4 Words that Just Might Change Your Life

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You never know that a moment is coming that will change you forever. For me, it started simply enough – my wife and I were out running errands one weekend and we became hungry and decided to stop for an early dinner. After trying unsuccessfully to find a place we’d like that didn’t have a line a mile long, our “hungry” had morphed into “starving” and choice no longer mattered. We gave in and just went into the next restaurant we saw. “Come on”, she said, “I’ll buy you dinner.”

It turned out there was a reason for the lack of a line at the place we chose. Service was lukewarm and, to put it nicely, the food was horrid. Our comments to each other were things like, “How can you fu*k up beans? You take them out of a can and heat them up. How could that possibly go awry?!”

After just a couple bites, my wife pushed her plate aside. I, on the other hand, kept eating.

She watched me for awhile. I was hunched over my plate like it was a special meal in prison and I had to guard against someone taking it away from me. With compassion and understanding in her eyes, she quietly said, “You don’t have to eat that”. Without a thought and barely even taking a breath, I replied, “But it’s my dinner” and kept shoveling it in as quickly as I could. I hated every bite but had been conditioned that I had to eat it, no matter what.

Let’s be honest, despite me being brilliant at busting fear, if you see me, it is glaringly apparent that food and I have an unusual relationship. I am what doctors would classify as morbidly obese and although I truly love vegetables and lean meats, I also have a mad love affair with sugar and fried foods. In all honesty, I have a tragic, painful relationship with food that I have never disclosed, except to those in my inner circle – until today.

My mother was mentally ill. She never had a clinical diagnosis but if you knew her, you would readily agree that the synapses within her brain fired in a much different pattern that the average person. I was adopted by her and my father when I was four and a half.

By age 5, it was clear that if she put something in front of me, I had to eat it – no questions asked. If I didn’t, I would not only be punished but the same meal would be waiting for me the next time I sat down at the table, and the next, and the next, and the next, until I finally gave in and ate it. Our first instance of this lesson resulted in me going without ANY food for three whole days, in addition to being spanked and berated after every failed meal, because I refused to eat a plate of chitlins (chitterlings, aka cow intestines, for you more proper folk). I quickly learned that, if it is put in front of me, I must eat it – no matter what.

Many of us were raised with the “starving kids in Africa” paradigm so I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels compelled to clean their plate, whether it’s what your body or mind really wants or not but I then had another issue laid on top of that one.

When I was ten, I started to develop breasts. My mother decided I was fat. My father had passed away two years earlier so there was no longer anyone around to rein her in. She concluded the only way to keep me from being fat was to restrict my eating…so she did. I was allowed to alternate one egg for breakfast one day and a bowl of cereal (with powdered milk that went rancid long before I finished it) the next. That was my food for the day.

I started to love going to school, despite my social anxiety and difficulties there, because it meant I could move slowly enough at the end of our lunch period to sneak into the trash cans and gorge myself on the unfinished lunches of the other children. For two long years, school lunchroom trash cans became my primary source of food. When I was finally removed from my home at age twelve, I weighed a mere 50 pounds – the weight of the average healthy 7 year old. You could see every bone in my body, I passed out frequently from simple activities such as trying to stand up, and the doctors classified me as suffering from severe malnutrition.

Fast forward to me becoming homeless at age 19, where getting food and eating the scraps of others once again became my norm. Suffice it to say, when it comes to food, I don’t just have issues – I have an entire subscription. Not only do I have “mindlessly clean your plate” messaging firmly ingrained but I also have “I have to eat a lot now because who knows when food will become scarce again” mentality coded into every cell.

Having someone say, “you don’t have to eat that” wasn’t a sentence my brain knew how to comprehend…so I kept gagging down the food.

My wife gently touched my arm and interrupted its trajectory toward my mouth. She looked into my eyes and said again, more firmly, “You don’t have to eat that.” I stopped with my mouth still full of putrid, disgusting food, my eyes wide as saucers, as if she had just informed me that the world was round after my entire life of thinking it was flat. I wasn’t entirely sure what she was saying. I was confused and unable to do anything but sit there with my mouth hanging open.

