Playing big vs. staying small is not always a straightforward choice!
A couple of years ago I read Playing Big by Tara Mohr (loved it). These are my top 5 bits of inspiration from her book, which I highly recommend you read.
The go big or go home myth...
I personally like the phrase "go big or go home" however I think that there is an easy misconception that playing big is all or none thing. I find that playing big, like everything else, takes practice. We may have the bandwidth or energy to play big in one arena of our lives but not in others. There is nothing wrong with this. Playing big is a choice just like staying small is a choice. If we want to expand, fully embrace the fullness of who we are and be our bright and shiny selves we will need to practice showing up in the world that way. The practice leads to increased confidence and decreased fear so we are willing to take a few more cracks at playing big.
My ocean analogy goes something like this...
Playing big to me is like easing yourself into the ocean. When you dip your toes in the water it feels cold and then slowly your feet acclimate as you walk into the water. Each wave brings a startling splash to a part of your body that is not yet immersed. If you are anything like me you ease your way up to your waist where you think with exasperation "screw it" and then dive in head first to get the acclimation over with. After swimming around you start to re-emerge and the breeze hits your skin and all the sudden being out of the water feels cold and the water feels warm. This is how I see playing big, you have to ease yourself into it, it will feel uncomfortable along the way until you acclimate to the feeling of playing big. This comfort level allows you to play big in more areas of your life until you realize that playing big is your default where playing small used to be your status quo.
Hello love, today I want to talk about the power of re-defining!
Having hopes, dreams, and desires is an awesome thing. I am always encouraging my clients and Desire Map Workshop attendees to think about what they want and how they want to feel. Like Danielle LaPort says in The Desire Map, "knowing how you want to feel is one of the most potent forms of clarity you can have".
What do you desire?
I'd like to encourage you to write out how you want to feel, what your desires are and what it all means to you. What's the "why". Then I want you to take a step back and think about your goals. If you want to feel "healthy" what does that mean to you? Look up the definition of "healthy". Does the definition of healthy trigger you in any way? Are mainstream ideas and suggestions regarding being healthy in alignment with what you hope for as you lean into what healthy means for you? At this place in your life does healthy mean something different than it did before?
Analyze for clarity!
This is one of those times that I am going to encourage you to get really analytical. I want you to consider your hopes, dreams, and desires and look at what they all mean to you. How do you want to feel? What other words you could use to better represent what it is that you really want. Then re-define so that everything is in alignment for where you are in life right now.
Re-defining desire as a self-improvement tool.
I love to reserve the right to change my mind. I think it is also important to take the opportunity to check in with myself and see if what I wanted before is what I want now. With life changes, growth and learning new things comes shifting preferences, positions and feelings about our lives and the world around us. You can use the concept of re-defining and apply it to any area of your life that you haven't looked at in a while. Maybe taking the time to re-define a few things could reignite your passion and excitement to try something new, create some change or honor a need that is long overdue.
The flip side...
Defining our fear can also be a worthwhile endeavor. So often we are afraid of what will happen if we go after our dreams so we put off taking action or making big decisions. I just saw this Ted Talk by Tim Ferris on the power of digging into our fears. Recommend watching it after you re-define your hopes and dreams so you can see how fear may be holding you back. I'd love to hear what ah-ha takeaway you have after doing these two exercises!
Why are we so resistant to change?!!
I think it is because we have such a desire to be in control, to avoid uncertainty and to know what to expect. Unfortunately, we aren't in control of our lives, there are multiple outcomes to any given situation, and 20/20 vision almost always comes in hindsight. I believe the key to adjusting to change without losing your mind is to embrace the process of adapting. I have a few tips and tricks listed here that I hope you find helpful:
Balance is a Myth
The struggle to find and maintain balance is exhausting. The sweet spot of having everything in order is brief at best. There are too many moving parts to life to have everything put together all of the time. I believe that a part of adapting to change is to accept that there will be times when things get turned upside down, and the flow of life is interrupted. Change affects all aspects of a situation, and it takes a while for all of those pieces to settle back into place.
