Archive for worrying

Express Yourself

May 12, 2009

How honest are you?  While most of us aren’t bald-faced liars who go around deceiving people consciously, if we’re honest with ourselves about it, we often don’t fully speak our truth or express all of our emotions.  We’ve been trained and have in turn trained ourselves to be “appropriate” and to say and do the “right” thing so we can get what we want and look as good as possible in most situations.

For me, being a “nice guy,” a “people pleaser,” and wanting others to be impressed with me often poses a challenge when what I want to say or express doesn’t seem to fit into the “likeable” category.  Most of the people I know and work with have some “story” about themselves they want others to believe and therefore only feel comfortable sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings that match up with this story or the public “identity” that they put forth.

However, what if, even with whatever fear or resistance we each have – we were able to fully, passionately, and honestly express ourselves?

One way we can do this, which I talk about in Chapter Five of Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Principle 3 – Express Yourself), is to lower our “waterline.”  This idea is based on the metaphor of an iceberg, with just the tip of it popping up above the surface, and the rest of the iceberg (who we really are) down below the waterline.

The exercise that I share in the book and often do in my workshops, which I originally learned from my friends and mentors Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John, is called “if you really knew me.”  Each person in the group has a minute or two to complete the phrase, “if you really knew me, you’d know…” and then share some things about themselves in an honest, transparent, and vulnerable way.  It takes courage, safety, and trust to do this.  As I’ve seen time and time again, this exercise can have a profound impact on everyone involved.

Even though I’m feeling nervous as I write this and I worry that this is overly personal or possibly inappropriate for me to write in an “advice article” like this, I will share with you some things you’d know about me if we were sitting in a circle, doing this powerful exercise together.

If you really knew me, you’d know that I spend a lot of time and energy worrying about my physical appearance – obsessing about certain aspects of how I look (my hair, my skin, my eyes, my teeth, my weight, and more) and worrying that I don’t look good enough, that people can see me aging, losing my hair, and not taking care of myself – and that they’ll judge me or won’t like me because of it.

If you really, really knew me you’d know that I can’t seem to figure out how to stay on top of my life, my work, my finances, and all of my many personal and professional responsibilities in a way that feels balanced, workable, or peaceful.  Much of the time I feel like I am drowning, messing things up, and simply “pretending” to be happy and grateful.

If you really, really, really knew me you’d know that I believe my work, my message, and the gifts that I have are incredibly powerful, important, and meaningful.  I’m sometimes blown away by the impact I have on others.  I want to have an even deeper and bigger impact on people and the world, but my ego seems to think that I’m not doing enough, not being appreciated in the way I deserve, or that I better hurry up and “make it” before people really find out how full of it I am.

Wow…I can’t really believe I just shared all of that.  And, it feels both scary and liberating to have done so.  When we’re willing to own and express our truth, we can free ourselves from needless worry, hiding, and denial.  This allows us to be ourselves, live our lives with passion, and go for what we truly want in life.

Real authenticity is not some set of rules or a self-righteous definition about how people “should” be in life…it is the willingness and courage to be real, true, transparent, and vulnerable in the moment-by-moment, day-by-day experience of being in relationship with others and living this magical, mysterious, wonderful, crazy, exciting thing we call life.

Authenticity Challenge: What You Can Do

Think about some important things you have not been willing to say or some intense feelings you have not been willing to express recently.  Make a commitment to yourself, even if you’re feeling scared or uncomfortable about it, to express yourself honestly about these important things.  Write them down, call a friend of family member, or talk to someone you fully trust.  What would they know about you if they really knew how you were feeling right now?  Reach out in a bold, vulnerable, and honest way and see what happens when you express yourself like this.  It can be magical and one of the most liberating experiences in life!  Have fun…

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Letting Go of Worry

March 17, 2009

How often do you find yourself worrying these days?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “95% of what we worry about never happens.” She recognized that I was the “worrying type” and was trying to help ease my mind. Although this rarely worked, I appreciated her sentiment and know now that she was right.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier. I continue to work on this, let it go, forgive myself for it, and choose different ways of being in the face of my fear. And, I still catch myself worrying more than I’d like to admit – about money, about the future, about how things will turn out, about what people think about me, about the well-being of my loved ones, about the state of the world and economy (especially right now), and much more.

However, no matter how much we worry, it never helps. And, as we look deeper at what worrying really is – a set-up for failure, a negative attractor, and a denial or avoidance of feeling our true feelings – we see that it can have a damaging impact on our lives, our work, and our relationships. When we worry, we’re really getting ourselves ready to be upset or angry – assuming something will not work out in the future.

Our worrying not only creates stress, it has an impact (usually negatively) on what we create and manifest, and on our experience of life in general.  Worry is really a superficial emotion.  It’s clearly something that many of us are all familiar with, can share with others in a way that will garner sympathy, empathy, or even pity, and is easy for us to go through day to day life experiencing. However, underneath our worry are usually deeper emotions like shame, fear, guilt, hurt, or anger, many of which are more difficult for us to feel and express.

If we’re able to tell the truth and face our deeper feelings, we won’t have to waste our time and energy worrying.  We can then deal with the root of the issue, not the superficial impact of it (which is what worry usually is).”

There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared, angry, hurt, and even “worried,” in and of itself. These emotions, like love, gratitude, excitement, joy, and others are very important to our human experience. Emotions that are felt deeply and expressed appropriately give us power (regardless of what they are). Emotions that are not felt deeply, that are denied or avoided, and are not effectively expressed, can be damaging.

