Category Archives: self confidence

Yoga and you

Proprioception is knowing where your body is in space.  It is one of the tests police use to test for drunkenness.  Close your eyes and touch your nose.  Walk a straight line.  Stand on one foot.  It is one of the things we lose when intoxicated.  It is also one of the things we lose when we have trauma.  Studies are starting to show that yoga, along with therapy and medication can help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder heal more quickly.  So what in the heck does yoga do?

Yoga itself is a meditation.  Each position is called an “asana”, or focus.  Meditation changes us on a cellular level.  When used correctly, it helps the body know that it is OK and allows regular body processes, including basics such as digestion, to keep going.  When in a state of stress these process are put off in preference of dealing with the stress and what the body perceives as a threat.  When used for anger it continues the process of stress and anxiety.   When you focus on letting your body experience each pose (as imperfect as it may be), and use your breath to move between poses,  your body is allowed to begin to remove the cortisol and adrenalin that has been coursing through it to manage stress.

Yoga is also a test in accepting failure.  When first starting a yoga practice, no matter how athletic you are, you are going to fail time and time again.  Your balance will be off, you will fall out of poses, you won’t be able to transition smoothly in to poses, and you won’t be able to hold poses.  If you are attending a class you will look at the people around you and think “they can do this, I should be able to as well!”.  When you can let go of that expectation, and be OK with your body and what it is capable of, you have stepped up to the next level.  When you can be OK when you can’t hit the inversion you did yesterday, or hold the pose, or lose your balance, you’ve gone even further.  The final step is implementing this acceptance in the rest of your life.  In life we will fall.  We won’t be able to do today what we did yesterday.  We will struggle and struggle.  Failure builds muscle and helps us find solutions that success wouldn’t have let us see.

Yoga also helps us see successes.  As you continue your yoga practice you will find that all of a sudden you can do the pose that has frustrated you for years.  You will feel more confident in your balance not only psychically, but emotionally as well.  You will find that because you don’t let the little things bother you as much.

Yoga isn’t wonderful for everyone.  If it doesn’t work for you, find the thing that will do these things.  The things that let you be OK with failure, that test your body and mind in different ways and encourage your to fall and fail.  People tell me that they have running or swimming routines, and unfortunately that just doesn’t do it.  It doesn’t test where your body is in time or space, and with both swimming and running you probably already know what you are doing.  There are fewer chances for growth.  If yoga isn’t for you, that isn’t a problem.  But do find the thing that will do the above for you.

Yoga helps teach you where your body is in time and in space, and reminds you that you do have control over you.  It reconnects your mind and your body, often after life situations that make you feel helpless with both.

Live life at your pace

We move through life in lock-step through about the age of 18. Sometimes even 22.  We are born, we roll over, walk, talk, skip, move through school, all pretty much at the same pace.  For younger kids, if they aren’t moving through the milestones at about the right age, then there are problems.  Because so much of our life is moving through in lock-step, we start to think that is how life should be as adults as well.  We need to get married, have kids, have the right job, buy a house, etc.  The concept that if we haven’t met the adult “milestones” by a certain age creates anxiety and shame in so many people.
At some point we stop needing to do the same things about the same time. One person may have to leave high school because life got in the way, and finishes later in their own time.  The other may not get married until their 50’s because they didn’t find the right person. We each have a path that we need to walk.  For a while it may be similar to someone else’s, but ultimately we don’t have to keep pace with anyone.

There is a path in Austin called the Hill of Life.  It is ½ a mile, with 200 meters of elevation change.  It is the very first entrance to the Barton Creek Trail system that runs through Austin, about 8 miles long. It is rocky, uneven terrain.  It is a phenomenal work-out to walk up it.  And it is exhausting.  I have found, that even with all the exercise I do, I have to take the hill slow.  On a bad day I need to take breaks and can’t finish the hill in one go.  While I am huffing and puffing there are often people running up the hill, or even college students walking from the river-bed in flip-flops.  And I’m not in a race with them.  I don’t need to keep up, go the fastest, or even need to march up it without breaks.  I need to go at my pace.  I will get to the top of the hill, I will just take longer than the others.  And I will be faster than some. It isn’t a race.  We will all end up at the same place.
The ego tells us “You should be going faster”.  The ego has a very strong belief in how the world should work.  It believes that if you aren’t moving at the same pace as everyone else you aren’t good enough. You aren’t worthy enough to live amongst the decent people that are doing “better” than you are.  With the hill example, if I work to keep up with those that are doing “better” than I am, I will in all likelihood hurt myself.  I will exceed what my heart and lungs are capable of, or I will twist an ankle, or have some other sort of problem.  When I take the hill at the pace that works for me, I generally tend to make better time than when I try to keep up with someone else.

