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Hooked on forgiveness. Released by closure.

Forgiveness and closure. These two of our toughest challenges intertwined.

Not forgiving only hurts me. Forgiveness is self love. And it is one of the hardest acts to fully give ourselves over to doing.

It can feel worse when we have an awareness of the need to forgive, but still cannot let go.

But it’s hard to unhook. Pema Chodron calls it shenpa—when emotionally we are triggered and feel ourselves closing down.  I envision a fish hook that has lured me in. The barb of the hook twists me around and around. The more I try, the worse I’m caught.

I am aware enough to see that I struggle. And then I get mad at myself that I can’t let go. It seems like others are so much better at forgiveness than me. I want to let things roll of my back. Look forward at the light. But when I spend my energy resisting a negative force, I feed it more. Such heaviness. Then I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I’m still hooked.

Closure is related to forgiveness. Yet it feels more tangible to me. I feel more agency with the idea of closure. I can take my power back. I can step away from a dysfunctional space where I’ve gotten lost in the abyss. The power is in the decision that I alone get to make.

Glennon Doyle Melton nails it when she said: “If you keep reaching back to a toxic relationship don’t pretend it’s ‘closure’ you want. Calling one more time is not a need for closure — it’s a need for one more fix — it’s a sign of drama addiction. Detox by moving forward, not back. You don’t ‘get’ closure. You decide: It’s closed.”

How do I know it is closed? That fish hook is gone. An interaction won’t leave me raw and bloody. The fear of further wounding is gone.

I can love someone. Be loved by someone. But that doesn’t mean that person should be in my life.  As a friend and former coach of mine taught me, I yearn for loved ones who love me in a way that I can’t process as love. It doesn’t register. Even when they intend it.

When I finally believed that possibility recently,  a deep sigh came from deep within me. A sigh that I’ve come to recognize as the way that I am allowing my body to relax. To let down my defenses. It lets me know that I’m ready for closure.

If I can see my wound as a disconnect rather than an intentional act, I might be able to access sorrow rather than rage. Maybe even lean toward compassion. I can choose to close the wound. No desire to retort, reengage, to wound back. Nothing to anticipate.

And maybe through closure I can lean into forgiveness. Because I know that forgiveness will set me free.

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Charge your batteries before the feast

The holidays can be a time that social anxieties and triggers flare all over the place. Sitting next to Uncle John with opposing political views at Thanksgiving dinner. Social obligations that make us uneasy. Lots and lots of things “to do.”

When we don’t prepare for these moments ahead of time, we often numb ourselves throughout. We drink too much wine. We eat too much turkey and pie.

The numbing tends to make us feel worse.  It further drains our batteries when we are already low.  We check out emotionally. Or explode. Awkward happens.

How can we avoid this damaging cycle? We need to prepare AHEAD of time for the moments that we know are coming.

Take the time before the crazy times begin to remind yourself of the habits that truly renew you.  Stick to what recharges your batteries so that you have the capacity to navigate the emotions and interactions of the holidays.  Ten minutes in silence. Deep breaths of fresh air on the front porch. Journal. Take a walk or a run.

If you are visiting away from your home, you might need to walk around the block of a family members house instead of walk in the woods. Or do a few yoga poses in a bathroom.  Do it anyway! Take these moments of solitude to clear your mind. Set intentions for the difficult parts of the holiday.

Remembering to recharge is a discipline. Especially on days where we don’t have a normal routine. Recharge requires setting an intention ahead time for self-care. Scheduling the time. Sticking to it when it’s easier to numb. Maybe even getting up an hour early or stepping out of the house for an “errand”

If you can stay grounded and centered, everyone around you will benefit from your ability to be present, calm, sure of who you are.

Doing so might even require enduring the comments of others who might judge and call it selfish. Often such people are not caring for themselves, so it is hard to appreciate when others are making wise choices. They might not think it’s “fair” that you step aside for a few moments. Send them love and light. And do it anyway.

Namaste.

Make space for your future

Sometimes when we are the cusp of a big life transformation, the universe gets very noisy if I stop listening.  Last night at two in the morning, a loud voice was screaming in my head that I had to clear out all that heavy emotions that are holding me down. And the next step of that process was to purge out my closet.

I realized that I store memories in my clothing. Clothing that looks exquisite and rocks my body needs to get OUT of my closet if reminds me of a person or a moment that hurts my feelings. I spend three hours removing half of my clothes from my wardrobe.

