What Do I Have To Be?

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I could ask anyone (friends, family, strangers and those who don’t like me) “What do I have to be?” and get a variety of answers.

Think about it… what would that mean in your life?

Of course you can ask people on Twitter and they will call you a “sweet soul” or say “you’re amazing,” or that they’re “honored to follow you” without even knowing you. Do you have to live up to those words?

What if you’re a pissed-off soul, a sad soul or (shudder) an asshole soul, like me?

I laugh as I write it because we all have our crap: things that aren’t very nice.

Many of us hide ’em to get past our own judgments, opinions and expectations.

I remember asking myself, “What do I have to be?”  because it seemed other people were always the answer. Their opinion mattered more than my own. As a kid my parents told me I was unlikeable, so I wanted to hide the fact that I was some kind of “asshole”. (Whatever we think we’re hiding, you can be guaranteed it will come to the surface sooner or later.)

I became a rescuer and a clown. I toned down my intellect and any needs I had. Problems? What problems? I fit on the outside, while the inside just cried and became resentful. Until one by one these facades I created to get validation I was OK were impossible to maintain.

Lying to myself became a non-option.

So the question remains, “What do I have to be?”

  • Successful
  • Beautiful
  • Talented
  • Wealthy
  • Youthful
  • Perfect
  • Nice
  • Smart
  • Lovable
  • Unblemished

And so on, and so on. It’s just stupid.

Ever notice the people on TV or in movies who’ve distorted how they look as they age? Or ruined their bodies trying to achieve “perfection”?

Who are they making happy? Certainly not themselves.

They asked the question, “What do I have to be?” and listened to someone else tell them there’s only one path to success. No one (not them or the person advising them) gave two shits about happiness, peace or personal joy. It’s what happens when you’re missing the keys to your own front door.

Ask one of them if they are happier or if in fact, just more insecure.

If you don’t value yourself, you feel like you could be easily discarded; tossed out like trash. It doesn’t matter how awesome people say you are. Until you value yourself, you’re disposable.

I nicknamed myself “asshole soul” because in my fear I hid the seven-year-old asshole in me, having no idea that my fear-based actions would someday be my undoing. All of it originated in my lack of value, so why did I think others could give me what I couldn’t give myself? I figured I could show up perfectly; I was the rescuer. So when I stopped devaluing myself and started standing my ground, I learned something.  You survive when people stop valuing you. You learn you don’t die.

Even when you’re an asshole soul like me, one thing I came to know is no matter what, people perceive you however they choose; not how I chose for them. So why not start valuing who you are, flaws and all?

How do you do that, you may ask?

Pay attention to your insides screaming NO (and don’t say yes).

Stop pretending. I didn’t realize how much I had been burying my true feelings… so when the end came to a relationship, a job, a business partnership, it held true: I couldn’t pretend that I felt differently or that I could go against myself any longer. 

To quite all facades requires an emotional opening, one which weighs into the side of “I can no longer conceal pain or suck it up,” you will feel it emotionally and physically when you’re ready to really step into valuing yourself.

What else?

Take inventory with yourself. For me, I can’t maintain relationships with people who are uncompromising, take NO responsibility, bash me and then pile blame on me. That is non-negotiable. So is inconsistency, and people who say things but their actions say something totally different.

Don’t make fear-based decisions (So what if someone makes a raspberry at you?). They always create pain for all involved. Let me explain this a bit. You can get caught up in processing fear; it can get your brain speeding through multiple scenarios and even convince you to head in a direction based on fear BUT you can stop yourself before a choice is made.

It might make you an asshole soul like me, but I guarantee you’ll be able to live more harmoniously with yourself in honesty. You’ll feel for other humans, contemplating “aw shucks, do I have to be the asshole this time?”  Folks, it doesn’t matter, people are going to think whatever they think. We can’t prevent them, and for those of us who try to be pious or self-righteous, that’s a bunch of bullshit too.

I had a brief exchange with a friend about the presidential race; she was stating one candidate was dirty. Statements backed by emotions, not facts, tend to irritate me.

Pious and self-righteous actions don’t fly with me, so I said to her, “I can go look in the mirror and so can ANY human being, and say I’m dirty.” Perhaps not with intention, but because we’ve all made shitty decisions and horrible mistakes. I said, “Can’t you say that you’ve done less than stellar things, perhaps even ‘dirty’ deeds?” And she said, “yes.” 

