Every now and again, a client will come to me and ask directly for coaching to increase self-confidence. More often, though, issues with self-confidence show up while we’re coaching toward other things. Important things like clarifying a career direction, writing a resume, practicing for an interview, or coaxing shy desires into the light. Usually, a client will ask me a question that let’s me know that there’s something about self-confidence there to explore.
Aren’t self-esteem and self-confidence the same?
Is, ”Fake it ’til you make it.” a viable strategy for building self-confidence?
If I were more self-confident I wouldn’t feel afraid, would I?
What gives me the right to call myself an expert?
If someone exudes confidence it means they feel confident, doesn’t it?
I don’t feel confident about this, so I guess I never really ever was, right?
Brrrrrr. It’s freezing cold here with lots of snow, school closing, and howling winds. Hello February.
Just because it’s dark and cold and the big gift giving holidays have passed, you don’t have to stop giving or receiving gifts. February is really an excellent time to be extra friendly to yourself.
Start with a gift from you to you. How about permission to drop, “I should be able to do this alone?” If you don’t believe me, check out this 1.25 minute video of Bill Gates telling you the very same thing 🙂
Then get a gift from me too: Permission Granted: Move Into Change With Your Own Approval here.
And another one, this lovely poem…
All I live for is now
All I stand for is where and how
All I wish for are magic moments
As I sail through change
My resolve remains the same
What I chose are magic moments
Because ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are made for
The mind could stretch much further
But it seems that is not what our minds are trained for
We call for random order
You can’t control Mother nature’s daughter
Ships are safe in the harbour
But that is not what ships are built for
The witch hunter roams
The scary thing is that he’s not alone
He’s trying to down my magic moments
As we sail through change
Ride the wind of a silent rage
And sing laments of magic moments
Don’t be shy! If you like this, share it. Comment if you have something to say. I would love it. Thanks!
You’re going to fail. I will too. During this winter holiday season we will all fail in some way or other, at least once. We’ll say the wrong thing, omit a present, eat poorly, rush ourselves and our loved-ones, maybe snarl at someone just doing his job, or worse, snap at someone close to us. Most of all, we’ll forget that we have control over how we react and a choice about how we manage moment to moment. (For tips about how to Turn Your Day Around in 180 Seconds, you can get the Move Into Change newsletter here.)
Failure is real and, though we might not realize it, we’re successful because we fail not in spite of it. We fail continually during each and every day. When something doesn’t work out (a form of failure) we adjust (a form of success) until we transform a small mistake or an epic fail into a different success. Ryan Babineaux (Fail Fast, Fail Often) calls this process “failing forward,” a term I’ve come to adore.
So what of the failures you’ll inevitably encounter during the next few weeks? How can you take some control over the sense of overwhelm that causes you to miss opportunities? How can you strengthen your relationships? How do you ease the stress that causes you to make a default choice instead of acting on a deeper commitment to yourself?
You can begin by understanding more about the value of failure (look for future posts).
And, you can pause to bring some compassion to yourself for your mistake.
It’s possible to pause any situation you’re in. It’s possible to take a mere 5 minutes to check – in with yourself so you don’t check-out by responding more like a puppet than the terrific person you are.
Often it’s at this time of year that you wish you had already built stronger resilience so you’d have something to rely on now, when you need it most. If you’ve already been practicing, the holiday season can make it more challenging to carve out 30 minutes to meditate or an hour to exercise amidst all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, socializing and traveling.
It’s never to late to start to develop your Pause Ability. You don’t need a guru, fancy equipment, or find non-existent hours to devote to it.
And, with the gift of the pause, there will be success.
New In 2015 INTRODUCING! The Pause Ability Place.
I’d love to hear about the miniscule and gigantic ways a simple pause helped you. Or, if you use PauseAbilities, tell me about that. I’ll share your stories in future newsletters (with your permission, of course). If you aren’t receiving the newsletter yet, you can see a sample or sign up and get started on making change in your life with my complimentary workbook, “Permission Granted: Move Into Change With Your Own Approval,” here.
