5 True Things I Wish You’d Stop Saying

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You ever had someone say something to you and you know its true but a part of you still wants to fight it? Yeah, seems like there are many of those. The truth is not always popular and it’s not always spoken in the most convenient moments. Here are my top 5 true things that I really wish you’d stop saying:

Love is all there is.

To this one, I simply smile and nod. In my mind, I’ve just envisioned myself slapping you soundly across the face and saying, “Shut the f*** up! Love is NOT all there is. If it was 1. There wouldn’t be ________ [insert hateful horror du jour] and 2. You wouldn’t need to say it.”

Despite, my visceral reaction, you are right…kind of. I think a more accurate statement would be “Love is all there is…at its origin”, meaning than even fear or hatred (which is a form of fear) starts out as a desire to love and protect yourself. After that point of origin, there is duality – yin and yang, light and dark. So, yes, “in the beginning” love is all there is but beyond that point is where most people live.

He/She is in a better place.

In the moment that you’ve said it to me, I’m likely wracked with grief and telling me about the outcome for the dead person DOES NOT HELP that. Grief is 100% selfish. I am mourning MY loss. So by telling me they are in a better place, you’ve clearly just demonstrated total lack of understanding about the inner workings of grief itself as well as total disregard for my emotions. Yes, I know you meant well.

That’s not to say that your statement is incorrect. In fact, I know you’re right. Been there, seen that. I had a near death experience when I was 19 and it was the single most fabulous event of my life so I totally agree that he/she is in a better place. But remember that a statement being true doesn’t always make it appropriate to say. Honor the moment.

Forgiveness will set you free.

“What’s that? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. I’ve got this bone of contention and I’m too busy gnawing on it to hear a thing you have to say. Nom nom nom.”

What you don’t seem to understand is that I’m holding on to this pain for a reason. Perhaps it is to remind me not to trust that person again, perhaps it serves as validation for my current behavior, or maybe I even hold onto it because I get more attention and sympathy. So, yes, forgiveness would set me free but until I address my reasons for holding on to the pain, I won’t ever get there.

In the meantime, you saying that to me makes me feel like you’ve completely invalidated my experience. It pushes me further away from forgiveness and you.

All you need to do is _____________.

Oh, wow, really?! I didn’t realize all I needed to do was [eat less, exercise more] [get a job] [find someone with a big list to partner with] […]. I wish I had known that sooner. I totally would have tried that!

Yes, it is true that all I need to do is _____________. However, if doing ______________ was easy and straightforward, it would already be done and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The next time you feel the urge to state something that is well known and exceedingly simple, raise your hand…and then put it over your mouth.

If I am not doing the obvious, it is because there is something standing in my way. Help me figure out what that thing is and help me get past it and you’ve forever changed my life. Simply telling me the simple version just makes you seem pompous and self-absorbed.

Your past is not your future.

I couldn’t resist adding one I say often that I’m sure irritates the hell out of those around me. Clearly, if nothing changes then nothing changes, which means that your past actually is your future, unless you make different choces.

I think this statement would be much more accurate (and well received) if it was changed to, “Your past doesn’t have to be your future.”

Why do I say it? Because life is a lot like your GPS. It has never scoffed at you and said, “You’re starting at A and you want to go all the way to Z?! Impossible!” It simply takes your data and calculates the route. Life does the same but I see far too many people telling themselves crappy stories about what that starting point means, and staying stuck as a result.

So, yes, I say stupid, cringe-worthy truths with good intentions, just like the rest of you. I’m working on honing my compassion so I can better recognize what it would feel like on the receiving side. Maybe you could too.

What are some of your least favorite truths to hear (or that you catch yourself saying)? Leave me a comment and share a couple.

 

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That’s Not My God

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I
Have
Learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call
Myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim
A Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of
Itself
With me
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, and angel
Or even pure Soul.

Love has
Befriended
Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed
Me
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.

– Hafiz, ancient Sufi poet

The first (and only) time I ever said no to my mother, it was about religion. I was 8 years old and she wanted me to get baptized. I refused. When she asked me why, I said, “because that’s not my God”.

What she heard was that I was a Satan-worshiper. That single statement sparked an 11 year battle to save my soul by beating the devil out of me – literally…but, that’s a different story.

What I meant was something altogether different. I didn’t know how or why but I held a belief, strong and unwavering within my soul, that God was simply about love. The God they taught me about in church was angry, judgmental, and, in my opinion, a bit insecure. That was not my God!

