How to become someone who makes courageous choices and feels more love.

There is a shadow outside your window.

If you think the shadow is a burglar, you will instantly feel afraid.

But, if your first thought is that it’s your kid sneaking out you may feel anger or disappointment.

Or, if you interpret “the signs” in such a way that you think it’s your friend pulling a prank, you may feel mischievous.

Your thoughts (perceptions) exist as they do at any moment based on your incredibly unique combination of past experiences, knowledge, beliefs, DNA, family history, muscle memory, and so on. Every moment is a combination of factual information combined with a story that your brain is automatically writing (based out of all the above variables) to make sense of that moment.

The instant you get a piece of information that changes what you think something means, your feelings will instantly change.

This is because your emotions are not about or because any events or circumstance, they are created by YOUR personalized thoughts about events and circumstances.

Let’s say you quickly and easily assume the shadow is your kid because he has a history of sneaking out, you told him no today, and you don't have a history of being robbed.

It’s only after you check your kid's room and see him sprawled out asleep that you think, “we are getting robbed,” which creates fear. With trembling hands, you look out the window again but this time you notice your best friends car parked in front. Your brain makes a few connections and you instantly remember how they threatened to get you back for your great prank on Halloween. You feel relief.

You quickly think about how you can’t let them one-up your prank which creates the feeling of motivation in your body to start plotting a prank on their prank. You are proud of yourself for catching them and imagine yourself boasting when you beat them at their game. You're amused until you hear glass shattering in your living room.

In the split second after hear shattering you think, “That’s not my friend; they would never destroy my property. I’m being robbed! We could all be killed” and this creates feelings of sheer panic. Your next thoughts may be hopeless thoughts that create despair and propel you to shut down. Or, you may think thoughts of yourself as the protector and feel a brave drive that causes you to charge the living room.

You charge the room. All at once you simultaneously recognize the figure of your friend, process that the living room window is intact, and hear your child laughing on the stairwell with a sound machine. You let go of all those previous thoughts and eventually join them in relieved laughter, or yell at them in anger, depending on what you are choosing to think about their taste in pranks!

This is a silly story (about a very bad prank idea) demonstrating:

  1. How changeable thoughts are

  2. How changeable your feelings are

  3. How you are the creator of both of your own thoughts and feelings, and they aren’t based on facts or circumstance but how you interpret facts and circumstance.

Lack of awareness or accountability for how you feel is what keeps your habits and cycles comfortably hamster-wheeling, always coming back around again. Most of you are convinced that if only something or someone else would change, then you could show up different, behave differently, and feel different.

  • Is how you are feeling right now about your life useful?
  • What if you could create feelings that propel you to the actions you want to take?
  • What if you could believe new thoughts that allow you to make more courageous choices or to feel more loving?

I was recently at a weekend event, and I’m not proud of this, but I kept thinking that the others present just weren’t 'my people' and that I didn’t have much to gain from them. I noticed I was repeating these sort of thoughts to myself and not only were they judgemental but they left me feeling bored, reluctant and aloof. 

While journaling I “woke up” and was honest about how my thinking was affecting my experience. I was there no matter what and decided I would rather feel warmth and interest in others. Determined to shift the experience I was creating, I forced myself to think thoughts that were curious about who people were. I thought about creative questions I wanted to ask, and I planned to strategically to start conversations.

I instantly felt better. Not only that, but the next conversation I started ended with my own tears streaming down my face as I listened to an incredible story of someone else’s childhood experience. From that moment on my experience was different. I choose that positive experience just as much as I was choosing a low-quality one in the beginning.

Managing your mind takes a simple choice, over and over again.

It can be done through specific journaling exercises, meditation, specific ways of praying, being picky about what you consume, and investing in coaching or any help that pushes you to see yourself in new ways and be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

What is something you want to do differently?

Name something, and then examine how you think and feel about it currently. What do you need to think and feel to stay motivated to do it differently then you are now? Practice those thoughts. Choose them, again and again, and see what you create.  

I know how challenging this work can be. I also know the payoff is priceless and support makes all the difference. That's why I offer a free 30-minute mini-coaching sessions to my blog readers. Shhhh!!!  Check out my calendar here. 

Sometimes I'm controlling

Sometimes I'm controlling

Earlier this week I choose to be offended by my husband in the car. I gave him the cold shoulder, a tone, and I phrased things in clever enough way that allowed me to maintain a facade of innocence while trying to push his buttons at the same time.

