Tag: courage

Embracing the shadows: Learning how to hear the “No” as much as the “Yes”

I’m a firm believer in the intuition and truth that we get from our bodies. I teach my clients to focus below the chin when making important decisions. For me, the truth lies at the solar plexis. Others find it closer to the heart.
Speaking with my book club the other night about important life decisions, I shared that I have had many decisions in my life that I knew to be true and never questioned. My body told me so and I never waivered. But then there’s a whole other set of decisions where my body doesn’t tell me.
I’ve been mulling over that information, and while in a twisty, long pose in yoga this morning I had an aha moment.
I realized that all of the decisions that I say “I knew for sure. My body told me”—they were all happy decisions. Knowing my husband was the person I should marry. Knowing what schools to attend. What job to accept. Even what house to buy. They felt “right.”
The decisions where I feel less certain are the darker ones. Not the “Hell yes!” life choices, but the firm “No.” The ending of relationships. The creation of boundaries. The times to leave rather than stay. To wait and rest rather than push forward. To quit.
My inner critic has a field day with me when the decisions are about the darker pieces of life. I believe the importance of embracing our shadows. That life is both the sun and the moon. The darkness and the light.
My body DOES tell me lots of information about these darker decisions— but I resist it. I can hear myself say, in a voice that must be a three-year-old version of myself, “But I don’t want to.”
Bravery is easy on the fun side but hell on the dark side. I don’t want to disappoint. Hurt other’s feelings. Give up. Be a quitter. Take the easy way out.
I am learning just how much I resist the tough stuff. I prefer to turn a “no” into a “yes.” If there’s a problem, I will work harder. Dig deeper. Fix it. Taking a brave leap is my superpower.
I see the limits of this strategy as a middle-aged runner. “Push through” was always my motto. These days, pushing harder means an injury. Learning to be softer. To know when to say “Enough” is my work.
NOT stopping, walking away, setting the boundary—it just delays the healing. I believe the Oprah metaphor that the universe throws a pebble at us to notice what we need to do. And then a rock. And eventually it’s a big brick toward our head. And all the while the resistance to these messages are loaded with guilt, grief, doubt.
Being brave means sitting still. Moving through the darkness back into the light. We expend enormous energy trying to stay in the same place, even when it’s time to move on. As with all life coaching work, noticing our blocks is the first step toward choosing new ways to live.
So here’s to the moon and the shadows. May they hold me as much as the sun and the light.

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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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.