Complaining is a replacement for action

I’ve been reading a great book by Barbara Sher titled It’s only too late if you don’t start nconstant-complaining-about-your-life-and-situationow. At first, this book may seem like an attempt to give hope to the hopeless, over-forty dreamers that seem to have fallen into the rut of complacency and dream amnesia. However, once you dig deeper into the book you discover so many possibilities, no matter your age, wealth, health, or mental state.

This book reinforces the cornerstone and central vision of my coaching practice: “Do you understand your value?” Once my clients understand their value, they see the world differently. Sher takes this notion a step further and really made me, an experienced coach, ponder where I’m going and feel proud about my own leaps of faith in pursuance of my dream of service to others.

Sher also shines the light on those of us who complain about our lives, other people, and our situation and describe it as an excuse for taking action. I can run through the Rolodex of my friends, colleagues and family members and quickly identify the ones who tolerate any behavior or demand thrown their way. Inaction is safe because we aren’t challenging the status quo. We stay in our place and watch unhealthy people continue their destructive behaviors, usually without consequences, while we passively assist with our silence, complacency, and collective pathology.

Before reading Sher’s book I had already began my journey towards mental health, self-care and well-being. I will tell you right now, if you haven’t already started your journey, once you begin, be prepared for fallout from others. People will be uncomfortable and may feel threatened by your changes. They may yell, call you names, say you are wrong, separate themselves from you, talk about you, bully you, drop you from social media and so on. But slowly and surely, they start seeing your metamorphosis as something that brings you happiness and allows you to provide better support, kinder interaction and strength.

People’s disapproval may feel crappy and lonely at first, but as you continue your self-care and self-improvements, it becomes obvious that they are emoting the equivalent of a temper tantrum and you can’t control that. I guess you could go back to the way it was, that would certainly be easier. But I believe you weren’t put on this earth just to go-along to get-along. You were put here to be your most wonderful, healthy, best. Your service to others isn’t to just do what they want, it is to be your authentic self, let your gifts develop and provide service with and through your abilities.

Think about your place in this world. Allow yourself to dream big about what you want to do. Pick up Sher’s book and allow the idea-squirrels to run free in your head.  I promise, you won’t regret trying. Who knows, maybe it will be the best thing that ever happened to you. At the very least, you fail fantastically, discover something you like even better, and have some really great stories to tell your grandkids.

If you need help uncovering your dreams, contact me at Renae@StartHereWellBeing.com. Follow me on Instagram @Start.Here.

Take care! –Renae

Understanding the price of perfection

Sometimprice-of-perfection-10192016es the expectation of perfection is its own prison

Living as a perfectionist can become a prison. It’s not the type of prison with walls you can touch or see, but it does keep people locked up and away from who they are supposed to be. The fear of failure, judgement and shame is a record that plays over and over in the mind of the perfectionist. Perfectionism and being perfect can be summed up as, “Heightened expectations based on idealized outcomes that often extend beyond useful.”

Chasing the “idealized outcome” dragon can start early in a person’s life. Perhaps a child begins modeling a parent’s behaviors or they adopt the perfectionist title because they enjoy the praise and recognition that comes with being the best. The perfectionist becomes even more imprisoned when their practices become compulsions that temporarily provide feelings of control and safety. However, the compulsions must be repeated often to maintain the feelings of security. In addition, the perfectionist can wreak constant havoc on themselves by procrastinating and living in a state of paralysis due to the fear of failure.

Most self-proclaimed perfectionists wear their moniker as a badge of honor and work very hard to maintain that appearance. Fearful of what others will think, I have seen men and women stay in unhealthy relationships, avoid getting professional help for addictions and ignore their children’s outrageous behaviors. By staying, enduring and pretending all for the sake of appearance, they add another pathology to the mix.

For those living or working with/for a perfectionist, most likely, they have experienced the damage left in the perfectionist’s wake. Because the perfectionist environment allows for little or no margin for error, creativity, collaboration and overall well-being becomes diminished. In addition, a toxic loop is created when the perfectionist sets impossible standards and then devalues work that doesn’t meet the elevated standards.