However, like many of us, over time I chose to put my own truth on a shelf and live in a manner that conformed to the beliefs and mindset of those around me. I became a “born-again” Christian and got baptized when I was 13. I was completely faithful and, had you asked me about my decision at age 8, I would have told you I had been a foolish child and I just didn’t understand things back then. I held fast to that stance for 6 more years.

…and then I died.

The experience that I remember from my death shattered the concepts of everything I was being taught by the world. During it, I was bathed in love and acceptance and I recognized the same energy that I had connected with as a child. I also reached the personal conclusion that there was no way to encompass THAT power in a particular dogma or religion so, when I returned to life, I instantaneously went from devout Christian to firm believer in the energy and power of love – and nothing else. The new rules that I followed shifted to simply living as love on a regular basis.

Let me tell you, it ain’t easy! We live in a world divided; one filled with hatred and fueled by fear. Standing firm in the space of love takes courage and fortitude. It takes busting through fear, pretty much constantly, in order to face the world as an authentic individual.

I don’t talk often about my spirituality or the place it holds within my business but I figured if I’m doing a blog challenge with a group called Spiritual Badass, I should at least touch upon the concept of spirituality.:-)

Does my spirituality influence my business? Of course it does!

I think that everyone is influenced by their spirituality, or even by the choice to not believe in anything. So, to me, it goes without saying that my business is influenced by my spirituality. If you ask me what I do, my response would start with something like, “I help entrepreneurs bust through the fears that are keeping them stuck.” but I could just as easily hint at the spiritual influence and say, “I help entrepreneurs live in a space of love.” Tomayto, tomahto.

How about you? Leave me a comment and tell me what influence your spirituality has had on your work. (Play nicely!)

 

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From Me to We

What if there were no such thing as competition? What would be possible in your relationships and business?! The possibilities truly are endless, only limited by your imagination. I know, I know, but there IS competition in your life right? We see it in celebrity and business magazines every day; “look like me in 4 weeks” or “how to crush the competition”. Well it really depends on your perspective. The way in which you view the world has an enormous impact on how you choose your path! If we choose to see others as competition that we have to be “better than”, “beat” or “crush”, we are focusing on the wrong outcome.

Why would I help my competition?!

There are two main reasons why helping your competition will get you what you want:

1.) You are a unique being with equally unique skills, talents and perspective. There is no one who can do what you do. Period. If someone else tries to copy what you do, they couldn’t, it’s impossible! YOU have a voice and vision that is unique to your being. People love you, because you’re YOU, they can’t get YOU anywhere else. And when you show up as your best, fully expressed self, they will be immediately attracted to you and whatever it is you have to offer!

 

2.) Synergy: the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements. Alone we can only achieve so much, but together we are limitless! When we combine ourselves with people we once thought of as competitors we go from a fear based mindset, to one of abundance. This switch allows you to create in ways not possible before, and better serves your customers.

Learn from the best

Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey have combined together to bring meditation to millions of people all over the world. This wouldn’t have been possible if they had each gone at it alone. The synergy created by teaming up, combining their strengths and eliminating their weaknesses allowed them both to THRIVE. This is what I like to call the new economy. A three way win: for yourself, your “competition” and the people you serve!

People and companies serving others ahead of profits and fear of competition set the world up for a triple win, just the way we like it. Be a part of the transition from ME to WE!

Dirty, sticky, safety

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I talk a lot about all of the horror of my childhood. It feels like something I’m supposed to do. My story and the fact that I’m not only alive but thriving, gives evidence to others that anything is possible. Today, however, I feel the need to honor the duality that is life because nothing is ever black and white. There is darkness within the joys in our life and there is light within our struggles.

My light, during my childhood, lasted for about three years. It came almost exclusively from my great-great-grandmother. Her name was Ada but, for reasons I never learned, everyone in the family called her Muncie.

Muncie had a garden that was a massive plot in the back of her house and, every spring and summer afternoon, after lunch and her “stories”, she would go out back to work in it. On the days I was allowed to visit her, I would go with her. She would give me one black plum from the plum tree and give me free reign to do whatever I wanted for that hour. The only restrictions were that I not disrupt her work or do anything that would harm any of the plants.

