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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Disappointment-Free Life

In one of my favorite books, Ordinary People, a psychiatrist tells his grief-stricken patient, "If you can't feel pain, you can't feel much of anything else either." I've often thought how important a truth that is. I know when I used to be depressed, more often than not it was because I was numbing myself to pain or anger. Once the feelings emerged, the depression vanished, leaving in its place chaos and a mess to be cleaned up as the result of passionate, seemingly uncontrollable emotion. For me, emotional health requires that I embrace and experience all my emotions so I can decide how to behave.
Lately, I've been hearing a disturbing trend--people trying to avoid disappointment at all costs. Many of my clients seem to be searching for some kind of guarantee that they won't be hurt or won't fail to achieve their goals before they are willing to act. It's as if everyone is making a pact with the universe: promise me it'll be easy and I'll do it.
It doesn't work that way. If you choose to live a disappointment free life, all that happens is you miss out on most of what life has to offer because you are too busy protecting yourself. Life is about risk. It's about conquering fear and doubt so you can taste triumph. Sometimes it's about experiencing and moving through disappointment and sadness so you can reach a brighter future on the other side.
If your goal is to avoid disappointment, in some way you'll end up breaking your own heart. I encourage you to consider a different perspective. Ultimately, it isn't about whether you get the job or the promotion or the relationship. These things do matter, yes, but they aren't the ultimate goal. Whether you succeed at a particular thing or not, the point is that you need to know yourself, and you need to know that you are still a worthwhile human being. Self-esteem--the real kind, not the fake  crap we try to bolster ourselves up with sometimes--comes from that sense that no matter what, we still have ourselves and we're still good enough.
Will you risk disappointment and pain in exchange for increzsed self-confidence and self-esteem? Comment below.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Are You Living in Two Worlds?

Before I transitioned, I used to try to be both who I was and who I wasn't. To most of the outer world, I was female, while in my secret, inner world I was male. I let very few people into that inner world because I was afraid of the truth of who I was. For me, my journey is about integration--about merging the two very different worlds I used to live in into one cohesive world.

Even though you may not be transgender, chances are that in some way, you've been living in two worlds too. You may be hiding your ability to do certain things, some of your interests, some of your likes and dislikes. Some of the ways people split their world in two are:

  • Pretending to agree with what others say or do even though they actually find it offensive. Sometimes people laugh at off-color jokes or try to "go along to get along" with behavior they don't like.
  • Hiding their ability to succeed. Sometimes people don't do their best because they don't want others to be jealous or hateful.
  • Expressing only certain emotions. Sometimes people act like they're happy all the time when they're not happy at all. Or else lash out in anger but underneath, want to connect with people in a more positive manner.

Whenever you inhabit two separate worlds at once, in some ways you sabotage yourself so that people don't see the "real" you that you think is unacceptable for some reason. The way out is to practice self-acceptance. When you feel like something about you is no good or that you can't trust others to share it, ask yourself why. Then, breathe deeply into the tension you feel around the issue. As you breathe, whisper to yourself, "Accept."

Finally, take some risks. Push yourself to share more of your real self with others. It can be very scary to do so, and you may be nervous, but regardless of the outcome, it can be very liberating to do so.

In what ways do you live in two worlds? Share your thoughts in the comments below

If you would like to discuss the issues one-on-one in a confidential setting, please sign up for Rewrite Your Life Script.

Monday, May 13, 2013

How Have Your Experiences Helped You Become Who You're Meant to Be?

Sometimes it can seem like your "old" life script is all bad. You may be getting in your own way, acting out anger or just not be happy with the choices you made in your past. I've felt this way too and it's not a good way to feel. 

The thing is, though, that without some of those bad experiences or bad choices, we wouldn't be who we are. In my life, I've made some really negative choices based on pain. I moved across the country at 19, leaving all my friends and family behind, because I thought I was in love. I lived with, and suffered the consequences of, other people's drug addiction. I've wasted time, effort and money on one-sided relationships.