I’ve seen first-hand the pain the perfection-pursuit can cause. Without even realizing it, parents rob themselves of real sharing and deep conversations with their growing children. Children often choose to abstained from sharing failures and experiences for fear of judgement and shaming by a perfect parent.

For perfectionists who feel imprisoned or paralyzed by their behaviors, I encourage you to reach out to a counselor or therapist. They really can help.

For those who would like to learn how to move beyond their moderate perfectionist behaviors, I encourage you to spend time outside of your comfort zone. If it feels uncomfortable or makes you want to puke, then you are on your way. Being uncomfortable and lacking the ability, skills or mastery can lead to amazing growth and self-acceptance. Below are a few ideas to try that are probably beyond your comfort zone. Try to do at least a few.

Repeat out loud, “Perfection doesn’t exist. I won’t fall apart if I’m not perfect.”

  • Re-define perfectionism as one of many tools at your disposal.
  • Use your perfectionism tool sparingly as a way to motivate, improve, innovate or to create a new vision.
  • Be kind, accepting and forgiving to yourself and others.
  • Remind yourself that you and others don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
  • Try something new and difficult. If you fail, show your failure to someone else. Laugh about it.
  • Be still and enjoy the perfection of living and just being. Find perfection in simple things.
  • Watch others and be entertained by their absurdity, bravery and human frailty.
  • Only use the words “perfect” or “perfection” when describing some type of chocolate dessert-thingy.

Please remember to love who you are, right now. You are awesome just like you are and absolutely no one loves you because you are perfect. They love you because you are amazing.

If you would like to re-block your perfectionist thinking email me at Renae@StartHereWellbeing.com. I never charge for email advice and if you need one-on-one help, we can set up a no obligation discovery session.

Daily Prompt: Facade

via Daily Prompt: Facade

I have spent most of my life behind a facade. The happy-all-the how-far-do-you-bendto-fit-time persona I adopted, although captured a lot of my beliefs and essence, was starkly different than my real life.

Displeasure, disappointment and pain were suppressed and later showed-up as an eating disorder and depression. The incongruity between my reality and what I emoted created my own special kind of “crazy.” I became, what can only be described as an emotional-contortionist. Think chameleon effect on steroids!

As I grew up, contorting allowed me to create a persona that fit in, was accepted and kept me safe. Now as an adult and Life Coach, I no longer live this way, but meet a lot of women who do. They create a persona; they twist and conform until they become a puzzle piece that aligns perfectly with people who really don’t know them. Emotional-contortionist don’t allow friends and loved ones a chance to know, appreciate and value who they truly are. The fear of rejecting the “real me” is much greater than managing a persona.

Managing my persona was exhausting and I needed to shed it, but I didn’t know how. Then came a couple painful opportunities in my mid-forties that forced me to get real.

First, my six and a half year relationship ended. The entire relationship had been a sham that I co-fostered. At first I criticized the ex for his deception, however, now that I am several years removed from the pain and loss, I acknowledge we were both liars. He was lying to me and I was lying to me. Ha! I guess we had one thing in common!

Closing that chapter gifted me with new insight, introspection and understanding. Over the next year I spent a lot of time alone digging into my thoughts, growing stronger and becoming more of my true self. Then, quite by chance, I met and married an honest, kind and encouraging man named Dan.

Yeah, happy ending! No, not quite. I still maintained a facade and family pathology that I tended to, like a gardener to her prize roses. I protected and hid the dysfunction and abuse I had experienced as a child and as an adult. I lied by omission to Dan and my children. I was filled with pain and feelings of guilt and shame that often erupted into extreme emotional highs and lows.

My second painful opportunity came when I decided to expose myself and my deception. I wondered, “Will they still love me?” But it didn’t matter anymore, I had to tell my husband and children my family secrets. I had to reveal to my children that I had lied their entire lives. I had to tell my husband of two years that I had deceived him. I was terrified and knew I could lose everything.

