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 --

Xx

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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5 Ways We Unknowingly Sabotage Relationships

I've been fascinated with relationships since I was 5 years old. Seriously. I remember playing tag in the kindergarten playground, and being curious why nothing happened when I was tagged by a boy, and nothing happened. Wait, to my intrigue/disappointment, "coodies" were not real.

In kindergarten, we're guided by imaginary germs, things we've been told, and what we've made them mean. As adults, what imaginary things are we afraid of? The stories change, but the premise remains...we create the world we live in.

If I create my world, why don't I have the relationship I want?

What if you do?

Sometimes we sabotage the exactly thing we want for unknown, or unconscious reasons. Usually, they're "survival notes" our unconscious has made along the way. Our thoughts and behavior give us insight to what our notes contain. The unconscious mind responds to questions, which is one of the reasons self-inquiry offers us greater insight into who we are. I've come up with a few signs to look for that may indicate that we're unconsciously sabotaging our relationships. Are you ready? Here they are:

  1. We're not fully available. If you are playing games and ignoring the other person for fun, that's your choice; but know that you're not fully available. Let's distinguish between time availability and emotional availability because they're both important. If you're busy, and getting back to someone as you can, it's different from intentionally being unavailable. Yes, your time and energy should go towards what's most important to you, which most likely doesn't include a coffee date with someone from Bumble; however, if you truly want to find someone t build a relationship with, you're going to have to set some time aside. As for emotional availability, if you're not in a place to connect with someone, take the time for yourself to do the personal work  you need to do. In the big picture, you'll be happy you did. I'll use myself as an example. I want an incredible person to build a life and lasting relationship with...that means that I'm going to have to put myself out there, and be willing to do the work, and set time aside to meet new people, and invest in myself and my life, so I sync up with the vision I hold. 
  2. We're not present with the other person. If we're distracted by our thoughts (ie. I need to get my car washed, and pick up my dry cleaning, etc.), it will take us out of the moment. Make a list of what you need to get done, and do it when you can. If a thought comes up, ask, "Is there anything I can do about it now? Do I need to do something about it now?" If both answers are no, then set it aside and re-engage with the lovely person who decided they wanted to spend this hour with you. If you are constantly checking your phone while sitting across the table from someone, you're (perhaps unknowingly) indicating that you'd rather be somewhere else. I'm not saying to never look at your phone, but checking it incessantly is an indicator that you may benefit from putting the phone away, and being more present with the person right in front of you. Other ways to be present is to make eye contact, ask questions, and genuinely connect in the moment.
  3. We make up a story that isn't true. We decide that them leaving the toilet seat up or down is passive aggressive. Sometimes, it's easier to make a list that separates the actions ("What happened?") and the meaning that was applied ("To me, it meant..."). When we can separate the two, we can see the situation more clearly, and see what we brought to the situation. 
  4. We're scared of what we want. This is a major one. "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough" territory. The thing is our dreams should scare us...it's because we don't know them yet, and on a primal level anything unknown feels like a death threat. Consciously, we know that our dreams won't kill us, but we're hard-wired to survive, and our survival instinct only knows that we can survive what we have already experienced. That doesn't mean that we can't experience something new...rather we just need to know that that is where our fear is coming from, and we can choose whether or not to let that steer our actions or not. 
  5. We make someone else responsible. The moment you blame your partner on a regular basis, it's time to take a step back. You are choosing to be with them after all. Keep that in mind. What is their behavior provoking in me? Of course, it's easy to say s/he "made me" do it. But that's never actually true. You DID it. They DID it. But you didn't make them do anything, and visa versa. As long as you make someone else is responsible, you remain in a place where they have power over you. Take back your power, and step into the space of, "I trust myself. What would I like to do?"

The first step to breaking unconscious patterns is to become aware of them. Congrats! You've begun the process simply by being here. If you're wanting to create a different dynamic, you'll continue to step #2: Track the pattern back to where you first learned it. How old were you? What was going on at the time? How was this thought of belief intended to serve or protect you at the time? By appreciating where it came from, and the positive intention behind it, you've now acknowledged that it's been at work behind the scenes, and you now have the choice to expand the belief. Ask yourself, "How do I now choose to expand my beliefs? Who do I become, and who am I as I embody this expanded belief system?" *I will say that this taps into a process that can take several months to unfold, however, we can dive into this process of personal introspection at any time we choose, so I offer a few suggestions here, in case that's something you'd like to do. 

Now that we've discussed 5 major ways we tend to sabotage our relationships, and how to begin the process of understanding ourselves more, I'd like to close on this note: People are who they are, not who we want them to be. The same is true for us: Do you want to be who you are, or who others want you to be?

Just as we want the freedom to be ourselves (and loved and accepted for it!), so does the person next to you. It's a part of our humanity. So, give yourself some grace, realize we're all doing the best we can, and see what happens when you show up with the intention to be present with yourself, and those whom you're with.

