5 Things that Will Keep you from Pursuing your Passion.

What gets in the way of pursuing our passion? How do we even know what our passion or dream is?

I remember as a little girl I said that I wanted to be a counselor for abused children. How did I even think that as a child? Was that intuition that I didn’t question or was it just some fluke that came out of nowhere? Looking back now, I believe I had some feeling about my life’s future purpose of inner healing…a knowing intuitive compass. I took a number (a zillion) of detours, absolutely necessary life experiences, and eventually ended up back in line with that compass needle.

In doing this work, I find many who claim to be discontent, unhappy, and watching life speed up and slip by. We talk about the things that are getting in the way of being content. Some of these might be necessary to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. Yet there are other emotional barriers, five of which (my top five) I will touch on that I believe keeps people from growing and stepping out their comfort zone.

1. Fear of Change.

The human Ego craves control and predictability and struggles with change and unpredictability. Although a necessary part of being human, the Ego does whatever it can to keep you grounded and in familiar territory, even if that territory creates discomfort.

Your spirit and your soul, on the other hand, want you to fly and to challenge yourself, and this takes courage away from the familiar and predictable life your Ego has spent many years controlling.

2. Relationship Disruption.

To pursue your passion probably will require support and sacrifice from loved ones. If you are a people pleaser or a caretaker (over-giver), it will appear that you are being selfish by taking ownership of and going toward your passion. You might feel resentment and anger from those who want you to stay in their comfort zone and it could feel like you are being disloyal by choosing you.

This is challenging and many will sabotage their dreams and revert back to that discomfort zone. My advice? Talk to your loved ones about the importance of your vision and what it means to you. If they truly love and accept that this is important for you, they will understand and will also see that it’s important for them to keep working through their own challenges about your changes.

3. Fear of Failure/Rejection.

I believe many of us have a little voice inside of us that tells us we won’t succeed and, if we don’t try we give that voice validation. I’ve heard time and again how truly successful people failed over and over. If something is really important and feels purposeful, then I believe we owe it to ourselves to keep trying.

This will require vulnerability to step out of that comfort zone and take some chances. It might mean three steps forward, two steps back or even six steps back. It will take courage and the possibility of rejection. My thoughts are that going for our dreams can never be failure but stumbling can sure feel like it.

4. Fear of Success.

Why would anyone be afraid of success? One of the problems with defining success is that it is unique to each of us. Even though we have the goal of breaking out of our comfort zone, it really is very predictable and extremely comfortable.

Again, becoming successful at something new means a change in other aspects of our lives, not necessarily a negative change, but definitely a change and something that we can’t control. One other aspect of fearing success is getting there and discovering that it didn’t fix everything. New areas of discomfort might emerge, which is okay and necessary, but this fact can keep many stuck and not attempting that something new (“at least I know what I have if I stay where I’m at”).

5. Fear of Being Creatively Vulnerable.

In my previous blogs, I have discussed creativity wounding, a topic that I was first introduced to by Brene’ Brown. What I have personally learned is that exposing my creativity to the world has taken a lot of personal courage and, at times has been scary.

The creative part of us is our art, it comes from a part of our brain that is not logical, and it is uniquely personal. It takes courage to allow that part of us to flow and, as far as I know, is the only way to allow ourselves to flow into the uncharted territory of finding our passion.

Ask yourself, “What would my future self want me to do about getting out of my comfort zone?”

My guess is that, if you can look 10, 20, or 40 years down the road, your future self will be very grateful that you walked through the challenges it took to expand your vision. You don’t have to change everything in your life all at once, just take a step toward your passion.

Maybe start with a conversation with your spouse, partner, or a close friend or even start to journal about it. You might do what I did and get on the road and then see where it takes you. I promise it won’t be boring and I also promise you will learn more about the miracles of you that still remain hidden. My hope is that you find one area to break out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.

Until next time friends…many blessings.

PS. Learn more on this topic here.

The Challenge of Giving Yourself a Break.

Do you ever hear people say, “Lighten up…don’t take yourself so seriously…”? When I hear people say these things to me I think two things:

First I think (react with), “What the hell are you talking about? I am the most lightened up person I know! I love to joke, play, and chill!”

