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

Five Things We Can Do for Ourselves That Also Make Us Better Partners

One of the cornerstone theories I coach by is: If we focus on being our best, our relationships automatically benefit.

Most relationship issues stem from one or both individuals having a personal struggle that then strains the relationship. This stress compromises communication, and can throw us into crisis mode. When we're amidst our fight-or-flight response, everything that doesn't help us either fight or run away is physically suppressed.  This limited resource state can be the opposite of what we need to constructively problem solve, and shift into action to resolve the issue at hand.

While this may vary for everyone, what I personally strive for is to participate in a relationship dynamic wherein we can trust each other to handle  our own stuff, and we also know we can count on each other to tackle life's challenges together. I think of it as a flow between making decisions collaboratively and independently. Some couples like to make all their decisions together, and others focus on sharing the important ones...what matters most is what's best for you, and your relationship.

While the art of navigating relationships involves weaving between interdependence and autonomy, much of what helps us create successful relationships is connected to the ever evolving relationship we cultivate with ourselves. 

Here are five areas where what we do for ourselves also benefits our relationships:

  1. Personal hygiene - I'm beginning here because physical affection reflects extraordinary love.  When hygiene and pheromones are just right...the way your partner smells to you is intoxicating (in a good way). No reason to jeopardize that by letting yourself slide in the self-care department. Personal hygiene is indicative of one's self-esteem, so assess whether your daily habits reflect you at your best. If being close to someone is something you want, being the self-respecting person who takes pride in taking care of him/herself is a great way to honor yourself and your relationship.
  2. Your state of mind regarding your career - Yes, there are elements of our jobs that we simply don't like, but they come with the territory. So, we either do them, or hire them out; the choice is ours. Our job satisfaction can vary greatly on the perspective we bring to the work we do. If you're in a job you do not like, it may be time for an accept/reject conversation. The accept segment involves recognizing that there are reasons why you are doing what you're doing, and there's an acceptance that lies in acknowledging your reasons. The reject segment pertains to the things you refuse to accept, and decide to change. That would include beginning to look for another job, or committing to creating supplemental areas of income, so you begin to step into the possibilities available to you. Complaining about work, and bringing that home every day is not only taxing on you and your soul, but it can also damper your relationship. Also, if we're complaining and hyper-focused on the negative, we are often negating or neglecting other positive elements in our lives. So if we need a reminder, remember there's this person you care about who has chosen to spend their days with you; what do you want your influence on your time together to be?
  3. Fun (Yay!) - Are you having enough fun? You most likely knew the answer to that before you even finished reading the question :)  If you're a YES, you're a rock star, proceed to #4. If you're a no, you have plans to make! What can you do to bring more fun into your life? In what ways can you have more FUN together?
  4. Kindness towards ourselves - We tend to be our own toughest critic, so it can take a concerted effort to give ourselves some grace. Being kind to ourselves generates good energy, which then radiates to those we're around. Can you think of how it feels different when we're around someone who's in a positive state of mind versus someone who's in a negative energetic state? Which would you rather spend more time with? The person we spend all of our time with is ourselves, so pick your roommate accordingly ;)
  5. Knowledge of our passions - You know when you do something that excites you and you feel an amazing rush? What are a few of the things you do that engage you with your passion? Not only do our passions bring a richness to our lives, but they also amp up our personal magnetism. We are naturally drawn to passionate people. There is a distinct vibrancy to them and how they live their lives. It doesn't have to be all the time, but we do need to make time for the things we're excited about. Have you had a moment when you fell a little bit more in love with someone by seeing them do what they love? That's the feeling we create as we engage in our passions and share them with the world.

Now I'd like to hear from you! What other things have you noticed that make you feel good, and also enhance your relationships? Please share your experience in the comments below.

To the art of interdependence and independence xx

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