Happy No Matter What

Aug.26.2012

Sh*t approval addicts say

Hey approval addiction is real! And sometimes we approval addicts can be hilarious! If you can relate, post a comment below!

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By Anna Kunnecke

[Note from Amy: Anna Kunnecke is one of my favorite coaches and she also happens to be one of my very dear friends. I love everything she writes. I invited her to share some thoughts on risk. I hope you love it! Anna said she would share a gift with one person randomly chosen from the comments section.]

You know how life coaches are always talking about taking risks, and going outside your comfort zone, and clichéd things like that?

Brace yourself, because I’m going to say that too.

But first, I must confess that all those motivational articles, zippy tips, and inspirational images should come with a warning label.

It would say:

Warning!!!  This advice could be hazardous to your career, relationships, and reputation!!

(I’m pretty sure they’ll kick me out of the life coach club for saying that, but it’s true.)

This live-your-boldest-life stuff can all start to feel very hypothetical.  Take risks…in theory.  Stretch yourself…in an abstract, spiritual sort of way.  Speak your truth…within the safety of a nice cozy Facebook group.

In real life, when you take risks, it will actually be…risky.  When you speak your truth, people may actually get pissed off.  When you step outside your comfort zone, you’ll almost certainly make a total ass out of yourself half the time.  And when you stop doing things to win others’ approval, you might actually…I know, this one stings…lose their approval.  Sometimes publicly, and painfully.

I think you should absolutely, totally, definitely take those risks anyway.

But I feel we owe it to you, as life coaches, to be up front about the multiple failures that will be involved.

This is why I love Amy, who I know IRL (that’s in real life as opposed to through the magical internet).  It’s not just her delicious garden barbeques and excellent late-night tipsy coaching.  It’s because she puts her money where her mouth is.

She writes things that elicit shitty comments.  She says things that are true, even when they might not be welcome.  She dances for pure joy even when people around her are raising their pinky fingers and their eyebrows.

And this is why she is not only a great coach, but an absolutely delicious human being.

But there is a cost to her authenticity, as there is for anyone who lives fully and radically.

She gets flak, pushback, criticism.  She gets her feelings hurt.  She has things fall flat.  This, my friends, is the inevitable cost of greatness.  That crushing sensation of failing.

And this is what creates greatness: not that you never flail or fail, but that you keep going anyway.

I’m telling you all this because most of us think, when something goes wrong, that it means we’re DOING something wrong.  Not true.  It just means we’re learning to do something new, and sucking at it is how we learn.  How we get great is that we suck at it a lot, over and over, slightly less each time.

Honestly, this suckage is far from fun.  In fact, it can be intensely painful and it’s one of my least favorite parts of being human.  Which is why you need people who can hold the faith for you when you’re too mortified to leave the house.  You need a small, loyal tribe who can believe in who you’re becoming, even when you’ve just had an epic flail.  In their living room.  In front of their in-laws.  Holding a glass of red.

Amy is part of that tribe for me, and when I recently bit it very, very hard, and felt too raw and tender and embarrassed to live, she reminded me that this is how we get great: we try things.  We suck.  We learn the lesson, whether it’s to wait 24 hours before hitting Send, or how to draw better boundaries with our kids, or how to communicate more clearly with an employee.  And then the next time we do it better.

So, here’s my advice: start taking risks with small things.  Wear that ring that exposes your soul, or the shirt that exposes your tattoo, or the campaign button that exposes your heart.  Do something that scares you a little but doesn’t involve your boss, your mother-in-law, or your life savings.

But do it today.

Taking risks in small arenas is how you build those risk-taking muscles for the big things.  Nobody goes to the Olympics and does their first high dive on live TV.  We need to train by starting small and gradually increasing our skill level and the difficulty of what we do.  So for your first few hundred scary things, choose something relatively manageable.  Go ahead and fall on your ass in front of people who will laugh gently.  Write something true and publish it under a pseudonym.  Submit the proposal, but have someone else proofread it first.

Then let the chips fall where they may.  If you get smacked or smashed, call someone loyal, cry, and then brush yourself off and stand up again.

This is what Amy and I do for each other, and it’s how we keep upping our game.