We condemn so easily, and the question is, “What do I have to be for you to like me or not judge me or to cut me a break?  The answer is ME.

We have to accept ourselves, and stop blaming others, even politicians. They show up the way they do because we create the fear-based battlefield for it to happen (open up a history book and watch how we repeat fearful actions over and over). If we busied ourselves by being who we ARE and not who we think others will accept, then this world would be different.

It would be peaceful because if I’m loving me as asshole soul and you’re loving you as asshole soul, then we would have a love-fest going on and could really love each other because we would be filled with love, and recognize our shared humanity.

It’s not about having a revolution outside of us; it’s about having an evolution inside of us!

Fear is the only thing that asks: What Do I Have To Be?

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Comparison and Self Criticism: Can You Say Toxic?

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Oh lordy! The things we say and do to ourselves can be quite the mixed bag.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

By the time we get to comparing ourselves to others, there has been no joy. What motivates us to look at the lives of other people and think they have it better in some capacity, while diminishing ourselves? It never brings us to a happy finish line.

Joy, happiness and freedom do not appear simply because we’ve finally beat the Joneses and have everything promised in the American Dream. If we’re too busy focusing on what we don’t have, it is a statement about our inner world.

We’re in a state of lack. We feel less than and our inner critic is nipping at our heels.

The Curse of the Joneses

I lived in the hell of comparison for a good portion of my life. When I was young and felt about as attractive as beef stew, I thought prettier women had it easier. This obsessing over what was wrong with me and comparing myself continued for a couple of years. Until I got past the attractiveness ‘thing’ regarding my appearance and moved on to other points to compare myself to in life.

Get married, spawn some babies, have a couple of cars, a beautiful house, look freakin’ perfectly put together, appear to have no emotions and call myself a Stepford Wife. Okay, I wouldn’t go that far, but really in that part of my life, someone else always had a better something.

The more better all of these signs showed up, because I had ‘arrived’ in a certain lifestyle, the less satisfied I was in my life and ultimately, as my ex-husband put it as I left our marriage; I was choosing a life over a lifestyle.

Of course I continued comparing my life to others, which kept me stuck in relationships too long for fear of not letting go of ‘my one and only’ chance at whatever my inner state of lack was transmitting at the time.

The Inner Critic

What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get it right? Others thought I had it right because I could really pull off the “I have my shit together” look. But inside I felt like a mess.

Why could someone else have a happy, healthy relationship while I attracted people who weren’t really a fit? Or where there was some major obstacle preventing us from hooking up to a pony and riding off into the sunset together? Why did it always seem like if someone else was successful, I wasn’t working hard enough? Why, why, why? Cue the inner critic!

That inner critic would start off by saying, “Well you’re too much, not enough, different, invisible, too loud, too quiet, too masculine, too feminine, you don’t deserve to be happy, you haven’t done enough yet,” and so on. Sound familiar?

The Contradiction in Criticism

I finally realized no matter what someone or something appeared to be, it had no bearing on their level of happiness. That’s the point at which I stopped comparing.

I mean, if I was to look at comparing now, Facebook is a breeding ground for bullshit, right? People talking about their resume of accomplishments to show the rest of the world their incomparable level of happiness, and anyone who wants to give their two cents should back off, right?

I have had clients tell me how looking at someone’s posts on Facebook is detrimental to their well-being because of how they feel ‘less than’ by comparison. They see friends having babies when they’re not, or getting married when they’re not or even entering relationships, and the whole while they’re having an inner dialogue about how they have apparently missed the marks in life and… what the hell is wrong with him or her?!!

The list goes on. If you have an inner critic that was spawned from the gates of hell like mine, here are a few things you can do to shut it up, stop comparing and start living!

