Ever Belonged On The Island Of Misfit Toys?

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Having heard this reference more than once this week, it got me thinking…

There have been times in the past, I definitely felt I was a resident on the island of misfit something-or-others.

The misfits. Those who ‘feel’ they don’t belong, perhaps they’re different, unique and just don’t conform, to the standards around them.

Misfits create their own standards. Well, once they grow the confidence to not give two shits about what anyone else thinks…and that in reality, there’s really nothing wrong with them. (No more than anyone else)

Freedom expressed or unexpressed is a state of mind.

Personally, I’ve always sucked at conforming, and still do.

It’s not a form of rebellion per se, it’s more of a feeling inside of my body, of my guts being ripped out, when having to pretend to be someone else….okay,  perhaps not so harsh, but faking it to fit in, is something I’m pretty much incapable of doing.

Fitting in for some can be described as suffocating, and provoking extreme anxiety. The idea of capitulating where it doesn’t allow for their individuality is painful and yet, there’s still the desire to know they’re okay. The struggle has more than likely been there since childhood; the ability to accept themselves.

People that subscribe to their being different, change the world….just by being who they are and living the full expression of that self.

When we live that way, we’re no longer in our minds, labeled a misfit; we see our individuality.

None of us have to go out of our way to be unique, it’s those of us who allow our ‘real self’ to show through…who create our lives from that place, rather than hide it, as many do. For some they cannot seem to help it, they were taught there’s a lot of shame in being who they are–so they conform; they fit in…they’re afraid of loss.

Loss of love….validation…identity…finances….comfort…relationships….achievement….and so on.

Misfits questioning the norm or what’s taught to them as a belief of someone else, usually find something inside, which shows them other truths are available; creating their own perception. It releases them to go after what their souls deepest desires are, and as a result, they imbue change and find true personal meaning in their lives.

Not that people who conform don’t find meaning, it’s just a different set of values.

In several instances, misfits may have felt, as though they’ve been on the outside looking in; their point of view is different.

They realize so many societal concepts and perhaps, what works for other people, doesn’t work for them.

The key is in acceptance. Instead of trying to conform or beat themselves up over who they are not, it’s to accept what’s contrary.

Acceptance means we don’t have to fear our uniqueness.

Fear of being judged no longer exists. People will judge no matter what we say or do, so why not be exactly who we are?

For some of us, that’s a major part of the journey, unearthing who we are and what makes us tick. We may have buried our uniqueness decades ago, only to now, feel a deeper sense of unrest within us that is vague and difficult to pinpoint.

Our limitations, because of the fear within, can keep us feeling like a misfit, even if we appear to join in well within our peers and other groups.

Each individual shines a light when they discard the chains of living an identity that doesn’t suit them. In serving the world, if we show up doing what makes us happy, we have more to give. We open up to a whole different perspective, instead of our fearful one that we’ll be all alone if we choose ourselves.

How To Change Your Life Forever.

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For most of us, it can be pretty exhilarating to start a new job, a new relationship, find a new place to live, make new friends, join in new activities and take off on new adventures. All of this can play in shaping our perspective of possibilities, which some believe determines ‘who they are as a person.’

So, when these outside events change–we make a judgment, which alters our perception of our possibilities.

Julie thought her new job would be the answer to her unhappy home life. She saw herself enjoying the perks this company offered, including travel to other countries. It was her dream job!

At first, she was caught up in the excitement of the ‘new’ and the ability to be removed from her home life on a semi-regular basis. About three months into her job, she noticed she felt pretty much the same as she did, before she took the job…in fact, she felt worse.

Julie hated going home. It meant dealing with the circumstances that she put aside when she took the job, she thought this type of change equaled a shift in her power, and her control over her life. It didn’t.

Our circumstances are a direct reflection of our relationship with ourselves, but don’t ‘define’ who we are and our possibilities. True change, causes a shift in our inner world, supported by loving action to the outer world.

We stand in the way of change by remaining focused on believing things around us must first change. This keeps possibilities limited. We may talk to our therapist or coach, vomiting our drama, feeling temporarily better, but achieving nothing new inside.

To change and perceive our lives without limitations, we must take an honest look within to understand how we don’t really act in our own best interest.

True change comes from the inside to the outside.

George came to his last session stating he wanted the key to change by the end of the session. He was frustrated and angry at his life. In the past, we discussed all the ways George could change his life, but those idea of boundaries overwhelmed him. Those options meant he might lose control of the stalemate he held in his relationship and his business, or it might offend or place him in a position of possible loss.

Change always includes loss, even if it’s an image of ‘what’s possible’ that we’re losing.