The second thing I think (respond with) is, “Damn…you’re right. How come I have such a hard time giving myself a break? Is it my military background? Perfectionism issues? Being female? Fear of being caught off guard? I certainly want to lighten up but how the hell do I do that?”

What are the messages we hear when we relax?

When we take a vacation, play, or (whisper voice here) call in sick to take a “mental health day” (shhhhh)? Is there a part of us that judges ourselves for being less that 100% committed to the work ethic that we use to approve of or prove ourselves? Does having fun or relaxing signal not being productive, signal being immature, or signal not meeting our or others expectations?

What if having fun or relaxing or not taking ourselves so seriously signaled living and enjoying life? What if we could re-record those tapes that run between our ears that tell us we have to be perfectionists, be productive, and meet all of those obligations?

So how do we lighten up?

How do we learn to play and relax and not beat ourselves up for what is essentially called….(drumroll)….living. Ughhhhh… A suggestion would be to first find some self-compassion. Then search for the areas in your life that ignite your playful spirit or help you relax and nurture those areas as much as possible.

Some of the things that I do are to go somewhere new, hangout with people who I love and feel good with, play and be with my dog, write and tap into my creative side, listen and sing (not well…i.e. horribly) to music, take a nap, and laugh as much as possible. Probably most importantly is to notice when I’m being hard on myself and what my critical voice is representing…what am I either in fear about or ashamed about being judged or seen?

At the end of the day it really is about living and enjoying this beautiful gift called life.

Do I have to make money to pay my bills and do the things I want to do in life? Absolutely…after all, it’s a part of doing this human thing. AND…do I want to find some balance so that my entire focus isn’t about my life supporting my business but instead can be about my business supporting my chosen life? I would say an emphatic yes to that question. I certainly hope I can remember that and keep giving myself a break. I also wish that same lighten-up and give yourself a break for all of you.

Until next time friends…many blessings.

p.s. I watched this beautiful video done by Prince Ea (linked below) earlier this week that’s a great reminder about getting to the end of life and regretting that you never truly lived. Can we do that if we don’t give ourselves a break? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jfdjiUeDnk

External Validation and Finding your Beacon

I have to admit…I’m feeling a little hurt this morning.

That’s hard for me to write as there is a part of me that doesn’t like to express when I’m in pain. You see…here’s my current truth…when I started this blogging thing and expressing my ideas, I had an expectation that some of my friends would get more out of it and validate me.

Yikes!

This goes back to my last blog about expectations and when I have unmet expectations it almost always sends me spiraling into resentment.

One of my mentors, John McMullin, teaches me that I have to learn how to re-parent myself, by validating and inspiring myself from within. To me, this means that looking for external validation is not what I should be seeking in this moment. Cool (and crap)! That means that I already have the insight, compassion, love, and validation within me to help me through this hurtful moment. Maybe what I need in this moment is absolutely no external validation so that I can learn that necessary skill of re-parenting myself. I like that.

The first thing that I do when I feel hurt is notice my reactive feelings

Then I ask myself, “What is really going on here? Why am I feeling anger and what is this resentment really about?” I have been doing this long enough to know that the story I’m telling myself is a deflection from the underlying deeper story. Brene’ Brown is one of my favorite authors and teachers and her stuff on vulnerability has helped me to learn to uncover my true stories when I feel like this.

So I look for my truth and here it is…my truth in this moment is that writing is very personal for me…it places me in a vulnerable spot and that I have a fear of criticism and especially rejection. I struggle tapping into my creative self and not being externally validated, which I believe happens to a lot of us (again, Brene’ Brown teaches about creativity wounds).

So, when I write I get vulnerable.

I look for validation as I’m out here floating in the water looking for a beacon that will tell me that I’m navigating correctly; I get a weak beacon but the signal is too weak to give me complete comfort. A part of me feels very alone and another part of me knows I just need to keep going in the direction of the weak signal.

Turning around to what is familiar would be easy, yet would take me back to the place I’ve been living for far too long. I get to parent myself and tell myself that everything that I am feeling in this moment is valid and that I am proud of walking through this scary venture.

Thank God I can feel my feelings today so that I can look deeper and find my truth. That’s what I would hope for anyone reading this blog. Ask yourself what the real story is underneath the one that you’re telling yourself. Look deeper. It’s in there and is waiting for you to find it.