Most kids would have taken that time to play, but I wasn’t most kids. I did almost the same thing every single day. I would sit in the row between the tomato plants, where I could best inhale their unique fragrance, I would dig my bare feet into the soft earth, and I would eat my plum with wild abandon. I would allow the juices to run down my face with no attempt to wipe them away and when it was down to nothing but the pit, I would lie down in the dirt, suck on the pit, feel the sun warming my body and allow myself to fully experience the knowledge that, for that one hour, I was safe. Nobody could harm me in Muncie’s garden; it was like reaching home base in a game of tag. I was immune to beating, bashing, and being belittled. For that one hour, I was nothing more than a kid with a sticky face and a dirty back.

Over time, my mother decided she didn’t like Muncie telling her “how to raise me” so she kept me away from her. She couldn’t, however, take away my memory. I would smell a tomato plant or eat a plum or notice a ray of sunshine on my face and know, that even if for only an hour on certain spring and summer afternoons, nobody in my world was going to harm me.

Every year now, I grow tomatoes in my garden. I don’t even usually eat them. In fact, last year they became food for the caterpillars. There is still something about their smell that takes me back to that moment in my life of knowing, without a doubt, that everything was safe even if it was for just that one moment. Muncie probably had no idea the gift that she gave me…or perhaps she did.

We talked on my 18th birthday. I had even less of a filter back then than I do now, so my first words to her were, “I’m afraid you’re going to die soon.”
“No, child, I have four more years to go. Don’t you worry.”
“How’s your garden?”, I asked, realizing I had started a potentially awkward conversation and trying to redirect.
She replied, completely bypassing my question, “I am 96 years old and you have seen more of life and have far greater wisdom in your 18 years than I will ever have. Use it.”
I, being 18, had no idea now to respond so I changed the topic to something more frivolous.

Four years later, as she predicted, she passed. I never forgot her love or the many gifts that she brought to my life. I think she would be proud that I am “using it”.

Nothing is ever black and white. What has been the light within your struggles?

Photo credit: Jennuine Captures / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

3 easy ways to alienate a potential client

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I don’t consider myself to be a marketing expert. I do, however, consider myself to be an expert on connection and to me that’s the first step in successful marketing. People want to buy things from people that they know, like, or trust. Given that understanding, I was pretty appalled when I went to an expo a few nights ago and almost every vendor I approached seemed hellbent on doing anything but connecting. Here are some sure fire ways to ensure the person talking to you does not end up wanting to become a customer:

1. I went up to one of the first tables in the door. They had some unique products on their table and I walked up and made a quip about the content on one of their notepads. The vendor grabbed one, abruptly thrust it at me, and said, in a loud and somewhat robotic voice, “We’re a printing company!” She made no attempt at conversation beyond that and just stood there trying to shove the notebook and one of her business cards into my hand.

I call this the “scream at you what we do” approach. Honestly, if she wanted to win my business, she would have lead with why I should care about her printing company. What was different or why would I benefit. Before all of that, however, she needed to connect with me on some level. Instead, she just frightened me. I grabbed the notebook and scurried off.

2. I saw a booth for a company I’ve been interested in potentially doing business with for quite some time. I eagerly went over to connect with the vendor and learn more about the company. I was fully prepared to sign up on the spot. That is, until I actually conversed with the woman.

Me: Hi! I’ve been interested in joining [name withheld].
She nodded but didn’t say anything whatsoever
Me (trying again): I’ve been interested because …
Her (turning her entire body and looking away): Yeah. It’s a good company for that.

I call this the “I don’t know what to say so I won’t say anything” approach.

I gave up. In fact, I decided, if that was their best foot forward, perhaps I should reconsider whether that was the company I wanted to give my business to. Deep down, I felt her discomfort and knew that she didn’t really know what to say or do next. Often, as business owners, we tend to get caught up in the right thing to say or the right way to say it and we forget that we are people relating to people. Again, it’s about the connection. If you connect with a potential customer, they are much more likely to be forgiving when you stumble over your words.

3. By the time I approached this third vendor, I was beginning to feel like I was a secret shopper, in search of someone who could connect with me. I was initially thrilled when she struck up a conversation. I was not so thrilled, several mind-numbing minutes later, when I tried to put out the social cue that I was ready to move on and it seemed to fly right over her head.

I call this the “You seem nice so I will talk to you all night” approach. There’s a fine line, especially at an expo type event, between connecting and clinging. The latter made me want to duck and hide any time she looked in my direction the rest of the evening.

I left after an hour and a half, exhausted and overwhelmed. I felt no closer to knowing or being willing to do business with any of the vendors I met there and was glad it wasn’t an expensive ticket. I wish there was a way I could get them to see that we are all people first and clients second. I think businesses would sell a lot more with that approach. Don’t you?