If we want change we must be willing to give up our PERCEIVED control of others and our unhappy circumstances. Expectations of keeping the status quo will influence our ability to set a new precedence.

Mark has been married for 30 years. His wife is his roommate, they haven’t had sex for 15 years. He desires an opportunity to fall in love with someone else. Mark’s afraid to leave the comfort of his situation, for the unknown…at least here he’s appreciated for mowing the lawn, cooking dinner and taking out the trash. If he creates boundaries or leaves, what will become of his life?

We need to take a risk, and get honest with ourselves. What’s the benefit to our current unhappiness and keeping the focus on everyone, but ourselves?  What are we afraid of losing if we change? Why does having a limited picture of possibilities suit us? Why do we seek struggle?

Three things that need to happen to create change forever:

  1. Consistent Honesty With Yourself.
  2. Boundaries That You Live By First.
  3. Action To Support Who You Are And What You TRULY Want.

Benefits Of Unhappiness

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I had a client, Sara, who has been married a few times and was in a long term relationship.

She felt that she left her marriages prematurely, so she was determined to stick with this dysfunctional relationship until the end.

Her sessions would start off with a rant about her mate. She rattled off situations, which irritated her and focus on his glaring shortcomings, so I would seek to understand her point, by asking questions.

Questions such as:

  1. So, what you’re saying is, he takes no responsibility and blames you for the issues in your relationship?
  2. Okay, he doesn’t validate your feelings? Or he invalidates what you think and feel?
  3. Oh, so what you’re saying is everything is his fault and you’re the victim?
  4. Um, so you do or you don’t want to leave him?
  5. Huh, alright…so what you’re saying is everything is really okay?

Venting?

Complaining?

What did she really want?

She wanted to remain in her unhappiness, because it’s where she knew how to function.

She wasn’t looking for change; she operated by talking in circles, because changing her circumstances, meant having to look inside and take responsibility for her misery. Instead it was easier to play the victim in her life story.

Sara never saw herself as a victim, she’s tough! She’ll kick ass!

She defended her disempowerment and her life with a mate who didn’t really get her….one where she felt stifled, misunderstood, apathy, unhappy and not thriving.

She didn’t want it to change.

At the end of her tirade, I’d ask a simple question, again, so I understood where she was coming from, and she’d launch into a litany of reasons to defend her circumstances.  She ALWAYS had an answer for all the issues she blew up about in her rant, those problems were OKAY–she’d say, “it’s just the way it is and nothing will change!” It was all a big ‘whatever’ or ‘okay’ or ‘who cares’ whenever I’d ask if she planned on staying disempowered and miserable.

She liked being stuck right where she was, it served her.

Another thing Sara would do to show she wasn’t a victim in her eyes, is she could predict his behavior or what would happen in the future.

When people tell me the details about what another person is going to do, I don’t congratulate them. Instead, I point out three things:

  1. The focus is on the other person, not YOU, yourself–where it needs to be.
  2. You, me and everyone else are the creators of our own lives; it’s not really a prediction you’re making about your mate, it’s what you help to create, because of how YOU show up in the relationship too.
  3. When you predict your mate’s words or actions in a negative light, and you feel angry, you’ve given them YOUR power–you’re a victim.

Not pretty, but choosing to live in a constant state of strategy, so you’re ‘perception’ is proven right by your predictions, its a way of numbing out the pain.

The benefit is to remain in this comfort zone.

No change will happen.

In Sara’s case, she could predict it all, be angry or apathetic, because deep down inside she feared nothing better was out there.

No one stays unhappy unless there’s a benefit. Having no interest in looking inside of yourself, as to why you’re not happy and being willing to do something about it…means the benefit of misery outweighs the desire for change.

It’s not about changing other people.

I’ve had many people like Sara, pissed off and feeling motivated to do something, until they see the ‘something’ they must do takes them out of the ‘control’ position (comfort zone).

The drama they complain about keeps them in control of their shitty situation. If they released their partner from being responsible for their unhappiness, they’d be face to face with their fear.

The benefit to being unhappy outweighs the fear of change when you do the following:

  1. Make excuses.
  2. Argue and defend your position.
  3. Bitch about your circumstances, but eschew any new solution.
  4. Control through manipulation (most people do not see how they do this)
  5. Resistance inside and outside is familiar and where you live most of the time.

How do you switch gears and take into account your delight in your misery, so you can let go, move through and find your inner happiness?

To start with….