She then said, “You don’t ever have to eat anything you don’t want again. You can stop at any point. I don’t care who made it or even if I bought it and it was really expensive. You don’t have to eat it. And you will never be in trouble and, as long as I’m alive, you will never go hungry again. Ever. So if you don’t like it, stop. Put the fork down and let’s go some place that isn’t disgusting and I will buy you a whole new meal if you want one.” Tears started to stream down my face.

I realized that hidden within what she said were four words that changed my life, “You have my permission.”

As much as we like to talk about being empowered and claiming responsibility for our own lives, almost all of us are heavily influenced by the beliefs and opinions of others. I realized I had spent my whole life eating food I didn’t really even want because someone had told me I had to and I had never questioned, even as an adult, whether I had the power to simply stop doing it. I have taken charge and kicked ass in many areas of my life but we all have our areas of weakness and I will readily admit that was one of mine. It was something so ingrained that I didn’t ever even stop to think about whether I had another choice, so I kept going the way I always had.

I’ve started losing weight since then. My body is releasing it slowly and begrudgingly but it is finally coming off. My only change is that I now stop eating when I no longer feel like eating, and I don’t justify or apologize for doing so. I simply stop. What a gift that has been!

Thinking about this, I started to think about all the work with people I do around their fears and how they can step through them to build successful businesses and empowered lives. I realized that at least a part of what I do is give people permission to make a different choice than the one of staying stuck in fear. I also realized that’s what many people in the personal development realm do. People are rarely revealing to you anything that you didn’t already know within your core; they are simply giving you permission to step into something greater than what you’ve allowed for yourself prior to that moment.

So, right here, right now, I want to share with you the same gift my wife gave to me. Whatever that thing is that you’ve been doing that you don’t really even want to do but you don’t feel like you have any choice – whether it’s cleaning your plate, smoking another cigarette, stifling your voice, dimming your light, dishonoring your wishes, or anything else that doesn’t make your soul smile – STOP. Stop now. As simple as that. In fact, you don’t have to do that thing ever again, if you don’t want to.

You have my permission.
 
 
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Are You Still Hungry?

Have you ever had this happen? You’re hanging out with a friend and both of you get hungry and decide you should go to lunch. You then have the following conversation:

You: So where do you want to go?
Her: I don’t know. Where do you want to go?
You: I’m pretty open. I’ll go anywhere except for that one Mexican place we went to last week.
Her: Oh no! I love that Mexican place! But…it’s ok. You decide.

This is your moment of truth. You can either:

A. Go to the Mexican place anyway, even though you dislike it. You justify it by thinking that you’re being a good friend.
B. Go somewhere really popular. This place doesn’t really thrill you but you feel good about yourself because you’re fitting in.

I view this situation as a metaphor for life. Until you know where you want to go, you will either sit there – hungry – or you will settle for what other people want you to do. This is why clarity is so critical. When you are clear on what you want, you then have another option:

C. Take your friend to your favorite place.

Do you know what you want for your life? Do you have a destination you’re heading towards? Or are you still hungry?

Leave me a comment and tell me your vision

Knowledge is not Power

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Everyone always says that knowledge is power but how often have you seen someone who knows quite a bit and is still stuck exactly where they were a year ago? Knowledge is not power; acting on that knowledge, is.

A few weeks ago, I saw a quote that changed things for me. I’m a big fan of quotes, so it shocked me I’d never seen this one before. It’s a quote by Ghandi and it unexpectedly hit me in a pretty deep place.

Action expresses priorities.

It is simple but one of the most profound, life-changing sentences, once you really truly “get it” and incorporate it. What this means is, if you say you want to find a new job but you spend all day playing Angry Birds, your priority isn’t finding a new job. If you say you want a new relationship but you keep mentally saying one can’t exist and you never leave your house, other than to go to work, your priority isn’t a new relationship. There’s no judgment in this. I’m simply saying we show what’s really important to us by what we do.

