The four years before I launched my business, I created a plan that would get it all rolling within three months. I also had a plan that would take me through the following nine months and generate enough income that would sustain my business. I even had investors lined up to help with that initial launch. I would dream about what it would be like to do the things I loved the most while having the freedom to create my own schedule and generate an income that could support me and my family. I created this plan within a matter of one month. I then spent the next four years coming up with any excuse to NOT launch that plan. I was terrified.
Your alarm goes off and without opening your eyes you hit the snooze button. “I’m not ready yet,” is the first thought that goes through your head. You lay there in bed, allowing all kinds of thoughts to flood your mind. “I wish I could sleep longer. I have so much to do today and I have no idea if or how I’m going to get it all done. I hope the kids aren’t up yet.” These are the first thoughts and they immediately rob you of empowerment and usurp your authority at the beginning of YOUR day… and for the rest of your day.
I used to be the biggest cynic. It’s true. As a child I was always playing and using my imagination, but rarely was I ‘care-free’. I always saw what could go wrong and I expected it. I didn’t call myself ‘cynical’. Seriously, who ever wants to be known as a glass is half empty kind of person? But that’s what I was. I thought it meant that I was smart. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you knew they wanted something from you? It’s as if you could see it in their eyes when they first walked up to you, or you could hear it in their voice from the moment they said “hello”? You just knew that they were desperate for your help with something. In fact, they came across as so ‘needy’ or ‘clingy’ that it made you shiver in your skin, and you wanted to bolt as far from them as possible. If you could have, you would have found the nearest window, slid it open, and launched yourself 3 stories down into a dumpster to escape the situation. Or has the shoe ever been on the other foot?
Have you ever been involved in a project, started a business, or launched a career and you knew there was a particular person that could really help you along? They could help by either telling others about what you were doing, by investing their own time, money and resources, or by hiring you themselves.
Or how about this one?
Have you ever wanted to be in a relationship with someone so bad because you knew that they were the one for you? That if they could simply see how well the two of you fit together that they would certainly be as happy as ever. That if they would give you a chance you could show them that you’d make them the happiest person in the world?
Have you ever approached someone about something that mattered to you, only to blow it? You know the feeling, a hyper self-consciousness that highlights every wrong word and action in your own mind.
Being ‘needy’ and ‘clingy’ sucks the life out of everyone, including the person who is birthing these feelings into the world. Very few healthy people want to be around that person for too long. I’m not talking about basic human needs. We all need community. We all need a safe group of people where we can truly be ourselves, let our guard down, share our wounds and insecurities and continue on the healing process. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the person that wants YOU to save them… wants YOU to make their decisions for them… wants YOU to surrender to their desires… wants YOU to do THEIR work for THEM. You have seen it. You’ve even been on the other end asking. It’s ugly. There is nothing positive about the experience. No one is empowered. Not the person who is being approached and most certainly not the person who is doing the asking.
The reason people want to get as far away from that experience as possible is because there is no LIFE in it. There is no energy around the project, the potential, or the person. It looks, acts, and smells like something that’s about to die. No one is empowered during these exchanges. And sometimes, particularly in romantic relationships, the person who is asking for you to ‘save them’ continues to persist far longer than anyone should.
But what if you came across someone who didn’t need saving? What if you met someone at a party and even though they didn’t seem to have it all figured out (the project, the career, or even themselves), they had a trust and a confidence that it was going to be alright. This person had a certain energy about them that came from a deep trust in a higher Source. They were excited about what they were working on and it was totally evident that they had been putting a ton of energy into the project or themselves. You might start asking them questions about where they find their inspiration. You might want to know the details of how things were coming along. You might find yourself highly interested, not just in their current ‘thing’, but in the actual person. That person who knows their value and has a reservoir of trust in the process is full of LIFE.