Course Correction is Critical
It is easy to get worked up when your routine is off. When this happens, take notice and acknowledge what is going on. What part of the upheaval is problematic? How would you like for things to be different? Identify what isn’t working, why it isn't working and use that information to make small changes. These changes (course correction) slowly add up and eventually help get things to a new normal. Give yourself time to process and observe what is going on. That clarity will help you know which course corrections will be required to get you back on track. *You may need to make many adjustments.*
Processing is Important
Frustration, anger, overwhelm, irritability and a desire for things to go back the way they were are all valid responses to change. When change is upsetting, it is important to work through your emotions, feel all the feelings and use them as a guidance system to inform what you need. You can process internally, verbally, through writing and movement. Exercise is an awesome physical outlet for processing.
Change Does Not Equal Chaos
When our routines are affected by a change, we can feel very much out of control. It can seem as though a wrecking ball has just come crashing into our life. When change hits you hard, it is important to remember that everything is changing all the time. If we allow for adjustments to our way of living and adapt along the way, things will feel much calmer thus leaving you feeling more in control. If you look for the ways change has messed up your life, that is all you will see. It might be helpful to look at the way that things have remained consistent to give you an alternate perspective.
Adapting is Key
Resistance to the inevitable (change) wastes vast amounts of brain power, emotional energy, and physical exertion. When we allow things to shift and make small course corrections along the way we save ourselves anger, frustration, resentment and open ourselves up to enjoying the process, learning new lessons and increasing our ability to be in the moment. Being in the moment is the only place life is lived. The past is in the past, and the future is in the future, all we ever have is this single moment.
Transformation is a Journey
Sometimes we experience life changes that are so big the whole of who we are is affected. Coming to terms with those changes can take a lot of time and adjustment. I love this quote by my teacher, Dr. Martha Beck: “Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.” Metamorphosis is a process that requires time to reach full completion.
I've been thinking about how easy it is to play small so that we don't have to challenge ourselves to try, show up, get disappointed or fail. How many of you have talked yourself out of something that you really wanted because it felt so damn monumental? Because it felt easier to pretend like you didn't want the thing?
It is amazing how insidious the phenomenon of playing small can be. It can sneak in and affect so many basic wants, needs, and desires much less the epic ones that make our hearts flutter.
How hard are you willing to work, wait, hustle, sweat, cry and climb till you get where you want to go?
Are you willing to....
What do you want my dear? What will it take to get there? What is one tiny step you can take to maneuver yourself in the direction of that thing?
Don't worry I'm not going to start rapping to you via my blog! I did think about it but a quick glance of "hustle & flow" lyrics were not at all appropriate for this modern day feminist life coach so you will have to get your musical groove on solo. I SO badly wanted to have an inspired soundtrack for your psyche as you read this, but I have no music game. Like zero. Like I need Pandora because I just don't manage music (I know, I know this is something I am working on). #goals
A couple of months ago I hired this bomb ass business and strategy coach. I had more homework than I have ever had before! I was insanely busy! She demanded my excellence all while being divinely grounded and funny. She is real. She is a perfectly imperfect human who does not make any excuses for herself. She is organized, to the point and allows for personal vulnerability. I have been deeply moved and very inspired (in too many ways to count) by this bad ass boss chick. I have such deep respect and serious admiration for this woman.
We started out with getting my biz house in order and then we worked on strategy. Serious hustle. Weeks and weeks of work. The groundwork is set, the direction is clear, my goals are teed up so from here on out my appointments will be quarterly. Now it's time for the flow. Implement and observe. Implement and observe.
BUT here's the thing.
Mastering the art of doing without doing takes some serious presence of mind. I keep asking myself "what" do I "do" because doing is WAY easier for me. I know how to bust my ass to get things done, but relinquishing (perceived) control is much harder for me. I am writing about this because this is very hard for me to admit. I do not want to be in resistance to the flow. Flow is important. Flow is amazing.