We all have the same finish-line.  No matter how quickly, gracefully, or easily move through life, we all end up at the same place.  If we try to live life at the pace we think we are “supposed” to often we feel inadequate, frustrated, and sometimes worthless.  We each get to find what works for us, the pace that is best for us, and find our own groove.  Push yourself, and at the same time make sure you aren’t just trying to keep up with the “shoulds”.  This isn’t a race, and if you treat it that way you may just end up at the finish line faster than you wanted to.

The nasti-gram – What they’re really saying

We’ve all done it. We’ve all sat down at our computer and started to type something akin to “you suckity suck head. You should know you really suck, and this is why.” I know, your nasti-gram was significantly more articulate than that, but when it boils down to it that’s what you’re saying. In fact I wrote one about a month ago. I was articulate, focused and directed in what I wanted to say. And looking back the letter said “Hey you stupid suckhead. This is how much you suck, why you suck, and how stupid you are.”

I had attending a meeting in which I felt I was not listened to. I was trying to advocate for a client and not only was the caseworker seemingly deaf to what I had to say, but her attorney was as well. I went home and stewed. I knew I was meditating on my anger, I knew I was on the crazy train, and I just couldn’t get off. So I wrote an email “advocating” for my client. I wrote several drafts until I had one that I felt was acceptable enough to run through my filter (my husband) to see if it was professional and acceptable. And I did what any professional should do; I called a colleague to triple check myself. And of course she told me what I needed to hear; knock it off. We’re here to teach clients to advocate for themselves, not fight their battles for them.

Looking back at the email that I did not send, it was professional and made the point I wanted to make. It also was meant to make the attorney feel small ignorant, and unprofessional. When the above meeting was over I felt small, inarticulate, and powerless. These are some of my major shame triggers. I don’t have the trigger of not feeling smart enough; I know I’m intelligent. Because of my childhood where sometimes no matter what I said someone was going to be pissed, I struggle to feel articulate. Because of that same childhood I frequently felt powerless and helpless. I felt powerless in that meeting and watched a client feel helpless, where even her attorney wasn’t helping her. I wanted to make him feel ignorant, and small, and stupid. It was a very professional nasti-gram.

When we sit down at our keyboard to write our nasti-gram we are trying to make the other person feel as small, as ignorant, as hurt, as powerless or hopeless as we feel. We are trying to take the shame we feel and throw it on to them, instead of calling what we feel what it really is. I even struggled to write this blog, to call my shame what it was and speak it out loud. It is especially difficult to speak it here as I know several of my clients read this. But speaking our shame out-loud lessens its power.

How you want to make other’s feel when writing the nasti-gram, or when trolling, is how you really feel in the moment. The hateful angry email may help you feel more powerful. It also helps you meditate on your anger, and what we meditate on affects us on a cellular level. Anger increases cortisol and adrenalin, and makes your body thing you’re in life-or-death situations. It doesn’t do nice things.

When I hear the shame stories of friends and colleagues I am usually shocked. What triggers their shame is usually something that I see they excel at, and have no idea why they would be ashamed. I’m pretty sure that some of those that know me and have read my shame story are shaking your heads as well. Our shame triggers come from our past, they are our “baggage”. The difficult thing with shame triggers is that usually other’s don’t know what they are. Unless you are in a very unhealthy relationship (or have children) no one is trying to intentionally trigger your shame gremlins. No one is trying to make us feel that way, and we all have triggers that will be hit. In general there are common triggers for women and common triggers for men, and at the same time our history is always going to give us unique triggers.

