scary clown

Boo! Scared you!!!

I read online the other day that we are only born with two fears, and no, fear of clowns is not one of them. What I read stated that babies are born only with the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. This implies that all other fears are learned.  As I researched this premise, I found new studies that show the fear of falling is also learned. I feel it is pretty safe to say we are born with two or less fears hard-wired in us. Which means every other fear we have is learned.

scary clown
Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

Our experiences, our parents, our friends, and society as a whole teaches us what to fear. I am sure if I gave you five minutes you could come up with a host of fears that you have. The truth is though that each of these fears are things we have chosen to believe. We have either accepted the fears from those around us or have taken an isolated incident in our experiences and chosen to fear that it will happen again. Fear is good in that it can keep us from doing things that will harm us. When fears are unfounded, they can hold us back.

Feeling Fear

A lot is happening in the world right now of which we could be afraid. Yet when we really look at it, as Trevor Noah said recently, “Feeling is often times more powerful than what is actually happening.” Yes, there are shootings. Yes, there are incidents of violence. Yes, there are bad people out there. But what we really fear is what we have created in our minds. It is fear of what could happen. It is important to do a little reality check on what is really something to fear because it is imminent versus the fears we have created which only occur in our minds. I wrote about sorting through our mental fears a few years ago.

Moving Past Fear

Fear is good when it is something that can keep us safe. Fear becomes detrimental when it is something that holds us back or keeps us stuck. Seth Godin shares how fear has been used to keep us complacent and how overcoming our fear can empower us. Instead of avoiding your fears, pushing through them can help you succeed. We can train our minds to choose to be brave and to be the best version of ourselves.

Most of my life I was shy. I was afraid to be seen or heard. I thought I would be told I was stupid, unimportant, incorrect, and would be shunned and unloved if I spoke up. This fear kept me stuck. I didn’t speak up when I should have to protect myself. I didn’t share when I had something of value to provide. I muted my voice from fear of being attacked and ostracized. I became a follower instead of a leader because it seemed safer. As I am learning to use my voice, yes, I have found some people who have taken offense and attacked me. But the percentage is so small that it is not worth discussing. What is more important are the individuals I have helped when I share my truth without fear.

Take a look at your fears. Are they keeping you safe or holding you back? Are they based in reality or are they unfounded? What would it take to empower you to move past your fears? What would you achieve or experience if you allowed yourself to release your fears?

queer eye

Lies and Truth

Have you caught the reboot of Queer Eye? Netflix has picked up the series with a new Fabulous Five and a mission this time to teach and learn acceptance. Both of the new Fab Five seasons are must see, but the Big Little Lies episode in the second season caught my eye. If you don’t have Netflix, you can learn a bit about the episode here.

It is easy to get upset with Ari, the young man the Fab Five are helping. He is a liar. It is easy to see from the first words that leave his mouth that he shirks responsibility and tells tales. It is also clear that he thinks he is charming people into believing him, but he isn’t. Like most liars, the only one who believes the lie is the liar.

queer eyeWhen we run into liars we want to call them on it. We want to yell at them to cut the bull and tell the truth. Unfortunately, if we do this, the only result is the person becomes defensive or combative and digs deeper into the untruths. In the episode with Ari, I thought they were going to call him to the carpet when they hooked him up to a lie detector, but then the show takes an amazing twist **spoiler alert** they don’t give him the results. In fact, no one looks to see if or what he lied about. Instead of the Fab Five being the condescending parent or authority figure calling Ari on his BS, they turn responsibility for Ari’s lies over to him. Ari is the only one who knows if he lied in the test and now he has to live with it.

When I first saw the episode, the lesson I took away was regarding my own lies and half truths about my time in the UCLA theatrical directing graduate school. I had been embarrassed that the school kicked me out, so instead of boldly telling the truth, I said “I left.” It was true. I did leave. What I did not express was the fact I was asked to leave. When Queer Eye did not force Ari to fess up to his lie, what I heard was that the only person who knows, needs to know, and needs to live with the truth is me. I did not tell the whole truth because I was afraid of being judged. It became easier to share my truth when I realized that I was already being judged – each and every day by myself. Being completely honest also helped me let go of the incident. I could let go of my fear of being imperfect and move on with my life.