What you’ll find is that bit by bit, your risk-taking muscles get stronger and stronger.  Suddenly, you think you might like to scale a mountain, or tackle a great injustice.  You feel that big brave thing bulging out of you, ready to make its way out into the world.  And when that moment comes, you’ll be ready for it.  You’ll know your training is solid.  You’ll take that warning label, kiss it, and toss it in the trash.

You’ll know by then that failure doesn’t kill you, it’s just really embarrassing.  And when you can love yourself through the discomfort of that, and surround yourself with people who will do the same, you’ll stare failure down and grin.

Wear that grin like the badge of honor it is.  It’s a secret handshake; it’s code; it’s the wink we seasoned fail-ers give each other.  It’s the understanding that in the end, faithful failure spells t-r-i-u-m-p-h.

So how are your exercising your risk-taking muscles? Post one thing in the comments below. (Anna will choose a person at random to win a copy of her self study program, Love Letters from Your Life!)

Anna Kunnecke is a heathen mystic who helps women around the world declare dominion over their lives.  She created The Queen Sweep coaching program and teaches practical mysticism to smart, soulful women.  She calls her coaching process Personal Alchemy because it’s an undeniably magical transformation—turning your dross into gold. Get her free digital potion, How To Handle ANYTHING: A Strengthening Potion for Challenging Times, at http://DeclareDominion.com

 

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There is a two hour window of time in my day I call the witching hour. It’s right after I get home from picking the twins up from preschool. I’m in the kitchen getting ready for dinner. All three of my kids – my four- year-olds and my two-year-old — are there at my feet talking loudly in unison:

“Mom, can I have some apple juice? No, mom! The purple cup!”
“Mom, can we watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Pleeeeeassssee!”
“Mom, I want a [fruit leather, popsicle, cookie, zbar, bag of rainbow colored goldfish]!”
“Mom!”
“Mom!”
“Moooooooooooom!”

This is when I start thinking about wine… Or more like drinking five glasses of wine in rapid fire succession.

And sometimes I do have a glass or two… Sure for an hour or so it numbs the pain of being bitchslapped by a herd of bossy preschoolers. But for the rest of the evening I’m less present and more apt to be impatient and bossy myself. Plus I don’t sleep well at night and I feel groggy when I get up in the morning.

This is how I know that wine during my witching hour is a bad idea, a bad habit really. It’s not the same thing as a glass of Rose while sitting outside in the sun talking about vision boards with a friend. It’s more like a quick and dirty fix when I want to avoid feeling frazzled.  And the truth is that it cuts through the frazzle for an hour or so then just leaves me feeling more frazzled than I started.

In The Four Day Win, Martha Beck’s weight loss book, she writes about experiments done with lab rats that show how incredibly addictive drugs like heroin and morphine are. In these experiments rats in cages were given drug laced water that they could access by pushing a lever…. Quoting Martha, “they thumped those levels like hyperactive children playing Whac-A-Mole.”

But here’s the interesting part… When the same drug laced water was given to rats in an environment full of tunnels and burrows and space to roam – the opposite of a cage—these rats could care less about the drugs. They preferred to drink the plain water. Even the morphine addicted rats drank less drug water in this environment, even though it caused withdrawal symptoms!

See, rats trapped in cages, much like frazzled moms, look for ways to numb. Trapped rats and frazzled moms numb feelings they’d rather not feel –feelings like boredom, anxiety, anger, shame, confusion, fear… (Do rats feel shame? Never mind.)

And my guess, tell me where I’m wrong, is that you do it too. So what’s your drug of choice? Wine? Chocolate? Sleep? Sex? Facebook? The Jersey Shore?

I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, her memoir about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. Before she set out to hike the trail she was enmeshed in a not so healthy relationship with a guy who had a fondness for heroin. And, as a result, she started to get fond of it too.

While reading the other day I happened upon this wrote: “…walking along a path I carved myself—one I hoped was the PCT—was the opposite of using heroin. Stepping into the snow made me more alive to my senses than ever.”

My guess is that many of us who struggle with bad habits use them to dull our senses because we would rather not be fully alive to them in the current environment.

