Archive for January 2015

The Importance of Self-Trust

Lonely OakJanuary 29, 2015

How well do you trust yourself, I mean really trust yourself?

For most of us, myself included, self-trust can be tricky. We have a tendency to second-guess ourselves, not listen to our gut, or hang onto negative memories from the past when we’ve made mistakes or “bad” decisions. These things and others make it difficult for us to trust ourselves and thus create challenges in our relationships, our work, and our lives.

Lack of self-trust, while debilitating in many ways, is quite common. There’s nothing wrong with us for not trusting ourselves… it isn’t something we’ve been specifically encouraged or trained to do. Like appreciation, authenticity, or many other important aspects of our life and growth, the first step in our process of expansion is to notice and tell the truth about why it can be difficult. In the case of self-trust, once we’re able to honestly acknowledge our challenge with it (and have some compassion about it), we can start to consciously choose to trust ourselves in a more real way.

What makes it difficult or challenging for you to fully trust yourself? Take a moment to consider this. The more aware of this we can be, with empathy, the more likely we are to move beyond it and let go of our “story” about why we can’t trust ourselves.

Here are a few things you can do to enhance your ability to trust yourself:

1) Listen to your inner wisdom. We all have inner wisdom. Some of us refer to this as our intuition, others call it our gut, and still others relate to it as our higher consciousness. Whether you call it one or all of these things (or something else), I believe that we’re all very intuitive and that we each have a deep sense of what is true and right for us in most situations. As we practice listening to this inner wisdom (through meditation, prayer, quiet time, breath, conscious thought, and more), we begin to trust ourselves on a deeper level.

2) Be willing to take risks, go for it, and make mistakes. So often we don’t try things because we think we might fail. I love Michael Jordan’s quote about this, he said, “I missed 100% of the shots I never took.” While it can be scary for us to take risks in life, one of the greatest ways we can build our capacity for self-trust is to go for it… even if we fail. As we build up our ability to take risks, we also grow our capacity for courage, which in turn expands our ability to trust ourselves.

3) Forgive yourself! This is a life-long process and is vital as it relates to self-trust. One of the main reasons we don’t trust ourselves is that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for mistakes we’ve made, pain we’ve caused, or regrets we have. These “demons” from our past haunt us and we use them as evidence to not go for things and not trust ourselves. As we enhance our capacity to forgive ourselves, we heal from the past and breathe new life into our experience. This creates a genuine sense of enthusiasm for both the present moment and for our future. And, as we’re able to forgive ourselves, we can let go of our attachment to being “perfect” and having to do everything just right… which then allows us to trust ourselves more freely.

Think of something important in your life right now – a decision you’ve been on the fence about because you’re worried about making the wrong choice (i.e. not trusting yourself). Given what we’ve been discussing here, if you fully trusted yourself in this moment, what would you do in regards to this important issue? I bet if you listen to your inner wisdom, allow yourself to take a risk, and know that you can forgive yourself no matter what happens – the answer to the question “what should I do?” in this situation is quite clear.

What can you do to enhance your self-trust and listen to your inner wisdom more? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more here on my blog below.

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How to Create What You Truly Want in 2015

athletics trackJanuary 8, 2015

As we embark on another new year of life, I find myself experiencing a mixture of emotions about 2015.  I’m excited about the possibilities of this New Year and inspired by the energy of creation that exists at this special time.  There is a magical quality to this first week or two of the New Year that I always appreciate.

At the same time, I find myself feeling a sense of trepidation about setting new goals. As I talked about in my post last week, New Year, Be You, there seems to be this pressure we put on ourselves at this time of year to focus on how we can “fix” ourselves and our lives, instead of simply appreciating who we are, how we are, and the amazing lives we already have.