I, of all people, understand that something can be really simple – such as the concept of expressing priorities through action – and also incredibly hard. Simple does not always equal easy. I get that. I also get that if I want something different in my life, I need to actually DO something different. Simply knowing how to do it is not enough.

I now wake up every morning and I ask myself one simple question: “If someone knew nothing about me and all they could tell about who I am and what’s important to me was based on my actions, do my actions tell the story I’d want to tell?” In some areas of my life, the answer was a clear yes. In others, not so much. The solution? Different actions.

What is your motivating question?

 

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Proof that virtually anything can become a life lesson

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Admission number one: I talk to myself.

Sometimes, though, I’m the only person who knows what to say to me to break me out of whatever mode I’m in. Luckily, I don’t do it out loud and I’ve learned over the years how to do this in a calm and compassionate way…and I almost never argue back anymore. 🙂

Admission number two: I’m really really bad at going through my mail.

It may be March and I could just find out that someone sent me a Christmas card. Yes, it is that bad. I hate paper, therefore I avoid it. Once it becomes clear that it isn’t going to disappear on its own, I tackle it at all at once. Out of pile of papers a foot high, I usually find a five to ten pieces of mail that are actually relevant. Today was “go through mail and vow to never let it get this bad again” day. (I have one regularly about every two months.)

In that stack was a letter from my homeowners insurance for my house in Colorado, saying they are “afraid they need to cancel my insurance”. I’ve paid all my premiums; this isn’t about money. They are “afraid they need to cancel my insurance because”…(drumroll) my roof is uneven. What the..?? Half of my house is an addition. The addition was built on a slab foundation and the old part has a crawl space. My roof has always been uneven! This is nothing new whatsoever. To top it off, the letter was from January and they say they are canceling it in March, which is now thanks to my bad mail habits, so I need to hustle and figure out what’s going on.

I need to stress here that I am not much different from the average person when it comes to my initial reaction to something. People often tell me they see me as exuding love but, trust me, what was exuding from me after reading that letter was anything but love! Luckily, I started an inner conversation with myself in that moment. It went something like this:

Myself (in a firm but calm and soothing voice): Put the letter down. Go get in the shower.

Me: You don’t understand. I don’t have time for that. I need to panic right now. I have a tenant living there. What am I going to do? How can you be so calm in a moment like this? What is wrong with you?!

Myself: (a little more commanding): Get in the shower!

Me: Fine! (Stomp, grumble, stomp)

— in the shower —

Me: Ah, this water is all warm and I love the way this soap smells. You just made me get in here so the hot water would “cool me off”, huh? You’re smart.

Myself: Nope. I want you to shave your underarms

Me: Huh?? I don’t get it. Is this like, shave my underarms so I will be all clean to deal with my problems or something like that? This makes no sense to me. I don’t even know where the razor is and I don’t have any shaving cream!

Myself: I want you to shave your underarms because you look like you’ve got Sasquatch in a headlock and it’s embarrassing! Plus, I want you to see something.

— after shaving —

Me: ok. All done. Now, what was that about?

Myself: Tell me what just happened here

Me: I shaved my pits and discovered that the voice in my head is really annoying and a little weird

Myself: What just happened is you had a problem, you found a solution even though you didn’t originally know where it was, and you solved the problem.

Me: So…my roof is uneven and I have no idea what I’m going to do with the insurance company but the solution is here; I just need to look for it like I did the razor? Wow! You turn the weirdest stuff into life lessons.

Myself: You’re welcome.

I rarely share my inner conversations but this one was just so far out there, that I couldn’t help it. I came out of the shower in a completely different mindset than when I went in. I know there is a solution to this problem and I know I will be provided for if it turns out this solution is a step beyond my current means. That knowing is something I temporarily forgot. I think we all tend to forget our truth everyone once in awhile.

What do you need to remember?