When we are hurting our first instinct is to lash out and make the people that hurt us feel the same way we do. It is not healthy, and leads to the “eye for an eye” concept. This was one of the most quoted parts of the bible I heard when I was a child, and then when I was older I learned that that was only part of the quote. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” is the whole quote. It is actually OK to write that email. In Word, or whatever word-processing program you use, not on your phone or your email. It keeps you from accidentally sending it! Then if you find that you need to or are required to for some reason respond, start running the response through your filters. Through your own filters, and through the filters of those you respect to help you write appropriate emails (not the friends that are going to help you skewer the other person!). Getting the nasty draft out does help. Sending it does not. Start your meditation on how to communicate, even if it is to yourself what trigger was hit, what your needs are, and what your wants are. Ultimately it reminds you that your trigger is your trigger. It is yours to feel and yours to manage, not the other persons.

We all have triggers, and we all have those moments when we want to send that nasti-gram. They don’t help. Let yourself see your nasti-gram without sending it, and identify what trigger was hit. Then take a moment to recognize that it is your trigger. Don’t send the first email and do double check, triple check, and maybe even quadruple check yourself. Nasti-grams may be fun, but they don’t make things better. Making someone else feel small and stupid never makes anything better.


I understand

There is a difference between understanding and condoning.  I can understand why people do things.  I can understand why people hurt other people, why people steal, why people beat their partners, and why people use drugs to escape from reality.  I understand.  It doesn’t mean I condone their behavior or agree with it.

One of the problems I see is that people don’t understand, and people think that understanding will mean condoning.  Understanding isn’t about making their behavior OK. Understanding is knowing that people have knowledge that people do things for reason, and it isn’t just because they are bad people.  Understanding is knowing that addiction isn’t about a lack of motivation, or bad will power. Addiction is about how the brain works and how people’s brain respond to chemicals in the brain, and that overcoming addiction isn’t having more will-power, it is about learning how to manage how the brain responds to situations and chemicals and fighting your own brain.

Understanding is knowing that the person that is abusing the kids in his neighborhood and his own kids has his own history, not necessarily of sexual abuse but of emotional abuse or trauma of some sort and isn’t because he or she is a sick perverted asshole with no soul.  It doesn’t make the behavior OK.  It just means that I understand how they got to where they are.

Understanding doesn’t mean that it makes what a person does OK.  Some people find a place and learn that their chemistry or their history or their shoe size affects who they are and how they act and figure out how to move around those facts.  I have ADD.  I didn’t know this as a child, and it affected how I moved through school and through life.  When I was in graduate school I learned about ADD, and I understood why when I was 7 I got bored completing standardized testing and created designs with the bubbles, and my parents had to fight a label of mentally retarded.  Because of the expectations around me and my desire to fit in I figured out how to manage with but never knew why I struggled so much to do what seemed to come easily to others.  Now I know that I learned how to work with a disability.  Sometimes well and sometimes not, but I learned.  It is something I won’t be able to change, It is something that I have to manage.  So when I look at others that struggle I understand.  I understand the struggle of managing something you can’t control.

Understanding doesn’t mean condoning unpleasant, hurtful, or inappropriate behavior.  In my situation I had to learn how to move around something that in some circumstances is helpful, but in our world isn’t.  I work with some people where understand why they are hateful, angry, and dangerous.  I also know that if they want to, they can learn to live with their brain chemistry, their trauma, or their past and manage.  It takes desire, will power, and a willingness to not only accept who they are but to find ways to work with who they are, and still be the best they can be.

It takes work.  It isn’t easy to watch the people that move through life easily and know that we have to fight.  We have to fight through abuse, through brain chemistry, and through life experience that makes life harder.  Some people either don’t have the same problems, or just move through life easier.  For whatever reason, they don’t have the same experiences, the same brain chemistry, or it is just easier for them to move through. We compare ourselves to them and think we aren’t enough.  We think that we should be better.  Ad that is BS.  I fight to make it through a text book.  It is torture, and I read 10 pages to realize that I stopped paying attention 8 pages ago.  It will take me and hour to do something that it will take a non ADD person 20 minutes to do.  It is a success for me when I make it through a book, or do the task and get it done; no matter how long it takes.  I know what is a success for me, and I celebrate it.  I also fight for my successes, and work to manage the shame that someone else wouldn’t have to fight nearly as hard as I do.  My successes are my successes, and I won’t let the fact that someone else doing them would have done them faster or better any less of a success for me.

I also won’t hesitate to protect myself from those that won’t fight to be the best they can be.  I can understand the kids that get pulled in to Neo- Nazi lifestyles. In general they feel outcast and unloved and they work to not only find people that at least act like they love them, but give them the chance to say that others are as horrible as they are.  I can understand them, that doesn’t mean I am going to let them run around wreaking havoc.  I can understand them and I still need to protect myself and my loved ones (and the world) from them.  I understand how they moved through life, through abuse, through trauma, or just through chemistry to get where they are.  I don’t condone their behavior and I will make damn sure that I do what I can to protect the world from them.

