Elephants are Cute…But Pink Elephants Suck

Pink Elephant

“There’s a pink elephant in the room.” We’ve all heard that phase, right? What is a pink elephant and how did it become the spokes-animal for poor communication or things that people are avoiding? If you’re looking for those answers, I doubt I’ll be able to provide them. But if you’re looking for some thoughts about the importance of communication and overcoming pink-elephant syndrome (I made that up), you came to the right spot.

In my opinion, effective communication is at the top of the list (I believe it’s number one) of essentials in relationships. This does not have to be romantic relationships only…it can be at work, with family members, with friends, and even effectively communicating honestly to oneself. To me, a “pink elephant” represents fear…fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of vulnerability, fear of shame, fear of judgment, and on and on and on.

When we solicit the pink elephant to the room, the thought pattern goes something like this, “If I tell her that I’m not happy with how we discipline the children, I’m afraid she’ll get angry with me.” Or, “If I tell him that I feel smothered when he gets upset about me for hanging out with my friends, he’ll be hurt.” Both of those statements might be true, but they definitely remain true if they’re not verbalized. You see, the problem with the pink elephant is that the longer these unspoken feelings go on, the more poor communication calories the pink elephant consumes and the larger that big guy gets. Eventually he will be so large that you won’t know what the issue was in the first place…all you’ll see is a pink elephant dividing a relationship full of resentment.

How do we work through pink elephant challenges? First, honestly talking about “tough stuff” takes courage, vulnerability and walking through whatever fear is being avoided. For me, I have to take ownership of my experience and not make the other person responsible for how I feel, which isn’t easy…this takes a lot of insight and honest self-reflection. I have to look inward and ask myself, “What am I experiencing and what am I fearing?”

So, let’s look at the two examples above for an anti-pink elephant syndrome communication:

* In the first one, if I were to say, “Honey, there’s a part of me that’s uncomfortable with how we discipline the children and I’m curious if you would be willing to discuss it with me?” This isn’t placing blame, it’s saying, “Hey, we’re a team. Let’s find something that feels right for both of us.”

* In the second one, if I were to find the courage to say, “Hey babe, sometimes I’d like to go hang out with my friends and it feels like that can be a challenge for you. Am I reading that right and, if so, can we talk about it?”

All you’re looking for is an opening to the conversation. How your husband, wife or partner hears it might create some defensiveness, but stay present, breathe and keep rephrasing how it “feels for you” (without blaming). I’m not saying that you will solve all of your problems in one sitting…but the opening will occur, the pink elephant will start to shrink, you will gain some courage, and you will start having honest dialogue with those who are important to you.

Look, you are going to be in relationships with others…it’s just a fact of life. You owe it to yourself to be you and speak your truth. If you find yourself not wanting to speak to someone important to you about an issue, look inward. What is it that you fear? Is the fear valid or is it just fear of an uncomfortable conversation? You can even start the conversation with, “Hey, I feel like there’s a pink elephant in the room. I respect and value our relationship so much that I want to talk about something that’s bothering me. You mean that much to me. Are you willing to sit down and talk?” Those conversations are amazing and intimate and will take your relationships to the next level. You deserve that. Paco (my dog) agrees…we just had a tough talk about treats…it wasn’t easy, but it was important (don’t worry, we’re fine) :-). Until next time friend…much peace and many blessings.


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who helps others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or dis-ease. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling), works individually with clients and also presents lectures, workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.


Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cool image found at: www.amandatrustysays.com

External Validation and Finding your Beacon

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 (typically anger and resentment for me). 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.

 

Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who is dedicated toward helping others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, and relational problems. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling) and is passionate about human healing. She works individually with clients and also presents workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. She can be contacted at solt.karen@gmail.com.

Acceptance is Crucial for True Forgiveness

ForgivenessLast 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 choiceit 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


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who is dedicated toward helping others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or relational problems. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling) and is passionate about inner emotional wellness. She works individually with clients and also presents workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.


Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

The Good and Not so Good of “Judgment”

cropped-10060694_lWho 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 Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who is dedicated toward helping others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, and relational problems. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling) and is passionate about human healing. She works individually with clients and also presents workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. She can be contacted at ksolt@me.com.

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