I'd like to master the art of doing without doing. To find the intersection of hustle and flow. I want to have fun with the hustle and bustle and then enjoy the ease of flow without getting perpetually stuck in one or the other. Giving my fear and resistance a voice is important for allowing it to sit center stage, to acknowledge it, and then let it pass. All things are temporary. If you are anything like me you too struggle with either being stuck in the hustle or the flow. One wave is easier for you to ride. Take note which one feels more comfortable and which one you resist. Let yourself acknowledge where you are in resistance and why. Give it the credence it deserves and then.....let it be.
The upside to my resistance is that I am quite relaxed. I am reading a book I love. All of my annuals are planted! My house is clean. My laundry is *mostly* done. My sheets are washed and smell delightful. I have a ton of open time this week to drop back in and connect with my strategy, to do some of the actionable items on my list and remind myself why I set the goals I set and then let them inspire me to do the things required to achieve those goals. Thus allowing for the intersection of the hustle AND the flow.
I've recently caught myself thinking "yes, I deserve this" when something I've hoped for comes true or while enjoying an experience that I may have otherwise felt guilty about. This feeling of deserving has snuck into my thought process. I've started wondering how it happened. If I scan back 5+ years I remember a time when I wasn't sure what I wanted. I had no specific desires other than to achieve, to prove I was good enough. I did not know what contentment or deep joy felt like.
Most everything I wanted was what I thought I was supposed to want.
I was unaware of my basic preferences. If you had asked me what movie I wanted to see, what kind of chocolate I preferred, where I wanted to go for dinner, I would have answered each question with; "whatever". I spent all of 2012 methodically trying to figure out what my actual preferences were and which of those preferences were correlated with happiness, joy, and bliss. After I figured that out I started to explore what it was to dream, hope and desire for more. My dreams started very small and have slowly expanded. A lot of The Desire Map process, by Danielle LaPorte, helped me learn how to want what I want and be ok with the longings of my heart.
I learned how to be ok with my desires, to embrace them. To get creative in figuring out how I could crack the code and actually get what it was that I wanted. I was hard-wired to believe that I had to work really hard to get what I wanted, that hoping and dreaming were a waste of time and that I could only "have" certain things. Other things were outside of my reach. This is pretty common with my clients too. I have one client who diminished a major accomplishment because "it felt too easy.....so of course the contest was rigged, right?" I worked with two clients who couldn't get clear on what kind of raise they wanted to ask for until they worked out what they felt they deserved. Knowing what your bills add up to or what it might cost to get a mani/pedi every once in a while has nothing to do with what a woman thinks she is worth.
What you think you deserve is directly connected to what you are willing to ask for, request, demand or fight for.
In my reflection, I realized that my journey to live my best life had to start with getting clear on who I was, what I needed, what I wanted, what I was willing to make changes to create and now what I deserve. It is a cool but odd thing to enjoy something and think "yes, I deserve this". We can only have what we believe we deserve. Our worldview, culture, a family of origin, generational baggage related to money, sex, lack and privilege all affect what we think we deserve.
I'm pretty intrigued with the law of attraction, manifesting what you want and neural linguistic programming.....but this piece my friends.....this thing about getting to a place where you become SO BOLD that you actually believe that you are worthy of your desires, that you deserve the longings of your heart. I think this is the missing link, the act of believing in one's own worthiness, enoughness to embrace your good fortune and realize that you deserve the goodness that has come your way.
Yesterday morning I woke up early with a desire to sit and contemplate the state of things in my life. I slipped downstairs in the wee hours of the morning and opened up the window so I could hear the birds sing their springtime songs. I lit a candle and sat at my desk with a hot cup of coffee, my vision board, and Desire Map calendar that doubles as a journal. I grabbed my Truth Bomb deck by Danielle LaPorte (if you don't know what this is you can find out here) and started flipping through the cards. I stopped when I came across the one that said: "Take up space". All of the sudden I realized how infrequently I stop to carve out contemplation time for myself. Being a full-time entrepreneur, wife, doggie mommy and supporter of my community I don't have time for myself unless I create it. I literally have to block time off time on my calendar for myself.