So the solution is pretty simple. Change your environment.

But Amy, “Changing my environment takes work,” you protest! “If only it were that simple,” you say? “I’m stuck! There’s nothing I can do,” you declare?

A lot of people complain that it’s not possible to change their environment. They believe they are powerless, singularly fated to day after day of the same snore inducing routine.

So they watch Jersey Shore.

Or they hyper focus on the unwanted habit. They talk about it. Complain about it, Fret over it. And the result of all this time and energy obsessing over the habit is that the habit grows more and more daunting. The ability to withstand it becomes more and more difficult.

So here’s what you do.

Instead of giving in to your bad habit or obsessing over it, replace it with another habit –a  better habit that serves you.

Here is my 5 step super nifty blueprint to help:

  1. Start to notice your own witching hour. Do you get the urge to enhale another pint of Cherry Garcia at the end of a long day after you finally get the kids to bed? Or maybe you pine for wine whenever you think about your boss… This will give you a clue about some of the circumstances in your life that bring about those pesky feelings you don’t want to feel.
  2. Get honest about your bad habit.  I get it. Sometimes watching Jersey Shore is a fun way to make doing the laundry a little more tolerable. No judgment here. But sometimes watching Jersey Shore serves no other purpose than to numb you to the reality that you can’t believe you agreed once again to clean your friend’s cat’s litter box when she goes out of town.
  3. Start having more bad habit free fun. Sometimes you can replace your bad habit in real time with something to do that is fun. Sometimes you can strategically pepper fun into your day, so much so that the bad habit loses it’s power. So ask yourself these questions: How can I change my environment so that it feels more like a rat park than a rat cage? How can I change up my day or my life so that I’m having more fun?
  4. They are just feelings honey, feel them. When the witching hour comes, feel those feelings. These days, when I get frazzeled in the kitchen I acknowledge the feeling of frazzlement and I say to myself “I can do frazzled for an hour or so. No big deal.” And then I feel like a bad ass.
  5. Start getting addicted to goals. Did you know that completing tasks actually releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain? Seriously, if you’re miserable you need some goals, girl! I prescribe one or two goals that light you up. Write em down, make a plan, and just do something every day towards your goal.

 

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(me, the beauty queen)

Hi. My name is Amy and I am addicted to approval.

I have been in recovery for about three years. But once an addict, always an addict as they say. I didn’t always think of myself as an approval addict. I lived most of my life in denial. I was the golden child. In high school I was girl of the year, homecoming queen, captain of the dance team. I was the first kid in the family to go to college and graduate with honors. I married the perfect guy. We bought a house. We drove Volkswagens. What more could there be?

As Oprah Winfrey says, the universe is always trying to get our attention. It may start out as a whisper, but if you don’t listen, the truth will knock you upside the head. In my case, I had just finished a master’s degree and was working as a research assistant for a progressive think tank outside of Portland. I was also pregnant with twins – the culmination of five years of infertility hell. On the night of November 30th 2007, my brother showed up at the door unexpected. Six months pregnant, I was drafting a report on the home mortgage interest deduction. Dad was frantic, he said. Mom went to bed with a book. When he found her, she wasn’t breathing. It sounded bad, he said. Very, very bad.

The mind is funny. Sometimes things are just too big to grasp. I told my brother not to freak out. “You know dad,” I told him, “she’s probably fine.” And I believed it, one hundred percent. A few minutes later, I was hauling my enormously pregnant body into the car. On the way to the hospital, I phoned my siblings. It was late and I couldn’t get in touch with my sister. I asked my niece to drive over to her condo and find a way to break in to the grounds. Still, I wondered if all this was necessary. Mom was probably fine.

I continued to believe it until I got to the hospital. Well until I walked into the room where they were trying to resuscitate her. There was my mother sprawled out on a gurney, completely nude, while doctors hovered over her, desperately trying to revive her pale, limp body. That is when I knew things were not, in fact, fine.

They did manage to regain a pulse. I asked an ER doctor if she was going to be okay. His response was vague; he didn’t look me in the eye. Later a neurologist confirmed that she had very little chance of surviving without the help of life support. So we took her off the machines and spent the next two days watching her die.