It might appear that getting external validation is the right way but finding your own beacon is so much more important. I hope to remain on course with my weak beacon as I know it’s guiding me where I’m meant to go. And I hope all of you are finding the beacon that is out there calling you to your next venture. It’s absolutely scary as hell and it’s absolutely necessary.

Until next time friends…many blessings.

Expectations — the Subtle Setup

I’ll let you in on a little secret:

If I have resentment toward someone or I am feeling depressed about some past thing or event, I have an unmet expectation. The subtle setup of an expectation can hit me like a left jab before I even knew it was there.

What is an expectation anyway?

For me, an expectation places an attachment to an outcome about a situation, person, society, etc. A confession: There is a part of me that has an expectation that this blog will be received well by readers and another part that is afraid that it won’t.

Are expectations a bad thing?

Great question! I would guess that’s in the eye of the beholder…an expectation “expects” something to either go it’s way or not go it’s way. Expectations push a person away from curiosity and acceptance and take that person from living in the moment to looking toward the future for something great or something terrible to happen.

If someone has “let me down” in the past, many times I will expect him or her to do so again, which creates a negative situation before it’s even happened. I can also generate this same scenario for myself…if I’m a bad test-taker, I expect to always struggle during testing, which creates horrible anxiety for days and hours before the test (that I usually do well on).

Where expectations can really be challenging is when others or, even worse, I don’t meet them. They are a fantasy; a look into the future that has a version of how something should go or someone should act. In my opinion, this is how they are a subtle setup.

If something or someone “exceeds” my expectations, I will be pleased, yet I will probably won’t even notice (as it won’t create resentment) and increase my expectations in the next similar situation. Where I can get really challenged is when I place the expectations that I have for myself and project them onto others (friends, family, co-workers, society, etc.). I am notorious for this…expecting that others will read my mind and do something a certain way because that is how I would have done it. It’s a little ridiculous but I constantly get caught in this trap.

Let’s talk about a few scenarios where I believe most of us can relate:

* In relationships (personal or business), an expectation might be interpreted as an obligation, which could create either compliance or defiance from the person the expectation is placed on. I expect something to happen…and many times I don’t even communicate that expectation…I simply expect it because that is what I would have done or would do.

If that person meets my expectation, I internalize it as validation that this person values and respects me. Where this gets really tricky is, if that person does not meet my expectation, then that person must not value and respect me.

If I believe compliance is value and respect, then I have to believe defiance is insignificance and disrespect. I will carry resentment that that person disrespected my values and me and determine that there must be something wrong with him or her (lazy, rude, disrespectful, not motivated, etc.). (Refer to my previous blog about judgment).

* Another expectation is special occasions…I mean who doesn’t “expect” a great birthday, holiday season, vacation, or wedding? There is a lot of buildup to these events and many times they totally meet our expectations and occasionally they don’t, which can lead to resentment and sometimes depression.

An expectation creates some form of anxiety as it is fantasizing toward the future.

An unmet expectation then creates some form of depression, looking toward the past with regret. Notice how you feel after a big event…and see if you can be grateful for how it occurred or if you notice resentment and depression because it wasn’t what you expected.

* Lastly, let’s discuss self-expectations. I believe creating expectations for how I live my life and how I treat others and myself is necessary (these are in line with my values). I believe that the way I treat myself is projected outward and is a great indication of how I probably treat others. I set some pretty high expectations on myself, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Where the challenge comes in is where I will create a lot of anxiety in meeting my own expectations, in an attempt to not disappoint myself. An example is when I was in my Bachelors and Masters programs and I was driven to excel and receive A’s for all of my classes (I did so with the exception of one math class, which was gratifying to the rebel in me).

Why did I “need” to excel? Subconsciously, I believe I can be very critical of myself when I don’t meet that expectation I set. So I achieve…sometimes for gratification and sometimes to escape my own self-criticism about my perception of “failing.”

Sometimes things don’t go the way we intended.

How we parent ourselves in those situations is key toward self-compassion and inner health. When I can begin to be compassionate with myself for the things I expected to go better, I will project that same empathy and compassion onto others who are struggling to meet either my expectations or, even worse, their own.

How do we go from expectations (attachment) toward anticipation (non-attachment)?