Because of this, among other things, most people I know and have worked with over the years, including myself, have a somewhat funny or disempowered relationship to goal-setting for the New Year.  Whether you’re someone who spends lots of time and energy creating your New Year’s resolutions or you decided years ago that you wouldn’t bother (since in years past, by mid-January, most of them have gone off the rails or out of your mind anyway); I don’t know too many people who are genuinely inspired, motivated, or empowered by their New Year’s intentions in a sustainable and real way.  How about you?

Here are some of the main reasons I think we aren’t authentically inspired by our goals or empowered to make them happen:

  • Our “goals” are often about fixing what we think is wrong with us
  • Once we set them, we feel a sense of pressure to make them happen
  • We worry that we won’t accomplish or achieve what we want, and then we’ll feel like failures
  • We don’t get the kind of support we really want and need
  • We forget that our intentions are designed to support us, not stress us out
  • We get too focused on the outcome and forget about the experience
  • We allow competition and scarcity to take over

For these and other reasons many us either don’t set powerful intentions for the New Year or we do so out of fear in a way that creates more stress in our lives.  One of the best things we can do to shift our perspective about this and create an empowering relationship to our process of setting goals for 2015 is to understand some key distinctions – intentions, goals, and actions.

Intentions – Our intentions are states of being and authentic desires.  In other words, we may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy, wealthy, or more.  Our intentions are our high ideals and are usually at the root of our motivation for any of our specific goals.  Most of us don’t really want goals like a new relationship, more money, or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves – we want them (or others) because of what we believe we will experience by having them in our life.  By starting with our intentions, we get right to the source of what we truly want.  Intentions are the core and the magic of all of our goals and desires.

Goals – Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable.  We want to be able to track our progress and know for sure if we are reaching our goals or not.  This doesn’t have to be a competition (with others or ourselves) and doesn’t have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame, or guilt (which is sadly how we often relate to our results).  Having our goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest.  And, the paradox we have to always remember when setting and working on our goals is that we can’t be attached to the outcome – which will make us crazy and take us off course with our real intentions.  Our goals simply take our intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.

Actions – Creating action-oriented practices that support us to manifesting our goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly, and monthly process for our success and fulfillment.  Coming up with action plans that inspire us, connecting to the goals we’re working on, and fulfilling our intentions is vital to all of this.  This is where the rubber meets the road, and is often the place where things break down for us.  The breakdown with actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows us to let life take over and we lose our focus) than it does with any “failure” or “weakness” on our part.  Having practices that support us and help us take the baby steps needed to manifest our goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.  It’s also important for us to be kind and compassion with ourselves when we fail, as we sometimes do, with our actions.  If we learn to forgive ourselves and get back on the horse when we don’t do the specific things we plan to do, it allows us to give ourselves the space we need to get going again, instead of simply giving up when life gets in the way.

Here is an example of how this could look in a specific area of life.  Let’s say you have a desire to make more money (which is a very common one that many of us have).  Start with your intention.  For example, “My intention is to experience a real sense of abundance, peace, and freedom with money and to easily manifest income.”  Then create a specific measurable result-oriented goal.  “I will generate $100,000 by 12/31/2015.”  The next step is to come up with a few related actions/practices.  “I will read three or more books this year on manifesting money. I will set up two or more meetings per month to talk to people about new money-making ideas. I will make a plan each month for specific things I can do professionally to increase my income.”

The final piece of the process is creating some kind of regular accountability and support structure for this.  You can hire a coach, join a mastermind group, create a success/ accountability partnership with a friend, and more.  Having someone, or a group of people, you make commitments to and whom you empower to hold you accountable, will make all the difference in the world.

Have fun with this.  Don’t take it or yourself too seriously… it’s just life, you’re allowed to make mistakes, screw things up, and fall down (which we all do and always will).  Be kind to yourself in this process and in this New Year.  And, when we remember that our intentions (those states of being and authentic desires) are what we are truly after (not the specific outcomes or actions), it can allow us to take the pressure off of ourselves, have more fun, and trust that things will manifest as they are meant to – especially if we open up and let them show up!

What are your main intentions for 2015?  How can you create empowering support and accountability for your goals and actions in this new year? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog.