Time had stopped.

Three months later, Alice and Anthony were born. Home from the hospital, sleep deprived and surrounded by breast pump equipment, bottles, feeding schedules, diapers, formula, nursing pads, pacifiers and books titled things like “what to expect the first year,” I remember staring down at those two helpless beings sprawled out on my bed.

Time was still a non-issue.

It’s interesting what happens when one gets knocked upside the head. Although I felt as though I was in a fog, some things became desperately clear. I didn’t care about the home mortgage income tax deduction, or the federal definition of taxable income, or the 2007 – 2009 legislative biennium. Aside from a solid night of sleep, all I really wanted to do was read about things like astrology, past life regression, and near death experiences. I openly and unapologetically devoured books by Brian Weiss, Raymond Moody, Sonia Choquette to name a few. The kind of books that important people – people who are smart enough to end poverty or solve the hunger problem – don’t read. But in my grief stricken and sleep-deprived state, these were the books that fed my soul.

And so it began. My metamorphosis.

Eventually my super natural book binge led me to one called Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck. A Harvard intellectual gives up her life as an academic to give birth to her Down Syndrome son. In the process, she experiences all sorts of unexplainable things, angelic encounters, white light experiences, paranormal phenomena and just plain crazy synchronicities. This memoir was about as woo-woo as it got for me at that time, yet it sang to me. I wanted more. So I purchased my first self-help title, Finding Your Own North Star, also by Martha Beck. I began to reassess the life I had created up until this point. On the outside, it looked all shiny and sparkly but inside a quiet and increasingly desperate yearning followed me everywhere I went.

I had created an elaborate façade. I thought the exterior would help me be happy. If I looked good, if I dressed right, if I had the degrees, the awards, the guy, the house, the kids, I would be fulfilled. People would gaze adoringly as I passed by flashing them a confident smile. They’d whisper, “That’s Amy Pearson. Do you know her? Did you hear she single handedly wrote a report that wiped out the home mortgage tax deduction freeing up enough money in the legislature to eliminate hunger in Oregon? How does she do all that and stay so thin…?!,” they would marvel.

The realization that there might be more to life than the near constant time and feeding of my sparkly, shiny exterior led to – what by academic standards – was nearly unthinkable and certainly laughable… I became a life coach.

Martha Beck and her unruly cast of characters became my tribe. The most powerful thing I learned as a coach in training is that I, and I alone, am responsible for creating my inner state. It doesn’t matter whether people marvel at my gold stars or not, it’s up to me to feel good from the inside. As I coach I learned how create an inner life that was so shiny and sparkly I didn’t care who noticed it.

Now in addition to my own coaching practice, I work for Martha Beck, teaching classes and training coaches.

I decided to write this because it took me nearly 37 years to notice I had a problem. I hope you get it much sooner. But if you don’t, it’s my hope that this blog sets you free before the universe knocks you upside the head.

So here are some aha’s I’d like to share:

1. Having a persona is not the problem. We all have them. But does your persona allow other people to get to know the real you or does it hide the real you? If you’re using your persona to hide, you’ve got a problem. Here’s a clue, if you’re exhausted you are probably addicted to approval. My persona required constant work – a masters degree, a policy job, staying continuously up-to-the-minute on current events. How much time and energy do you give away doing shit you don’t want to do to maintain that shiny and sparkly exterior?

2. It all starts with permission. Stop judging yourself for what you want. But wait Amy, what I want is unacceptable, irrational, not practical and just plain stupid (and besides it’s selfish), you argue? Well I respectfully call bullshit. Quoting the great Brooke Castillo, “The extent you don’t know what it is you want is the extent you won’t ever get it.” She also says that what we want is code for directions to our destiny. And I agree, 100 percent.

3. It takes a tribe. Quoting Martha Beck, “the unit of biological survival for a human is one individual. But for emotional survival it’s two. Everyone needs at least one compassionate witness to their experience.” Finding my tribe helped me to break free from my limited perspective. It helped me think bigger, see new opportunities, find a new normal for myself, but most importantly it helped me to learn the difference between fitting in and truly belonging.