 

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Past, Present, Future 101

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I had a client who told me that she viewed finding a healthy relationship like she did a ghost sighting – she’d believe it when she saw it. When I asked her why, she said because it had never happened. I hear this frequently, whether people are talking to me about relationships, money, or any other thing they want to bring into their life. When people tell me things like that, I don’t judge. I just think, “Ah, they must not understand time and the differences between past, present, and future.”

The Past

NOTHING has ever happened before. Think about it. Have you ever read this blog post before? Because this blog post didn’t exist until today, did that mean that it couldn’t happen? Obviously not. Even things that we do every day, have never happened before. Each and every moment contains something completely fresh and new – and, no, this isn’t woo-woo talk. It is concrete.You may think, I drove to work yesterday, and when I drive to work today, it will be the same thing – except it’s not. There are different cars on the road with different drivers, different timing of lights, different weather, different songs playing on the radio, etc. It is a completely 100% brand new experience just waiting for you to notice it.

Because every moment is brand new, whether or not something has occurred in the past doesn’t dictate whether it can ever occur. It simply means that moment has not yet arrived. Also, it will take a lot longer to get to you if you constantly push away the belief that it could even happen. Have you ever had a non-believer tell you they saw Bigfoot? Probably not. Why? Because they didn’t believe. So even if Bigfoot sat down to dinner with them, they’d say something like they had dinner with a really tall, hairy man who didn’t talk much. You see it when you believe it, not the other way around.

Your past simply tells you where you’ve been. Hopefully, you learned a thing or two from those experiences. What you are meant to learn isn’t stuff like “life is hard” and “love sucks” and “I’m not enough”, although, for some people (of course not you!), that’s the interpretation. But that’s a completely different post 🙂

The Present

Your present tells you where you are starting from. Think of life as a GPS. You have to know where you’re starting from and where you want to go in order to get anywhere. Just like the GPS, life will never say, “Oh, you’re starting there?!? Hmmph. You can’t go to that destination. Who do you think you are?!?”

It’s all just information. Where you are today does not dictate where you can go. It just allows you to see what route you’d need to take. The moment you free yourself from the delusion that your current circumstances have anything to do with what is possible, is the moment your life will blossom in ways you can’t even imagine.

The Future

Is an illusion. It’s like the carrot dangling in front of the running horse. It’s an incentive to plan and run and move forward but, even if you caught up to it, it would shape-shift into the present. That is not to say you should stop running after it. Just know that it’s like a ninja and will likely never be caught.
 

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I will not fix you

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I will not fix you. I can not fix what isn’t broken. I can only help you uncover your wholeness.

I will not drive you to where you want to be. I am not serving either of us if I take you to your destination. You must learn how to get there on your own. I can only be your GPS.

I will not drag you into healing, awareness, or love. The very thought that I could do so is counter to the very core of those principles. I can only be an example of what is possible.

I will not make you ready. I can only help you recognize the cost of staying where you are.

I will not make you worthy. I can only be a mirror for the worthiness that already exists, in abundance, within you.

I will not lead you where I am unwilling to go. Even if all I am doing is giving directions, I must clearly know the way. I can only show you how to shine your light to the extent that I’ve become willing to shine my own.

I will not lead you for free. If you are not yet willing to invest in yourself, you are not yet dedicated to changing yourself. I can only guide you when you are committed to taking action.

I will not change your past. I can only show you how to utilize it to power your future.

I will not change anyone around you. A part of taking responsibility for your own life includes allowing others to be responsible for theirs. I can only show you how to release expectations of the behavior of others.

I will not take away your fear. Your fear, however misguided, is there to protect and love you. I can only show you how to prevent it from stopping you.

 

 

 

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Monday Love

A lot of people hate Monday’s. I’m not one of them. To me, each Monday is like a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to continue along my path and build something great that will impact the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my time off on the weekends – when I commit to taking it – but Mondays are special too.

My theory is that people who say they dislike Mondays, don’t really. I think they just dislike their work, usually because they haven’t yet found their passions and/or found the courage to follow them.