Are you hanging on to the end of your rope? Are you working on something, but all your hopes are pinned on someone else coming to the rescue? Are you desperate for a particular person’s attention and affection and nothing else will suffice? Maybe it’s time to let go of the rope and trust that the Divine cares for you and has the resources you need. And after you're caught by grace and love, you might find it easier to be gracious and loving towards yourself. You might find new reserves of energy to pour into your project or even yourself. New insights that were seemingly out of reach before, will lie in a pile at your feet.
People want to be around that person. People want to invest in that person. People want that person to invest in them. You can go from needing to be rescued to having the right people wanting your participation by trusting in the Divine and applying the supplied energy to do the work. Start by letting go of the rope… trust me, you will be caught.
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"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." - Hermann Hesse
"I don't think it's necessarily healthy to go into relationships as a needy person. Better to go in with a full deck." - Anjelica Huston
"When a person goes into a relationship emotionally needy, they are not going to have discernment in choosing people." - Jennifer O'Neill
Everyone has a recurring thought… or two… or thousands. Similar thoughts bind together after being laid one on top of the other over the years to form a strong belief system. The incredible thing about belief systems is that they serve as a map to interpret the world around us, including our place in the world, and have the incredible power to shape our decisions in life. The power of a strongly held belief has exponential implications for the life of an individual and a community. Take Vera for example. She is in her late twenties and has come to believe that… “I’m just not that smart.” Why does she believe this? Why does she choose to see herself this way? If you asked her she would tell you that it’s mere fact. She never excelled in academics and was always in the middle to lower end of her class in terms of performance. She would tell you that there are certain books she just shouldn’t waste her time reading because there are some concepts that are ‘beyond’ her scope. With this belief entrenched in Vera’s mind, emotions and body, she limits her potential career opportunities, relationship dynamics, and possibility for growth in almost every area of her life. Exponential implications.
But if you press the question ‘why do you believe this’, there are all sorts of alternative possibilities to the opinion that she holds to so firmly.
Is it possible that Vera had an incredibly negative experience with an educator at an early age and always associated emotionally negative feelings with school, in turn tainting her desire to study or learn in that environment? Is it possible that one or both of her parents sent her the message that ‘no one in our family is all that smart and that’s just fine with us because no one likes a know-it-all.’ Could it be that different people learn and grow intellectually in various ways and the particular methods in which Vera is challenged intellectually were never afforded her along her educational path? Is it possible that the structure of western education is so focused on conformity to specific methods of education that often those who don’t conform as well to these methods are improperly labeled or mistakenly diagnosed with a disability? How many times would a young, impressionable mind have to be told this by an authority figure before they owned it as truth?
There are so many variations of these restricting views of ourselves that we tend to accept as fact, when in all likelihood, they are just opinions formed over time. Thoughts that we bought into enough times that they grew into a belief system, which we now whole-heartedly subscribe to.
I’m no good at math.
I can’t write to save my life.
I just can’t stop myself from eating.
I am not very coordinated.
My brother is the creative one.
I’m incapable of getting organized.
I can’t follow through on things.
I don’t have what it takes.
I’m not a good communicator.
I’m terrible at relationships and always will be.
Today I just want to call to your attention that there may be some beliefs you hold as truth about yourself and they are limiting you. Further, these beliefs aren’t based on reality, but are based on the collection of some data you’ve incorrectly extrapolated from some recurring experiences in your past. I would like you to list 3 beliefs you’ve held onto for almost as long as you can remember that you know limit you. And ask this question about each of of the beliefs you’ve listed… “Is it possible that it isn’t true?”
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____________________________________________________________________________ "Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives."