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I buy a lot of books. A lot. I download them. I get them in audio. I frequent the bookstore.

Martha Beck jokes that if the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) were to classify my little habit as an officially recognized disorder, it would be called…

Delusional Literary Purchase Syndrome

“The conviction that buying 20 books per week is the same thing as reading them.”

But I do read some of them.

Sometimes though I wish I could be like Edgar Cayce — put a book under my pillow and wake up the next day an expert.

But even if I were able to read by osmosis, it still wouldn’t get me too far.

As Martha says in Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, “We’re culturally conditioned to assume we can understand processes by reading about them.”

It’s why I like to read recipes. In my mind, I have succeeded to prepare an exquisite meal. No trip to the grocery store required. No clean up. I don’t even have to set the table.

And after years of reading how to articles about perfect party hair and make up, you’d think I’d have mastered the smoky eye or the French twist by now. Not so much.

Which brings me to the problem.

As a coach, I work with a lot of stuck people.

People are stuck because…

* They think they have to have a clear, well-formed goal, so they do nothing.

* They think they have to make the “right” choice, so they do nothing.

* They think they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, so they do nothing.

* They worry they don’t have anything new to contribute, so they do nothing.

* They worry they might fail or look stupid, so they do nothing.

* They feel overwhelmed by too many options, so they do nothing.

Can you relate?

Here’s my ridiculously obvious advice:

Stop reading, studying, signing up for more trainings and…

Just do something!

Brilliant right?

Take it from marketing/sales guru Dan Kennedy:

“It would probably amaze a lot of people if they could know the inside story of a lot of ‘rags to riches’ entrepreneurs’ lives as I do, to discover that just about the only reason for their meteoric success was simply getting into motion, ready or not.”

In other words, “successful” people aren’t better than you. They don’t know more than you. They aren’t more talented or hold some magical powers you do not…

They execute.

So I repeat. Just do something.

Here are my 5 favorite tips to get you moving:

1. Repeat after me: You can’t course correct if you’re standing still.

According to Jeff Olsen of The Slight Edge, “on its way to the moon, a miracle of modern engineering that is the Apollo rocket is actually on course only two or three percent of the time; for at least ninety-seven percent of the time it takes to get from the Earth to the moon, it’s off course.”

This will be true for you too. So count on mistakes. Don’t expect things to go the way you expected. Every “mistake” you are afraid to make is in reality feedback. Successful people know to just fail faster.

2. Choose your regrets.

Sounds counter intuitive but I really love this one. After all whenever we choose between one out of many potential courses of action, there will always be an opportunity cost…

In my business, I choose to invest in growing it. The regret is that I don’t get to spend my cash on other things like that cute denim floral sundress at Savvy. Sigh. But I gladly choose this regret.

Because as one of my mentors Stella Orange likes to say, “being an entrepreneur is the most lucrative form of therapy available.”

So take a look at your list, what regret are you most willing to choose?

3. Ask yourself, “What can I do that nobody else can that will make the most impact?”

If your list is long. This might be a helpful way to prioritize. For me, hands down, it’s my book. I have a lot of other things I want to accomplish but I can get other people to help me with those ones. But writing my book? Not the case.

Check your list. What can you do that no one else can? Which brings me to number four.

4. Get over your inferiority complex.

Here’s how to create an inferiority complex. Create a social standard. Compare yourself to it. Find how you don’t measure up. Assume it is because you are inferior.

But let’s unpack this a bit. Sure you might be inferior when it comes to under water basket weaving, but you have it covered when anyone needs a synchronized swimmer, right?

The point is, some people are awesome at some things but suck at other things. It doesn’t make them any better or any worse than you. We all have something to contribute. Because we are all incomparably one-of-a-kind.

Quoting Maxwell Maltz in the book The New Psycho-Cybernetcs, “The truth is you are not inferior. You are not superior. You are simply you.”

5. Find Your Power Tribe.

In my free e-course, I teach what I call the one-thirds rule of tribes. It’s an extremely simple way to start now to attract the group of people who will be your source of support and encouragement.