  1. Don’t resist or argue with your inner critic. Treat it like your drunken neighbor: Put a pillow over your head and count sheep or just let it wail away without personalizing it, until it stops. And it will stop. It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t engage in an argument with yourself. Raise the white flag and surrender!
  2. See the drama play out until the end. If you hear “you suck” in your head or anything else when looking at someone else’s fairytale life, see it through to the end by asking questions. Why do I suck? What exactly makes me not worthy of a pink pony with a prince or princess galloping with me to our castle in the sky? Seriously….ask it questions, watch it lose its footing and hopefully disappear.
  3. Accept your fatal flaws, mistakes, failures, warts, defects, and what other ornaments you decorate your inner tree with. Just say YES to all that is f’d up within you. When you start owning it all, there’s nothing left to point out. And comparing yourself to others is boring because you know you’re human and so is everyone else. Even the Joneses.
  4. Be playful with life. See yourself through the eyes of the observer in a flirtatious way. Remember our true (as in fulfilling) accomplishments usually come as a result of being who we TRULY are, not who we think we’re SUPPOSED to be!
  5. Please remember no one is living a fairy tale existence. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but let it sink in emotionally. We all wake with morning breath and if we don’t keep our belly buttons clean, they can be the stinkiest part of our body. That goes for everyone!! See everyone through the eyes of reality instead of some hyped up fantasy (even if that’s the dish they’re feeding the rest of the world).

Where do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? Do you look at your neighbor in yoga class to make sure you’re ‘doing it right’? Maybe it’s the magazines you peruse at the check-out line, or perhaps Facebook is your ‘I’m not good enough’ platform of choice. In the comments below, please share where your comparison monster shows up!

 

We’re All Shades Of Grey.

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All of us can be hypocritical, tell untruths, hurt other people and basically fail when it comes to doing the right thing (whatever that is).

And honestly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, as long as you accept yourself and your intentions in the process. I’ve struggled just like anyone else with doing things I didn’t want to do, but when I still needed to be accepted by others (before myself), I went along with it. Didn’t want to disappoint.

Until I realized every time I went against myself it wasn’t pretty. I could be downright weird when all I wanted to do was escape from circumstances. I could act like a complete ass. And yet NOW I accept it when I find myself stuck where I don’t want to be, or I just say “NO” to the invitation.

I hiked with friends this last weekend and found myself not wanting to make friends with strangers, or even have much conversation with my own peeps. I hiked a majority of the trail alone.

I’m not a good group person most of the time. I can be when I feel connected, and sometimes I absolutely love it! I love it when I relate or in some way connect with others (not small talk–my eyes glaze over and I think of knitting scarves for mice or something). But when I don’t and I’m disconnected, there’s a yellow tape with the word ‘CAUTION’ across my forehead.

Having self-awareness helps; I recognize when I’m out of sorts and instead of berating myself, like the old days, I accept myself.

We’re All Hypocrites and it’s OK

This is where most of us struggle: Self-acceptance of our odd parts. The things we feel weird about or how we don’t quite fit. We may hide those traits or disappear from situations where it’s too difficult to be anything other than… weird.

Thankfully my friend who I hiked with knows this about me and didn’t take it personally (I also share my feelings with her so there’s no doubt–it’s ME). Does it make me crazy, hypocritical or end up hurting other people? Perhaps.

We as human beings are hypocrites and it’s okay, because our feelings change.

The determination of always, never or ever should be stricken from our language. We can say yes to something 20 times in a row and then say no to it the 21st time. We can dislike something 5 minutes ago, and something changes in us and now we love it! We feel one way, then it changes… so what?

Surround yourself with other hypocrites–people who own their thousand shades of grey–and accept it. Just freakin’ accept that you’re weird, awesome, unaware or whatever. Or berate the crap out of yourself for all the ways you’re imperfect. Just be prepared to never really grow or be all of who you truly are. That’s where it counts. How you feel about YOU matters.

Accepting Our Shades of Grey

Wanting to live a black and white existence from the inside out is not possible, and if you stay focused on it, you never move off the dime. You never get to really rock the journey or be who you are. I did it for years and it sucks!

If you want to feel good about being weird, hypocritical, going against the flow, making mistakes and not doing the right thing, here are a few pointers to start:

  1. Forget the voices in your head from other people who want something from you. Whether it’s to act a certain way or show up when you don’t want to be present. It’s time to put your feelings first and do what FEELS GOOD to you. Take baby steps ’til you can jump!
  2. Become playful with life. When you play, there’s a level of self-acceptance that happens for being your weird self. It happens naturally so pay attention  and apply it when you’re not playing.
  3. Review expectations. Do your expectations work for you? Who do they belong to? If you like them, keep them. If they are a way of getting validation, trash ’em. If you use them to judge yourself or others, please just stop. Let the inner critic grow to be an inner cheerleader!
  4. The right thing to do? It’s not what you learned as a kid; it’s what actually feeds you. Start paying attention to your gut. Don’t go against it and see what happens. Become a hypocrite, change your beliefs, show yourself a damn good time, even if you choose to sit in a dark room by yourself.