But because of all that, today I'm here ready to help you live a better life.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would have gone had I stayed at Syracuse University and not gone down some not-so-good-for-me paths. I can't say for sure, but I have a feeling I'd still be trying to be female, in a traditional job, maybe married with kids but depressed and not sure what was wrong or how to fix it. I really believe all of those painful mistakes I made helped forge me. I didn't know it during the long years of depression, poverty and failed relationships, but I was getting prepared to discover who I was and what I was supposed to do with my life.

If you're where I was--depressed, lonely, scared or out of control--and you'd like some help putting the pieces of your life together, please register for Rewrite Your Life Script. I'd be honored to help you find your way through the pain and discover your purpose.

The program starts in July. For now, ask yourself this:

How have my experiences helped me become who I am meant to be? 

If you'd like, share your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Are You Attracted to Heartache?

I used to feel like I was dating the same person over and over. All my relationships quickly transformed into nightmares full of fiery arguments, misunderstandings and me feeling invisible, unaccepted and unloved by my partner. I'd try to compensate by giving my partner money and other gifts; entangling our finances added another layer of complexity to an already unhealthy relationship. I didn't like the way my lovers treated me and worse, I didn't like who I seemed to become in these relationships.

When this sort of pattern occurs, it's easy to fall into a victim mentality and blame fate, the entire gender you're dating or humanity in general for your "bad luck." The truth is, though, that dating disasters aren't because of fate or bad luck or because men, women or people in general are evil. If you're dating the same not-so-good-for-you people over and over, then on some level you are creating that reality. This might sound like a bad thing--after all, nobody wants to continue experiencing heartbreak, so realizing you've been doing it to yourself can be depressing. It's actually good news, though, because if you have the power to create unhealthy relationships in your life, you also have the power to create the love you deserve.

If you've been continually attracting heartache, here's some things you can do to break the cycle:

  • Make a list of the problems you encountered in each of your last three relationships. Look for the common threads. For me, I tended to date people who were not financially independent and who were critical or sarcastic. These tendencies gave me some clues as to the limiting beliefs that were informing my dating life.
  • Take a break from dating. If you're caught up in a cycle of bad dating experiences, you need to stop dating for a while so you can get to know and love yourself again. While you are refraining, notice the type of people you are attracted to. See if you can figure out what about them you find attractive.
  • Make a list of your values. Many people make the mistake of dating people who do not share their values, and this can lead to disappointment or conflict. Take some time to figure out what is really important to you so you can begin manifesting a partner who shares those values.
  • Create some affirmations around deserving love. Relationship issues often stem from a lack of self-love. Begin focusing on accepting and loving yourself so you can attract people who value your real self.
If you want real love in your life and never seem to find it, changing your core beliefs about yourself and the type of love you deserve can help. Register for Rewrite Your Life Script today and see what a difference a month can make.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Are You a Relationship Saboteur?

Some people sabotage their relationships without even realizing it. They start fights, leave out important details when telling their loved one something important or don't say what's on their minds and get angry that their needs aren't being met. If you're a relationship saboteur, try these techniques to help you release the need to break your own heart.

Check Your Expectations

One way some people sabotage relationships is by setting unrealistic expectations and then being angry that the other person failed to meet them. If you're constantly upset or angry with your partner, ask yourself what your expectations are. If your expectations include your partner "never" or "always" doing something or knowing how you feel about an issue without you saying anything, those expectations are probably unrealistic. 

Take Responsibility For Getting What You Want

Sometimes we fall into a victim mentality in which we see our partner to blame for conflicts and think we can't do anything about it. If you're sabotaging your relationship via anger, try asking yourself, "What can I do to resolve this problem?" When you feel empowered to solve relationship problems, you feel less of a need to self sabotage!

Remind Yourself Who Your Partner Is

Sometimes we sabotage our relationships because someone in our past has hurt us. It can help to stay in the present; your current partner isn't necessarily going to react the same way as your ex or your parents did. So if you're upset because you expect your partner to act like someone else did, it can help to ask yourself, "If my partner isn't <past person's name>, how might I react differently now?" 