But when it comes to playing big, I also think you need a power tribe. This is a group of people within your tribe, who inspire and motivate you. They are not afraid to execute and they will encourage you to put yourself out there in a major way.

Your power tribe might be a coach or mentor you hire or it might be a group of inspiring friends. Or both. Whatever you do, get a power tribe.

(Bonus tip: Read all the books I mentioned in this post. Are you catching the irony?)

Got any tips that help you get moving? Please share in the comments section below! I LOVE that!

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Jun.14.2012

How to Ask for What You Want

We asked! We asked!

Do you ask for what you want or do you resent what you didn’t get because you didn’t ask for it?
– Powerful Questions

Once when I was a younger I was spending the night with a couple of friends when we decided we wanted to go to a party a few blocks away. It was getting late and my friend’s mom was watching TV in the living room.

So there we sat in the bedroom trying to concoct a plan to get to that party.

We could sneak out through the bedroom window. No…What if someone comes in to check on us?

We could stage a call from another mom then fake like someone was picking us up. No …there was only one phone in the house (this was long before cell phones).

We sat there in silence, racking our brains.

Then I came up with an idea… I knew it was brilliant.

“Why don’t we just tell her the truth!?” I shouted.

My friends sat there in stunned silence. Then slowly started nodding, “it just might work!” we laughed.

Done.

All we needed to do was ask.

But why is this so hard?

I have some thoughts on this…

A lot of women don’t even know what they want in the first place.

They worry about being selfish. They’re too busy to have needs. They have a family, responsibilities…!

I think this is black or white thinking. The logic goes something like this – if I acknowledge having needs and start going after what I want, I’ll neglect my responsibilities.

But I think that’s B.S. Unless you’re a sociopath, you came into the world intact with a moral compass, a guidance system that makes you yearn for connection.

By giving priority to what you want, you magnify the vitality of your spirit in a way that allows you to connect, love and nurture infinitely deeper than when your needs are last on your list.

A lot of us don’t even bother asking.

I can see why …. We buy into the idea that it’s not ladylike to ask. In her latest TED talk, Brene Brown quotes research that reveals what women need to do to conform to female norms:

They have to be seen as nice, thin, modest, and use all available resources towards appearance.

Yikes!

Here’s a surefire way to give someone a hellofa inferiority complex — make them aware of a social norm, then show them how they don’t measure up to it.

We gals, consciously or not, want to conform to female norms. We don’t want to risk appearing pushy, selfish, ambitious, unattractive or immodest when we speak up for what we want.

Nor do we like asking for help.

You don’t want to seem incompetent, right? It’s amazing the number of clients I have who struggle asking for even the tiniest amount of help from friends, family or even paid service people because of this fear.

Then there’s that word no. Oh how we fear this word.

What if we offer up our best work and they say no? We use no to confirm our deepest fear about ourselves. The one that goes something like, “See? You were never really good enough. Who do you think you are anyway?” (Trust me, I know you have it.)

So we stay quiet yet inside we seeth….

I used to do this to my husband. I expected him to know what to get me for my birthday, say the right thing to make me feel better, to pick up around the house according to my silent specifications.

I wanted him and everyone else to meet my needs without having to be put in the uncomfortable and highly unladylike position of having to (gasp!) ask for what I wanted.

Knowing all this makes it easier for me to ask for what I want. And now I ask with reckless abandon. I ask for favors, introductions, recommendations, and advice.

And the crazy part is people often say yes. But when they don’t, I’m still proud that I was able to overcome my fears and just ask.

And here’s how you can too:

      1. Eliminate the word selfish from your vocabulary. Seriously. Having needs is not selfish! When you honor them, you are way better parent, friend, wife and citizen then when you don’t.
      2. Don’t buy into the cultural myth that ladies don’t ask. It’s a cultural straightjacket that will keep miserable.
      3. Stop worrying about “putting people out.” Assume no means no and yes means yes.
      4. Stop expecting people to read your mind and start stating what you want openly and clearly.
      5. Stop expecting other people to meet your needs so you don’t have to ask for what you want. Not fair.
      6. Stop worrying about appearing competent and get some help already! The truth is I am competent at some things and hopelessly incompetent at others. And, just like me, you are competent at some things and hopelessly incompetent at others. Take the pressure off.
      7. Don’t make a no mean you are worthless. You can let the word no break you or you can use it as fuel to keep going despite the roadblock. I am double proud when I persevere despite multiple no’s and eventually get to yes.

