What's Running Your Show?

This will probably be the first of many articles reflecting on the teachings of Dr. Pat Allen. I've been attending her workshops and seminars over the last couple of months, and as of this yesterday, I completed my fourth live workshop with her. I'm starting to feel comfortable with navigating the tools she offers, so I now feel I can begin to write about them. While there are so many topics to discuss, I'm fascinated by the effects cortisol has on our emotional well being. If you're familiar with cortisol, you may know of it as the "stress hormone" or what's responsible for your body storing belly fat. While we may not like what it does, it certainly serves its purpose. It's released by the body when we sense a perceived threat (ie. stress), so that the survival "fight or fight" instinct is fueled up, and ready to go. What this means is...we store fat (if the body has to go without food, it needs reserves), we produce adrenaline (strength/energy to fight or flee), and we stop digesting/conducting other bodily processes that require energy. We go into energy saving mode, so we can mobilize our stress response. This is super effective when we truly do need it, but if we're in this state all the time, or too often, it can drain the body, and wear us down.

These are 5 beliefs or mentalities that Dr. Pat Allen references (original reference: Taibi Kahler) that trigger cortisol in the body:

  1. Be perfect
  2. Try harder
  3. Hurry up
  4. Please others first
  5. Be strong

Typically, these are unspoken rules with which we're raised (if we even are), but sometimes they are also explicitly communicated.

To counteract these 5 beliefs, there are these 5 "allowers":

  1. Be excellent
  2. You're enough
  3. Work easy
  4. Please self first
  5. Be open

Being perfect is impossible (though that doesn't discourage some of us :P), though one can be excellent. Trying harder means there is always more to do. Knowing you're enough allows you to be. Hurry up suggests you're taking "too long." Work easy suggests that you're fully capable of what you're doing, and expected to do. Furthermore, I'd suggest that when you're in your Zone of Genius, you are producing excellent work with ease.

Pleasing others versus pleasing the self requires at least its own paragraph. It's not that we can't do both...what's more significant is what we prioritize the MAJORITY of the time. If we're always pleasing others first, there's an inevitable loss of self. If we're always pleasing ourselves first, there's an inevitable disconnect from others. We need both; however, a healthy individual makes decisions from a place of respect for themselves.

Lastly, but certainly not least, we arrive at: Be strong and be open. I'm an innate "be strong" poster child. It has served me in a majority of ways throughout my life, but it has also caused unwanted tension and a longstanding disconnection from feeling, expressing, and processing my feelings. Without that experience, I wouldn't be guiding others through their process of learning how to navigate their emotions, so for that and many other reasons, I am grateful. Nonetheless, one of the consequences has been the need to reduce the effects of cortisol on my body.

Being open requires that we be open to possibilities. There is a magic in the unknown once we realize that it can create space in our lives for things beyond what we ever imagined for ourselves. If you're like me, letting go of the idea of control can be absolutely terrifying, but accepting that which is beyond our control can eventually become liberating...as do the moments when cortisol isn't running the show. I like to often remind myself, "If I let go of this, I could create the space for something even better. Loss isn't the only outcome.

So, with that in mind...I invite you to reflect on this question, "What is running your show?"

What are you ready to let go of? What are you ready to have more of?

I'd love to hear your responses, so feel free to comment below and share where you're at.

To grace, love, and understanding --


Insecurity + Uncertainty

During today's Rituals + Retreats online mastermind session, we discussed the difference between insecurity and uncertainty, and how to navigate them both. For those of you who are interested, but were unable to attend, I wanted to take a moment to recap what we discussed.

First of all, I strongly believe that broadening your vocabulary around emotions, and intentionally shifting your awareness towards recognizing them, is crucial for tapping into your own self-discovery.

What I like about comparing insecurity and uncertainty is that they demonstrate how two emotional states can be closely related, while being completely different.

Insecurity is defined as: "uncertainty or anxiety about oneself," or "the state of being open to danger or threat."

Uncertainty is defined as: "something that is doubtful or unknown."

Even by definition, insecurity can include uncertainty, yet they are distinct in other ways. So, let's dive into them...

To feel insecure is to not feel safe, or to feel unsafe.

To feel uncertain is to not know, or to be unsure.

Recognizing that either one is coming up for you, allows you to learn about your own fear-based response.

Do I feel unsafe? -> Am I unsafe? Oftentimes, we may unconsciously feel unsafe, when the reality is that we're not actually being threatened. We can reinforce our safety in these moments, by coming to awareness in the present moment, and taking note of the ways that we are truly safe. But if you are unsafe, then you're simply recognizing that what you're feeling has a reason, and so, what do you need now in order to feel safe again? What can you do to get that need met?

The same goes for uncertainty. Do I feel uncertain? -> Am I uncertain? Sometimes, we're not actually uncertain, we simply don't like or feel like acknowledging what it is we know. So, to distinguish between: "Do I truly not know?" and "What do know that perhaps I don't want to know?" can be quite helpful.

Once we establish or knowing or unknowing, we can move forward. A certainty of life is that we will never know everything. Uncertainty is non-negotiable; but how we deal with it can greatly affect our experience thereof.

As we navigate this terrain, we shift from awareness to action by asking ourselves the following:

Knowing what I know, how would I like to proceed?

An element of forgiveness is rooted in the awareness that we made the best decision with what we knew at the time. If we could have chosen differently, we would have, so let's accept that there were reasons we did what we did. The past is the past, so all we can do now is look at our reasons, learn from them, and decide whether we'd like to follow different priorities in the future. This is part of being human, choosing to grow, and allowing ourselves to heal the past by learning from our mistakes.

Give yourself some grace. We're all navigating this life the best we can. Aren't we?

With that said, do you know what your reasons are? Do you want to miss out on something potentially great because you weren't down with not knowing? Or, do you want to embrace what you do know, and make the best decision you can? The beauty is...the choice is always there.

For me personally, insecurity and uncertainty aren't worth buying into because of what they could possibly hold me back from. This is a decision we all get to make in our own ways. And let's not discount the value of assessing the things that we are insecure or uncertain about...the reason may be significant enough to rule your decision. The point is...evaluating the reasons why we do something gives us stronger footing in navigating what follows.

Begin by asking yourself what your fear is trying to tell you, and with that information, what do you choose to do?

Owning our decisions builds confidence, and self-trust...which are wonderful allies to have when navigating our insecurities and the uncertainties of life. Which allies do you choose to partner with? How are you different when you align with the allies that you choose?

What's one thing you can do to be HER, or be HIM - the version of you when you're choosing your best teammates? Chances are you already know, and simply needed to take the moment to ask.

Here's to asking the questions, learning to more fully trust ourselves, and embracing who we are throughout the process --  how can you get to know yourself a bit more today?


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