This time of year, especially in the States, we are flooded with reminders to be thankful and grateful for all that we have in our lives.
But sometimes life gets pretty tough, and it’s hard to find our thankfulness. It’s hard to stay in touch with our gratitude when we are experiencing loss. It’s hard to find joy in the midst of great tragedy.
So I just want to remind you today:
it’s OK to feel however you need and want to feel.
You don’t have to be grateful just because a holiday has come up. You don’t have to let go of what you are really feeling because of how you are “supposed to” be.
And maybe our feelings can be more than just either/or. Maybe we will be able to find moments of laughter through heartache, or find joy in reliving old memories. And maybe we can even find a spark of gratitude in tiny moments, in little gestures of kindness.
Maybe we can feel it all.
And maybe, when we say it’s OK to feel exactly how we are feeling today, we will notice becoming grateful after all – for the little kindness shown to ourself.
However you are feeling today, give yourself permission to have and express those feelings. I hope you are able to feel more than one way today, and I hope you know that you are never alone.
Saying No seems like it should be easy. It’s just 2 little letters after all. We learned it so well when we were toddlers!
The little word “no” can be one of the toughest words to get out. And I’ve started thinking about why.
Is it about avoiding conflict? Or maybe it’s all about timing, or not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings? Or could an inability to say “No” be tied to underlying fears or insecurities?
5 reasons we might have trouble saying no:
1. We have been trained.
Remember that 2-year old whose first words included Dada, Doodoo, and… No? Oh dear, that wasn’t acceptable! We train our children to stop saying no, and heaven forbid they say it to a teacher. We have been trained to be compliant, and that makes speaking up for ourselves and our needs a little difficult.
2. We want to be liked.
It feels BAD to disappoint someone. To see their face drop, or to get a sad-face emoticon response. We want people to like us, and we often internalize their disappointment into messages of our own worth and likability. That makes it hard to say no.
3. We want to be “good.”
This goes along with the compliant learning, but I think there is something in us that often tells us that “good” people are always helpful and always social. We don’t stop to think about how always being that way would make a person burn out or become resentful (uh – opposite of good).
4. We feel rushed.
Because of our ingrained training, we often don’t take time to think about our answer, and the automatic “Sure!” comes right on out. In our instant gratification society, taking a little time to think about an answer can be frowned upon (and that takes us back to #2 – no frowns desired).
5. We fear rejection.
I think this is the bottom line. When we tell someone “no,” they have the opportunity to dislike us, form an unflattering opinion of us, or dismiss us completely. We fear isolation, disconnection, and disapproval.
These desires and fears are real. They are powerful. And fear can keep us in a really unhappy place if we let it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is possible to say No to others and still be liked, still be good, AND take care of yourself too. We’ve had a lot of practice at being compliant – now it’s time to incorporate a little self-care into the our lives, and stop saying yes when we really mean no.
It will be OK if you do.
Click the image to learn more about my free webinar June 24th!
Christine Morgan is a Professional Life Coach, Counselor, and Teacher. She began her career empowering others through Social Work and Education, yet her personal journey is a muddier road than any resumé implies. She knows the effort it takes to cope, to believe in yourself, and to let go of what other people think or expect. If you are tired of feeling stuck or overwhelmed, and would like new skills and support on your journey, contact her today!
To Sarah, it seemed like everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Her boss was snappy, giving orders to make some changes to a project without even a hello. Two of her coworkers greeted her “Good Morning” with a point to their earphones.Someone even gave her outfit for the day a scowling once-over. She knew it was going to be a rough day.
And it was. Bickering started with the person in the next cubicle – via email. Someone decided they liked the looks of her sandwich, and it disappeared from the fridge. Then the cherry-on-top of this soul-sucking day was in a department meeting, when blame for a failed project (disguised as accountability) started getting tossed around the table like a hot potato.
So how does Sarah, this enlightened fictional woman, deal with this day? How does she not absorb all of the swirling negativity, the anger, the tossed about attempts to create shame?
When the world is swirling around you in a negative way, it’s hard not to absorb it. But you can, with one simple reminder.
It’s not about you.
None of these events need to be taken personally. In this scenario above, none of these people are even thinking about Sarah, and in your life, they typically aren’t thinking of you either. These people are thinking about themselves.
People are scowling because of their own internal dialogue, their own feelings of low self-esteem, of dissatisfaction, of disappointment. People disengage with the humans around them because of a drive for task achievement. People hurl blame out of their own fear of rejection, of conflict, or of insecurity.
It’s about them – the things they are going through, the experiences they are living and have lived. It’s about how they feel about themselves at this very minute. It’s about how their mother spoke to them last night on the phone. It’s about how they messed up at home and fought with the kids. It’s about how they don’t feel peaceful, joyful, or filled with love.
It’s about their tough day, and it doesn’t have to be yours.
So how does Sarah make it through the day?