Lying is a defense mechanism used to protect ourselves from how we think others see us. Lying on the deepest level is a way for us to hide from ourselves. It is hard to be 100% open, honest, and truthful with others and even more so with ourselves. It is scary to see ourselves naked and vulnerable; to be an open book. It takes courage to be completely open with everyone, including ourselves, in every moment. But when we do, we are empowered like never before.

Without the lies hiding our fears, we are free. We can tackle anything because we are free of the bondage of our lives. To move forward in life, we need to release our fears, let go of the lies, and share our truth. Fear and lying only hold us back.

Fears

What are you afraid of sharing? What is keeping you from being 100% honest? Many times it is our fear of being less than. We are afraid of others being upset or leaving us due to our actions, thought, or beliefs. Yet these fears may be unfounded. We can never know 100% how people will react until we share our truth.

Acceptance

We may think we are getting away with a lie, but usually we are not. A lawyer friend of mine used to joke, “Nothing is illegal, unless you get caught.” Many of us live our lives lying under the radar. And many times we can get away with our lies. Either no one knows or no one calls us on it. We think we have gotten away with something and in one way we have. But in a much bigger way we have not. We have to live with our lie. We are the ones up sleepless nights worrying about being caught. Our lies and fears eat away at us day and night.

Courage

Being 100% honest in everything, takes a lot of courage. Many of us have told little white lies to protect someone’s feelings or not ruffle feathers, but is it truly the best choice? Every time we run from our whole-hearted truth, we are making a small tear in our relationships. We should never share a truth that would intentionally hurt another, but everything else is fair game.

Watch yourself this week. What lies are you telling? What are you trying to cover up with the lie? What are you afraid of? What do you need to accept about yourself? Do you have the courage to tell the truth?

self love

Defining Self-Love

On Facebook, I host a group call Living Type Me for those who have read my book From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It. Every day I post quotes, articles, and other tidbits to help grow awareness, inspire, and assist the participants in their personal growth.

In April I shared the Shakti Gawain quote, “You can love other people only to the degree that you’ve come to love and accept yourself.” Group member and founder of ARTemis, Sam Hull, had this question in response, “Love or acceptance? Self-love is immeasurable, but self-acceptance is easily documented and weighed against self-neglect. Yes? So what is the difference that would place love or acceptance?” Great question Sam!

To me, self-acceptance is only one part of self-love. Self-love is unconditional and is part self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and self-care. To fully experience self-love, all of these components must be present.

self loveUnconditional

To truly experience self-love, it must be unconditional. It is easy to love ourselves after we win an award, lose 10 lbs. or have some other tangible accomplishment. True self-love does not need a reason to love. The love exists through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. It neither needs a reason to love nor is deterred when we are not at our best. Self-love is constant.

Self-Awareness

Self-love comes from self-awareness, knowing who we are completely. If we are loving the mask we wear, it is not true self-love. To truly love ourselves, we can not hide who we are. We need the strength and vulnerability to see who we truly are, not who we want to be or believe we are supposed to be. Self-awareness is being courageous enough to see our truth.

Self-Acceptance

With this awareness, we then need to accept ourselves wholeheartedly, warts and all. We can be aware of our truth, but if we do not accept it, if we judge ourselves because of it, or we perceive it as unworthy, that is not self-love. Self-love is knowing ourselves intimately, the perceived good and bad, and still loving ourselves deeply.

Self-Appreciation

One step further than unconditional acceptance, is appreciating ourselves just the way we are. This is not about praising our accomplishments, but about seeing our true selves and appreciating how our uniqueness is a gift to the world. No one can be and do what we can. We are unique, with unique contributions to offer. Embracing and appreciating our inherent gifts is a key component of self-love.

Self-Care

Where the other components of self-love revolve around thought and belief, self-care is about action. You can say you unconditionally love yourself but if you are not eating right and providing the body, mind and spirit what it needs, you are not acting on your self-love. Self-care is the manifestation of our awareness, acceptance, and appreciation.