Instead, I paused. I noticed the tightness in my chest & shoulders and the tizzy I was in. I could hardly sense my legs because there was so much going on in my mind; “Look at the mess, I’ll never find a place for everything. What possessed me to start this project today?!” I needed grounding. I took out my phone and following the prompts from PauseAbility #3, I felt some relief. I realized I was trying to squeeze an idea from my frustrated mind, and within the space of the pause, a new idea came to me. Ah, much better.
I am holding this space for you to reply to me and share your story that will appear in our Pause Ability Place coming in 2015. With the next story be yours?
Last night I was watching How to Get Away With Murder when I needed a drink. I pressed the pause button on the remote and made the trek upstairs to the kitchen. After sipping some water, I sat back down to witness Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) careen between being a terrifying control freak and a horrible hot mess of a brilliant woman.
I felt great. I was more comfortable and noticeably more alert because I had paused. Davis’s character was still being pulled apart by her emotions. Poor Annalise …
We’re all familiar with pausing a show or a song to run to the bathroom or get a snack. That’s all it takes to to get what we need. It’s pretty easy, right?
Most pauses take a mere 3 – 5 minutes. Pauses that give us time for something other than a snack, like interrupting an emotional explosion (remember counting to 10?) or before we’re about to make a presentation or enter a social setting like a party, also take little time. But they tend to be something we only occasionally remember to do.
Mostly we shift quickly from one thing to the next without a moments pause. We barely register our full reaction before it’s off to the races. When we do remember to pause, we usually don’t take complete advantage of it, either.
Fly on the wall at Erin’s office just the other day:
Erin gets on the phone with her client, Michael, a few seconds after having an unpleasant interaction with a co-worker. Michael doesn’t t know anything about this situation but within the first few seconds he reacts to her tone of voice. She seems to be in a negative mood and distracted (which she is). He wonders if he’s done something to annoy her. Michael questions whether Erin is truly ready to give him the attention he had paid for. Uh oh!
If you knew Erin, you’d know that she is smart, good at her job, committed to her clients, caring in her relationships, and well meaning. Erin is also a busy person. Being the mature woman that she is, Erin most likely noticed her upset. Perhaps she felt “frustration.” She probably said something to herself like “Grrr, better pull myself together, I have a call in 2 minutes, can’t deal with this now, it’s too big…” She may not have noticed her jaw clench and her breathing tighten. She certainly thought she could push the annoyance aside and get going on the next agenda item.
The thing is, all that pushing aside has an effect. Often it affects us in the moment, as in Erin’s first few minutes with Michael. Too frequently, the accumulation of countless unacknowledged reactions in our day leaves us drained, fatigued, short tempered and/or vaguely anxious.
Have you had an experience like Erin’s or have you had thoughts like these?
“But if I stop, even for just a few minutes, I might collapse and not start back up again, ever!”
“I’ll pause after I finish this, and that, and that. Then I’ll be able to take care of me and it. ”
“I’ll take go back and revisit it after I’ve crossed everything off my list for the day.”
“What will a few minutes do? I have to focus on what’s important! I need to bear down.”
I have said these same words or a version of them. So have my clients.
It’s easy to get caught in believing that ignoring our selves won’t matter, or that we’ll catch up with our inner life later. It can also be a challenge to trust that pausing will make a big enough difference for us to be willing to do it.
Think about how many times in your day you transition from one thing to the next. Not one, not two, could be fifty, could be hundreds. If we are carrying unacknowledged sensations from just a third of those moments with us, we are unlikely to be our best. And, that’s an understatement! By the end of the day or even earlier, we are very likely to be drained and scattered. We might observe ourselves numbing out with TV, food, or silly FB quizzes if we weren’t so busy trying to get away from ourselves.
Not only does our go- go life drain us of vital life energy, it robs us of knowing the best of ourselves. It impacts on work, personal relationships and our fundamental feeling of being at home within ourselves, something we rarely take the time to nourish.
If we begin to become aware of what’s happening inside us, we can then make choices about how to work with it. It allows us to regulate impulses, thoughts, emotions and behaviors at the micro level. With each pause we strengthen our ability to make a new choice, to allow a fresher perspective to bubble up.
It’s as if the pause opens the door for new possibilities to occur to us. And the ability to do that gives us the strength to pause more.
But, if we continue to go through life unaware, we’re more like puppets, individuals who allow life to happen to us.