But I didn’t. My children, although overwhelmed, sought to understand my ongoing internal conflict and provided support during my recovery. My husband expressed pride and just kept loving me. The real and authentic me.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Stylish

via Daily Prompt: Stylish

Style can be a learned. But we all know those people who can take a burlap sack and turn it into something stunning. I gave birth to one of those people. At age three, my daughter Reanna adorn herself, almost daily, with a rabbit stole (purchased for $3 by her 5-year-old brother at a garage sale), a rainbow sundress (3 sizes too big), Christmas tree stockings, red glitter shoes, and a wig she wore backwards so the hair appeared longer.

blog-09222016
The fashionista then and now.

It didn’t matter if we were going to the sitter’s house or to the store, if the dress and stockings were clean, she put on her “best” and dressed to impress. She was naturally beautiful and drew much attention, with or without the attire. But something about her demeanor changed when she wore the things she found beautiful. She walked a little taller and smiled a little bigger. She was a star.

She is still a star to me. Today, Reanna is a teacher and still enjoys those occasional times when she gets to doll-up in an “only she could pull it off” outfit. She is still lovely and draws a lot of attention without even knowing it.

The three-year-old Reanna taught me a lot about showing up, being who you are, and not caring about what the rest of the world thinks. Because I was so busy raising my two little ones, I missed many of those lessons. I look back now with a different set of eyes and see light in a child not encumbered by societal rules and norms. She was just expressing joy through her pretty clothes. I see more clearly now the importance of that type of authenticity in all stages of life.

When we show up authentically, we walk taller and smile broader. I know I do. When my clients connect to that piece of themselves there is a shift in thinking. I like to imagine that they go back to their three-year-old selves and get to, once again,  experience the most stylish fashion: being themselves.

 

You are the dumbest person in the room and so is everyone else.

Have you ever been in the company of incredibly smart and confident people and started thinking, “What am I doing here? I’m self-confidence-cartoonsuch a fraud. If they only knew how little I know…” You get the point. Everyone feels this way at some time or another. So here is a bit of wisdom I wanted to pass along.

A few nights ago I had the privilege of being invited to a get together with some of the brightest people I’ve ever worked with. During our conversation, each of these brilliant professionals shared that at some point in their careers they didn’t have a clue about what they were doing. They used phrases like, “totally lost,” “out of my wheelhouse,” “faked it until I learned it,” and “I still don’t have a clue.” I was fascinated! You see, I’ve seen these people in action and they are ROCK STARS! Each of these individuals possess a common saving grace. Each person is acutely aware of their abilities, limitations, and know when to reach out to others for help, mentoring and guidance. This is how they are successful and proceed with confidence.

Up to this point I just figured people were divided into two groups: the brilliant people and the others. The ‘others’ just kind of stumbled through life, possess average intelligence, common sense and street smarts. I was an ‘other.’ However, upon further examination, I’m rethinking my views, because I’ve been doing exactly the same thing the brilliant people do.

I’ve known for some time that I experience what psychologists call impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome occurs in high-achieving women more often than men, limits a person’s ability to accept their accomplishments, resulting in a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. I can’t count the dreams I’ve had where the common theme was not graduating from high school or having my degrees taken away.

I’ve met other women who suffer from impostor syndrome. Just like me, they attribute their success to luck, timing or simply tricking others into believing they are skilled. They almost always think everyone else is more competent than they are.

Today, I bring good news: everyone, at one time or another, feels like they aren’t good enough. Someone, at some time, has looked at you and thought you were the cat’s-pajamas and they were a pile of nothing. Once we really understand that everyone is human and they feel human emotion, we can take ourselves less serious, feel more empowered, love who we are and reduce the negative self-talk that plays in our heads.

Awareness is the first steps to self-empowerment, self-love and self-acceptance. Take the time and really get to know yourself and the brilliance that you bring. And just wait, someone will ask for your expertise because they don’t have a clue about what they are doing.

 

 

“Were you a model, before….?”