To Sam’s question, self-acceptance is not the opposite of self-neglect. Self-neglect may be a symptom of the lack of self-acceptance, but it is not the other end of the spectrum. Many people do not accept themselves and therefore shower themselves with self-care, but if they can not accept themselves, self-care may just be a Band-Aid and a weak attempt to fill the self-love void.

What does self-love mean to you? Are you truly loving yourself unconditionally with total awareness, acceptance, and appreciation? Are you gifting yourself with the care you inherently deserve?

Until you can love yourself with this unconditional love, you may find it difficult to truly, deeply love another.

yoga studio

Step into the Front of Life

In yoga, I usually grab the back corner. I don’t want anyone to see me doing yoga. I am recently back to the practice, round and not stick-figure-toned, and usually older than most of the other practitioners. Most of the time, I am surrounded by fit, thin 20-somethings and feel like the ugly duckling so I retreat to the back. However, from the back corner, what I see is not just the instructor but all the participants. As my focus is on them, I find I often compare myself to them. I am not judging them as much as I am judging myself, my ability, and my worth by their ability and appearance.

yoga studioOn Friday I arrived and no one else was there. I took a place upfront because I knew the instructor would make me move anyway. Well by the time the class started, there were three rows of people. I took a deep breath and prepared for being on display. What was interesting was being in front made me less conscious of others, less self-conscious, and less judging. Because I didn’t see anyone else, I could release the comparison and solely focus on myself.

What I realized was hiding in the back didn’t protect me. It actually made me more self-conscious because I saw the others in front of me. Being in the back put more focus on others and allowed me the opportunity to compare myself to them. Being in the back did not hide and protect me, but actually hurt me because I choose to compare.

By making myself first, in the front of the room, I could not see the others. The others didn’t matter when I couldn’t see and focus on them. By putting myself first, I removed “the other” and allowed me to focus on myself. That day in class was one of my best practices I experienced because it was just about me. No comparisons. No self-consciousness. Just doing my best and accepting myself as I am. Because I was not focusing on others, I was able to go within (the whole point to yoga). I was able to focus on my moves, my practice. I found strength I didn’t have when I was self-conscious. Without the yoke of comparison, I was free to explore each pose. I found this practice to be one of the best I ever had.

As you go about your day, how much time is spent comparing yourself to others? How much of your focus is on what others are doing and saying versus what you believe and think? How are you stifling yourself because you don’t think you are as [insert adjective here] as others?

This week be aware of the comparisons and judgements you are making. What do they mean about your self-opinion? How are they keeping you from moving forward? Are they creating resentment and sadness? Then try to shed the comparisons and notice how you can free yourself. When we put ourselves first, we unrestrict our purpose and heart and we are more powerful. Stop hiding behind others, and step into the front of life.

walking in anothers shoes

Walking in Another’s Shoes

I watched a terrific TED talk the other day by an individual who has a unique view on gender issues and authenticity. Paula Williams started life as a man and is now a woman. Due to her experiences, Paula has a very unique view of both genders and has experienced firsthand that they are equal, but there is not equity for both. She shares funny and sad examples of bias and favoritism. She said she lived life from both sides and the “differences are massive.”

I’ll let Paula’s message focus on the gender issue. What I want to focus on is our assumptions and unconscious bias, and the power we give away to others.

Releasing Assumptions

walking in anothers shoesPaula has a unique opportunity to really learn what it really means to be and experience life as a woman, and a man.  For most of us, we only know what we know as our gender. We can have an idea of the injustices and differences but can’t know firsthand how both genders experience life. This is true for almost everyone we meet. We all have unique journeys. We are born into different bodies and different environments. We learn and experience different things growing up. It becomes all too easy to dislike or attack another because of one aspect we see. Yet, we don’t know the full picture. Unless you can truly walk in another’s shoes, you will never know what they experience, think, and believe. We can assume, but our assumptions are clouded by our own experiences and beliefs.