  1. Stop excuses–when you hear them come up in your mind, QUESTION THEM. Ask yourself what the truth is under the excuse.
  2. Feel the fear of losing an argument, of being wrong and see that its a perception, not an absolute truth. When you stop defending, and realize you CANNOT convince someone else or yourself of your position…you may feel a loss of control, allow it…and feel the freedom from the perspective underneath it.
  3. Stop the complaining. It is a merry go round of energy in your mind–a loop–stop it and ask it’s purpose? All it does is distract you from you and what your real cause of unhappiness is at the moment.
  4. Stop focusing on other people and what they do or don’t do, and figure out what you’re doing and WHY. Not because someone is causing you to do something, but what is YOUR real motivation?
  5. Resistance….it persists, until you move yourself out of that position. Why do you you feel it must be the way you see it? Is there another way?

 

 

A Meltdown.

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There was a time in my life where I could really lose it, cry, wail and dig deeply into the cracks between how I held myself together. Those times happen rarely, if ever, anymore, well….until recently.

I was out to dinner with my kids celebrating my youngest getting a job, leading to the start of her career.

We were driving home, talking about some funny moments from their childhood, and I mentioned this one mom from a particular scenario. I originally met her, when I only had two of my three kids. Our lives would continue to somewhat intermingle throughout their childhood, but we were never friends. She was someone who I had felt never liked me.

As I mentioned her name, my son tells me she died. I look at him incredulously, maybe he’s confused? How would he know and I never did, because it didn’t just happen yesterday, she’s been gone more than a handful of years!?

Memories came flooding back to the earliest of years when I met her in a parenting group, where we both were board members, and I was at her house with my now three kids preparing for an event. I remember her talking about moving, from the town she lived in, to the more affluent one next door.

Other glimpses of the past hit me and I wanted to cry.

I thought, about everything she was missing, all the hopes and dreams we all had when our kids were so young. I had to wrap my head around the fact that, as far as I knew, she never got to ‘right her dreams,’ so many difficult events took place after her move to the town where I also raised my kids…I wondered if she was finally at peace? She hadn’t died in the marriage of that old dream, nor had she stayed in the town where she felt she had finally arrived….and I felt so sad, because I didn’t know the truth. And why did it bother me so much?

There were so many associations I had with other people, how had no one mentioned this to me? And yet, why would they?

As my sadness grew over someone who had really been little more than an acquaintance, I found myself crying over all sorts of loss and all the decisions I made years ago that I now realized I really never forgave myself for the ones, which caused myself and others pain. In the old days, I always appeared ‘so’ together, I knew the truth…I wasn’t, because as it took me years to figure out…no one is all together.

During, what turned from just grieving someone else’s ‘supposed’ un-lived life , I was now in the midst of a full blown meltdown.

Bringing in the whole cavalry of punishing events from the past.

Things, I thought I had worked through, came roaring back. Why did I leave my marriage? What did I do to my kids? What the fuck, why couldn’t I handle it back then–the parts that were insurmountable to me at the time? Look at the mess I made of my life……and blah, blah, blah….

Oh lordy, like a full blown pity party, but it wasn’t. It was a realization. No matter how many times I think I’ve forgiven myself and the rest of the world. I hadn’t in one profound way, in the act of suffering and punishment.

If I could find a hard road, I’d take it…if I could work with commitment and lose while others won–I’d do it, if I could separate myself and have less than the rest of the world, I’d be in. I didn’t deserve ease, goodness or a healthy relationship…..I had to be punished for some perceived wrongs of my past.

This was not a newsflash! I was well aware of it for years, I’d made huge leaps and bounds in moving through it to the other side, but during this meltdown, IT WAS STILL THERE.

What we resist, persists.

Acceptance is what finally creeped in the back door. Accepting how fucked up I felt and that I quite possibly could be the greatest saboteur to the life plans that are currently unfolding at this moment. There was no shoving it aside, forgiving it or blessing it….there was an acceptance that it exists, because it had for years, even before I was married, when I used to be not just a type A, but a perfectionist too.

Acceptance is how we go through, rather than around or hide it. Once we accept it, we can go about our lives knowing a part of us–the darker, twisted part could ‘openly’ go along for the ride too.

The meltdown served its purpose.

As unexpected as it was, it came from a culmination of everything I’d been moving in the rhythm of being kinder to myself; allowing help, serving at the level of freedom and love, soaking into my subconscious a way of thinking and ‘doing’ that I’d talked about, but never really felt.

My whole demeanor had been changing, as I heard from others who had been around me for years; it showed I had been shifting gears inside over a long period of time.

Forgiving, accepting, embracing and bringing ourselves forward even with the understanding, we may not feel we deserve it, is the key to living an authentic life. The shitty shit doesn’t magically go away, but how we treat it, makes a huge difference in our willingness to move out of the comfort zone of crucifying ourselves or beating ourselves up, over decisions we’ve made. It’s only in taking the whole with its fragments, that we find our truth, which leads us to living a life fulfilled.