"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are." - Anthony Robbins
"Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them." - William James
“Never limit your view of life by any past experience” - Ernest Holmes
The five words that changed my life. Ironically, I was the one who uttered them to myself. That’s right, I talk to myself. So do you. My story is a familiar one. I didn’t have the first clue about valuing myself or loving myself and for the longest time, I had no idea that was a problem. I had a great childhood. I still have the most incredible parents when it comes to feeling loved and cared for. In very concrete ways they expressed their love for me since before I can remember. I’ve always just known their love. I grew up in an incredible community and was involved with some wonderful people through my entire childhood and into college. I share that so you can be aware that even people with the healthiest of upbringings have major struggles with insecurities and negative thought patterns. I used to think that I was the only one. Now I know I’m like every other person on the planet. Several years ago, when I hired a mentor, I knew that there were things in life that I wasn’t able to figure out and I knew I needed help. Insecurities and limiting beliefs, attached to things like fear of loneliness, finances, my own sense of worth, and intelligence, had been haunting me since I was an adolescent. But I didn’t know how to deal with them. So I found a mentor I trusted and that I knew had turned things around in his own life. His name is Mastin Kipp. I had taken a couple courses from Mastin online and I had quickly begun to build a rapport with him. We had similar stories, which helped with my trust.
When I first starting working with Mastin, he began describing exercises intended to help with learning to love myself. At first I thought they were absurd. Mirror work. Self-affirmation sentences. Telling myself that I loved myself whenever I felt a sense of shame for making a mistake. One morning while I was alone and practicing these exercises, I said out loud, with a heavy dose of jaded arrogance, “this is TOTAL HOGWASH!” (ok maybe I used a stronger description). What I said to myself next surprised me.
“How’s that working for you?” I was stunned. I couldn’t remember the last time I was content. Thinking the way I had been thinking for so many years had led me to this point. How was that working for me? Not well at all. I realized that I needed to make some major changes, but I didn’t know what. So, even though it went against everything within me, I decided to give these exercises a chance. Slowly, after practicing these exercises, I began to notice a difference in my overall thought patterns and demeanor. I had once prided myself on being an over-analytical perfectionist and cynic. But along the way, I stopped identifying with those characteristics. I didn’t know how it worked scientifically, but I saw the evidence. As my friend Mike told me, “you don’t have to know how an engine and transmission work in order to drive your car.” Mike's one of the most intelligent people I know and so I asked him to explain it to me. He's great at breaking down complex matter into laymen's terminology. So he did.
The most ancient part of the human brain is the limbic system. Our feelings of fear, anger, and aggression originate there. The limbic system is fast and ruthless, and we’ve used it for survival for as long as we’ve been around. Thanks to its speed and efficiency, the limbic system can make judgments and decisions much faster than the newer hardware in our heads. Our brains are like a muscle–what we use most gets strongest. Negative, critical, fearful or aggressive thinking tends to strengthen the response of our limbic system in our daily living.
More recent structures in human brains like the neocortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are the parts of our brains that produce love, compassion, and empathy. If you focus on those types of thoughts, you will enhance the neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex and it encourages your brain to support that way of thinking. Intentional focus toward these kinds of thoughts has been clearly demonstrated to have helpful physiological and psychological benefits. You can actually begin to find your identity in those thoughts and feelings.
Why do I tell you all of this? Simple. Maybe you’re like me. Maybe my story resonates with you on some level. Maybe you’re tired of being cynical, judgmental, critical of yourself, and influenced in major ways by your insecurities. Maybe you know you need to value yourself and love yourself more but you just don't know how. Maybe when you hear me always talking about loving yourself, accepting yourself, and sharing practical ways to begin to do this, you are skeptical. Maybe you also think that doing any kind of ‘positive’ mental and emotional exercise is too ‘Stuart Smalley-ish’ for you. Maybe you think that is too 'touchy feely' could never work. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I’ll just stick with what I know.’
Well let me ask you, with the most sincere and humble of intentions, how’s that working for you?