So now I’m going to ask something of YOU. What is one thing that you can ask for this week? Will you post a comment? Because, I love that!

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May.16.2012

Why You Must Be Dangerous

Lately the only way to get my son to sleep at night is to make sure he’s armed with a flashlight, a sword and his “monster spray.”

But adults have monsters too.

The concept of rejection is one of those adult kinds of monsters.

I have a client, for example, who is terrified of being rejected. She’s one of the smartest, funniest, most independent people I know but she curls up into a ball at the thought of rejection.

She has a tendency to fixate on every little nuance of every little social interaction. She makes sure to purchase something small when she goes into a store so that the shopkeeper won’t find her rude. She overanalyzes emails exchanges straining to interpret the tone of each reply. She finds chatting with friends exhausting given the mental energy she puts into saying just the right thing.

She does all this out of an irrational fear of rejection.

We know it’s irrational because the other day I helped her to stop fearing it long enough to put it under the microscope. And here’s what we learned….

Rejection is a misunderstanding.

Like The Backson it’s not at all as dangerous as we make it out to be in our minds.

Here’s the thing:

If they judge you, criticize you, talk about you behind your back, spread rumors or lies about you, ignore you, yell at you or laugh at you…

It’s not about you!

Here’s what’s really going on…

You threaten them. Maybe it’s your ideas, or the way you talk or the amount of money you make or your passion for life.

Whatever it is, you make them uncomfortable. You challenge them in some way.

But people don’t learn, or grow or evolve without being challenged.

Which is why you have to ruffle some feathers. You have to challenge the status quo. In short, you have to be dangerous to them.

Because no one can evolve without getting a little bit (or a lot) uncomfortable. It takes a shocking new idea or a ground-breaking work of art. Things have to be said that no one else is willing to say. Things have to be done that no one else is willing to do.

This is innovation.

So Here’s how to STOP fearing rejection and START making friends with it:

1) Remind yourself  “It’s not about you!”

Remember, you simply represent something that makes them uncomfortable inside themselves. You are holding a mirror up to them and that’s a good thing. Some people might not be ready to look in the mirror and some might, but that’s none of your business.

2) Expect the push back.

The German philosopher and businessman Arthur Schopenhauer puts it this way: “Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. First it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.” If you’re not ruffling feathers, I say you’re not doing enough.

3) Trust.

Quoting Gail Larsen author of Transformational Speaking, “You are an original. Nowhere else duplicated.” Trust that your voice matters… that you have a purpose.

4) Do Something!

Stop worrying about doing it “wrong.” You can’t course correct when you’re standing still. A bad decision or a wrong decision, as they say, is better then no decision at all because a decision means action and action leads to growth.

So….

Be dangerous! To the status quo! To conventional thinking! Channel some of that monster energy and use it to play big!

Stop hiding. Stop over analyzing. Stop second-guessing. Speak! Sing! Dance! Write! Laugh! Dare! Risk!

Yes, you will raise some eyebrows. Eyes will roll. And you might even incite a riot.

But that’s evolution baby.

 

Question: What’s one way you’d like to be more daring, when it comes to your own monsters? Be dangerous and post a comment below. I LOVE that!

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I watched Winnie the Pooh with the kids the other day. There is a scene about The Backson. He is a terrible kind of monster….

