Take Off The Boxing Gloves and Stop Fighting

I hear from so many people, “I’m so tired of fighting. Everything is a struggle.” And I always reply with, “What if you stopped fighting? What if you just surrender to what is?”

I spent a good portion of my adult life fighting what was. Trying to control everything and everyone. Of course, I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as me trying to help everyone. Everyone but myself.

I was constantly frustrated, annoyed, disappointed, and felt completely out of control of everything. Because that’s what happens when we try to fight what is and control everything. Here’s a secret … the only thing you can control is you.

The more we try to control things, the less in control we are. When we surrender to what is and focus our energy on our own crap instead of trying to manipulate or fight all the things for ourselves and everyone we love, suddenly life becomes easier.

Lao Tzu put it this way:

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

The thing is, there will always be painful events in our lives. That’s just part of life. It’s a given. However, we fight feeling that pain so much that we cause ourselves suffering. And suffering, my friends, is a choice. It’s optional. It is not a given. We suffer when we refuse to surrender and continue to fight what is. Seems a bit silly, doesn’t it? To cause yourself more pain trying to ignore the pain that is there? Why do we do this?

I tell my clients all the time, “You’re fighting the current.” It’s important that we stop trying to find a safe place to pull our boat out of the flow and just allow the current take us down the river. We will always end up where we’re supposed to be. Even if we have to navigate through some pretty rough rapids along the way.

So … why do we insist upon creating struggle in our lives?

Fear. Resistance to change. Refusal to let go of the past. Continuing to feel guilty for past behaviors (that you can’t take back or change anyway). Anger – at ourselves or others for past actions. Anger that things “never” go our way. And an incredible fear of letting go of control. The irony is … it’s all of these things that make us feel out of control. And yet we cling to them and make them part of our identity in an effort to feel like we are in control.

Eckhart Tolle has a lovely take on the power of surrender:

“Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace is transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”

Eckhart Tolle

Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. It means you’re finally accepting what is and realizing that fighting it only makes it worse.

The beauty is, there are techniques and tools available to you to help you learn how to surrender. To accept. To ride the current and let it take you where you are supposed to be. You can heal the pain that’s causing the struggle in your life and find peace. The only question is, are you ready to take off the boxing gloves and start healing?

Do You Hold Space for Yourself?

“When do I get to come first?” “When will I be someone’s priority?” “When is it my turn?”

How often have you asked these questions or a variation thereof? How much time have you spent crying because you just don’t feel valued? You give and give and give of yourself, and yet, no one returns the favor.

In October of 2013, I found myself curled up in the fetal position on my dining room floor, sobbing like I had never sobbed before. My heart was in a million pieces. I was scared, confused, humiliated, and I felt utterly alone in the world. I said over and over as I sobbed, “This is not my life. This is not my life.”

Those three questions I asked at the beginning of this piece were part of my daily … mantra … for lack of a better word. I was stuck in emotional muck that came up to my hips. I was struggling to get out. Yet I stayed trapped. I felt helpless.

That day I was a blubbering mess on my dining room floor I got my answers to those questions.

First of all, if it’s not my life, whose is it? Well … it’s mine. I hate this life. No one can change it but me.

Second of all, I get to come first when I put myself first. Why are all the other people in my life more important to me than myself and my own well-being?

Then I had to ask, “If I don’t make myself a priority in my own life, who will?” The answer – absolutely no one.

My turn is now. Because it is time for me to start treating myself with the same love, kindness, and compassion that I show others.

That felt uncomfortable. It felt selfish. It felt … well … icky. And to quote a friend and fellow coach, it made me “squirmy” inside. “Who am I to put myself before others? I’m nothing special.” Except. I am something special. And so are you. The Buddha had this to say about holding space for ourselves:

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

Whoa. That’s huge. I deserve my own love and affection. You deserve your own love and affection. You are as deserving of that love as the next person. And yet … we don’t give that to ourselves. We do not hold space for ourselves. It’s much easier to do that for others, isn’t it?

I am currently enrolled in a self-directed coaching program on leadership. The first thing I learned in this program is that I must lead myself first. I’m great at leading society. It’s my calling. It’s engrained in my soul to help others. I don’t know how else to be. On my leadership assessment, I scored a 93 out of 100 on my ability to lead my community. That felt really good. For a second … lol.

Know what my “leading yourself” score was? 73. Not so hot. Especially not for a chick who digs getting A’s. That’s a C. I don’t love that. So … how do I fix that?

I hold space for myself. I allow myself to screw up without judgment, just like I do for everyone else. I allow myself to be afraid without judgment, just like I do for everyone else. I surrender to what is. To quote one of my favorite John Denver songs, “Looking for Space,”:

“On the road of experience. Join in the living day. If there’s an answer it’s just that it’s just that way.”

Windsong, 1976

I don’t need to be perfect. I am as I am. Just that way. And that way is perfect in its imperfection. You are as you are. Perfect in your imperfection. Just as you look at your spouse, your children, your best friends, you can look at yourself – perfect in your imperfection, deserving of love, kindness, and compassion.

People talk a lot these days about self-care. And I’m glad they are. But what we aren’t focusing on in that process, is holding space for ourselves. For some, self-care is retail therapy. For others it’s a mani/pedi. For still others, it’s a sweet treat. Maybe your self-care is a nap when you have a list of things to do a mile long, but you honor your need for sleep. However, often, when we do these things, we feel guilty. “I shouldn’t be spending time or money on this.”