I spent about 2 hours looking at my calendar, planning my week, reviewing what had transpired over the last few weeks and year to date. I re-defined my annual goals, I reminded myself what my core desired feelings are, I wrote myself a thank you note, I journaled, I listened to the birds, I thought about my life.
I unearthed what was just under the surface:
Taking up space isn't selfish. It isn't a luxury. It is MISSION CRITICAL for deepening self-understanding, setting trajectory, course correction, allowing for insights, healing, having aha moments and finding clarity.
Today I have something a bit more sensitive on my mind. You see over the last 2 weeks I have had conversations with TEN different women who confided in me that they are victims of sexual assault. Over half experienced sexual molestation or rape as children. When I say, children, I mean 12 or younger. Many have had not one but two or more incidences of assault. Many experienced self-blame and denial about what happened to them, it took a couple of them many years later (as much as 20 years or more) to be able to finally say the word "rape" just audibly enough for someone else to hear it.
All of these women have wanted to avoid the perception of being weak, broken, or a victim. Most perpetrators were people they knew and trusted. I had one woman ask me "Am I stupid? How did it take me so long to figure out what happened". In every conversation all I had to offer up was "me too", "you aren't alone", "it's important to get support from a good therapist". The statistics for sexual assault are daunting. One in every 6 women is a victim. Think about that the next time you are in class, at work, in a restaurant. Take a head count. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The reason you feel alone is because we are so worried about what people will think if they find out that something bad happened to us. We don't share our stories because we don't want to admit the truth of the matter. However, when we keep these secrets we dis-empower one another because we lead each other to believe that we are alone when we aren't. Of course, you want to pick and choose who you talk to and how you share your story because it is important to be mindful of vulnerability hangovers. It is also important to note that a huge majority of our society places blame on the women that are the victim rather than the person who committed the assault. Law enforcement can be scary to interact with and not all therapists leave us feeling supported.
Many women I know share the experience of either being afraid or living in fear of being assaulted (because it might happen again or it's happened to other women we know). We are cautious. We carry our keys in between our fingers so we can protect ourselves, we get escorts to walk us across dark parking lots, we check the back seat and under the car before we get in, we scan rooms and position ourselves accordingly, we avoid people or situations where we get unwanted physical touch (even a pat on the shoulder can feel alarming and unwanted). Being on alert is second nature.
As a social worker turned life coach and survivor of sexual assault I have a theory. I think that women who have a history of assault are more inclined to experience fear related to taking risks and trying new things than people who have not experienced assault or violence. I think this is because the fear we experience (which is valid) is difficult to differentiate across all life experiences. It is my impression that the fear one has when you want to take a leap of faith is a different kind of fear than when you are on alert for self-protection even though it feels the same. So many things trigger regular rational fear HOWEVER I think that for women who have been assaulted this fear gets confused with and feels like old fear which then paralyzes you from taking action or making decisions. I am focusing on fear today but I believe that sexual assault victims also struggle with self-doubt, self-criticism, perfectionism, fear of failure and confidence in a more magnified way as well.
Simply quitting your job, moving to a new city, starting a new relationship, asking for a raise, going for the internship can feel scary. When you want to create change in your life and you notice your fear paralyzing you from making a decision or taking action it might be worth taking a moment to evaluate whether or not the origin of the fear is related to uncertainty, lack of information, being unfamiliar with trying something new, not wanting to fail OR if it is triggering a past experience.
If you live in Sioux Falls and you or anyone you know could use some support, check out the Compass Center, a non-profit organization that offers therapy and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault AT NO COST. You can find more information here.