 

Photo credit: Artiom Ponkratenko / Foter.com / CC BY

Present is beautiful

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I once went on a “volun-tour” trip to Vietnam. It was part volunteer work, part vacation, and the participants were a random group of people from all over the world. There were 28 of us, to be exact. Almost all of us were complete strangers at the beginning of the trip; many of us were forever friends by the end.

One day, one of the guys rented a scooter. He came to see if anyone wanted to go exploring with him and I readily agreed. We rode all around the countryside, went over a rickety bridge, stopped in a fishing village, stopped to watch kids walking home from school, and made our way back through the maze of city traffic and odd roads, to reconnect with the group.

Months later, I was telling a mutual trip member how that day was one of my fondest memories of the entire trip. She smiled and asked for more detail and why it was so special to me. I realized, as I stumbled over my words, that everything I was telling her was a bit mundane. There was nothing that appeared to be all that special. We rode a scooter over a bridge – big whoop. As I struggled to explain why it meant so much to me, she started laughing and admitted to me that he had told her the same story. He too said it was one of his fondest moments of the trip. He said it with a big smile on his face and it was clear he truly felt the moment was something to be shared and awed over, as did I. When asked to give more detail about what made it special, he too was stumped to find a good response.

When she shared that with me, it forced me to examine why we both found that day so endearing. It hit me. From the moment we got on that scooter, to the moment we arrived back at the hotel, both of us were 100% present. We each noticed every line in the road, the leaves on the trees, the smiles and looks of the people as we waved and tried to say hello in poorly executed Vietnamese. We were fully present to each other as well. I had to feel every potential shift of his movement on the scooter so I could match it and move accordingly as we made on way through uncharted territory. We were in complete tune with each other as we marveled over the countryside and laughed together about things like having to figure out how to maneuver around a cow in the middle of the road.

Most of us spend our lives being anything but present. We worry about the future and hurt over the past. Present is rare. Present, however, is the most amazing place you can ever journey to.

Last night, I had an evening where I spent a good two hours being fully present. I didn’t think of work, home, my schedule for the next day, or what errands I needed to run. I was simply present. It was a rather bizarre evening, on the surface. I had dinner at a food truck, spontaneously decided to eat at a park, ended up in lengthy conversations with two different homeless men who wanted nothing more than to tell their story and felt like I was a safe person to do that with, and then I watched part of a softball game with my partner. We picked a team at random, and cheered wildly for them, even though we didn’t know a soul.

I remember thinking, when I got home, that it was one of the best evenings I’ve had in a very long time.

Present. Is. Beautiful

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Some Days, the Glass is Empty

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Some days you don’t have anything to give. You don’t know what to write, have nothing inspiring to say, have nothing to give to the world. Most people would keep pushing, in this instance. You are taught it is better to give than to receive. You are taught, especially if you’re a woman, that you should give to others first and yourself from what is left. The truth, though, is that you can’t give someone a drink from an empty glass. When you serve from your overflow, you can do so with ease and joy instead of exhaustion and resentment.

If this is a day where your glass is empty, give yourself permission to relax and allow it to refill.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/5080257300/”>Dave Dugdale</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Food/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://www.eduteka.pl/doc/cc-by-sa”>CC BY-SA</a>

If you don’t eat yer meat…

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Tonight was girls night. We were going to an improv show and decided to get some food beforehand. We went to a Thai place, two doors down from the theater, and ordered typical Thai. Then we decided to get adventurous and also order some “tapioca pumpkin pudding” for dessert. When the waiter brought our food, we asked if they would remember to bring out the pudding later. He assured us they would but later came and went…no pudding.

We went to the counter and they looked bewildered, as if they’d never seen us before and had no idea we had ordered pudding. We offered to show them our receipt as proof. The waiter who had assured us he would deliver our pudding also acted like he had no clue. The whole thing was on the verge of turning into an ordeal. While my partner was explaining to me why we didn’t yet have our pudding, I said, “I know you offered to show them a receipt, but did you tell them we ate our meat?” We both then smiled and said, in unison (at a volume that probably scared some folks), “if you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you won’t eat yer meat?!?”, and we cracked up laughing. Our angst and frustration was instantly defused. (Those of you unfamiliar with Pink Floyd won’t get the joke)

How often do you get all worked up and upset about things that really aren’t that critical? Have you ever let something simple ruin your day? We sometimes get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget there is always another way of looking at things. We forget because it’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame.

If you ever need to step out and change your point of view, humor has an amazing power of being able to get you there instantly.