In what ways are you a hypocrite? What actions or feelings do you own one minute, and then change because of situation or state of mind? Name your ‘weirdness’ in the comments. Chances are you’re in good company.

 

Would you like another round?

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This has been a year of reinvention for me, how about you?

I notice it in major ways (especially when loss is associated with it) and in smaller ways, where I come up against my old people pleasing skills.
 
For instance, I went on a hike this weekend (like I do most weekends) with my daughter out in Santa Monica.
Afterwards, we wanted to have a glass of wine (or in my case a margarita) and food. We found a restaurant on PCH. We placed our order much to the chagrin of our waitress, who gave us the impression, she’d rather be anywhere, but here. She brought my margarita and the wine for my daughter. Near the end of our meal, she asked the BIG question…

“Would you like another round?”

My daughter spoke up saying “yes, I would like another one.” I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want another drink and so, it became a conversation between the two of them. I was surprised when she brought us both a drink. I looked at my daughter and said, “I didn’t tell the waitress I wanted this, you said you wanted another one when she asked, but I said nothing.” My daughter thought for a moment and said, “I think when I said I wanted another one, she assumed that we both did, since you said nothing.”
Now….this could be no big deal, right? But the truth was I really didn’t want another margarita, then I started thinking of all the reasons that I was now stuck with a $14.00 drink that I didn’t want. “I shoulda spoke up…..UGH, this waitress seems annoyed with serving us…she walks by our table and doesn’t ask us if we need anything or even if we wanted to order in the first place, UGH…..I am now going to have to drink something that I don’t want or waste the money….wait a minute, do I have to just swallow it?”
The inner conversation was ridiculous to say the least. I sat in the booth thinking about how uncomfortable it was going to be, because I had decided I wasn’t gonna say okay to something I didn’t want…nor did I want to keep the peace with a person, I didn’t even know!
Do you ever do that? Tell a story to yourself about all the reasons you shouldn’t speak up or say what is true for you, so that you don’t upset another person?
I’d like to say I’ve never done it or still do it! But, alas…here I was with the waitress who couldn’t smile and seemed irritated with every word spoken to her unless she asked.
I motioned for her to come over and told her, “I wasn’t going to say anything, because I felt bad (yup) and then I realized it was a stupid reason for drinking something that I didn’t want. I didn’t order this and I do not want it.”
Of course, as predicted…..she argued and tried to tell me I nodded my head ‘yes’ and agreed when she asked the BIG question. I wasn’t intimidated, nor was I up for someone ‘arguing’ with me as a tool for persuasion.

So…I disappointed her, I made it messy….I didn’t swallow it and I felt better, even though it was fairly intense.

My daughter actually agreed with me (she’s almost 24), usually ‘mom’ doing anything like this is totally embarrassing…. but this time, she saw how sometimes it’s best to please yourself, because you’re not gonna win a new friend or make someone like you, who doesn’t have the least bit interest in bridging that gap.
But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself “~ Ricky Nelson “Garden Party” lyric

 

Don’t You Want My Life?

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Have you ever wanted someone else’s existence? Thought their grass was greener than your grass?

Or, perhaps, you may have idolized someone and been disappointed to find, they really don’t have the life you thought? They turned out to be just plain, ole, human beings.

I recently had a conversation with a professional peer, who I didn’t idealize or think, “Gee I want her life,” only to be asked by her, if that is indeed what I desired. Now not to take it completely out of context, but if you know me….you would know that no matter how challenging my life is, how unbearable it has felt at times…I have never wished to be someone else  or ‘have their life.’

So many of us can look to others, as having found the secret to success, the way to living an amazing existence and wonder what is wrong with us? Why can’t we replicate it, or how come we always seem to fall short?

Yeah….so, here’s the thing. Every single person on the planet, puts his or her pants on pretty much the same way, unless you’re this guy:

We each can appear to have our sh*t together, when in actuality our thoughts really don’t match–ALL THE TIME. An individual can look at me and think I am 1000 steps ahead of them in some capacity and not see where I may be 1000 steps behind them too.