“Don’t regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.” I’m not sure who is responsible for that quote, but I love it. It rings especially true at this time in my life. I’m almost 50. Four of my friends from my rural graduating class of less thhow-old-is-shean 30 have passed away. Three of these beauties died over the last 16 months. Although I think of my friends Scotty, Glori, Michelle and Shellie, so very often, my blog entry today isn’t about putting life into perspective or taking time and enjoying life. By 50, you really should have that figured out. If you don’t, then there is little I can write about that will change your mind.

This blog is about words and phrases we say and use with strangers and people we love. I call them compli-slams (compliments/slams). A compli-slam occurs when you preface or end a compliment with something negative. I made up this word, but feel free to use it. I liken it to getting a pat on the back and a punch in the stomach at the exact same time.

The picture I included in this blog is utterly ridiculous and demonstrates a compli-slam. No one would ever tell a mother of a baby, a child, a teen, a twenty-something that they “look good for their age.” No, we just say “what a pretty baby,” or as my mother used to say when she saw a “homely” baby, “Oh, what a sweet baby.” She explained later, that she just couldn’t lie. Therefore, saying a baby was sweet was a good option for her, because she believed all babies were sweet. Even though a little displaced, I think my mother was on to something.

“Where you a model, before..?,” said the young man, to my 50-something, knock-out, red-headed, legs-to-die for friend. He didn’t complete his compli-slam, as I’m sure the absurdity of the end of his question, finally reached his pea-sized brain. Instead, he just starred at her. She let him off the hook and didn’t say what she wanted to say, “Before what…..the horrible accident? Before everything turned to shit? Before small children started running, pointing and screaming?” Nope, unlike me, she kept it classy. And no, she was never a model, not now and not before; but she is truly lovely.

For women, feeling old usually begins at about 38*** when the courtesy-carding starts. For a while you really believe your tired-ass looks 20, but one day it hits you, “I just got courtesy-carded!” Oh, and as an aside, that crap happened to me about 6 months ago when I was out with my 27-year-old daughter. He asked for both our ID’s. I just stared back at him and said, “Really? You’re embarrassing yourself.” I wrote on the ticket before leaving, “I think you must be new, so I will help you. Don’t pull that crap with a grown woman. Just keep being nice and continue giving great service.” Yes, I tipped him well. Even idiots have to eat.

We are all getting older and it is really okay. But, as I get older, I notice the compliments are different. I don’t believe what is happening is malicious in nature, it’s just a way of talking about and to, middle-aged and older people. I also believe that this behavior is passed down from generation to generation and an accepted part of growing older. I guess I just want everyone, young and old, to be thoughtful of the words they say. You see, lovely is lovely and beautiful is beautiful no matter our age. We never need a caveat before or an explanation after a compliment is delivered.

I’m going to give a few examples (not just about age) of what I’m talking about and then make suggestions of a nicer delivery.

  • “You look good for your age”
    • “You look good.”
  • “I’m not usually attracted to _______(older, fat, skinny, short, bald, fat-faced, horse-faced, etc.), but I like the way you look.
    • “I’m attracted to you.”
  • “Were you a model, before….?”
    • “Are you a model?”
  • “I bet you were smokin’ hot 20 years ago!”
    • I’ve got nothing for this one. Clearly, you need to run fast in the other direction if someone says this to you.
  • “You have such a pretty face, if only you lost a little weight…”
    • “You are beautiful.”

Some of you reading this will say, “Oh, come on, they know what I mean.” And that may be true; your family may have accepted that when you give a compliment you will immediately take it back by saying something negative. Stop doing this! We have all done it and it’s a horrible habit. It won’t be easy creating new behaviors and you will feel your mouth readying to expel a compli-slam, but resist! Just say, “you look nice” or “lovely.” It takes less words and time. Let your compliment be a compliment and not a starting point for creating self-doubt and self-loathing in the people you love.

Getting old isn’t easy, but is truly a blessing. Even though most of us feel smarter, better and stronger than ever, the mirror doesn’t lie. We are all aging, and all who live a long life will take this journey.