 

 

 

Having More Faith in Possibilities Then Failure?

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As we get older, we can line up all our past experiences in our life with money, love, career and anything else we’ve given meaning to and believe certain truths about ourselves.

For some of us, we can look beyond the disappointments and keep doubts, insecurities and negative thinking at bay…and for others of us, we feel incapable of having what we want, our worlds have just been getting smaller and smaller.

In creating a small world, there are benefits! We get to stay stuck, give up, run away, avoid change, find evidence that we shouldn’t risk and blame everything else for our being in this void.

We create a small world where everything seems under our control, except our happiness. We find a certain comfort zone of feeling and we decide that’s enough, wanting more will put us at risk. Our minds will help us to stay right here too.

At the same time, the yearning for more NEVER disappears.

If we ignore it by finding behaviors that numb us out, or distract us from living into our dreams, their efficacy will lose its ability after awhile. Then what will we do?

Being angry at what we feel we’re owed means we could be waiting for years for outside proof that its safe to proceed, “that now is the time.” 

Staying stuck is comfortable, it’s familiar. And the only change, which comes from being there is usually a worsening of circumstances. The status quo dips, because as human beings we’re not born to play it safe–because there’s no such thing. What we say ‘no’ to today in terms of risk toward what WE WANT, will haunt us in many tomorrows to come.

Those who keep risking pay attention to that other voice within them, the one who is willing to get up, dust itself off and move toward that dream today. It doesn’t wait for a sign or the moment, it goes for it, because waiting just means more time passes where we could be living large!

The bolder individuals who don’t let their past failures dictate their future, understand discomfort is part of the process.

What do they do?

  • Rejection and obstacles are temporary and not meant to be taken personally.
  • They stay open and vulnerable when its risky, they know its their true strength.
  • Expand their small world for their bigger dreams
  • Become more responsible for their lives, not blaming any circumstances outside of them for where they are now.
  • Have passion and excitement for their dream.
  • They spend time visualizing the goal (not the how), but the results they want–they see it, hear it and feel it! Even when they’re reality doesn’t reflect anything that shows what they want it to be.

Having faith in possibilities takes courage, while faith in failure is easy.

When we claim our value and know we deserve to live OUR dreams, we can face challenges, disappointments and doors closing, because we have the faith to know that our perseverance will pay off. Dropping the weight of the past, gives us freedom to have faith in the opportunity for a kickass life!

 

 

The Myth of Easy-Going and Low-Maintenance

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It used to be my favorite way to describe myself.

There’s no such thing as easy-going or low maintenance.

Instead, let’s call it what it is…. pretending, sucking down one’s feelings and going along, to get along.

Sometimes it’s situational. In one relationship or environment, we stand for ourselves and in another, we feel fear from dissent of being abandoned or not liked, basically fearing some form of loss….so we suck it up.

We may give into the louder person, who talks over others, and intimidates us. Whether they’re right or wrong, we might shut down, because we don’t want the confrontation. Unfortunately, those emotions have to go somewhere and usually they get piled up inside us, with all the other instances, where we let ourselves down.

Is it to be confrontational and get our way every time?

No, not at all.

It’s to be authentic and state where we are, what we truly want and not lie to ourselves and the world that we’re okay, when we’re not….especially, when others try to convince us, their way is the right way.

We all have insecurities, the person talking over us and the person sucking it in.

For me, I’ve come to find it’s easier to just admit and own em’!

Walking with confidence and owning our flaws, or fears–they cease to rule us.

It’s not to convince other people, they have a problem, it’s a fruitless conversation, unless they possess self-awareness and want to change for themselves.

We find people to do the dance with us.

Some people I work with have a partner, who they allow to convince them that their own value system is wrong, while this mate is right. On the surface it appears they’re in agreement, while underneath it, my client is suffering. This suffering affects their perception, which affects their actions.

People who tell me they’re easy-going are usually holding back on what they really want–they’re afraid to be authentic. Torturing themselves to convince those who matter, it’s all okay. BUT….In other situations, where loss isn’t important, they’re authentic.

At some point, pretending creates dissension and drama–we don’t get what we want. Even if someone sticks around through our giving up of who we are, it’ll feel empty.

Higher maintenance means we aren’t seeking validation from another; we don’t need to live up to their standards or what is inauthentic….we get to accept ourselves without feeling compromised inside.

Professionally or personally, ground rules for engagement are important.

Boundaries.

Some have no boundaries.

It may seem easier to be a doormat–then everyone will like us and think we’re wonderful, except there’s a cost to us.