Worry is always a sign that there are some deeper feelings and issues for us to address. It’s often a good reminder for us to get more real, take better care of ourselves, and pay attention.

Below is a list of some things we can do when we get worried (which many of us are these days, especially given the state of the economy and the world, among other things.):

  • Ask ourselves, what’s underneath my worry (i.e. why am I really worried and what am I really feeling?)
  • Face, feel, and express these underlying emotions – get support from others in this process if we need it.
  • Once we have felt and expressed these emotions, choose how we want to feel and what we want to create, instead of feeling like a victim.
  • Appreciate ourselves for the courage it takes to be honest and to deal with the challenging situations or emotions we’re experiencing.
  • Focus on the good stuff in our lives (i.e. be grateful for what we have, who we are, and what we’re going through)

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This Too Shall Pass

March 4, 2009

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a negative place, worrying that things won’t get any better (or even that they will get worse)? Or, have you ever had things going so well in your life that you just knew it wouldn’t last? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, your answer to both of these questions is, of course, “yes.”

Many of us seem to forget that there is a natural ebb and flow to life, especially when things get challenging, stressful, or scary. Right now, there is a lot of agreement in our world about how “bad” things are – particularly in relation to the economy. And while I do believe it is essential for us to confront things in life directly and not put our heads in the sand, it seems that many of us (myself included at times) tend to forget an important truth about life…this too shall pass.

Ironically, this same phenomenon is also true when things are “good.” Life constantly evolves and changes…nothing stays constant. We waste so much of our precious time and energy worrying about things, instead of appreciating and embracing them in the moment. Worrying that bad times won’t pass (which they almost always do) or that good times won’t last (which they almost never do) takes us out of the present moment and causes us to suffer, miss out, or both.

You or some of the people around you may be experiencing significant pain or challenge right now – based on the economic situation or other factors. Or, you may currently be experiencing a great deal of success, opportunity, and joy in your life. At some level, most of us experience a certain amount of real joy and real pain all the time, simultaneously.

Whatever our current experience of life may be, it always serves us to remember that things are in a constant state of flux and that whatever is going on in our lives right now, will pass. As difficult as this is for each of us to remember, especially when we’re scared, it can be a powerful reminder and an important mantra that we hold onto and share with others as a way to keep things in perspective.

Here are a few things you can do to enhance your ability to stay present, grounded, and grateful – regardless of the external circumstances in your life.

– Count Your Blessings – Whatever is going on in your life – no matter how “good” or “bad” things may seem; there are always many things for us to be grateful for. Take some time right now to think about or write down some of the many blessings in your life. And, as a bonus – share them with others today and this week.

– Support Others – Reminding others that things can and will get better (if they’re tough) and that it’s important to appreciate and enjoy what is happening (if things are going well), is a great way to remind ourselves, get out of our own head, and be in service. When we support others, we also support ourselves in a healthy and generous way. And, our authentic support of other people helps make sure we don’t spend and waste time feeling sorry for ourselves or getting too caught up in our own narcissism.

– Reflect on Your Past in a Positive Way – Think back to times in your own life when you’ve overcome challenges and/or created great success and fulfillment. Remembering that we’ve had tough times and risen above them and that we’ve been able to appreciate ourselves, our lives, and our success – can help us remember how strong and capable we are in the present moment. Allow your past to empower you!

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Accepting What Is

February 18, 2009

This week’s article definitely falls into the category of “we teach best what we most need to learn.”  For much of my life, and especially recently, I have struggled to accept certain things about myself, others, and life that I don’t like.  Being someone who is committed to change and transformation, the idea of “acceptance” has always seemed weak, wimpy, or like the admission of failure or powerlessness to me – although I have pretended to understand and believe in the power of acceptance for a long time.

The truth is, I have been scared to embrace acceptance – worrying that if I truly accept aspects of myself that I don’t like, things about others that bother me, or circumstances in my life and in the world that aren’t okay with me, then somehow I wouldn’t be motivated to change them in a positive way or, even worse, I would get resigned about them and they would always stay the way they are – which, of course, to me would be “bad” or “wrong.”

The famous quote by Carl Jung, which I have quoted in both of my books and find myself saying all the time comes to mind here, “What you resist, persists.”  It seems that I, and so many people I know, work with, and talk to, are constantly “resisting” (more like fighting against) the way things are in our lives.  Whether it’s with our body, our work, our spouse, our family members, our friends, our co-workers, our money, the state of the world and economy (especially these days), or many other things – we’re often arguing with reality instead of accepting it the way that it is.

Even though it can be scary and counter intuitive, acceptance is the first step in transformation.  It’s very difficult and quite stressful (as I know from a lifetime of experience) to try to change things from a place of non-acceptance.  Acceptance is not resignation or agreement; it is simply telling the truth and allowing things to be as they are.  When we accept ourselves, others, and life the way it is – we can create a real sense of peace and let go of much of our suffering.  And, from this place of peace and truth, we’re more able to not only appreciate life, but also to manifest the kind of circumstances, relationships, and outcomes we truly want.

Action:  What You Can Do

Make a list (in your mind, in your journal, or on a piece of paper) of some of the things in your life right now that are causing you the most stress, pain, or anxiety.  These things may have to do with people in your life, your work, money, health, things happening in the world, or anything else.

As you think about or write these things down, ask yourself if you’re willing to “accept” them as they are right now.  You don’t have to like, agree with, or want them to be this way…but, if you can start to accept these things, people, and situations in a genuine way – your ability to be at peace with them (and your life) and ultimately to change them in a positive way will be enhanced significantly.

What can you do to accept things as they are in your life right now?

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