The pause allows us to check in for a moment with who we are. The pause sets the stage for us to align who we really are with what we do.
Now we have a pause, which opens up possibilities and then becomes a skill, an ability… a Pause Ability!
Thanks for coming with me this far. There’s more to come when I share one best way to pause.
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This might be you. It’s definitely me or has been me at least some time.
- Crave more ease in life.
Reactive: sometimes it seems like everything bothers you.
Escapist: you look for relief and create habits that affect other parts of life.
Distractible: you’ve been told you weren’t listening to someone else, when you thought you were.
Overwhelmed: Decisions and actions don’t seem possible.
Procratinating: you put off important things (tasks, projects, people, experiences) in your life.
Unappreciated: You figure being your own best friend is a good idea, but how do you do it?
Focusing is one powerful and simple process that lets you be supportive of other people and yourself – so the important things in your life can move forward freely.
Focusing has made a huge difference in how I am, what I do and how I feel. It made (and still makes) such a difference that I got certified so I could teach other people too!
Sooooo, if you’re interested in being more of a friend to yourself,
I’m teaching an introductory Focusing workshop, “Listening To You” on Oct. 18th at Westchester Community College, Valhalla, NY.
Click to SIGN-UP. If you click the photo below, you’ll get to the brochure
Are you confused about the difference? A big vision is the starting point for change. A big vision give us something to reach for. Hint: If it’s something that feels just enough beyond your reach that it’s a tad scary, it’s a sign that you’re on the right track.
Goals ground us in the practical, in what specific parts of our vision will look like in real time, real life, in our real life. A big vision without goals is like dreaming of cooking the best meal ever without deciding what will be on the menu. It would be the folks at NASA imagining a man on the moon and leaving it at that. However, goals that don’t come out of a big vision exist in a type of limbo, purpose-less, limited, and therefore much harder to act on with authentic enthusiasm.
Why have a big vision anyway?
Humans won’t create something we can’t imagine. We’re designed that way.
We’re actually using aspects of visioning all the time. When we go shopping we may have an idea – not always fully formed – of what we want. The feeling of, “I’ll know it when I see it,” tells us we trust visioning, that we know a real item can get very close to matching this unclear picture we already have. Or you may say, ” I want a bladdedy bah coat with boop bap beep on it, in cocoa brown,” giving rise to a picture of your coat while you describe it. That image may even look like something you’ve seen already, but not quite. For some of us, this happens so quickly or under the surface that we hardly notice it while others use this function of our brain more consciously, more easily, more often.
If visioning is done well, it taps into our subconscious, into our emotions, our values – the roots of our drive and motivation. A big vision galvanizes us. We’re energized and alert.
Conjuring an image is one aspect of visioning, but not the whole enchilada (did you picture an enchilada when you read that?). A big vision needs to tap into meaning for us, and that usually translates to us seeing how what we want benefits someone else, or something larger than ourselves. Somehow connecting our personal agenda with “the better angels of our nature” grows passion, which is another word for drive. With a fully fleshed out vision, the urge to go forward increases exponentially.
After that, come the goals.
Visioning answers the questions What if ? and Why? Goals answer the questions, What? and When?
What’s easiest for you, visioning or setting goals?
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We have all received terrible life advice. Prescriptions for lasting love, stable careers, purposeful living, happy family life and fool-proof fashion. This advice is offered as pearls of wisdom and truth with a capital T. It can come from family, friends, websites, teachers- usually unbidden.
Sometimes this advice is just plain against human nature. Often, it’s just ridiculous. Even good advice given at the wrong time or applied in the wrong place, or slightly misinterpreted, can slide into “Danger, Will Robinson,” territory.
My friend Richard, told me the worst advice he ever got was that he, “couldn’t have a singing career and a family.” He was at a crossroads, he believed that this decision was either/or. Sigh.
It took a while to hone my list of godawful guidance down to just a baker’s dozen of terrible teachings I’ve gotten. How do I know they were terrible advice for me? Take a wild guess.
I’m positive that I’ve given #s 5 & 6 and acted on #10 all too often. And #13, a piece of advice for an evolved being, who doesn’t need it by then anyway.