Understanding and compassion have nothing to do with condoning a behavior.  When you are able to clearly delineate between the two then you can make decisions.  You can make decisions about celebrating your victories when you accomplish something that is difficult for you instead of beating yourself up for not doing it as well as someone else would have.  You can decide what your values are, and work your darndest to stick to them even when chemistry or history makes it hard.  You can also let go of the judgement of others when you aren’t as awesome as they are, because they don’t have the roadblocks you have.

When you are able to clearly delineate between the two you can also have more compassion and understanding for those around you that struggle too.  You can see where and when they are fighting their best, and celebrate their successes when they find their successes.  You can also protect yourself when their best is still dangerous to you, your family, and the world in general.  You can let yourself move away and create boundaries without feeling guilt or shame.

Each of us has obstacles that keep us from being out best.  We all have our own individual battles that we fight on a daily basis. Some people, because of chemistry, trauma, or pain have more to struggle with than others. When they win their battles we celebrate with them.  Those that don’t win their battles, that continue to hurt others or lose themselves in the disease of addiction destroying everything around themselves, we have to protect ourselves from them even when we have compassion, love and possibly understand them.

Understanding isn’t condoning bad behavior.  Only you can decide what your values, beliefs, ethics and principles are, and only you can figure how to best live within them with your own stumbling-blocks.  When you live within your values successfully, celebrate.  Knowing that I can’t understand another person’s battle helps me let go of judgement and contempt, and I still protect myself from their behavior.  I understand, and I still expect that I do my best, and that you do your best.  And when I am with the best in me, and you are with the best in you, we can make a pretty awesome world.

Who am I?

The question we will ask ourselves our entire lives. Who am I? Am I successful? Am I playful? Am I intelligent, sarcastic, trustworthy, fun? What makes me, me? The difficulty is that what makes up each one of us changes. We have pieces of us that are consistent. When we are stressed, feeling romantic, feeling playful, working, in general we have a certain reaction. You aren’t the same person when you are having fun as when you are working, or when you are stressed.

The tricks is finding the parts that you like in each situation and cultivate them. I heard a couple of you say that you have a hard time finding things that you like. We are trained from a young age to find the problems. As a culture and as a country we focus on problems and “solutions” instead of focusing on what is going well and building from there. It is considered egotistical to like something about ourselves. It is seen as narcissistic. Narcissists is believe they have accomplishments they don’t, they haven’t earned. Confidence is seeing where you are strong and allowing yourself to build on those strengths.

Ultimately we are who we decide to be; we are the habits and characteristics we cultivate. If you want to be a source of light for others, find the light within yourself and help it grow. You have it in you, no matter how buried it is by life’s experiences. Find people, find experiences, find the joys that help the light grow. You decide who you are in any given moment. Decide wisely.


I wonder
from these thousand of “me’s”,
which one am I?
Listen to my cry, do not drown my voice
I am completely filled with the thought of you.
Don’t lay broken glass on my path
I will crush it into dust.
I am nothing, just a mirror in the palm of your hand,
reflecting your kindness, your sadness, your anger.
If you were a blade of grass or a tiny flower
I will pitch my tent in your shadow.
Only your presence revives my withered heart.
You are the candle that lights the whole world
and I am an empty vessel for your light…



The not knowing

We move through life, surfing through our days. In general we have achieved a homeostasis, where we are OK. Sometimes, we aren’t great, but we are OK. If we happen to mention to someone that we aren’t perfect or great, they ask us what we can do to feel better. Sometimes we do know, and we don’t like the answer. And sometimes we just don’t know.

It is OK to not know. The answer doesn’t need to be right there, and we can’t always find the answer right away. It is OK to not know. The struggle is tolerating the not knowing. Not knowing can be unpleasant because we are do-ers. As a country and as a culture, do want to have a plan and a course of action. We want to DO. If we don’t know what we want, then we have nothing to do.

This is OK. The answer is in us, and will come to light in time, when we are ready. It may take a day, a week, a month, or years. When the time is right, we will know what to do. The trick is to make it through the in-between. One of the tricks of making it through the not knowing is trusting that the answer will come eventually. At times it will feel hopeless, and the answer will come, in it’s time, when the time is right. When you are ready.