If you experience is anything like mine, it'll change how you see the world. 

One more thing :) I would like to mention letting go of the past as honorary #6 for this list. Accept your past for what it is, and that it got you here. Every present moment is finite, and living in the past takes away from the possibility of the present. Allow yourself to move on, be it from from a relationship, a hurtful fight, whatever may weigh you down. Thank the other person, or the experience for being in your life. Approach the lessons you've learned, and the time you've shared with reverence. Know you'll always have that. Just because you choose to walk away to move forward (or someone else does), it doesn't erase all the memories. Be grateful for them. Take them with you how you'd like, and step forward as the brilliant, refined, evolving person you are.

Go get 'em xx

Picking Up the Pieces

"Shattered glass is only a hazard if it's not cleaned up."

I was on a run with my dogs the other day, when I came across a shattered bottle of Smirnoff Ice. As I ran through, I kicked the larger pieces aside, in attempt to clear the way. Three strides later, I realized that if I didn't pick it up, who would? I thought about a kid playing outside. I thought about the person whose car was parked along the curb. I thought about the potential harm that could be avoided by doing something now.

I had dog bags with me, so I turned around and picked up the pieces. As I did this, I had this realization and moment of gratitude.

I had watched the film, "Remember Me," earlier in the day. It opens up with a graphic scene in the NY subway. As I watched it, I recalled a particular night in New York City when there were several opportunities for the evening to go terribly wrong, yet miraculously, nothing actually did. As I cleaned up this broken bottle, I thought to myself, "I am grateful for my safety...especially during the pivotal moments when I've needed it the most. This act is in honor of my gratitude."

After I picked up all the pieces, and I walked away to dispose of the glass, I thought to myself, "Things break, but shattered glass is only a hazard if it is not cleaned up." When we address what's broken, we can contain the aftermath.

The more we walk over the broken pieces, the smaller and more numerous they become. Over time, we may stop noticing that they're there, until we step on a piece, and endure more unnecessary pain. What was once a quick clean up becomes time consuming. It takes energy to avoid. The grand irony is that the sooner we take the time to clean it up, the more time and energy we save.

We always have a choice to do something about the shattered glass we encounter. What do you choose to do?

The Dating Yips

My brother is a golfer, and has introduced me to a term I'll never forget: the yips. It's common knowledge in the golfing world, but until now, it was a completely foreign concept to me. Earlier today, as we were discussing coaching practices together (he's a certified Newfield Network Coach, and I'm completing my Transformational Coaching Method certification), he coined the term, "the dating yips." I told him I had to write about this.

You may be wondering...what is a yip? It's is an involuntary muscle movement or spasm that affects the ability to carry out a smooth hand/wrist movement. In golf, it's typically seen in putting. Instead of a smooth movement through a swing, a player decels as a yip interferes with executing a smooth putting motion. It has nothing to do with skill level, and has affected masterful golfers during their professional careers.

What I find the most fascinating is that the yips are accompanied with a loss of previously demonstrated level of skill. More to come on this in Part II...

The yip represents a psychological, often sub- or unconscious barrier that comes up involuntarily. It's like a hidden trigger that's pushed without your conscious awareness. This is where a dating yip comes in. I would argue that the dating process is where we're inherently vulnerable to coming up against mental and emotional barriers that show up (usually at inopportune times), and totally throw us off our game.

I would say dating yips are the things that come up and get in the way of us being who we want to be, especially when it comes to our love lives.

What are a few examples of a dating yip?

-When you decide you like someone, and all the sudden you act completely different around them

-When what you know you want is out of accordance with what you're accepting (ie. texting an ex when you know you no longer want to be with them)

-You really like someone, and you get scared and run away

-You really like someone, and you come on way too strong

-Almost any time feelings and emotions aren't aligning with our behavior

So, how do you get rid of the yips? The Dating Yips - Part II will focus precisely on how.

For right now, I'll leave you with this to think about:

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich argue that the yips can be counteracted by first making a fist with the left hand "as the left-hand side of the body is wired to the right hemisphere of the brain – the side that controls automated rather than conscious behaviour."

We can work with what we're aware of, but we have to explore ourselves in a deeper way to discover the undercurrents that are at work on a subconscious and unconscious level. The benefits in doing so include: less yips (yay!), less self-sabotage (ie. you have consistent motion towards experiencing what you really want), and tapping into a sense of personal empowerment because you can trust yourself and how you participate in your life.

Yips may be part of the process, but we can decide how long it takes to learn from them, and move forward. After all, yips only happen when we're in a stagnant state, so as we stay in motion and maintain momentum, we're less likely to be affected by unexpected bumps in the road.

Here's to consistent and intended movement - and learning from our yips.

Love + light,

Megan

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