***Oh, and I’m sure most of you are wondering when the youth degradation starts with men. Well, it doesn’t. They get to morph effortlessly into “distinguished,” or “aged-well” butterflies. Yes, men are like a fine barrel of whiskey; they just get better with age. (Oh, God! You really do have such a great sense of humor!)

Ms. Gnaw comes to visit, again.

When we are in times of stress, our minds allow the most negative thoughts to come whos-showing-upracing in. Many of these thoughts linger close to the surface as they are always with us, even when we have success beyond anything we ever imagined.

But alas, we are human and even the most successful, together person you know struggles with negative internal dialog. It’s damaging and in some cases create such anxiety that we become frozen in fear.

Many years ago I worked with a therapist that encouraged me to give my reoccurring thoughts, negative feelings and dialog a name. By giving it a name and a face, I was able to turn the feeling into something more visual. I came up with Ms. Gnaw. The word gnaw, all by itself, is a gross word to me. Definitions include “to bite or chew on, especially persistently; to wear away or remove by persistent biting or nibbling; to waste or wear away; corrode; erode; to trouble or torment by constant annoyance, worry, etc.; vex; plague.”

Pick any of these definitions and they fit Ms. Gnaw. Her words were like haunting elevator music, created by my own negative words, fears and doubts and played tirelessly in my head. She left me in pieces and made me question my intelligence, abilities, and if I were lovable.

Ms. Gnaw appeared, much like an evil version of Mary Poppins, rapping at my mental front door. I let that clever bitch in every time, even though I knew she’s wasn’t bringing cookies. No, she brought a basket full of hate and discontent and an umbrella used to shield me from any shred of positive self-talk I may have had left.

Ms. Gnaw dominated my emotional state of being for so long. Although I knew in my heart that I was smart, kind, good-enough, a good mom, a good wife and a hard worker, one slip or crack created by self-doubt allowed her in.

Why did I let her in? It was simple. I knew her and she was familiar. I believed that she may be able to help me crack the whip and get myself into shape. But that thinking is always flawed, as nothing good ever comes from treating anyone mean, including yourself.

But there is a hero in my story. She is magical, loving, kind, forgiving and allows me to use even the most disappointing pieces of my life as beautiful learning experiences. She is Value, or Val, as I call her. She is the very best of ME.

When I keep my thoughts on Value, the sound of Ms. Gnaw becomes softer and sometimes inaudible. She says, no matter the situation, “Renae, my darling, this is only as important as you make it. Without value it has no strength.”

Let me share an example. Since I am a relationship coach I will use a dating experience of one of my clients, Debbie (not her real name), age 49, shared. Debbie went on a date. The date went well and she really had a great time. After the date, they said sweet goodbyes and committed to another get together. A week went by and he didn’t call. She finally broke down and texted and he never responded.

Ms. Gnaw would have had a field day and said,”You are too old for him. He wants a younger woman. No one will want you. There is so much better out there and he knows it.”

Val would have said, “Lovely Debbie, he wasn’t your guy. It’s that simple. And that’s okay. Just because he didn’t call you back means very little to your overall life and happiness. It has no value. You are okay. You have everything you need to continue being amazing. Your time will come. Just keep being you. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. ”

See the difference? Val allows me to assign value to the emotion I am feeling. We give our feelings the power to overtake us when we let emotions turn into a feeding frenzy of doubt and misery. Don’t do it. Practice giving your feelings and emotions value.

Through giving my feelings value I learned that sometimes I can feel bad or sad and that’s okay, too. But normal (not inflated by Ms. Gnaw) feelings of sadness and despair passes and are necessary in our personal growth.

When you fail or are disappointed try asking yourself these questions:”Where am I in this moment? Am I safe?” Yes. “Am I loved?” Yes. “Are all of my basic needs being met?” Yes.

The first time I heard these questions, I found them quite odd. But overtime and with practice, the questions became helpful and allowed me to check in with my emotional well-being.

Whatever you name your self-doubt or negative thoughts, watch for them.  Keep the door shut. Create value and them arm yourself with it. Ms. Gnaw still knocks everyday, I usually don’t let her in, but if I do, Val is usually already sitting next to me, drinking tea.