In conversation, over lunch, a friend was describing to me a dinner she served to her in-laws and how she had really gone all out and was trying to impress them. But, to no avail. She inserted the comment “I don’t even know why I was trying to impress them, they had made it clear already that they did not like me.” I had to interrupt, because my inner coach light when on. I re-capped what she had said to me just a few minutes previously. She said, that at that particular time in her life, she was really insecure and felt ungrounded. I then asked if she thought that perhaps, just maybe, she was trying to impress her in-laws because she needed validation? Yes! She said, as her inner understanding light went on.
Validation: to make valid; substantiate; confirm.
We have an innate need for people to like us, to be included, to be seen. This is how our generations survived and how we survived infanthood. It has been documented that if infants
are fed and sheltered but denied affection and bonding they will ‘fail’ to thrive. We are wired for
connection and community.
How do we go about feeling validated without it being an act of desperation? Who decides who you are and what you do are valid? How do we avoid barking up the wrong validation tree?
1) Access your inner GPS (Grounded Personal Space).
Acknowledgement is the best first step. Are you scared? Angry? Sad? Hurt? Checking into what you are feeling can be instantly grounding. Once you feel more inside yourself (grounded) you can decide for yourself that what you are feeling is valid or that your assumptions about yourself or others are unfounded.
2) Access your SAFE (Secure And Full of Empathy) people.
If you can’t decide within yourself that your feelings, emotions and experience in the moment are valid, or that you basically have a need, confide in your mate, your best friend, your mother. But, only if they are emotionally safe places for you. In the case of my friends’ in-laws, asking them for validation was a hopeless endeavour. They made it very clear that they did not wholly approve of their sons’ choice of wife. A lot of times, we assume that those close to us, or experiencing the same situation as us will some how know that we are needing some acknowledgement. (i.e. My friends’ husband?) It is important to tell those around us how we are feeling and to ask for what we want. A hug. Encouraging words. If they start to tell you what you are doing wrong, or how you are causing ‘the problem,’ (you can deal with this when you're feeling stronger) be sure to walk away and seek…
3) Access to your PEEPYS. (People Extremely Empathetic Per Your Stuff).
The folks you know that are like you. Who get you, who dress and act like you. I have a ‘tribe.’
We approach problem solving the same way, we support ‘woo woo’ in each other and countless other commonalities. When I need support for my particular identity crisis, I have free and open access to them to help me get back on my GPS.
Pay attention to your actions. What is your real motivation for what you do?
We all want approval and validation. All of our feelings, needs, and emotions are valid. How we go
about handling them, meeting them and caring for them is a personal choice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, guidance, and assurance. And, of course, coaches, counsellors, health care professionals can assist with the handling, meeting and caring.
I’m finding myself, lately, in a state that Martha Beck, (in the June
issue of “O Magazine,”) calls FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. It was also mentioned
by my fellow coaches in our on-line community where it’s identified as ‘measuring your inside to other peoples’ outside.’ I call it "Shoulditis" and I suffer from it regularly.
Let me explain. I feel like I’m not doing enough. I should be fitter, more creative, busier, happier, something-er.
Martha Beck and my fellow band of coaches point to social media. Facebook, Twitter, etc. because that is where everyone is posting their most fabulous moments. I do this too! We mistakenly knit all that fabulousness together and start to believe that everyone ‘out there’ is living a
dream life and I am, just ‘normal.’ As in boring, fraught with mundane, everyday tasks and lacking copious amounts of energy. Why aren’t I doing something important, saving something, creating something, collaborating with famous people? Like I said, I hear myself telling…well…myself that I should be fitter, healthier, more organized and happier.
Thanks to these timely postings by my tribe-mates, I have been able to:
1) catch myself telling myself. 2) Look at this reasonably, and 3) begin to change my ‘shoulds.’
Step 1 Catching my thoughts.
When I tune into my body, I find my shoulders are hunched, my jaw is clenched, my tummy is churning. This is my ‘clue’ that I’m telling myself something ‘bad.’ I roam around in my pile ‘o
thoughts tank and find the ‘baddest’ thought. “You should be….”fill in the blank. Sometimes just bringing awareness to the thought is enough to bring my shoulders, and blood pressure, down. I can breathe all the way in and all the way out. (Funny how 'shoulds' live in my "should"ers...?)