Have you ever used humor to diffuse a situation?

 

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Feel the Funk

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Have you ever had a day where you just feel like you’re in a funk? I’m not talking about if that’s how you feel every day but more like you’re normally a positive, happy-go-luckily type person and one morning, you wake up and, for no apparent reason, you’re just in a funk. That’s me today.

Most people would tell you to just shake it off. To use your “tools” to get past it, etc. I agree…but with one condition. You need to feel it first, acknowledge it, allow it to have its say. If your knee-jerk reaction is to push it down or run away from it, then it never really gets a chance to get resolved. Often times, the only way through something is through it. It’s a much more direct route than trying to go around it or expending energy trying to run from it or push it down. Just feel the funk.

You will learn that things get resolved much quicker and don’t end up building up and turning into bigger issues and you’ll also learn that feelings are feelings and they won’t kill you. Not even the funky ones. Allowing yourself to feel it also gives you an opportunity to live in your authenticity. Being real means everything isn’t roses 100% of the time.

All that being said, remember that there is a big difference between feeling it and wallowing in it. As you create a deeper connection with yourself, you’ll learn the subtle difference.

I Am Forgiven

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If your life were to flash before your eyes, what would you like to see?

Some people put me in the box of hippie, New Age, or bleeding heart because I advocate for things like love and forgiveness. The truth is, I’m an advocate for living a life I can look back on with fondness and minimal regret when I’m on my death bed. If my life were to flash before my eyes, I’d want to see that I truly lived, that I was happy while doing it, and that my life mattered in the world. Does that sound like a good life to you?

If you start with that outcome in mind, and map out what you would need to do, it becomes clear that there are certain principles and habits that will reach that outcome with greater ease. Forgiveness is one of those principles.

Forgiveness has a bad rep. Most people believe:

  • it is about condoning the behavior
  • that by not forgiving you are somehow making the other person pay or keeping them in line
  • that it means you’ll forget the incident
  • that it makes you somehow better than the other person because you think you would never do what they did
  • that it means you have to reconnect with the person that harmed you
  • that you will be dishonoring the pain the incident caused you by forgiving it

Would you be willing to consider another viewpoint?

Here’s my take on it:

  1. Forgiveness = releasing the emotional baggage you’ve built up about an incident
  2. It’s not a free pass. Forgiving someone does not mean that you condone the behavior. In fact, if nothing had been done that you perceived as wrong, there would be nothing to forgive. So the very act of forgiveness acknowledges there was a wrong committed.
  3. It does not negate the lesson you learned from the experience. If anything, it heightens it because it keeps your viewpoint from being clouded by the baggage of emotions you haven’t released about the experience.
  4. Remaining in a state of unforgiveness does not hurt anyone but you. If someone hurt you and then you hurt yourself over and over again by reliving the incident and refusing to release it, then it becomes your responsibility for the pain you are in.
  5. It is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give yourself. Even when the person you need to forgive is someone other than yourself, it is still the greatest gift you could give yourself. Resentment and anger are huge barriers to the end result you are seeking. Releasing those emotions allows you to have room for what you actually do want in your life.
  6. It doesn’t mean you have to let the person who harmed you back into your life. Forgiving and setting boundaries are two completely separate things.
  7. The illusion that you are EVER better or worse than anyone else is just that – an illusion. The desire to judge someone else or feel better than them is way more of an indicator of your own insecurity than it is a story about someone else. We are all doing the best we can with what we have in the moment. We all make mistakes; we all have things to learn.

Even when you have ingrained these principles, you may still find yourself challenged when called to follow them for yourself. I did!

Today’s challenge in the Joyful Living Challenge was “Pick one thing you feel like you’ve done wrong and forgive yourself.” I’ll be honest, I struggled a bit. I had to figure out not only what I would forgive but what I would forgive that I could share with the other Challenge members that wouldn’t completely shatter their view of me. After some thought, I decided that was the coward’s way out and I needed to just be real. Although I try as much as possible not to should on myself, it still happens occasionally. 🙂 It leaves me with often impossible standards that I’ve set for myself and then I beat myself up when I don’t make it. (Sound familiar?)

Today, I get the opportunity to let that go, so…

I forgive myself for not being where I told myself I “should” be in life by now.

I am neither rich nor famous, I am not serving the world at the level I know I could, I am still learning, I am not perfect, I am very much human and…today I release all of the anger and shame around that and allow myself to be who and where I am.

If given the same opportunity, what would you forgive?