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New Year, Be You

party blowers and paper streamersJanuary 1, 2015

With the New Year upon us, the annual “new year, new you” phenomenon is all around – in the worlds of advertising, media, self-help and more. And while this time of year can be a great catalyst for positive change in our lives, what if we made a commitment to live our lives in 2015 focused on who we are, and not so much on what we do, what we accomplish, what we look like, what we’re striving for, and more? One of best things we can do in this New Year is to focus on who we really are and what’s most important to us, instead of who we think we’re supposed to be.

Who would we be without our accomplishments (or failures), our degrees (or lack thereof), our bank accounts, our experiences, our title, our home, our status, and more? As simple of a concept as this is for us to think about and discuss, at least on the surface, it’s actually quite difficult for many of us, myself included, to genuinely separate who we are from what we do (or have done or not done). These past few years have taught many of us, in some cases quite painfully, how quickly the external circumstances of our lives (and the world) can change dramatically and things can be taken away.

The deeper question for us to ponder here is really one of the big philosophical questions of life, “What makes me valuable?” While this is something we have all thought about to some degree, most of us don’t really engage in this inquiry on a regular basis. And, when we do, we often think that if we just got more done, lost some weight, made more money, took a vacation, accomplished a goal, had more meaningful work, made it to retirement, or whatever, then we’d be “happier” or feel more “valuable.” Sadly, as we’ve all experienced, this is not usually the case and is also one of the main reasons why most of our New Year’s “resolutions” don’t really last.

What if, in addition to having important goals, we could also expand our capacity for appreciating ourselves and being who we really are this year – having nothing to do with our external circumstances? What if just being ourselves, the way we are right now, is good enough?

Being ourselves actually takes a great deal of courage, commitment, and faith. It’s a process of letting go of many false beliefs we’ve picked up from the collective consciousness – that we have to look good, be smart, know the right people, say the right things, have the proper experience, make a certain amount of money, and more, in order to be happy and successful in life. Being ourselves can be scary and counter intuitive, difficult and even off-putting, and, at times, lonely.

However, being our authentic self is liberating, exciting, and fulfilling. When we have the courage to just be who we are, without apology or pretense, so much of our suffering, stress, pressure, and worry in life simply goes away.

Here are a few things to consider and practice as you deepen your awareness of and capacity for being who you truly are in this New Year:

  • Tell the truth to yourself. Think about and own how much of your self-worth is based on what you do, how you look, who you know, what you’ve accomplished, etc. (i.e. the external stuff). The more we let go of being defined by the external, the more freedom, peace, and power we can experience. And, as we really get honest with ourselves, we may realize that outside of these external things, we don’t really know who we are. As scary as this may seem on the surface, it’s actually great news and can give us access to a deeper and more meaningful experience of who we are.
  • Appreciate who you really are. What do you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with anything external? In other words, what personal qualities (of being, not doing) do you value about yourself? The more we’re able to tap into what we appreciate about who we are (not what we do), the more capacity we have for real confidence, peace, and self-love.
  • Practice just being you. As silly as it may sound, we all need to “practice” being ourselves. We have a great deal of experience being phony or being how we think we’re supposed to be. It actually takes conscious practice for us to be able to just show up and be who we are. We can practice alone, with people we know, and with total strangers. This is all about awareness – paying attention to how we feel, what we’re thinking, what we say, and how we show up. It’s not about getting it right or doing anything specific, it’s about letting go of our erroneous notions of how we think we’re supposed to be, and just allowing ourselves to be who and how we are in the moment.

Have fun with this, talk to others about it, and have a lot of compassion with yourself as you practice – this is big stuff for most of us. This year, instead of trying to be a “new” you by fixing a list of things you think need to be fixed about you, just be yourself and see what happens.

How can you accept, appreciate, and simply BE yourself in 2015? What does this mean to you? What support do you need in your life this year to step more fully into who you really are? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more here on my blog.

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