Step 2 Look at this reasonably.
Are these people having the most fabulous life? I am happy, of course, if they are, but I can be pretty certain they too have ‘hassles’ in their lives, loose ends in their jobs, relationships, etc. They have also had hard times and hard lessons in their lives. Life is fair to all! No one escapes hard times/lessons.
Step 3 Begin to change my ‘Shoulds.’
When I tell myself I ‘should,’ it immediately sends me into a state of rebellion. (is it just me?) Shoulds just make me go into my ‘scarcity’ brain. If I say I ‘should’ lose weight, I immediately begin to load up on carbs. When I say I ‘should’ accomplish x,y,z, it makes me feel I am going to run out of time so I do the opposite, nothing! I automatically believe there is a shortage of something and begin to hoard what I think I am soon to be missing. By remembering that I am lacking nothing, have so much to be thankful for and have nothing to fear, I find I want to create something, or accomplish something. When I’m coming from a place of safety and abundance, my desire changes from should to want. And sometimes it makes me absolutely ok with being 'normal' and doing nothing!
Oh and for those of you who are curious, my birthday was fabulous. So many gifts, so many lunches. My friends and family are generous and awesome.
I posted about it all week!
Got to go...
It’s time to check my FaceBook!
My birthday is this week! Yay! Sort of…
I struggle with the celebration of my birthday. Is it just me?
There’s no real instructions for how this is to be done. Like Mother’s Day, if you leave it up
to someone else, well, you probably won’t get it the way you want and then you
get to clean up the mess.
I leave my birthday celebration plans up to my husband, but usually with the vagueness of ‘oh, I don’t know,’ but also with the strict directive “Don’t invite people over!” Well, my dear
husband had trouble grasping the concept and has consistently invited friends, neighbours, family to our home on most if not ALL of my birthdays. This would leave me feeling 1) ungrateful – how can I not appreciate that my husband went to all this trouble to honour/celebrate my birthday? 2)
angry/bitter/resentful – why won’t he hear what I say? I really don’t want to clean up after this party, again.
My usual response to the situation was to smile pretty and try, really, really hard to enjoy the experience. (Awesome way to stoke the resentment fire, btw.) (I apologize to all my
friends for telling this story repeatedly.)
Last year I finally worked it out. When I found out that people were invited, yet again, after I had repeatedly and specifically said “I Don’t Want People Over!” I actually voiced my displeasure and stated the reason why. I did not want people in my house on my birthday. He argued a bit. I’m doing this for you. You should be happy, like it, appreciate my effort, etc.. I explained, yes, I appreciate your effort and your thoughtfulness but a party in my house automatically casts me in the role of hostess. I do enjoy being hostess, don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, family, neighbours and friends, BUT not in my house on my birthday. I specifically said, “if you want to have a party to celebrate my birthday, have it SOMEWHERE ELSE!” He got it. It was too late, too short of notice, the people invited made plans to come. I did not want to make the fuss of uninviting them, so one last time, I smiled and to the best of my ability, let it go, and enjoyed myself and the lovely people. But, I had finally said something about it and was heard.
It then dawned on me that I too have done this. There were many times I thought I knew what was ‘best’ for my daughters and planned things they specifically said they didn’t want. I made plans for friends and family without necessarily consulting them and dragged them along kicking and screaming. I now understand that we can’t know what is ‘best’ for anyone but ourselves! Even when our motive is love and sincerity, choosing what we think someone else SHOULD want doesn’t cut it.
I have also figured out that if I/we say ‘surprise me,’ then I/we had better be prepared to be open to whatever comes my/our way and complaining rights are null and void.
It is not fair to make my husband guess what would make me happy. That responsibility lies with me. I need to decide not just what I don’t want, but what I do want and then be prepared to help make it happen. Responsibility. Imagine. At my age. I must be growing up…?
I promise, friends, I am done complaining about this now, for good.
Now, If I could just pick something I want …I’m thinking, mani/pedi, massage, flowers, weekend getaway….
How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
As a follow up to a previous post (“What Are You Freakishly Good At?” and why I hate the question) the opposite consideration deserves, well, consideration!