In no particular order of awfulness…
- Don’t cry.
- Wait for the exact right time.
- Wear plastic sweatpants to lose weight.
- If you give everything you’ve got to others you won’t need to give to yourself.
- If it makes you anxious, don’t do it.
- If it makes you anxious, do it.
- Never go outside with wet hair.
- Don’t even think you’re creative unless what you’re doing is completely original.
- Never quit.
- The best thing you can do for a friend is give advice (even if they don’t ask).
- Get even (as in, “Don’t get mad, get even”), you’ll feel better and they’ll learn how it feels.
- Hold onto it, you never know when you might need it.
- and the breezily & oh so easily said, always at the wrong time…Just let it go.
I’m sure you’ve gotten a bit of crummy counsel, even some doozies, of your own. Maybe given some too? Share in the comments!
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I’s pretty obvious that I love quotes. Sometimes a particular quote will be just what I need and at other times it’s hollow, holding no meaning for me what.so.ever. Or, sometimes one thing is true, and another time just the opposite is true, or more accurately, also true.
Take the overused “less is more” quote. Japanese brush paintings, slowing down to pause, small tasty portions, keeping it simple sweetie, all speak to the satisfying elegance of less is more.
But it isn’t always so, because sometimes more – Hieronymous Bosch paintings, the ocean, fractals and outer space – is inspiring and exhilarating because of the promise of well, more.
There are gazillion and more (hee hee) examples of more equalling less. The dizzying amount of breakfast cereal, satellite TV channels, and Starbucks coffee options, requires us to use more brain energy than, say, 3 choices might, which means less bandwidth for important decisions. Need I mention that addition distractions in the form of beelps. blerps, tweets and pings, give us little time for clear sustained action or deep focused and creative thinking?
I have clients who don’t understand why they are feeling bereft despite getting raises, owning gobs of expensive clothing, going to massages, spin classes, and vacationing at increasingly exotic locales…it’s because, in these particular situations, more does equal less. If we aren’t Watering Ourselves, if we lack the will ” to show up for our real needs, it doesn’t matter how many people love us or how much external pampering buy – we’ve left a person who really matters (us) by the side of the road. And nothing, can make up for that.”
Though silver linings are real and the desert exists due to lack of water, less money to feed a hungry family isn’t more no matter how you cut it. No question about it, less is really less. And in our inner world, less confidence, low self-esteem, and lack of joy in life don’t add up to any type of more that I’d want.
So all of the above are are true… sometimes. It’s important not to get locked into one. When a quote rings true (note the lower-case “t”) for you, take some time to ask yourself what about it is meaningful right now. Ask yourself what is also true. Following these threads can lead to important insights into where in your life cultivating more or shifting to less will be moving you forward in the direction of the life you want.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or are getting my Move Into Change newsletters, you already know how much I adore Cheryl Strayed. This quote comes from Tiny Beautiful Things, a small book whose outsized compassion and powerful writing knocks me out every time. It’s a must.
The above quote reminds me of two foundational aspects of personal growth that I forget to talk about sometimes.
1) The right to grow is in our very nature. We often think that we have to prove to someone that we have it – but we don’t. A gazillion years ago, Byron Katie told me that if I thought of myself as the tree outside my window, it would be simple to understand my own worth and then get out of my own way. I never forgot it.
Now I know she meant that to participate in and contribute to the ongoing creation of life as it moves forward from moment to moments is our birthright. Trees don’t question it, so maybe we don’t need to, either.
2) The moment when I recognized that I wasn’t showing up in my own life was the precise moment II began to grow up. Don’t ask me how old I was…
Recognizing that we all must do this for ourselves is basic, yet so many of us resist. Looking for others to do for us that which we refuse to do for ourselves leads only to disappointment, anxiety, isolation and a a profound sense of loss. Attempting to teach other people (like our children) how to do this is futile unless we live it first. By the way, all things I llearned the hard way.
Do not misunderstand, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t ask for help or trust others to support us. If we lack the core ability to show up for our real needs, it doesn’t matter how many people love us (or how much external pampering we give ourselves), we’ve left the person who really matters (us) by the side of the road. And nothing, can make up for that.
So, grow yourself and don’t forget that you can carry the water.