I hear you saying “I’m ready. I’m ready for the answer to come, the answer of what I should do. I’m READY!” Relax. A watched pot never boils. The knowing will come when you least expect it. It will come.

It is OK to not know. It feels miserable, and the situation may be horrible. And it will come. Have faith, have strength, and have trust. The answer will come.

Take risk

I wish I had.  I don’t like closing doors in my life saying “I wish I had”.  I wish I had said this. I wish I had done that.  I also know that I am not the only one that doesn’t like closing doors with “I wish” on my head.  I wish I had traveled more.  I wish I had loved more.  I wish I had stood up for myself.  I wish I had tried harder.  The I wishes aren’t for desires to hurt people, or to get revenge, it is about taking risks.   It is about not settling back into the simple, but stepping into the scary and the uncomfortable to be able to look back and have no “I wishes”.  These wishes risk shame, heart-break, and pain.  They also risk love, happiness and joy.   There is a difference between comfortable and happy.   We can’t grow when we stay comfortable.

What is something you wish could be in your life? I wish I had taken that job, moved to that place, asked that person out,  gotten that tattoo…. I wish I could lose weight, travel more, or climb that mountain.  I wish I could find peace, I wish I could find joy.  I wish I could let myself be loved  What is the risk that you are required to take in order for that to happen?  Is it worth it?

The first thought that comes up is “Am I making a mistake?”  Mistakes can be great.  Failure builds muscle, and we can’t grow without mistakes and failure.  Any choice you make could be the one that is a big mistake.  Risks should be calculated not crazy.  If you have $4000 in savings, don’t blow it on the trip to Africa and set yourself up for difficulties later when your car breaks down, or your basement floods.  The joy and the experience of the trip won’t be worth the stress and difficulty after.  For some people walking out of their door is a risk.  Going to the gym for is a risk for some, as they open themselves up to their fears of ridicule and shame.  Work to make sure the possible mistakes are minimal and not colossal and things will be OK.

The next thing we do is stop making excuses.  I’m too busy.  I don’t have the money (at times valid, but something to work around).  It would bother my partner, friend, or dog.  We generally start making excuses to avoid the fear of the mistakes, or shame, or embarrassment.  The excuses are ways to avoid stepping outside of the comfort zone, growing, and changing.  As a therapist my job is to confront the excuses, but if you don’t have a therapist, you have to confront your own.

I want to know that I have explored this world.  I don’t want to close the door on this life without exploring the world as much as possible.  I have made mistakes, and they have helped me learn and grow stronger.  I will continue to make mistakes as I continue to explore.  I look forward to learning more about me and the world I live in.  I won’t live in fear.  I also know the courage it takes to look at the gulf in front of me and take the leap into the unknown.  Find friends and supports that can keep you motivated and accountable.  Find the strength that you have inside of you, that even if you haven’t been successful you’ve seen other people be successful and know that it can be done.  Find that place inside of you that doesn’t want to close the doors of your life saying “I wish”.

Letting go of perfection

We have standards and expectations, both for others and for ourselves. We have a concept of what should be, how things should be, how you should be and how I should be. The funny (funny ironic, not funny haha) thing is that the expectations and shoulds we have for ourselves is often far more stringent and exacting than the expectations and shoulds we have for others.

It’s OK for other’s to get laid-off, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to get divorced, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to be depressed, but not me. It’s OK for others to have a bad day, but not me. It’s OK for other’s to be angry, but not me. I can’t have a bad day, hurt, be scared, struggle or to not be perfect in general.

The expectations we set for ourselves often reach the level of perfection. A level of achievement that is unachievable. It’s OK for other’s to be good, I have to be great. The expectations and shoulds we have for ourselves often lead to judgment, frustration and anxiety.

There is a balance between having high standards for yourself and giving yourself room for mistakes, difficulties, and room to not be perfect. In a previous blog I discussed how failure builds muscle. We have to learn to give ourselves room for imperfection. So what does it take to give yourself space to not be perfect? Start by validating the facet of you that wants perfection. He or she wants for you to do your best, to fit in, and to be loved. Trying to find perfection has probably gotten you pretty far in your life so far. Then begin to look where that desire for perfection has held you back. Where has it caused anxiety that has made life just that much harder? Where has that part of yourself made you look with doubt on the places where you have done a good job, and eaten away at your confidence? And where has that side of you kept you from even trying because of that fear of failure?