I have a client who IS Freakishly Good At (FGA) saving peoples’ lives. She is an actual Life Saver. She also is FGA keeping families (and support staff) from falling apart in a time of crisis.
She laments about not being exceptional in the area of, shall we say, being a 50’s housewife. In my most skilled, professional Life Coach manner I very ‘indelicately’ responded with.
“So??! Are you nuts?! You save lives!” After she recovered from the hearing damage, she dazedly replied, ‘oh, I never thought of it that way.’
Someone somewhere wrote: your weaknesses are what make you weak; your strengths are what make you strong. Exactly.
Being a 50’s housewife makes my client bitter, angry and resentful. Saving lives makes my
client feel powerful, happy and frickin almost able to fly.
Like I said in the “What Are You Freakishly Good At?” post, I did not know I was taking the path of Life Coach while I experienced and pursued the things I have/did in my life, but the more I followed what was fun, easy, interesting, the clearer my path became and the healthier I became in body, mind and spirit.
Coaching is a way to align your ‘knowing’ self with your ‘accomplishing’ self in order to get to your perfect destination – which for everyone is fulfillment, happiness, joy, purposefulness…and a whole bunch more nesses.
Therefore, if you are FGA one thing and are lamenting the lack in other areas of your life, stop it. There is someone, somewhere who can do those other things and believe it or not, loves
it. Hire them. You will both be fulfilling your destiny of being fulfilled with happiness, joy, purposefulness, etc.
I've just returned from an awesome vacation. Did you miss me?
It was the celebration of a milestone birthday (50th) and milestone anniversary (25th).
I told my husband (a year and a half ago) that I wanted a trip to celebrate - not any big parties. He loves to organize/arrange vacation travel, so he was 'in.'
We spent 7 days on the coast of Connecticut at a beautiful resort. We toured a nearby casino and happened upon Barry Manilow performing! We spontaneously bought tickets and thoroughly enjoyed Barry's trip down memory lane! The next night we went back because The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was performing in one of the lounges. It only cost us about 2 hours of time standing in line and then saving a table. Totally enjoyed their concert. Our winter break was long over due, so we reveled in the rest and relaxation of being seaside. I fell in love with the sound of the ocean. I sat outside and just listened to it. I slept the best 7 sleeps in a very long time. There was an incident that marred the perfection however. The resort coffee pot broke in my attempt to make coffee and the glass sliced my foot. 11 stitches prevented further seaside strolls. The bright side is I will now have a permanent mark of the occasion!
Then it was off to Manhattan, the very heart of New York for 3 jam packed, action filled days and nights. The highlights: Time Square at night. Central Park. "The Book of Mormon" broadway musical. Shopping at Joe Fresh on 5th Avenue! Tour of NBC stuidos - sat in Late Night with Jimmy Fallon studio and the set of the final SNL show of the season. Riding the subway. Pizza by the slice every night!
We packed in as much as my poor feet could handle.
I did nothing of my regular routine - exercise, eating, sleeping. And that's ok! It was such a great break from my 'regular' life.
If you want to see all of the highlight photos, you can friend me on Facebook (Jen Washington, Calgary, Alberta). 'just tell me you are a blog fan and I will 'friend' you back.
I missed my cat, my pillow and my electric toothbrush. 'Back to my 'regular' life and letting my stitches heal and feet recover.
I am very thankful and grateful for all the experiences on this trip.
I am also very thankful and grateful for my regular life!
What are you freakishly good at?
I hate this question. I am tired of hearing it, of asking it and of trying to answer it.
Not One Thing! No Thing! I am NOT freakishly good at any one thing. I am reasonably competent at whole bunch of things. I suck at quite a few things. As I used to tell my daughters, We are the Queens of Quite A Lot of Things.
I can’t help, in my fertile imagination and the frequent out of body meanderings of my mind, wonder if I am freakishly good at something I’ve never tried – like bobsledding or trap shooting. Or what if there’s something I don’t know exists yet, like Astral Travel Personal Shopper (where I go into the future or the past to get you a consumer item), and at this I would excel? But, how do
I access that?
I see people on the t.v. talent shows. They know what they are good at.