When this peer made the statement to me, I then told her, “I don’t know you or the entire picture of your life; I don’t get why you think I would want it?” Comparison is the thief of joy and when we constantly look at someone as having it easier, better or knowing something we don’t….we’re screwed.

It ceases to be an inside job; it’s all about keeping up. It’s not just a comparison, or a competition, it also takes away our self-acceptance for all of who we are and ability to live in the moment.

Self-acceptance and authenticity are nothing to do with external circumstances, so even if we achieve the same goals as someone else, unless we’re doing it from a place of being motivated by our own joy, passion and desires….we’re trying to live someone else’s life.

We can look to someone and see a goal they have achieved and want to accomplish it too. Although, how they did it, may not actually work for us. Their ‘how’ is personal to them. We have to strike out onto our own path, while making sure that where we’re headed has real meaning for us.

There is no one-size fits all on living the ‘right’ life.

In a society that says “look at me, look at me…aren’t I special? Aren’t I the life you want to live?” it is not the whole story. It’s a snapshot, perhaps one dressed up in a beautiful evening gown or an expensive car or something, which when you get right down to it, has little bearing on inner fulfillment–if that is all there is in the life being displayed.

We can have it all, if that is what we truly desire, but for it to feel successful, it must resonate with our truth.

As a mentor coach, I don’t have an ideal life. Things aren’t perfect and there are days I wake up, working my way through a funkiness or obstacle. I don’t live with a smile on my face 24/7 (especially if you see me driving) and things don’t always work out how I would like them to…

BUT, unlike the person who asked me the ‘title’ question, what is important to me and for anyone who chooses to work with me, is that I don’t want anyone to emulate my life. I want to offer tools to people to live their authenticity, to be their truth……to accept themselves and whatever the heck it is that will make them happy, without living by the expectations of someone or something else.

If we look to others to find ourselves, let’s make it useful, instead of something we can bash ourselves with by not measuring up. If we look to them for inspiration, but not perfection…or even better, we look to them to reflect back characteristics of ourselves ‘who we are’….‘what we do’  and perhaps see our truth more clearly…then we can feel connected to our own power.

 

 

 

Forgiveness is an 11 letter word.

Self-forgiveness is an even longer word and for most of us, it takes us  much longer to do. We give our power away daily.

We don’t think we do, but every time we’re disappointed or angry..we have given our power to something outside of us. Whether it is a stranger in a passing car or a job promotion…or a more intimate relationship, whenever we experience those emotions in a situation, where we feel disempowered or have to wait….we’re far from the road.

The road is not really to stop and wait, it is to instead, keep going. When we find we have given our power away, we spend time beating ourselves up.

We get so caught up in the drama of the circumstances, reviewing it over and over in our head…and what conclusion do we draw? Blame.

We blame ourselves and others for what has happened. We think we made a bad decision or that someone else did.

In self-forgiveness it is to remember that we cannot predict how a decision will turn out, we have no control of anyone or circumstances outside of us to bring us exactly what we want, when we want most of the time. So can we go easier on ourselves? Doesn’t it feel better? And when we don’t think of something as a disappointment that encompasses total failure…don’t we keep going in the direction of our dreams?

 

The Four Agreements

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I love posting short excerpts, as great reminders of ideals that may be applied universally , no matter what belief system we have had our whole life. Thank you Don Miguel Ruiz.

Here are the four agreements starting with the most important one and most difficult to keep and yet, it works as a tool of magic:

The First Agreement: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Your word is the power to create. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. Through your word you manifest everything. By hooking our attention, the word can enter our mind and change a whole belief for better of for worse.

The following agreements are born from the first agreement.

The Second Agreement: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. If you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours. Feeling offended means you defend your beliefs and create conflict, because you need to be right. Everyone has their beliefs according to their own system, so nothing they think about you is really about you.

The Third Agreement: DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
The problem with assumptions is we believe they are the truth. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and then taking things personally. In any kind of relationship we can make the assumption that others know what we think and we don’t have to say what we want….if they don’t do what we assume they should do, we feel hurt and think, “How could they do that?” And the drama begins…so don’t make assumptions.

The Fourth Agreements: ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
This agreement allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret. Doing your best you’re going to live your life intensely and taking action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. If you work just for the reward, you actually resist work, because you are suffering to get the reward. When you do your best you accept yourself. And when you take action, just for the sake of doing it, you find joy in every action you do.