Next time you have a disagreement or negative reaction to another, stop. Step back. Try to look at the big picture of who this individual is, where they came from, and if other issues they may be experiencing may be coloring their actions. So much of the online and offline rage and arguments we see are based on assumptions and “the other.” When we can release our own bias, it allows us the space to see the full picture of the other person – and start an intelligent dialogue.

Empowerment

For those of you who are struggling with self-esteem and your voice, Paula has some great words of encouragement. I have experienced people throughout my life, and even recently, who sought to put me down and belittle me in one form or another. If we hear – and take in – this negativity for too long, we can start to believe it and take it on as our own. No matter what others say about you, remember that you are intelligent and worthy. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what you know. Don’t question yourself just because others do. The key to strength and power is to believe it inherently. When we look to others for approval and confirmation, we have already given away our power. Reclaim your strength by owning it.

As you go about this week, notice the assumptions you have about others. How much do you really know about them? Can you identify and, hopefully, release your bias? Who are people who make you doubt yourself? Why are you triggered by them? What do you need to own about yourself? This week, follow Paula’s lead and honor the journey and the differences of others, and yourself.

self confidence for resolutions

Make It Happen

Tis the season to make resolutions . . . and to feel heartbroken when a week – or day – later we already broke them. Why is this? Sometimes we set too high and unreachable goals, and should have broken them down into more achievable mini goals that will lead us to our big goal. Sometimes we create resolutions that are negative punishments instead of positive desires. It is best if your resolutions are positive choices instead of self-attack based on negative self-image. A recent TED talk about the importance self-confidence in success, talks about two other elements needed to achieve our goals and resolutions.

self confidence for resolutionsDr. Ivan Joseph believes self-confidence is not an inherent trait, but instead a trainable skill. Through persistence and positive self-talk, you can achieve not only your new year’s resolutions but all your goals.

Persistence comes down to repetition and overcoming failure.

Repetition: Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” This means to become what we want to become we need to study and practice for 10,000 hours. When you look at your resolution, don’t think of it as one and done, but an effort you need to make over time. How many hours a week or a day are you willing to dedicate to your goal?  You don’t have to do 10,000 hours to make a change, but you do need to commit to a dedicated amount of time. As you look at your resolution, plan for time to work your goal, dedicate yourself to this time, and make the effort.

Overcoming Failure: One of the big reasons we don’t accomplish our resolutions is that we stop trying after one setback. “I ate a half of a cookie, so my diet is blown. I am just going to give up.” Learn to accept that failure is part of the process. Some days will be good, some not as much. Don’t let a setback hold you back. Look at the stumbling block, learn from it, and go back to your practice (see repetition).

Self-Talk is the other area which affects our ability to be successful. What we think can either empower or weaken us. Learn to use your mental state to move you forward instead of holding you back.

Fake It Till You Make It: No one else will believe in you, until you do. No one else can give you self-confidence, only you can do it. The first step to self-confidence and achieving what you want is to believe you can. Once you believe it, you will be able to act as if you are already what you want to achieve. This can also be done in baby-steps.  Maybe you want to be a world-famous author, but if you have not written a sentence it may be hard to believe it.  Instead start by believing that you are a prolific writer or a solid writer or even just “a” writer.  Once you realize you have accomplished your mini goal, broaden your mental belief.

Positive Reinforcement: All too often we focus on the stick instead of the carrot. Create a daily routine of positive reinforcement and affirmations. Replace negative self-talk with positive desires. Catch yourself when your mind goes to the negative. Stop. Replace the negative fears and attacks, with thoughts of what you do well and want to accomplish. One great idea Dr. Joseph had was to take the time to write a letter to yourself when things are good. Brag to yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments. Share what is good about you and what you do. Then pull this letter out and re-read it when you are having a difficult negative self-talk day.

As you enter 2018, create some realistic goals based on what you want, not on what you want to fix about yourself. Then schedule time to work toward your goal and be persistent even when there are set-backs. Finally, be your own coach. Focus on the good you accomplish. Stay strong when things are hard. Believe in yourself.

If you want some support with your resolutions, persistence, or self-talk, reach out to me. Happy to explore if we are right to work together.