I was trying to make him feel like I felt; I was trying to control his feelings. And, I wanted to make him want to apologize to me (I know, that part never makes sense in retrospect).

Where does our #firstworldpain come from?

Where does our #firstworldpain come from?

Deep down you still kinda believe that other people are responsible for you.

In a belief system where others are responsible for your feelings, and you are responsible for theirs, you tend to cling to the belief that it’s your job to MAKE others feel a certain way about you. 

Therefore, you subconsciously run all your choices through a filter to evaluate what feelings others may have about it. You then make your choices depending on who you want to control most instead of your values. 

The good, the hard, the beautiful.

When I was in my early twenties life was awesome and everyone liked me.

Ok, In all seriousness, I was rather impressive. I was juggling diverse friend groups, volunteering, going out to jazz clubs, feeding neighborhood kids, stringing along the fellas, all things church, and working multiple jobs. I was presenting like superwoman with a big YES on my chest from planet extroversion.

You know the metaphor of the iceberg, right? As you may guess, eventually, my world sunk. It was ugly- depending on how you look at it. Now I know it was beautifully necessary. I will spare some gory details but it was the bad boyfriend crashed your car, school on the credit card, parents not bailing you out this time, eating ramen every day, humiliated because you can’t even keep it together for appearances, kind of sinking.

I had been in denial as thick as Louisiana air. I thought my limitlessness was all good because it seemed good, until it didn’t.

The big sink was not because of a series of unfortunate events. It was the natural consequences of the kind of seeds I sowed for years. Out of touch with myself, a part of me was driving in another lane from my values at full speed, and eventually, I split in half. You can hold it together with feet in different lanes for awhile, but you can't pretend anymore when you're actually ripped in half, separated pieces of yourself on the highway during rush hour.

Boundaries are in some way misunderstood or unknowingly misused in almost all the lives I'm privileged to be involved in- and I work with amazing people. It nails home for me how imperative it is to have another set of experienced eyes that you allow to see behind the veil. I didn't know I lacked boundaries then. In fact, I thought I was pretty together on the outside, even though I didn't feel so great on the inside. The people with the nerve to give me feedback were few and far between, so when someone did they were easy to brush off (like the guy that told my family I was a doormat at my birthday dinner). But really, he was a rude dude. And more then that, I wasn't ready to listen. 

Those are two important points: 1. You need outside perspective, 2. you need to be ready to hear some tough truth. And there's actually a third important point: Even though I wasn't ready to listen, I'm glad he said it. I have a small collection of true comments that offended me and I never forgot them. They were pieces I used to build again, much later. 

Boundary work can encompasses many things. It involves: 

  • Authentic alignment with your values, learning assertive communication, personal responsibility, vulnerability, ninja levels of self-awareness.
  • Creates impressive internal freedom, unconditional love, forgiveness and connection.
  • Forces you to evaluate your mind, motives and habits, lean into your identity, and become incredibly responsible and empowered.
  • Allows you to cut back on controlling and letting others be responsible for themselves and learn their own desperately needed lessons.

Your work on yourself provides health to your family, community and all you touch. Boundary work always has a ripple effect. It’s powerful.

The freedom, purpose, and exhilaration on the other side of my own experiences drive my passion to help you see yourself more clearly, treat yourself well, and align with your values and the season you are currently in. 10+ years of working with people in the messy places of life have revealed that almost any problem can be worked on with boundary work. 

That leads me to more good, hard and beautiful news: you have to take total ownership of everything about yourself before you can change it. Even the things that really truly seem to be everyone else’s fault. If this sounds crazy, that’s because it is crazy compared to our cultural norms. Consider that our cultural norms also include being addicted, disconnected from others, in debt, avoiding or numbing reality, dishonesty and “us vs. them” mentality.

I’ll take another kind of crazy, please.

If your own personal well being doesn’t sell you on doing this work, consider how your lack of boundaries can damage others. You may be teaching your kids how to disrespect others by allowing them to disrespect you. You may be allowing others to learn and rely on destructive behavior patterns by avoiding conflict with them. You may stunt the development of strength and skills necessary to overcome {a life well lived} with the misplaced intent to prevent pain or struggle.

We may be keeping ourselves or others in bondage
just to prevent discomfort for a moment.

Boundary work is challenging and awesome. It’s my jam. That's why I offer free 30 minute mini-sessions to my blog readers. Shhhh! It's our little secret. Schedule yours HERE today!