Yes, I do believe that one of the single most effective and powerful things we can do to participate in the Divine’s transformation of our own lives is to learn to love ourselves more. Time and time again, as I work with people, when we get to the core of the problem, be it limiting belief, addiction, etc., it is a lack of self-love. The thing that’s behind the thing that’s behind the thing is that they have placed a very low value on their life and don’t believe they deserve to be happy. It is the most messed up thing of all and most people are barely aware of it. I genuinely think people want to be happy. Yet deep down in places they haven’t explored often, they don’t believe they deserve to be happy or are worth it. It’s the most devious trick in humanity. Somewhere in our life we were told that we aren’t worth it. We either were treated that way by those who were supposed to love and protect us when we were young and vulnerable, or because of decisions we made in the past, mistakes, we buy into the lie that we don’t have value and we aren’t worth being loved. And yet we can spend our whole lives trying to prove that we are worth being loved and go to incredible lengths to try to show everyone that we are of value.
But you don’t have to prove anything. Let me say it again. You have nothing to prove. The fact that God created you is enough. That oxygen flows in and out of your lungs, bringing life to your blood cells, is enough. What if instead of constantly trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and everyone around us, we just acknowledged that because we are alive and loved by the Divine, that we are enough.
Tomorrow is the one day self-love challenge. Now if you just read that sentence and rolled your eyes a little, I understand. I used to respond in the same manner. And then I realized that being a control freak and a perfectionist, and being harder on myself than anyone else hadn’t really gotten me the things in life I want… peace, happiness, self-control, etc. Has the way you’ve been living your life taken you to the heights of your dreams? So why not take one day and commit to loving yourself? Why not take one day to be completely and utterly gracious with yourself? Why not take one day and instead of criticizing yourself for making a mistake, simply affirm that you love yourself anyways, just the way you are? Here are a few places to start...
1. Make the commitment to love yourself for 1 day: Make the commitment and choose love for yourself. Do it now. If love is the greatest gift we have to give, what could be possibly wrong with loving yourself for one day in all your thoughts and actions? Go ahead and literally write it out right now or type it in an email to yourself or send it as a text to yourself. "Tomorrow I will commit my entire day to practicing self love."
2. Affirm yourself verbally throughout the day: Think of the most loving thing you could say to yourself, and repeat regularly throughout the day. Get up and repeat it OUT LOUD to yourself first thing. Write it on a post it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror before you go to bed tonight. If you are having trouble coming up with something loving to say to yourself, try starting here.
3. Forgive yourself immediately after any intentional or unintentional mistake: So you just screwed up and maybe no one else knows it, but you do. Immediately forgive yourself. If it helps, you can allow yourself to feel your remorse and then say... "I totally and completely forgive myself for ____________________ and I release myself of all my anger and all my disappointment." Try it. Forgiveness is incredibly powerful and it is the one of the most freeing things to experience. In fact, maybe you want to start your day by forgiving yourself for everything you've done that you have yet to forgive yourself for.
4. Give yourself a gift: Choose one thing to do for yourself that you know brings you life and you know cares for your soul and heart. Maybe you love going for a run but haven't had time lately. Maybe there is a good book you just haven't allowed yourself to read lately because you haven't had time. Read it. Maybe there is a friend that always brings you life that you haven't spent time with or talk to lately. Ask them to hang out or simply call them and just talk.
Taking the one day self-love challenge is a gift that you can give to yourself with no strings attached. It's only one day. How bad could it possibly be? A better question and motivation is, how incredible might it be? What if you discover some things about yourself? Wouldn't it be worth it?
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me via the website and I will be glad to get back to you before you wake up tomorrow. What do you say? ARE YOU WORTH IT?
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” - C.G. Jung
"Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion. "- Margo Anand
"Well-ordered self-love is right and natural." - Thomas Aquinas
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There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t allow myself to feel uncomfortable. If I was in a particular situation I didn’t want to be in, I would lie to myself and try to convince myself that everything was ok, or I would simply come up with an excuse and bow out. In fact when I was a child I would constantly try to get out of going to school because being at school just made me uncomfortable. Or if there was a relationship in which I felt the other person wasn’t satisfied with me, instead of allowing myself to sit with those feelings, I would go to great lengths as soon as humanly possible to try to mend the perceived rift. I just didn’t think I could cope with feeling uncomfortable. This was extremely dangerous for me. Over the years I found myself doing all kinds of things that were self-destructive, just so that I wouldn’t feel things like loneliness, heart ache, dissatisfaction, anger, fear, shame, ____________, etc. Slowly over time I began to lose all sight of who I was, what I wanted, and how I could live into my purpose. This unwillingness to sit with any awkward feelings was one of the main reasons I ended up spending years in a downward spiral trying to hide in substance abuse and dysfunctional relationships. Fortunately when I hit rock bottom, I had people to turn to.