Awareness. She lets it all go. She sees each person as trying to deal with their own path in this life, and she knows that it doesn’t have to color hers. She takes a deep breath, exhales the negativity, imagines a bubble of light surrounding her, and she treats herself to a special lunch. She makes it through her day at work, and then surrounds herself with positivity – friends, family, online support, books, shows… connection – any chance she gets.
All the while remembering it’s about them. It’s not personal. It could be directed at anyone (it often is), and it says nothing about Sarah’s like-ability, her capabilities, or her worth. She let’s them own their own behaviors; she lets them be responsible for their own way.
And that night in her prayers, she asks the Creator for these cranky, scared, insecure, imperfect people to be blessed as they each travel their own, very difficult, roads.
And she asks for a new chance to shine light tomorrow.
Charging ahead, working on those “New Year, New You” resolutions. Headed to the gym before work, reading a new book each week…
Oh wait.. no?
Are you feeling defeated?
Are you losing some steam?
Feeling discouraged or overwhelmed?
Psst – it’s totally normal.
Have you heard of limiting beliefs? It’s a concept we talk a lot about in coaching. Limiting beliefs, simply put, are lies we tell ourselves that stop us from succeeding, that stop us from even moving. We’ve picked them up over the years, through watching our parents figure out their own place in the world, from crabby teachers who don’t like children, from bossy friends telling us how to fit in – even from society at large giving us “information” on what women and men “should” be like.
Limiting beliefs tell us when we “can’t” do something. Falsely. These lies create little stories in our head and attach emotions such as fear, doubt, or shame. Powerful, paralyzing emotions. And those thoughts, paired with emotion, over time, become habits. It becomes normal to sabotage our dreams, to believe we can’t achieve goals we set.
Samples of limiting beliefs:
I can’t quit, addiction is too powerful.
I’m never going to be as good as she is, so why try?
I don’t deserve it anyway.
No one even cares what I do anyway, so why try?
It doesn’t matter what I do.
No one will like me that way.
Being rejected is too painful to risk it.
I’m just going to embarrass myself by trying.
I’m not good enough.
Lies. All of them.
What if … we stopped believing the lies?
Does it seem possible to stop believing the lies?
I will admit, it’s not easy. It takes time, it takes practice, and it takes a real desire for change. And sometimes, a new wave comes up and you have to start over again. (Another thing that’s normal!)
But the good news? These thought patterns ARE YOURS. You are the only one who has the power to change them, and you can overcome!
How to begin to overcome your limiting beliefs:
1. Make the choice. First you have to want to, really want to, let go of those old thinking patterns. It’s hard – even when they are unpleasant, they are still comfortable. They are known. So the first step is to set your mind, set your will, choose to step out of this dirty comfort.
2. Get some help. Because these thoughts are habits, they are quite comfortable. So it’s hard to recognize when we are falling into these old traps. Get a friend or a coach who will hold you accountable. Someone who will gently remind you of what is truth, what is possible, and what you can really do!
3. Replace the lies. You need new truth to fill the thought space of your old thinking. And you need to remind yourself constantly of this new truth! Put post-it notes on your computer screen, your bathroom mirror. Change your passwords, your screen-savers, your lock screen on your phone to phrases that will remind you of all that you can do.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice. It takes time to train your brain. Just like learning to play the piano, it takes time to learn a new skill. So be kind to yourself while you learn to make new statements and let go of the old.
Samples of overcoming statements:
I am more powerful than addiction.
With God’s help, I can do anything.
I am doing what I am meant to do.
I am meant to fully live this life.
Through my work, I can help others.
Everything I do is a learning experience.
I am enough.
Your statements will be yours. They will lift you up, remind you of who you truly are and all you meant to be.
So play with this idea. Talk with a friend about what holds you back and what would get you going again.
Because we have to recognize it in order to conquer it.
And we can.
For some of you, that question brings up a feeling of panic: Wait, am I?
For others, it inspires instant rebellion: What are you going to do about it if I’m not?
Whoa! Hang on there…
I’m certainly not here to tell you ANY rules, I’m here to help you CLAIM the ones you choose as your own.
Here’s what I mean:
We get so caught up in our day to day life, that I think sometimes we forget that we are adults and that we have choices. Some of our responsibilities can be so heavy that we feel like we have no choice… but we ALWAYS DO.
You could always choose to walk away. You could always choose to say no. You could even choose to give up. You always have the choice.
Sure, every choice has a consequence, and some of them feel dire. But the choices you make today, right now, even those that help you fit in and to follow rules given to you, those also have consequences.
So if you ever feel like grumbling because you are always being told what to do, or feel forced to make certain decisions, remember that you are choosing that path. You are choosing it because the consequences are the easiest to deal with, because you want to have other options in other areas of your life, or because you have let go of your personal power. There are a myriad of reasons why we choose, even subconscious ones, but we are always choosing.
So let’s claim our choices! We choose our circumstances. We choose our steps. We choose our path.
We choose our rules.
Life is for living.
Don’t let rules in your life
take your personal power.
You are an adult.
You make a choice.
~Be blessed! Christine
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Reconnecting to the Worth and Wisdom in each of us