In stating our truth, there’s no expectation to get our way over another, it’s to create a place of safe discourse, in which expression is key. We can choose in honesty. “I don’t want to, but I’ll do it” or “I don’t want to, and I’m not doing it.”

If we don’t express truth, to appease someone else, we have to live with that shitty feeling of lacking courage and self-love.

We’re all flawed beings, full of insecurities and greatness.

Lacking confidence, we may try our damnedest to cover up insecurities; resulting in bullying others, or being the quiet one or the people-pleaser.

When I proudly wore the low maintenance label, I didn’t want to make a decision. I’d let someone else choose, and I’d have a problem with it, yet I kept quiet and went along. I’d build resentment, but I didn’t want to lose anyone.

Lying to ourselves and others….creates a vicious circle, of more lies and non-acceptance of who we are….and what will stop it?

It might leave others scratching their heads when the eventual truth comes out!

Pretending is not okay.

People do this for years, thinking something will change. They don’t want to develop boundaries, so they’ll say…“I’ll pretend until this situation blows over.” Meanwhile, they’re angry inside and may act out in a variety of destructive ways.

If we want to be treated differently, we must treat ourselves differently first.

We must question the value we place on others, over the love for ourselves. An authentic relationship, is characterized by withstanding the storms, without pretending and placing honesty with love as a main value.

Being higher maintenance means strong boundaries, BASED on who we are and our self-respect.

Breaking Through Inadequacy

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We all feel inadequate at times.

Perhaps, we’re in a room full of people who appear to know more in some capacity than we do, or a job interview, or a date with someone we think is out of our league, or being caught making a mistake, and so on.

How we see our perceived shortcomings has an impact on our choices.

For some we shrink and hide, looking for sympathy, perhaps wanting others to commiserate with us. Others may love support, a kick in the butt or something, which gives them the gumption to rise out of the dampening effect inadequacy has and go after the life they want.

In having a real desire, we may find ways to tell ourselves, ‘we can’t have it.’ Especially, if it seems out of the realm of ‘our possibilities.’

We may delay, or disregard our desire, because we don’t feel good enough. It doesn’t matter what we’ve accomplished so far, it applies to all of us, in every walk of life.

Many successful people, aren’t following their deeper appetites. Others, who skim the edges of success, may not find the gumption to rise out of victimizing themselves, every time they fall down and just press ‘repeat.’

Who does it serve to allow our inadequacies to hold us back?

I played small, when it came to the truth of who I am. I could do well at certain types of jobs like sales, marketing and management, but to trust the deeper longing of what I wanted, was hard to entertain.

I lacked clarity around knowing….what was my deeper desire? Why did I feel so inadequate, when I saw my life played out in those brief moments of connecting to that desire?

We tend to do what comes easily to us, whether we love it or not. Many of us fall into careers without any foresight; a job was offered and we took it.

Feeling inadequate, leads to comparing ourselves to others; seeing them as more talented, better looking, excelling at something as we stand, not sure to trust our deepest truth.

I’ve written and edited most of my career for different purposes. Whether it was in school, on the job or helping someone out….I was always complimented on my writing. Always.

And do you know what I did? I blew it off.

I used to compare myself to others who appeared far more talented, and instead of compliments feeding me to do more, it made me hold tighter to feeling inadequate and hide.

It didn’t matter that I felt totally in sync with myself while writing, or that I could actually become giddy at the prospect; this freakin’ inadequacy made me feel small when I wrote….and controlled what I was willing to write about too.

Inadequacy leads to staying stuck in bad relationships, jobs, or other commitments, we’ve outgrown or we said ‘yes’ to out of fear. We can do this our entire lives.

Lately, I’ve been questioning what else hides behind any other perceived inadequacies.

Based on my growing unrest with having coached people in and around relationships; I see my own evolution. From the faintest stirring to the overwhelming pull within me… stay where it’s safe? Or, bust out of feeling completely inadequate, and step up to live out my aspirations?

What happens when we allow our inadequacies to rule?

Regret.

We can keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a miracle or someone else to find us, dust us off and show us the way…

Or…

Screw the inadequacies and live an ass-kickin’ existence!

Who cares if we’re the best or the worst? In the scheme of things, doing what we really crave can make the opinions of others null and void….plus motivated by passion, people and opportunities come along that would’ve missed us, had we chosen to stay stuck hiding behind our shield of inadequacy.

For clarity and to create action, I’m writing a list of all that I deeply crave, but feels impossible and without rules, I’m doing it!

What about you? What are the inadequacies you feel hold you back? And what are you doing about it?

Please share in the comments below.