First, become curious. Notice that an expectation is an attempt to control, which keeps life feeling predictable, yet can really get in the way of allowing life to flow. When you notice that you have an attachment about an outcome or resentment over something that did or didn’t happen the way that you wanted, search for your unconscious expectation.

The more awareness that you can place on the expectations you created, the less you might do it (and try not to judge yourself for doing something that comes pretty naturally). One of my mentors, John McMullin from Journeys of Wisdom, teaches me to say, “Surprise me, God.” Personally, I really like this because it gets me out of my own way and opens me up to a higher power that has a much better handle on my life than I do.

In wrapping this up, my expectation is that something within this blog will make sense and will help create an opening for some self-reflection, self-compassion, and some dialogue between you and those you care about. I would invite all of you (and me) to stay curious and lighten up…as I’ve stated in my other blogs, this being human thing can be pretty challenging.

If you find yourself in a place of darkness and confusion, reach out to family, friends or a coach. Sometimes we just can’t see what we just can’t see and others have an insight or reflection that will help. At least that’s my expectation when I reach out.

Until next time friends…many blessings.

Acceptance is Crucial for True Forgiveness.

Last week, I published my first blog about “Judgment” and opened the door for future topic suggestions. Of the different ideas that I received back, “forgiveness” came up.

This is an excellent topic, as I believe the benefits of finding a place of true forgiveness is a place of peace and freedom. As always, these are my thoughts and are based on my experience so you’ll have to forgive me if the information is different from your belief system.

That being said, let’s dive in…

This “being human” thing is tough sometimes and we can be so hard on ourselves (I might place this sentence in every blog that I do). Nobody gets a free ride and we all go through highs and lows. We do things that result in positive feelings of pride or happiness, which we rarely think twice about or we minimize in an attempt to not be seen.

On the other hand, we sometimes do things that create negative feelings such as shame, sadness, remorse, regret, or guilt (need I go on?), which we will carry for days, months or many years. When I fail to meet my own or what I consider to be other people’s expectations (“I let them down”), I can be very critical and non-forgiving of myself.

Moving toward forgiveness is a choice…

It is something that the person who feels wronged must undertake in order to experience non-attachment and acceptance. Although forgiveness (acceptance) might help mend relationships, it’s not for the other person…it’s entirely a process to help release the negative burden of personal imprisonment.

Things happen in life that we cannot control.

This is good news as it helps give us the liberty of “letting go.” Some pains are unimaginable and I will not pretend to understand the loss of a loved one to murder, brutal attacks on humans or animals, or intentional harm to self or to another.

We each have our own unique way of healing from these types of losses and “forgiving” another person for something that creates so much pain and devastation is an individual journey which might never occur. We don’t ever have to approve or disapprove another person’s choice or behavior, although acceptance of the situation and the inability that I had to stop it is one way to start forgiveness of myself.

I personally don’t believe that someone can betray me.

What that person can betray is my values, such as trust, honesty, commitment, etc. This in turn certainly feels like they betrayed me and I, more times than not, will be human and absolutely take it personal.

How could I not?

I feel deceived, lied to, cheated on, etc., and it hurts (many times expressed as self-righteous anger). I had an expectation that I wouldn’t get hurt and I did…which then creates painful resentment. We all have our own version of this story. As long as this person fell in line (met my expectations) with what I wanted him or her to be, then I remained in “approval” of him or her. As soon as “that thing” happened that I didn’t like, I was confused, felt betrayed, and then “disapproved” of that person.

So, where do I start with this forgiveness thing when I’m feeling like this?

If someone did something where I feel betrayed, I first experience what I consider to be necessary reactive behavior (fight, flight, freeze, or façade). When I get my breath back and some space from the situation and person, I start looking at what it was that I wanted that person to represent to me.

I have to (and yes, this is what I do) look at where I betrayed a part of myself first and believed this person would be someone who would never let me down (again…everyone is human).

If I gave that person the power to “make me” feel good then I also gave that person the equivalent possible power to “make me” feel bad. It is how I experienced that person and that positive or negative situation that is giving me the good or bad feelings.

Transitioning from approval or disapproval to acceptance is essential to journey toward healing and true forgiveness.