If you can't seem to stop sabotaging your relationships, you may need help overcoming a negative life script. Please register for Rewrite Your Life Script today and see your relationship success change this summer.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Three Ways to End Self-Sabotage

Have you ever lost a promotion, a job or even a significant other because you just couldn't stop doing things that you knew would probably get you into trouble? Self-sabotage is frustrating, especially when you feel out of control because you can't stop doing it. You may feel entirely alone with this problem, but don't despair. The majority of people get in their own way at least part of the time, and many people do it on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help yourself end this type of behavior and get back in control of your life.

Change Your Self-Talk
If you're struggling with a self-sabotage issue, you can get some relief from changing how you talk to yourself. Many people beat themselves up, saying to themselves things like, "I always mess things up!" or "How could I have been so stupid?"

Not only do these thoughts hurt, but they cement into your identity things like self-saboteur, mess-up and failure. If you believe you're a saboteur, you will always sabotage yourself. So be gentler on yourself. Say things to yourself like, "I wonder why I made that mistake." Actively look for solutions instead of focusing on the problem.

Prepare Yourself in Advance
If you're trying to achieve an important goal, you may be at risk for self-sabotage, especially if you have a habit of messing yourself up. So it can be helpful to prepare yourself in advance. For example, when you sit down to apply for a job you really want, ask yourself, "If I were to be at my worst, how might I mess this up?" Answering this question can give you an idea of behaviors to look out for.

Remind Yourself How It Feels
One way to help yourself avoid self-sabotage is to focus on your emotions related to a goal. First, on one sheet of paper, make a list of all the ways you will feel when you achieve your goal. Then, on another sheet of paper, write how you feel when you get in your own way.  When you feel tempted to act in a self-sabotaging way, read your lists over. Sometimes that reminder is enough to get you back on track.

If you still feel out of control after trying these techniques, you may be dealing with a life script that interferes with success. Register for Rewrite Your Life Script to get focused coaching around improving your self-concept and eliminating self-sabotaging behaviors.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exorcising Ghosts From Your Past

 Whether you recently broke up with someone who constantly belittled you or you didn't get along with a sibling or parent, your past can affect you in ways you don't even realize. As you're trying to move forward on a project, create a new relationship or live a better life, you may find yourself feeling anxious, depressed or lonely and not even know why.  If you've been challenged by fear, pain or anger as you try to achieve a new goal, you may be dealing with a "ghost" from your past.  

As a life coach, I encourage people to stay in the present rather than rehashing their past over and over. Sometimes, though, the challenge of staying focused seems impossible. You may be dealing with a ghost if you experience obstacles such as:
  • Anxiety about a current relationship or project that doesn't seem realistic. For example, you might be constantly worried that your new girlfriend is secretly angry at you or that you're about to lose your job. If these fears aren't based in reality but keep reoccurring, it might be based on a past relationship or situation.
  • Negative emotions that become more intense as you become more successful. You may be anxious about success because it conflicts with a life script that says you must not succeed.
  • Conflicts that occur based on what you think is happening instead of on what's really happening. If you get into arguments or otherwise create problems because you expect someone to treat you badly, you definitely are dealing with a ghost.

What to Do

It can be difficult to overcome this challenge; however, if the past still has a hold on you, it's because you haven't resolved something. You may need to understand and forgive the other person from your past -- and yourself -- in order to move forward.

Here's a couple of things to try next time you encounter a ghost:
  • Make a game out of finding compassion for the person from your past. Set a timer for two minutes and write down as many reasons you can think of for why they did what they did. 
  • Ask yourself, "If <new person or situation> isn't <old person or situation>, how might I see things differently?" Continually remind yourself that this is not your past and that it doesn't have to work the same way.
  • Write a letter to yourself acknowledging your pain over the past and explaining why this time is different. Read it over when you feel down.
If these ideas don't completely exorcise the ghosts of your past, you may be dealing with a life script that is blocking your ability to move forward. Register for Rewrite Your Life Script in order to work one-on-one on overcoming limiting beliefs about yourself and free yourself from the past.