After cleaning up and getting some clarity, I eventually began to realize that my addiction wasn’t to cocaine. My addiction was to not feeling uncomfortable and going to any length in order to hide from any and all dissatisfaction. As I’ve said before, the problem with trying to negate what some consider negative emotions is that you end up negating all emotions. We can’t just selectively turn off part of our emotions and expect to feel the others. So when you shut out feelings like anger, sadness, discomfort, you also shut out joy, elation, satisfaction, etc. But there is another way.
It is the way of courage. It is the way of hope. It is the way of allowing yourself to fully feel any and all emotions. Brene Brown, in ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ details the power and the benefits of allowing yourself to be fully present with all of your feelings. This takes some practice and isn’t something that just happens over night. It takes constant reminders and the courage when we begin to feel uncomfortable to not shut down.
One thing that helps is to ask questions. Why does this situation always make me feel uncomfortable. What is the precise emotion I am feeling that makes me want to run or hide? Why do I think that person is unhappy with me? Are they really? Does it really matter? Sitting with these questions will yield answers. These answers won’t come from the external world… they will come from deep within you.
The more comfortable you can grow so that you can sit with the uncomfortable in your life, the better quality of life you will have. Things won’t sneak up on you as much. You’ll recognize what triggers you and sends you for a loop before it actually locks you into the roller coaster and launches onto the tracks.
So what does trigger you? What emotions do you avoid? How often do you lie to yourself and say ‘nothings really wrong’? Once you’ve sat with those negative feelings long enough, they lose the power over you that they once had. You’ll find yourself able to make clear decisions based on who you are and what you want, as opposed to making decisions based on how to avoid feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
So sit with it. Sit with it all. What once felt impossible to deal with will seem like a very little problem indeed.
A couple of months ago I mentioned a trip to Laguna Beach with several forward thinking, open hearted, inspirational people. 50 of them to be exact. It was such an incredible time and space for connecting with humanity, conversing about social and theological dynamics, and exploring futurist topics and trends. The people that showed up there were highly intellectual and creatively charged folks. Or as we say in Boston, “these peeps are wicked smaht”. I remember spending most of my time dealing with a running inner dialogue. That guy is so much smarter than me. That girl is so much more creative than me. He writes so much better than I do. She is such a better orator than I am. I’m not as wealthy as that guy. She is such a better organizational person than I am. He is so much more deep than me. And on and on. My inner dialogue quickly lead me to one conclusion… “I don’t belong with these people.” Fortunately the love I felt from them destroyed that conclusion.
You know this inner dialogue don’t you? I wish I was as good looking as that guy. I wish my body was as toned and petite as hers. I wish my bank account looked like theirs. I could never be as smart as them. I wasn’t blessed with his charm. This inner dialogue is one of the most ungrateful and limiting dialogues you can participate in. These kind of negative, limiting beliefs can send us into a holding pattern for months, years, even decades. If we don’t process our way out of it, we will literally never grow past it.
But during one of our sessions, our leader made a profound statement. He said… “Who you aren’t, isn’t interesting”. No one is interested in hearing about who I am not. So why would I be interested in it? I decided right then that of critical importance to my growth was to stop listening to this inner dialogue. How did I do that? It’s taken some time. I’ve read many books. I’ve noticed right away when that dialogue starts and try to identify the triggers that cause it. Then I stop listening. But one more thing has worked extremely well for me. I’d like to share that with you.