That is when we need to hold space for ourselves. “This makes me feel good. The world will not fall apart while I do these small things for myself. I honor myself and understand that it is okay to do things for me because I deserve it. I am worthy of loving.”

Be your own best friend. Hold space for yourself to work through your struggles the same way you do for your friends. Show yourself compassion. Stop striving for an A. I’m a C when it comes to self-leadership, but guess what? That means I have a lot of room to grow.

No one is perfect. We all deserve love. And the most important person we will ever love in our life, is ourself.

1

Be Vulnerageous

I love Eckhart Tolle. His books have been life-changing for me, especially “The Power of Now”. Today, in using some of his words on a group coaching call, I came across the gem below. It helped me to realize why people do not show up for themselves.

“Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let it go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard-done by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon.
It is also insane.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Let me tell you something, my friends. If you don’t show up for yourself, no one else will. You can cling to your false beliefs about yourself and allow them to be your identity, or you can realize that you are harming yourself and holding yourself back by not letting go and surrendering to the fact that you aren’t any of the things that you tell yourself you are.

So, what does it mean to show up for yourself?

It means being humble enough to admit you don’t have this all figured out. It means opening your mind and your heart to new ways of viewing yourself and the world. It means being open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you can be happy. It means surrendering to Truth and not what your small self is telling you about yourself that is all based in lies. It means accepting your own Divinity. And that is frightening.

That’s why we resist doing this work. It’s scary to think about who we will be if we no longer have those negative defining ideals of ourselves of being a hard ass, or that we “don’t care” what others think about us, when, in fact, we worry about that constantly. It’s scary to rip off the masks we wear to meet the expectations of others. “What if they see my weakness? I’m supposed to be the tough one. The one who doesn’t give a shit about anything. The one who always has the answers. I’m always good. No vulnerability here.”

Guess what? We can’t be happy until we show up for ourselves and actually release ourselves from the lies of the small self. When we stop defining ourselves by our past, when we stop labeling ourselves as tough or depressed or angry or a failure, and open ourselves to the idea that all that we are is ON PURPOSE, we can heal and find joy in every aspect of our lives.

A FB friend coined the term, “be vulnerageous” … a combination of vulnerable and courageous. I like that word. (Thank you, Robert!) It is only in our vulnerability that we can truly show up for ourselves. Being vulnerable takes a lot of courage. Courage to let go of what we tell ourselves we are “supposed” to be. Courage to expose those most vulnerable parts of our psyche. Courage to change.

When there is someone there in your life, encouraging you, showing you how you are none of the negative things you believe yourself to be, show up for yourself. Listen. Be vulnerageous. Don’t cling so tightly to your own opinions and beliefs that you are closed off from hearing anything that deviates from those beliefs.

“I am” are the two most powerful words in any language. When we say, “I am angry,” or “I am a failure,” or, “I am not worthy of anything more than this,” we create that. Words are magical and powerful. What if, instead of saying, “I am angry,” we said, “I have been hurt”? (Because anger is always, always rooted in pain.) How about saying, “I have made mistakes in the past, but I learned from them,” instead of, “I’m a failure. I screw up everything I touch”?

Are you ready to accept the positive in your life and start making changes? Are you ready to be vulnerageous and share your fears and uncertainty? Are you ready to allow yourself to grow beyond anything you ever believed possible? Or do you want to stay stuck in your current beliefs that sabotage your ability to be happy?

If you’re ready, I’m here. Are you going to show up? I am happy to turn a light on for you to find a new path and to realize just how much purpose you have in this world. You just need to decide to be vulnerageous and be open to finding the best version of you.

6

The Courage of Your Convictions

My first husband used to say to me, “I love that you have the courage of your convictions.” And this sounds like a good thing to have. Courage to stand up for what I believe is right even if others disagree with me. And yet …

How healthy is that? Can we take the courage of our convictions too far and become overbearing and bossy? Does it make us want to prove to everyone that we are right in our thinking and they are wrong? Sometimes, unfortunately, the answer to those last two questions is “yes.” 

The thing is, when we take the courage of our convictions too far, it’s because something in us needs healing. We’re hurting. We feel we have something to prove to others, when, in fact, the only person in the world we need to prove anything to is ourselves. And even that is questionable.

We all have shadows to work on. And those shadows have the courage of their convictions too. Like, “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do that. You don’t have the chops to pull it off.” “You don’t deserve to be happy.” We all have those kinds of thoughts that come from past wounds and what others taught us about ourselves our whole lives.

So, how do we break free from our shadow’s courage of its convictions?

First, we ask, “Where is this feeling of self-doubt and lack of confidence rooted? Where did I develop the limiting belief that I am not enough? That I am not deserving of anything and everything I want for myself in life?” Then we ask ourselves if those beliefs are FACTS or just beliefs. If you can find just ONE instance that proves that belief wrong, it is not a fact. It is a belief. And beliefs can be changed.

Step two is asking yourself, “What is a different, healthier belief I can replace this one with?” Then look for just one instance that proves this belief true. I promise you, you will find more than one, if you look. And then you can say, “Huh, if I actually have support for this belief, it’s true. It’s factual. It’s not just some bullshit in my mind.”

When you do this, you open space for yourself to start living more authentically. You can step more fully into your own power and know that, no matter what, in this moment, right now, you are enough, you are deserving, and you are on purpose.