Start to see where giving yourself some room will actually let you expand, grow, and learn faster. When you have permission to fail, then you explore different territories than you have before, experimenting and finding new ways to be great, to fit in, and to be loved. Striving for great isn’t horrible. Not giving yourself room for mistakes keeps you from trying in places where you may not succeed. It limits you, creates judgment that undermines you, and ultimately creates anxiety that holds you down and holds you back.

If no one else is required to be perfect, then neither are you. Giving yourself that space actually lets you be better in life than when you don’t. There is irony there; I understand that. In order to be great I have to be OK with failure.  Find the place where it is OK to not be perfect. Then try your hardest, have fun, and go love the life you live instead of dreading it.









What “I can’t” really means

What do you really mean when you say “I can’t”?  “I can’t”, or “I cannot,” truly means “I am unable to.”   If someone were to ask me to do a basketball lay-up, I would legitimately be able to say, “I can’t”.  I am unable to coordinate myself and the ball to do an official “lay-up.”  Were someone to ask me to learn to do a lay-up, if the words “I can’t,” should happen to come out of my mouth what I would really mean would be “I won’t”.  I am perfectly capable of learning to do a lay-up, though I honestly have little interest in doing so.

A good deal of the time when we utter “I can’t,” we really mean: I won’t, I don’t want to, it is too hard, or it’s to scary.   One of the worst things we do is convince ourselves of the “I can’t.”  This often comes into play when change is needed.  One of my personal “I can’t” moment came about 8 years and 70 pounds ago.  As I struggled with my weight I was referred to Gary Avignon, LPC.  After an interview and assessments he dropped the news.  I already knew I was over weight, but I didn’t know that my adrenal system had essentially shut down leading to depression, anxiety and type two diabetes.  Now for the good news.  In order to combat all of these problems I would need to completely change my lifestyle.  I would need to remove all non-complex carbohydrates from my diet.  This included most wheat products (bread, noodles, cereal), rice, sugar and potatoes.  No french fries, no bread, no spaghetti, no ice cream…Could you do it?  Veggies and fruits were a necessary part of this lifestyle, but even things like Special K cereal for breakfast was out.  As I was being told this, my first thought was, “I can’t.”  And as I thought these words I was informed that this lifestyle change would not just be until I lose the weight, but permanent, if I wish to keep the weight off forever.

In this “I can’t” moment I had to decide what was more important.  French Fries, or my health?  Bread, or my health?  But making this sacrifice was overwhelming.  Food as comfort,food is an important part of our life.  In that moment, though, I made a decision then and there that I could.  Many times in the next year or two after making the decision I didn’t want to, but “I can’t” changed to “Oh my goodness this is HARD, but I CAN!”

When working with addicts and offenders (violent, sexual, what have you) one of the most frequent thinking errors is “I can’t,” (next to “it isn’t fair”).  When working with clients facing a large change, the most frequent thinking error is “I can’t.”  “I can’t leave my partner,” “I can’t leave my job,” “I can’t leave my home,”  “I can’t exercise,” even though I am miserable.  The justifications for all of these are many, and at times surprisingly few.  Often there are reasonable justifications for the “I can’t:” “I can’t leave my job because I can’t afford my apartment without it.”  “I can’t exercise because I have (various physical problems).”  Okay, then let’s figure out what you CAN do.

The moment we become honest with ourselves and use “I won’t” or “I don’t want to,” or “I’m scared,” or “that’s really hard,” we take a step forward.  You can leave your job.  It will make life very difficult in some cases, and will be very scary, but you can make that change.  You can’t do certain exercise, but you can find exercises you CAN do.  Anneli Rufus wrote a book called Stuck, Why We Can’t, or Won’t Move On.  While I disagree with some of her extremes, generalizations, and some of her “all or nothing” thinking, her concepts are sound.  She covers the concept of “I can’t” very well.  People come to me when they hit a point of stuckness they don’t want to tolerate anymore, but are often not ready enough to do the things they need to do, or admit the things they need to admit to themselves, in order to become unstuck and move past “I can’t”.