I also was holding on to clothing that was past its prime because it contained positive feelings. Some of the items were worn out, tattered. Others just did not flatter my body.  I’ve been wearing my teenage daughters’ clothes because she’s in Argentina for the year and I miss her. But they do not look good on me. I can find other ways to keep her close, like a bracelet of hers, than a shirt from Forever 21.

Compliments also can weigh me down.  There are lots clothes out there that somebody thinks I look good in but don’t serve me.  This statement also holds true for jobs, friendships, ways of speaking to others, and just about everything that matters.

So, questions to remember the next time I clean out a closet (or need to let go of anything in my life big or small)

  1. Am I holding onto things that hurt my feelings and pull me down? Does this have a negative memory attached to it that I don’t want have to ever think about again?
  2. Am I clutching to past memories of joy—even when they no longer me going forward?
  3. Am I holding onto this because others think I “should”

Happy winterizing of your closets. And for those of you feeling that twinge of a  feeling that change is coming, clear the space you need physically, mentally, and emotionally to prepare for what is coming. Even if we don’t know what it is yet.

 

Aligning my image with my ideals

I’m stepping way out of my comfort zone. I’m taking a class on “style.” I get squirmy and squishy when I think about shopping and fashion. As much as I love wearing something confident, the hate the idea of shopping. I hate being in stores. My eyes glaze over. My head aches.

My inner critic always comes shopping with me. My friend has named her “Nerdy Middle Schooler.” That critic is so noisy she’s even embarrassed that I am writing this blog. How could I share my insecurities with others?

When I go shopping, my critic tells me it looks wrong. Frumpy. Who am I to spend money on my clothes? How vain? You’ll just spill something and ruin it anyway. I’m so clumsy. And someone might notice. Might not like it. It might be too bold.

I’ve always covered that fear with, “I want to be noticed for who I am, not what I am wearing. ”

When I listen to my inner critic, I tend to imitate what others wear, whether people we often. Rather than figuring out the puzzle, I mimic.

I am learning that I can choose to have what I wear reflect who I am on the inside. And then perhaps people are more able to know the good stuff on the inside.

When I’m feeling brave. When I’m standing in my power, I can dress boldly. We are a hoop nose ring instead of a teeny tiny stud. Wear big crazy earrings that might not work but might be fabulous. Bold colors, curvy shapes.

I’m attaching a TED Talk explaining this concept of Inside/Out Congruity.

 

Leaping is always about stepping forward

Autumn is the season of kids growing up. Going to college. Pre-school. Moving away.

It’s all about playing big. Growing the boundaries of who we think we are into possibility.

I am watching both of my teenagers take giant leaps into the unknown to see just how big and grand they can become.  My 16-year-old daughter has left for the year to study abroad in Argentina. My 14-year-old son has left his local soccer to follow the dream of being a member of the US Soccer Developmental Academy.

They are both brave. They can speak very well of possibility. Neither is sure how it’s going to turn out. Neither made the safe choice. That’s the paradox of it. To live a life that feels filled with meaning and satisfaction requires not knowing. A leap of faith

They  are in the first part of the leap, soaring upward. They left their safe, grounded places. They have a vision of where they want to land. They are stretching every limb to get to the other side. Feeling a bit off kilter. Unsure how the rules work in this new space. Doubting themselves and feeling the thrill of the challenge all at the same time.

The first steps in the trajectory are up, up, up. It’s exhilarating and new and thrilling. Queasy. Emboldened.  I can feel helpless sometimes, watching. Hoping that sending energy and love and protection like telepathy will keep them strong on the inside.

I know the trajectory will come back down and they will land in a new place. The new place is rarely what we expected. They might stick the landing where they sought and be surprised it’s not what they expected at all. Or they might fall down. A place unexpected. Unwanted even.

Lows. Tears.

My daughter is finding struggle where she least expected it. Not in feeling homesick but instead in being held back by the constraints of Argentinian social norms and bureaucratic rules from showing up in all the ways that she wants to fully experience her adventure. But in the confusion of change, my daughter has found friends who appreciate and support her. She has learned how to speak her truth even when it makes people uncomfortable. Of meeting new friends, speaking one’s truth when it’s not going well.

My son has spent more time sitting and watching than playing some days. But from that shift he experienced the exhilaration of coming off the bench to provide the assist and then a goal in a tied game.

These kiddos will never ever be back at where they started at the beginning of August. They are falling down in big and small ways. They pick themselves up dust off, and begin from there. Then they find thrills they never expected. Big highs and lows  first place. And they will pick themselves up. Forever changed by the bravery of taking the chance.