What would it take for you to greet Monday with a smile?

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Are You Blind to Possibility?

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Choices and possibilities exist all around us. The problem is that many of us have lost the ability to see it.

Back when I first got certified as a Passion Test facilitator, I was doing free sessions for people to help build my skill and confidence. I saw a friend complaining on Facebook about being unhappy with her job and I offered to help her discover her passions. She replied that she already knew her passions and she already knew what she wanted to do with her life but it wasn’t going to happen because it would require going back to school and her work schedule wasn’t flexible enough to allow for that. Her response sounded so final and I remember feeling very sad and somewhat perplexed as to how I should respond. From my viewpoint, there were lots of options – get another job, find another school, find an online school, start volunteering in your field to get exposure and make contacts…but, to her, the subject was closed.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. I frequently have clients who can clearly see their limitations but they are completely blind to their possibilities. What’s worse is they tend to get those limitations reinforced by well-meaning people around them. Where in your life are you saying, “I’d like to __________, but I can’t because…?”

Imagine for a moment you’re a kid again. Whenever you were presented with an obstacle, what did you do? You figured out how to get around it! Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, at some point you ended up getting into trouble for your solution. Instead of learning that the solution itself was undesirable, you equated getting into trouble with the act of actually finding a solution. Being creative about getting what you want became a bad thing. You then unconsciously carried that belief into adulthood.

So, what can you do?

  1. Take responsibility. Blaming what happened in your childhood instead of working on your current patterns will keep you stuck.
  2. Make a conscious decision to start seeing possibilities instead of limitations. This lets your inner guidance system know that there will be a shift in direction and that it’s an OK thing.
  3. The next time you hear yourself saying, “I’d like to ___________, but I can’t…”, reinforce your decision from step 2 and then ask yourself questions that lead you down the road of possibility.
    • Examples
      • “How could I _____________?”
      • “What steps would I take to ____________?”
      • “If a friend presented this situation to me, how would I help them see that they could _________________?”
  4. Remain open to the answers. They may not always appear the way you think they will.

As with anything, this takes practice.  The more you do it, the better you will get at it and the more it will become habit. Along the way, don’t forget to acknowledge yourself, whenever you come up with a possibility you may not have seen before. Positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to securing your new habits.

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I Hope You Dance

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Have you ever heard the Lee Ann Womack song, “I Hope You Dance”? I love the line “and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance”.

I am not where I thought I would be when I started this journey. The good news is that I know where things went astray and I’m correcting them. Clarity is a beautiful thing! But all the knowledge in the world means nothing if you aren’t willing to “dance”.

I have three different friends who are stuck in their career. They’ve reached a point where they know they’re unhappy where they are, and know that they’re meant to do something more meaningful in the world, but don’t know what direction to go. Two of them have an idea of the general direction they’d like to go but refuse to take a step because it isn’t all laid out for them and they are waiting for the “perfect” thing to come along. They want that moment where the clouds part, the angels sing, and there’s a big, flashing neon sign saying “This is it right here!” Have you done this or know someone who has (is)?

What I’ve discovered, between talking to others who became entrepreneurs and viewing my own journey, is that it almost never works that way. Almost everyone I’ve met has taken a step and has either been given evidence that it was in the right direction or been course corrected. But the step itself is crucial. You can’t steer a car that isn’t moving and you can’t live a life that is standing still, waiting for all the answers to appear. You have to be willing to take the risk of stepping out into the unknown and following where you are lead from there.

Stepping outside of the norm and following your own path is possibly the most terrifying, confusing, nerve-wracking, exhilarating, worthwhile, and fulfilling thing you will ever do. When you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you [find the courage to] dance.

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This is Discipline

Day three of NLP Practitioner training. Another day and a half to go. I’m learning lots and am seriously excited to start practicing. In the meantime, this is all you get out of me today. I’m exhausted.

I have kept my word and written for today, however. This is discipline.