His hide is like a shaggy rug
His face a surely ugly mug
With two sharp horns atop his head
In between a mop of hair that’s red
And in his nose a ring of gold
It smells of monkey’s feet and mold
Its toes are black
Its fur is blue

…capable of truly heinous deeds. According to Owl:

They sneak into your library and scribble in all your books!
When decorating your Christmas tree, they tangle up all the hooks!
They spoil the milk, they stop all the clocks, they use their horns to put hole in your sock

Each resident of the 100 Acres Woods has his or her own idea of what the Backson will do…
Tigger: Maybe they make ya sleep too late
Eeyore: I bet their the reason my tail is gone
Rabbit: They muddy up your tiny house
Piglet: They make you feel as small as a mouse
Roo: They break your crayons
Rabbit: They spill your tea!
Kanga: They wake up babies at one and three
Eeyore: They made me catch the cold I caught
Winnie the Pooh: They made me lose my train of thought
Tigger: They swipe your strips
Piglet: They clog your pipes
Rabbit: They dig up your garden
Eeyore: They won’t be your pardon
Winnie the Pooh: They eat your snacks
Piglet: They won’t relax!
Rabbit: They chip your tooth
Kanga: They steal your youth!

One day Pooh and his friends discover Christopher Robin missing. They find a note (but I don’t think any of them can actually read). After examining this note, they determine that Christopher Robin has been taken by the Backson!

But Christopher Robin soon returns. He can’t understand what all the commotion is about. Pooh reminds him of the note but Christopher just laughs and points out that it says “I will be BACK SOON!”

When I watched this, it reminded me of the concept of rejection that many of us have in our heads. We are terrified of it, are we not? We freeze in fear of it. We reject ourselves first (by playing small) just to avoid the mere possibility of it. We create all sorts of stories about what horrors will pass if we were to say…fail or be judged or criticized or laughed at.

But what if rejection were like the Backson? What if it were really just a misunderstanding? What if it really doesn’t even exist…

What if the only rejection to fear is the rejection we do to ourselves first in order to avoid being rejected?

How would your life be different if you didn’t fear rejection?

 

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Apr.30.2012

An approval addict plays to her edge…

I believe that life is so much more fun when we are not afraid of being judged. Okay so maybe I look like a dork, but I am having a blast! What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid of being judged?? Post a comment below! I would LOVE that.

 

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Apr.16.2012

How I learned to love Little Miss Bossy

Do you know the children’s book series with those cute little characters called Mr. Happy, or Little Miss Giggles? A few years back Urban Outfitters was selling adult sized t-shirts of them.

I asked my husband which character he would pick for me. I was convinced he’d say Little Miss Sunshine, of course.

He replied without a moment of hesitation, “Little Miss Bossy.”

I was shocked. It really pissed me off that I was Little Miss Bossy. I really, really wanted to be Little Miss Sunshine.

Since receiving this inadvertent diagnosis from my husband several years ago, I’ve wrestled with this part of me. I’d compare myself to other women, the ones who speak in gentle voices and always seem to have it together. “I need to be more like that, if I am ever going to be a ray of light!” I’d tell myself.

Not long ago, I took a personality inventory called The Strengthsfinder. I’ve taken it 3 times actually.

Each time I score high in a theme called Command. It took me a while to bring myself to read the description. I didn’t need yet another confirmation after all… “I’m bossy! I know! I know!”

But when I actually read the results, I was stunned. “People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.” The results also say I have daring ideas, offer usual viewpoints, in short, I challenge people to think differently.

Here’s what one of my clients had to say about me:

“I’m not new to working on personal growth. I’ve long read inspired teacher’s books and heard their lectures; I’ve even made good progress. But Amy helps me take it to a new, deeper level. Doing an inquiry into the belief ‘I don’t count’, I was all ready to give evidence of things I’ve done that prove ‘I do count!’ Instead she suggested that maybe both thoughts were a problem for me, that maybe me believing my actions can either make me count or not count might itself be worth questioning… It sounds simple, but the thought was radical and personally transformative for me. Maybe I didn’t have to count or not count, I could just be. I know I wouldn’t have gotten there without her.”

Little Miss Sunshine might be a ray of light, but Little Miss Bossy can help people see things in a totally new light.

I’m glad I’m not beating myself up anymore for not being more like Little Miss Sunshine. I’m not ashamed of Little Miss Bossy. I embrace her. And because of it, I now help people make radical transformations in their own lives.

How might you be trying to emulate something you aren’t and, in the process, ignoring your true super powers? I call this your persona. And in my brand new coaching program – Coach Yo’Self, I help you unpack your persona so you can uncover your true super powers.

Click here to to sign up for free 15 minute Alignment Call to see if my new program is right for you.

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