Forgiveness Relieves Anxiety

I struggled with anxiety during a rough patch in my life. People very important to me caused me to lose trust in them, and in turn, I lost trust in myself.

I began dreading social situations. I was short fused and unfair to my closest people in my life. I did not feel like I could manage my moods. I felt like a ship drifting about with no control of whether the next wave would knock me over. The world was doing things TO me. I had no control over it.

Forgiveness was the gateway to get my health back. But I learned that forgiveness is not what I thought it was at all.

I struggle when I hold on to the pain and hurt–far after the cause of the pain left the scene. Anxiety comes from trying to control things we cannot control. I would beat myself up by replaying the wrongs and squeezing on to them rather than setting them free.

I wasn’t ready to forgive because I believed other people were wrong. It wasn’t okay that they said what they said. Did what they did. They should have huge regrets for how they acted. There should be consequences. Because otherwise where was the justice in this world?

The shift for me came when sitting in stillness and silence one day-my pathway to knowing what is true and real. I had always thought forgiveness was about the other person. About holding that person in a kinder light.

It can be about that. But whether I wish the other person goodness or karma, I don’t ever get to determine how they experience what they did and said. I can’t control how they feel about anything. Wishing and hoping they feel anything at all is futile.

What I can control is me. My physical discomfort and pain is made by me alone. My resentment. My anger. My anxiety. My choice.

All of that energy may never land for “them”, but it grows in me when I don’t let it go. It sucks the life out of me and prevents me from showing up.

To be well and happy, I had to forgive.

So that I can be free and strong and dream of brighter futures and bigger and better ways of being. So that I can invest all the people who lift me up and value my energy and love.

I can fully decide that I will consciously turn from fear to light. I will seek peace and serenity for my own self. That choice can set me free.

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Ready to get unstuck? Message me for a free consultation or email dana@coachingbydana.com

Brave. Not Bravado.

I used to think being brave was forging through life with plenty of shields up to make sure that I didn’t get hurt. It was sticking my neck out to do great things, but to share as little of myself as necessary to get them done.

Now I realize that’s bravado. And it doesn’t really serve anyone.

True bravery is learning how to be vulnerable while also maintaining boundaries. It’s a much more challenging way to show up in the world.
Self care. We can’t be brave if we aren’t grounded and feeling cared for ourselves. We need to feel worthy from the inside. We mindfully charge our batteries through self-care, whether it be meditation, prayer, exercise, sleep, a cup of tea. We can’t fully appreciate others for all they can be if we are not honoring ourselves.

To be clear in our intentions, means that we need to stay grounded. Much like a snow globe that gets all shaken up, but we’re not engaging in self care then discernment is very difficult. Everything is cloudy and murky and it’s easy to have a cup overflow with anxiety, worry, and stress. Through mindfulness and breathing and enough self-care, we can stay in a state in which we can consider our intentions. When we are aware that our self-care is not where it needs to be. That her battery needs charged. That we’re not in a place of being grounded, then sometimes will need to step away from difficult conversations until we’re strong again.

Vulnerability. Bravery is taking off the various masks that we wear in life to be honest and real and vulnerable. Being vulnerable when it allows us to make greater connection with others. I’m wearing a strong place and we can find greater meaning through the sharing of our stories. It means that we acknowledge the stories we tell ourselves and recognize that others’ stories of the same experience are valid too, as the writer Brene’ Brown shares. It doesn’t mean sharing our deepest truth with everyone, but a commitment to trying to see the best version of whomever is in front of you, whether it be the store clerk, your child, or yourself in the mirror.
Cleaning up messes. But it does involve addressing discomfort and potential conflict head on. It involves saying sorry when necessary. It involves cleaning up our messes when we screw something up with someone. Taking responsibility for our messes is hard. But it’s much healthier than letting the mess grow.

Taking time outs. Being brave also means that sometimes we need to pause and find faith in non-action. If we are reactive and emotional and not in a place of grounding, then being brave sometimes is walking away. Not engaging. We must wait until we are on solid ground before we try to interact. Hopefully as we get better at this, those needs for timeouts and stepping away grow shorter. But it’s important to honor them. And they may not be the timeline of the person who’s trying to engage you (or pick a fight with you). People sometimes want a reaction out of you, even if it is negative. And that can be tough because it hurts when someone’s angry. That discernment is really about intention.