Juggling while uni-cycling, sword swallowing, up-side-down underwater basket weaving. There is obviously some ‘urge’ triggered inside of these people that makes them think, “hey, I wonder if I could…..(fill in the blank)." Then, also something from inside of them, makes them practice fiendishly until they master their crafts. Or what about singers with actual great voices who can sing the phone book and make it sound heavenly?
I am quite certain (as close to 100% as I’ll allow myself certainty) that I have investigated most, if not all of my urges. When I have the urge to sing, for example, I sing, but it does NOT sound like any heaven I want to live in! At the very least, I’ve considered each urge. No One Thing.
I do know that I love coaching. I would even say I have a natural talent for it. It is easy. Toot, toot! (that’s the sound of my own horn.) It seems to combine all of my past experience, with my study, with my particular urges, passions and curiosity. It is one of those jobs that did not
exist when I was growing up to ‘be’ something. I just kept on following things that made me feel excited or curious or urgent about. I could never have orchestrated every skill, class, piece of information and types/methods of practice I would need to do the job of Life Coach. But,
magically, ‘Life’ knew exactly the ‘courses’ (paths, routes, roads) I needed.
If you have no ONE Thing, that is o.k. just keep on following what ‘feels’ good, natural and easy and you will arrive at your perfect ‘job’ when it is ready to exist.
I have been noticing a familiar trait that I and my clients possess.
I call it the Handy Serving Tool that Transforms into the Tricky Task Master Stick.
Catchy title? I know!
My highly skilled, intellectually advanced and hardworking clients are evolved to the point of recognizing when they need help and gracefully hire it.
Zara does not have time to clean her house, ever, because she is busy running a multi million dollar program. So she hires a service that does that for her. Many ‘problems’ are solved; she has a happy, clean environment to return to at the end of a long day, hours of time are saved to be used on recovering physically, mentally, emotionally and to even have some fun. But…over time the ‘service’ begins to dictate to Zara what needs to be done before the service arrives. Zara eventually finds herself frantically gathering and stuffing items and cleaning spaces before her ‘cleaner’ arrives!
Meme, after years and years of working to take care of her family’s needs, decides she will add bit of fun to her life, so she signs up for art class. The first couple of classes are inspiring and refreshing and amazingly enjoyable. But then Meme’s children get sick, the children have extra-curricular events she needs to attend, Meme gets sick, all which results in Meme missing classes. Meme feels very bad because she doesn’t want to be thought of as ‘flaky’ so she apologized profusely to the teacher, over and over.
I enrolled my daughter in piano lessons at one of those music lesson sweat shops – a hallway of tiny closet sized rooms stuffed with musical instruments that rotate kids every ½ hour. I told the young guy (he may have been 16?) that I wanted my daughter prepped for a Grade 2 piano exam by the end of the 6 months of weekly lessons. I also told him to let us know when it was time to register for said exam. My daughter dutifully trudged into that closet every week for 6 months and diligently practiced. When it seemed like the time he should be notifying us of the exam
registration, I inquired, only to find out we’d missed the deadline. The sweat shop music store was not going to let me cancel my daughter’s remaining lessons without keeping my post-dated cheques.
We all began asking for and hiring the help we needed to get to where we wanted to go. But somehow that ‘help’ got turned into more ‘work.’
After Zara heard herself telling me that she was cleaning before the cleaner, her ‘duh-o-meter’ sounded and she immediately felt relief and fired him and hired someone else to do the job-clean the house. I assured her she was not only doing herself a favour, she was also giving the ex-cleaner what he was asking for, the freedom to have someone else clean before he got there.
Meme finally saw that it was not her job to please the art teacher. She hired her. Meme has
her priorities in order and will fit in what she can when she can.
The ‘old’ me would have timidly shuffled out of that music store and accepted the ‘strict store policy.’ But the ‘real’ me, the one that is in charge of what I want and need, informed the store owner that, yes, they most certainly would let us cancel the remaining lessons and give us our post-dated cheques back or else they would soon be shunned by all of the people that I know in this community and that as a music teacher myself, I would no longer be buying my music teaching materials there. The owner found that she agreed with my policy. I never
told my ‘story’ to my community and I have been shopping for my music supplies (at a discount!)there ever since.
We are the designers of our lives. We get to determine what works for us and what doesn’t.
