, and, before you know it, I'm back on the team of my inner critic going "You've got to do better!"

How's that working for me? Outside of the tightness in my chest, the clenched jaw that's become a habit, and the tendency I have to dive in deep on an area and not come out until I come out on top, it's not... So I wrote the lesson below for me and you because, truth be told:

Getting it wrong is key to getting it right...

Lesson 44- Getting it Wrong is Key to Getting it Right

Perfectionism is not a medal of honor. Most people call themselves "perfectionists" (including me) and think that it's a good thing. Perfectionism is one job title that the inner critic loves to hide behind. Since perfection isn't a viable option for a human being, when your life quest is to be perfect, you meet, time and time again, with failure. Trying to be what you weren't born to be is a hard place to live. Glorifying the act of "getting it right" is what causes people so much pain. A big part of getting it "right" is getting it wrong.

Failure is a step forward when you can see the lesson of the result and renegotiate your approach to the plan. People who are too afraid to fail are too weak to truly succeed. At some point, you have to be willing to take a risk, willing to fall on your face, willing to get back up again, and willing to do something different... without taking it personally. There are at least a thousand ways to get any one thing done. If you believe this, failure isn't a big deal. You understand that when a less than desirable result occurs, it's a prime opportunity for learning. You get to learn what not to do the next time. You also get to file away the plan that didn't get you to where you wanted to go so you know not to use that plan the next time. All in all, failure adds to your success if you're willing to learn the lessons of it.

Stop insisting that you can't move forward with a particular task unless you know it's 100% perfect. Stop taking a poor result personally and thinking that someone's turn down equates to you not being good enough. The only person singing that "not good enough" tune is you. Stop beating the drum of "It has to be perfect to be acceptable." Most of life's most valued treasures are so valued because they are imperfect. At the end of the day, you will crucify or resurrect your success based on your perception of what "getting it wrong" really means.

Let go of perfectionism. Getting it wrong is key to getting it right.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There is No Safety Behind an Emotional Wall (Read Time: 3 min.)

When do your emotional walls go up?

How often do you find yourself hiding behind a stoic front?

Why do some people trigger your emotional walls and others don't?

In psychology terms, an emotional wall is similar to what we call suppression, being vaguely aware that you feel how you feel but working very hard to push it away. Emotional walls take on a bigger meaning because they involve the exertion of energy to such a point where you literally erect an emotional wall around your feelings, thoughts and behaviors as a means of protecting yourself from the possible rejection, hurt, and abandonment coming from someone else.

When you're in the presence of someone who you don't feel emotionally safe with, there's a tendency to erect an emotional wall. Rather than dealing with what bothers you about the interaction or having an open discussion about how this person makes you feel, the emotional wall lets you be physically present and emotionally/spiritually unavailable to this person. The thinking goes: "If the real me is locked away, this person can't hurt me." Truth be told, you're hurting yourself.

After a while, people become so good at erecting emotional walls that it's a natural, subconscious occurrence. You enter a room full of strange people, you put up your guard and you go about your business. It's not until we leave emotionally "dangerous" situations and feel free to be who we really are that we realize that what just showed up in us was actually an emotional wall. After a while, though, emotional walls get tiring. It's hard to live on the defensive, to feel like you have to protect yourself from everything and everyone. At some point, we all come to a place where we say, "Can't I just be myself and know that I'll be safe?" That's the break-free point for most people.

There's nothing safe about living behind emotional walls.

There's no real creation of intimacy if you clam up every time someone gets close. People feel when your emotional walls go up, even if you have a smile on your face and a pleasant tone to your voice. Fakeness shows. If what you want is to be free to be who you are, you've got to begin by knowing that you create your own sense of safety. Until you give yourself the security and safety that you require, it will be difficult to stop using emotional walls as protection mechanisms.

When you get that no one can hurt, anger, upset, or offend you without your permission, you also understand that you get to choose who you allow into your space and when. You get to decide. More than this, when you know that you can be fully yourself and still be able to say yes or no to what you do want or what you don't want, you gain a sense of self-efficacy that transforms your everyday living into a powerful demonstration of what it means to be who you are, where you and without apology. Somewhere, we learned that it was unsafe to be the real us. Somehow, we've got to unlearn that and teach ourselves how to be who we are wherever we are and know that we are always safe and secure.

Here are three ways you can do that:

1. Create rituals that enforce your feeling of safety. Whether that's music you play in your car on the way to a hostile work environment or a room in your house that's your sacred space in the midst of a rocky relationship or affirmations that you say in the mirror to evoke a sense of love and approval for yourself, find daily rituals that reinforce your sense of safety.

2. Remind yourself that no one has the power or ability to hurt you. Be mindful of your reaction to people when they don't behave the way you want them to. It's not their behavior that hurts; its your expectations not being met that hinders. Change your reaction and you your level of safety will increase.

3. Make a conscious effort to pull down emotional walls as soon as you feel them going up. Say to yourself, "I can be myself. I love and approve of myself. It doesn't matter who's in this room. I'm here to be me and if they don't like it, they can find some other place to be. Who I am IS enough." That kind of inner mantra goes a long way in helping you to, in the moment, take down the emotional wall. Recognizing its erection goes a long way in shortening its duration.

Share this site with others