Resonance and Connection

How well do you resonate with others? In coaching we work with clients to find their courageous voice. We also work with client to help to build stronger connections with people who matter to them. Sometimes courage and connection can feel in conflict. Most of us tend to find one of these goals easier than the other.

Some of us are more skilled at speaking truth to power, no matter what the consequence. I’ve always tended to find the courage easier than the connection The positive of this perspective is being strong and true. At worst the can be perceived as aggressive or offensive.

Others prioritize the connection with others. They naturally make interactions comfortable, friendly and kind. At best, they lift others up and find joy in the connection. At worst, they can feel used or unseen.

In coaching training that I am attending this week, I am pondering how to show up with both intentions—connection and courage. My daughter works in retail sales. She wisely observed that she can be heard when she raises her voice more highly, and smiles. This is a gendered answer, granted—when as women do we want or need to be heard vs. assert ourselves more? Yet it also shows great self-wisdom of how to make a connection and be heard.

I am learning that connection must come first. We first need to build resonance in order to be heard. Sometimes we need to mirror others to create a connection—making our voice louder or softer. Matching the range of our intended partner builds trust. Raising our energy or speaking more slowly. With connection, we can stretch to others—to help them to grow and to hear our own authenticity. We can also listen more so that we can learn and grow as well.

Where do you naturally sit on the spectrum of connection and courage? Which direction do you need to stretch?

Finding Intuition Inside

When uncertain of decisions, our body can give us the insight that we need. While we often stay stuck up in the brain part of our selves as we “think” through decisions, we gain wisdom and guidance by centering our questions and concerns within ourselves and breathing into them.

A common place to think is from our “gut.” Called the Hara or dantian in Eastern cultures, we can find truth and confidence in knowing through this center of wisdom and guidance.

Others find great comfort in breathing into the heart space to make decisions. They find the understand of an issue can feel broader, more spacious. Compassion for ourselves and others involved can change our perspectives and help us to decide how the dilemma might best be resolved in ways that align with our values and how we want to show up in the world.

Other body parts can give insights as well. Try focusing on your feet when making a decision. Grounding can come from the feet. Or an unwillingness to be grounded. At a recent lecture that I gave, one participant found that her one foot wanted to fly up into the air. She was getting strong messages that she did NOT want to be grounded. This person had been deliberating about taking a long desired month-long trip, but kept worrying about the funds. Further reflection helped her to feel strongly that it was time to make plans and begin her adventure.

The hands are also a place of insight. My hands often start shaking before I even fully realize myself that I’m nervous or afraid. They tell me what I’m feeling inside when I don’t want to admit it yet. They are my visual barometer of my inside self.
We have the wisdom we need. We are naturally resourceful and whole. We can find ways of knowing within ourselves by taking a quiet moment, breathing, and asking our bodies what they can teach us. Our intuition is always correct. It’s a muscle that we need to learn how to flex.
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Contact me for a free coaching session to see the possibilities at dana@coachingbydana,.com

Boundaries

One of the hardest parts of “adulting” is placing boundaries when you need them. The more important the person, the harder the work.

They say in coaching that you get the clients that you need. I wonder if that’s true with all relationships. Our child needed–and still needs–parents with a much more rigid line than we like to take. We had to focus on absolute consistency. It provided safety and scaffolding. The scaffolding included a nonnegotiable bedtime. Clear expectations and visible consequences. Without these boundaries, our lives would fall into chaos, and we would suffer the consequences of a miserable child.

The same is true for the business world. I had a client recently tell me, “I think my staff is waiting for me to make some rules. They will be relieved when I do.” And even with that knowledge, it’s still hard to do.

I don’t like that part of relationships—parenting, friendships, business. I don’t want to be the “heavy.” I don’t like rigid rules myself. I find myself putting my energy toward wishing that I didn’t need to do this important work –why can’t the other person change so I don’t have to do the work?

The paradox is with boundaries is that the tough up-front work is what sets us free. They can give us back our energy long term instead of handing it away over and over because we didn’t do the work.

Holding the boundaries requires self-care. Enough energy to do what might be harder up front but takes care of issues down the line. Remembering the boundaries and keeping them firm.

What boundaries and tough conversations are you avoiding? How does that serve you? You know it’s a big one if you hit an emotional block –queasy stomach, resentment, discomfort. Huge signs that your boundaries needs some adjustment. Avoiding the tough conversations doesn’t make them go away, they just get buried in our selves and multiply. We carry our unfinished work into all of the other relationships in our lives.

Be curious about all of those clear signs from your body that there’s some tough work to do. And you might not want to go it alone.

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