Who gives a F*@#k if you’re scared?

fear-research-jpg__1072x720_q85_cropHow would your life change if you actually learned to like yourself?

Even if you have what looks like a really great life: great family, friends, a good job, why is it that deep inside, you feel restless, as though something is missing?

Why is it that most of the time, you don’t feel the way you want about yourself or your life?  No matter how much it looks to the world like you are doing great, on the inside, you feel like shit.  You compare yourself to others, feel like you don’t measure up, beat yourself up, and you’re probably sick and tired of feeling like no matter what life looks like, this isn’t it!

Here’s how learning to like myself started for me:  I spent much of my adolescent and early adult life struggling to find inner peace.  On all fronts, I had a fantastic life.  I had loving parents, wonderful friends, good health, boyfriends, and a good job.  Why, then, did I frequently feel I was just not “good enough?” 

Life was all about getting to the next level.  Once I got “there”, all would be right in the world.  Once I got into college, life would come together.  Check.  Once I got my first job, then I would feel complete.  Check.  Once I moved out of my parents’ house, all would be right in the world.  Check, check, check.  

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  When I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore, I enrolled in a six-day retreat, to learn how to experience more joy and satisfaction in my life.

And I had an epiphany that would forever change my life.
One of the retreat’s challenges was a ropes course designed to force you to confront your fears.  As I stood on a platform the size of a dinner plate, mounted 100 feet in the air, the instructions were simply to step off.  Although I knew intellectually that my safety harness would keep me safe, it didn’t stop my feet from remaining on that dinner plate for almost a half hour.  Finally, a voice from somewhere spoke to me: “Don’t let fear stop you,” it said. Even though I was scared to death, shaking and crying, I stepped off the platform.  The result from this simple step, was a  question that would forever change the course of my life: “Who gives a f*@k if you’re scared?”

It was the moment that I decided that the way I act in my life would have nothing to do with the fearful thoughts in my mind.

When I came home, I started experimenting.  Rather than listening to the voice telling me to stay in my comfort zone, I pushed myself into being uncomfortable, all with the same question: “Who gives a f*@k if you’re scared?”

I started meeting new people I would never have talked to before.  I joined a lacrosse team, and I’m terrible at lacrosse!  I started having more fun!  And the irony was, the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the calmer and more balanced I felt, because I was no longer afraid of being afraid!

It is this question that introduced me to the voice of my Inner Critic:  the voice of “don’t do it, or this could happen!”  I caught my inner critic worrying about how I would be judged or how I would fit in and be perceived by others, and I would say, “Who gives a f*@k if you’re scared?” I was no longer allowing my broken record voice to have power over me.

In fact, the only reason you are even reading this now is because my lifelong personal work has been to override my inner critic. If it were up to my Inner Critic, there is no way I would be leading workshops all over the country, writing blogs, and working on a book!  With every step I take, the question remains the same: “Who gives a f*@#k if you’re scared?”

Liking yourself begins with the choice to no longer give power to the broken record thoughts that play over and over in your mind.  The truth is that right now, the way you think is automatic.  Your mind goes to the same thoughts, all day, every day, about why you just don’t cut it.  It is your thinking that is FUNDAMENTAL to how you feel about yourself and your life.  You automatically base your worth on everything you do, have, or say, or what you look like.  And this never ending chase to “be good enough” is a race to no where.  You are like a hamster on a hamster wheel.  No wonder you’re exhausted!

What if you could really feel like you are enough?  Just as you are, without changing or fixing anything?  It really is possible!

And it starts with this one step:  Stop letting your Inner Critic keep you stuck in fear.

Remember, who gives a f*@#k if you’re scared!!

4 Ways to Create Extraordinary Relationships Over the Holidays

stress46-634It’s the holiday season, and stress and holidays often go hand in hand. Shopping, decorating, end of the year deadlines at work, and family planning can often leave us feeling impatient, cranky, and in some cases, downright depressed.  This added stress can often result in tension and conflict, old wounds can resurface, and relationships can breakdown.

In my relationship counseling practice, holiday seasons are my busiest time of the year.  Breakdowns abound with spouses, children, and extended family members.

Here are 4 ways to avoid the pitfalls and enhance your ability to have relationships that are loving and connected:

1.     Take Responsibility for the Quality of Your Relationship.  Most of us are conditioned to blame something or someone else for how we are feeling.  When relationships come under stress, we often want to fix or change something about another in order to feel better about ourselves, or blame someone else for causing the upset.  This is when the problem really starts:  the moment we blame others for the problem, the power for the correction evaporates.  Are you really going to change them and thus heal the upset?  How successful has this proven to be in the past?  When you put yourself in the driver’s seat regarding the quality of the relationship, you take control of the problem.  You are now back in control.  In other words, this holiday season, are you willing to intend to stay loving and connected, regardless of the actions or behaviors of others?  Do this and observe the outcome.  The results may astonish you!

2.    Express Appreciation.  When we are under stress, we often forget to express appreciation for the good in our relationships.  We simply take them for granted.  However, appreciation is one of the keys to creating extraordinary relationships.  Even if you appreciate something, however small, it changes how that person feels about you and about the relationship.  Whether it’s your spouse, your child, or someone in your extended family, when someone feels appreciated, it changes how they act in the relationship, potentially changing the overall love and connection that you both experience.

3.    Ask Yourself, “What am I really upset about right now?”  Sometimes when we are upset in relationships, we don’t recognize that we are actually triggered into some deeper pain, and are blaming someone else for making us feel that way.  Relationship problems are often a result of deeper feeling that get triggered.  Our own beliefs about why someone acted the way they did, or said whatever they said, can cause our emotional reactions to become intense. Taking a moment to becoming aware of why you are having an intense emotional reaction can change the way that you react and express yourself.  And by changing the way you express yourself, you effect the way they will respond to you.

4.    Check Your Expectations.  We often have a list of “should’s” for ourselves and for others.  And when our “should’s” are not met, we often get upset.  We get stuck on “autopilot”, unaware of our intention to create a loving space in which our relationships can flourish.   We tend to disregard the positive aspects of the relationship, and instead, focus mainly on its negative aspects.  When you make a conscious choice to focus on the positives, the love and connection that you truly desire presents itself as a real possibility.

Remember, you have the power to shift the quality of your relationships by remembering to put some simple practices into your daily interactions with the people in your life.  And these practices are most important when life becomes hectic and chaotic!

I wish you a loving and connected holiday season.