If I stay attached to the idea that I couldn’t control someone else into meeting my expectations and I place my own judgment on whether or not that person’s behavior was good or bad, it is hard for me to find a place of acceptance. When I can start to accept people for who they are, the perceived good and/or bad, then I begin to let go of the attachment that others will not “let me down.” I can also let go of the attachment that others are better or not-so-much-better than me.

When I make others responsible for how I feel, I betray myself.

This is where the true forgiveness comes into play…I forgive myself for placing conditions on other people where I approve or disapprove of their behavior (setting them up to never make mistakes).

Even more importantly is forgiving myself for the self-imposed expectations that I will never do something that I regret or feel bad about.

The great news is that we all have to go through icky times to recognize when we are experiencing harmony (non-icky times). Everyone who was ever placed in your life was here to teach you something.

Sometimes the really challenging, hard and painful experiences and relationships are the ones that will teach us what we will accept and not accept (in other words, to set better boundaries). We have these emotions and feelings that can be very painful sometimes, yet they are very necessary to guide us toward making choices that better serve our lives.

Start to accept people for who they are and are not to you (what you project onto them). Try to forgive yourself for the judgment (good and bad) that you place on others. And most importantly, try to forgive yourself for the judgment you place on yourself. Life is amazing, we are all human, and are all doing our best (even when others judge it differently). Lastly, forgive me for my long-winded post about this important topic and I will try to do the same.

Until next time, my friend…many blessings.

p.s. Check out my blog on Expectations, the Subtle Setup

The Good and Not so Good of “Judgment”

Who am I to Judge? What gives me the “right” to judge others? Do I judge others more harshly than I judge myself? I would guess that the more harshly I judge others is a great indication of how harshly I judge myself.

When I looked up the word “judgment” in dictionary.com, it was nice surprise to read, “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.” Where is the negativity in that definition? I certainly don’t see any.

Which leads me to the following:

It is absolutely necessary to judge…good judgment can lead you away from circumstances and people that could be negative or even dangerous to your life.

So then, why do we (yes, me included) get so spun up when others appear to be judging us? Could it be that we feel they are saying that they are better than us? Could it be that we think of those in spiritual (God, Higher Power, Universe, etc.) or positional power (parents, police officers, judges, etc.) as the only ones that have the “right” to judge us? For me, the answer used to be yes. Don’t get me wrong…I can still struggle with being judged…AND I have learned some helpful insights when I perceive I am being judged.

Judgment is an act of projection.

When I am being judged positively, understand that person sees something in me that he or she likes about him/herself. When that person sees something negative about me, he or she carries and does not like that same trait.

Judgment onto another person is not truth.

The only thing true about judgment onto another is that the person who judges believes it, which only makes it his or her truth.

People judge out of their egos attachment to past experiences.

If a person had a horrible relationship with someone who had blond hair, a white dog, and wore flip flops, he or she would probably not judge me too positively. They would (again) project that bad relationship onto me. Remembering that not everything is about me can be a great step toward liberating myself from the perceived judgment of others.

How to quit judging myself when I judge? Now this is tricky, primarily because I can be pretty hard on myself at times (not always). When I notice that I am comparing myself (judging) to others (good or bad), it is a good time for me to do the following:

Acknowledge that judgment is a natural part of life and create an opening for some self-compassion.

This can be a great indicator of something within me that I either feel really good or really bad about, which can shine a light on something that might have been unconsciously hidden.

Understand that sometimes I might be judging someone to be doing better than me in an attempt to feel small or to shrink.

Or, on the other hand, I might be thinking that they are not as (successful, happy, healthy, etc.) to “feel better” about myself. Either way is a great indication of me looking outward at someone else instead of turning the spotlight on myself, which could be really scary. I believe some of our biggest fears are those that we run from by comparing ourselves to others.

So, judge away, my friends!

Give yourself the liberty to see the things you like in others, which will help you see things about yourself that you also like. And, just as importantly, notice the things you judge in others to be negative and then ask yourself, “What is it about me that I see in him/her that I don’t like?” If you dig deep enough, you will find it.

And…give yourself the liberty to not break out the shovel and start digging until you are ready. I would judge each of us to have a similar AND very unique journey, which must be individually honored.

— Karen


References: Dictionary.com. (2016). Judgment. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/judgment