Next time you use the words “I can’t,” be honest with yourself.  Are you truly unable to, or is it too hard, scary, or difficult?  This admission is incredibly difficult to make, because the next step is to admit that you CAN.  You may not have the resources (emotional, financial, physical) but often you are able to obtain these things, if you look.

Are you ready?


The soccer game in your head

Have you ever watched a kid’s soccer game? One with 6-year-olds? You watch two teams of kids and every single one of them wants the ball. There is no organization, and if a goal is made it is by luck more than skill because everyone is trying to be the one in charge. Now think of all you wants, wishes and would-likes. The want to play and have fun, the want to be seen as responsible, the want to be accepted and acceptable, the fears of failure and the desire to be successful, the want to tell the world exactly where it can go and how it can get there, the desire to make the people around you happy, the desire to make yourself happy, the desire to let your hair flow free and the desire to be professional. Imagine all of your wants, wishes and would-likes, and all of your fears as the players of the game. All of these players want the ball and think they all know best what to do with it and how to score a goal.

When you go watch a soccer game with anyone over the age of 12 the game changes. There are organized positions, each player knowing their role and knowing that if they play their part it increases the chance of winning the game. No-one is fighting their teammate for control of the ball, everyone is working cohesively for one purpose.

Most of the people I work with have yet to get all players working together. They are fighting for control of the ball and the one that is the strongest grabs control, picks up the ball and runs whatever direction they want to go with it. You, the coach, are no longer in control. The trick is to get each player to stop thinking they have the only way of reaching their goal. Most of them have similar goals; happiness, peace and safety. They just have disagreements on how to get the ball there. If they start to work together you won’t feel pulled in so many directions, or as out of control.

We want to think that our brain is in control of our actions. Though people can recognize that their heart can take over when they are in love, and people often feel butterflies or knots in their stomach when stressed. Many people have known the place where their heart is leading them on while their stomach is in knots. The heart wants connection and the zing of love, and the stomach wants to avoid the pain of rejection. There may also be a place even lower down that has it’s thoughts on some more carnal desires as well. This sounds like a bunch of players all fighting for the ball, doesn’t it.

The first step is to listen. If you ask your heart what it wants, it will speak to you, you just forgot to listen somewhere along the way. For some of us we had to stop listening because if we followed our heart we would have gotten in trouble. Our stomach knows how to stay safe, but sometimes what it wants is to go home, shut the door, close the curtains and eat ice-cream forever. It usually wants to avoid getting hurt and avoid rejection. When I can listen to the different faces of myself, and hear what they want I can start acting as a coach. When my heart wants connection and love, my stomach wants safety and to avoid pain, my throat wants to avoid talking about my embarrassing truths, and a little lower down wants…well…you know, I have to manage the wants and desires. I have to guide each player, pushing some forward, pulling some back, and working with each to use their strengths for the benefit of the team.

In any given situation we have many players wanting game time, for different goals and different reasons. As the coach, we have to sort through them, find the players that are best for the situation at handle, and play them to their strengths. As the coach, working to avoid judging the players that want things that are less than helpful or less than healthy is important.   In the above situation I work with my heart to allow me to find connections, while using my anxiety to keep me aware and safe, hopefully avoiding a problematic situation with a partner that is less than safe and less than healthy. My heart would have me leap before I look and my stomach would have me be lonely. If I can get them to work together neither feels neglected and both feel as though they are part of something bigger.

A kiddo that I work with is struggling because she wants to be loved and accepted, she wants to be seen as fun, and she wants to stand up for herself and not take any shit. Her wants are pulling her in separate directions and causing anxiety. We are working on being able to give each of her wants a job, and letting each want see that they are not opposite of each other. The more confident she is the more she will be comfortable around people and the more comfortable she will be being herself. The more herself she can be, the more accepted she will be by others in general. The keys are to get each or the parts to quit fighting the other, and to see how they can work together to achieve both goals.

When you learn to listen to your anxieties and angers, your wants and desires, you can learn to start using them and directing them. You can get them to work together and stop feeling as pulled apart. You are the coach, and you have to take control of the players. Let them play to their strengths, and make sure each of them has a part to play. If they feel ignored or neglected, each player will revert to taking over and hogging the ball. Each part of you has valid wants, and ultimately wants the best for you, even though the way they try to get those needs met may actually set you back. Giving the players set tasks and letting them see how you are helping work toward the goals will lessen the anxiety and increase feeling in control and confident.