I’ve stayed in contact with those remarkable people and I just spent the last few days in Denver with them. We’ve conversed together, eaten together, laughed together, opened our hearts to each other, listened to each other, cried together, and had our minds blown apart by some pretty heavy conversations and ideas. We’ve welcomed some new people into our family and we’ve loved together. And not one time did I even hear the beginning of that inner dialogue. Not one time did I begin to think that I wasn’t smart enough, creative enough, interesting enough, __________ enough, or that I didn't belong.
Do you know why? First, many months ago I decided that I wanted to rid myself of that inner dialogue and limiting beliefs and I sought out how to do that. Secondly, and more powerfully, I was too busy loving with these people. I literally shared and received so much love over the last few days that I had no room for comparing myself to them. Or comparing myself with anyone for that matter. The love came in all forms. Particularly being transferred through all the ways I spoke of in the previous paragraph.
I am convinced that love is saving the world and will continue to. That’s a whole other post. But for now I am glad to say that love has saved me. Love for myself to decide to make changes, Love for the people that I spent my time with, and Love from those people who aren’t looking to get anything out of me. They just are loving people. I type these words with tears in my eyes because of the great depths that love has moved me.
Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Are you way to interested in who you aren’t? When was the last time you stopped and were grateful for who you are? You are a wonderful, unique, inspirational person. You are filled with so much of the Divine that you can change the world. You can Love. Get loving.
If you’ve lived on this planet for any amount of time, you’ve been wronged at some point. If you’ve lived on this planet for any extended amount of time, then you’ve been wronged by someone on the deepest level. It happens to all of us. And we’ve all completely let someone else down somewhere along the line as well. When we’ve been wronged on the deepest level, taken advantage of, harmed, or betrayed it can seem like life will never be right again. But it will. And it most likely will need to start with forgiveness. Forgiveness is always about us, not the victimizer. That person doesn’t need your forgiveness in order to make peace with what they’ve done. But you’ll need to forgive that person in order to make peace in your own hear and life. Forgiveness is about letting go of our hurt, our pain and our bitterness so that it doesn’t poison our hearts. We’ve all heard this before, but that’s because it is true.
We can’t hold onto pain, anger and bitterness and at the same time be free to accept love, the Divine, and growth. When we hold on to the anger and bitterness, we are blocking the ability for love and growth to move in our lives.
Someone once said that forgiving means forgetting. Well I think that is total BS. When have you ever truly forgotten when someone else harmed you? And why would you forget that? Forgetting has nothing to do with it and not forgetting can help guide us safely in interactions with that person in the future. However forgiving does mean letting go and making room in your heart for healing.
You might say, ‘Brad, you have no idea what this person did. It’s unspeakable.’ I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you were hurt and wronged in such a terrible way. But holding on to the anger and bitterness will never make you right. It won’t change what has happened. It won’t heal you. It won’t bring some semblance of peace back into your life. It will only drag you to the bottom of a deep, cold and lonely ocean floor of malice.
I have found that forgiveness is always a choice at first, never a feeling. Rarely have I been wronged and immediately felt like forgiving. But at some point I made the choice to forgive that person even though I didn’t feel like. And then, every time the pain or anger comes up, I continue again and again to forgive that person. Until one day, the feeling is there and I find that I have completely forgiven that person. And do you know how I’m aware that I’ve completely forgiven them? The bitterness is gone. And its not just because time has passed. Its because I’ve chosen to forgive.
That person that’s done those horrible things to you? They may never know that you’ve forgiven them. They don’t have to. The forgiveness isn’t for them… it’s for you. This is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life. And I need reminded of it every time someone crosses me. Given a choice between malice and forgiveness, I choose forgiveness.
Today I will choose forgiveness. I choose to let go of my stong hold on the pain, anger, and bitterness, and I choose to receive love, hope, and joy. Choosing forgiveness means healing for me.