Do you have any what once were ‘handy serving tools’ that have transformed into ‘task master sticks?’
Time For Spring Cleaning! Get your Bod in Shape for Bikini Season! Juice Cleansing for Health!
'tis the season folks, all kinds of messages going around concerning shaking off the old and freshening things up.
What about shaking off old patterns and plugging into an exciting future for yourself? What if it was fun and easy
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Way back, remember, Oprah recommended that everyone write in a gratitude journal? It was all the rage. She attributed her success to being genuinely thankful. I, of course, went out and bought a pretty journal specifically for recording the things I was thankful for. I did that for about…. 3 days. All of my items seemed so lame. I am thankful for water. I am thankful for air. I am thankful for my kids. Of course I knew the importance of all of them, but I was not connecting to the ‘feeling’ of gratitude, which was the whole point, which I clearly didn’t get.
Fast forward to present. My life coach has me make a list of 100 things I’m grateful for. Are you kidding me? Really? Frig. So off to Starbuck’s I go, because I am nothing if not obedient.
I buy myself a good coffee and a sweet treat and set out my purple pen and cool notebook. I begin by making a list of numbers 1 to 100. Yum this coffee is good. Oooh, I’m liking this blueberry crumble thingy. Ding, ding, ding. Connection. Enjoyment, Appreciation, Grateful!
This ‘connection’ did not just magically happen in that moment. I have been going through quite a
rigorous process in order to arrive at the feeling of gratitude. It turns out the origin of my disconnect was not knowing how to feel my feelings, period! I was trained not to trust my
feelings. First in childhood. Nice girls don’t get mad. Pretty girls don’t look sad. And then later, at school. Smart girls do what they’re told, no questions. In church. Good people don’t have
those thoughts. Good people don’t feel that way. Like I said, I am a very good student, so I believed it all. I take all the responsibility for my beliefs and my actions. No one forced me to be nice, be quiet, ‘deny my humanness. I was well liked and well behaved for a long time. I just wasn’t very happy.
The process has involved me learning how to feel my feelings and think my thoughts, and process all the ones that were stuck for years. Because, as you probably already know, when you stuff the so called ‘bad’ feelings, you deaden the ‘good’ ones too. When I became tired of being nice and unhappy and started searching for answers, I learned that my thoughts and feelings are ok, real, normal, ‘human!’ The decision to ‘act’ on my thoughts and feelings is completely my choice. Heck,
I even get to CHOOSE my thoughts and feelings! Ding, ding, ding! Now I know that the more I allow myself to feel happy, mad, sad, glad the more I can feel , happiness, appreciation, gratitude. Which is, the point of life.
Can you remember way back to January? Did you make any resolutions? How’s that going?
Have you made progress or did you scrap the ideas?
I just wrote up a quarterly report as a way of tracking any progress. I’m pretty impressed!
My focus project for the new year was/is my coach business.
Since January I have revamped my business plan, executed 3 very fun and successful UnMasquerade presentations, http://www.whatnowlifecoaching.com/servicescontact-me.htm
, given away 2 free sessions, coached 2 new paying clients, written almost a blog/week, revamped my website with copy and professional pictures and expanded my email client list.
For fun and creativity I hired a photographer and had a fun time on a ‘photo shoot’ (I worked my inner movie star), went to a Writer’s workshop retreat in Athabasca and met awesomely amazing women, ‘spent an early Easter holiday to Kelowna with my fabulous kids, went out dancing, went to the theatre (live, not movie!)
I worked out a self-care program that includes massage, craniosacral and chiropractic treatments, and I'm actually following it! I hired a personal coach for 3 months. I increased my meditation (not medication!) to 3x/day. I cut junk food out of my life (This is huge! A life time addiction to chips and such), I got professional orthotics (gift to my spine), I get outside to walk or run nearly every day.
The three months have not been without doubts and aches, pains, unmet expectations and disappointments, but I am learning how to reframe those and work with them.
I used to shy away from taking ‘inventory’ assuming that I am failing or will be disappointed in myself, but I have just found the opposite to be true. By writing out my goals and making them into action plans, it is more likely that I will get where I want to go, instead of my usual willy-nilly-making-things-up-as-I-go-along method.
If you’re inspired to do your own 3 month check in, let me know what