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Posts tagged ‘family’

Sister Act II

life plotIn my reinterpretation of Sister Act (last post), I began a tale of how nature and nurture are so intricately co-dependent that without a secure understanding that you are free to both style your own destiny and to create a supporting tribe, a life-story can transition from fairytale to horror flick with or without the assistance of scary monsters.  A life can go off the reel simply by being uninspired: no need for tragedies or down-and-out tales.

I have to admit, it was difficult writing the Sister Act post – not because of vulnerability, but because I could have written a BOOK with all that I have to say about cultural conditioning, the squelching of authenticity societally, and the impact both of these had on my own life. I’ve pared things down in these Sister Act posts and they’re really just overviews of my experiences, and because of that, they don’t go quite to the level of vulnerability that I believe is crucial to shift the fear of folks just being their unmasked selves. Really, there shouldn’t even be a need to attach a concept such as “vulnerability” when sharing life experiences: being me as me, being you as you is NORMAL. Unfortunately though, we are still buying into the crap that we should conform to a predictable sameness: a boring, colourless, inspirationless, stifling, robotic sameness rather than innate, primal, compelling, exhilarating, gratified uniqueness. Being “vulnerable” i.e. the real me with you, is one way I can personally contribute to the fabulous ripple-effect that my encouragement of you to be you will naturally bring. I commit to share as intimately as need be in future posts as I break my personal movie out into smaller soundbites.

Sister Act 2I don’t know exactly what genre Sister Act II falls into: in the 20 year span from the point where I thought I had an absolutely sure vision of where my life was going, to the point of WTF and surrendering to my spirit rather than trying to direct it, my bio-pic runs the gamut of themes: family film, chick-flick, mystery, horror… yikes, crime too; I’ve lived more than one medical drama, a war (with myself) story, definitely some comedy, and lots of educational content. While more than a few of those twenty years felt completely fictitious- often even animated (like a representation of me but not me), I think I’ll summarize this particular story arc as “action-adventure”: though oftentimes in the moment, I really didn’t appreciate the adventure. (I sure hope it is a period-piece.)

What those 20 years basically brought to light is…  that when you are not consciously living-  living with that kid-in-your-heart, live-it-out-loud authenticity, with a truly supporting tribal-cast, the universe defaults to become your primary tribesman, offering up whatever scheme it needs to get you to check in with yourself. Act One of my universal butt-kicks was during that period referred to in the last post at age 16, when, ultra-bored, I began lobbying my parents to change schools: sensing inherently that I needed a new tribe. Having elicited no concern from my parents, I abandoned any further action. SMASH!!! The universe brought me action…. in the form of a semi-serious car accident, which in complete sarcasm, could have wiped out half of my ill-fitting tribe: my then girl-posse was in the car with me… I was driving. It was a strange night: the girlfriends and I were unusually quiet, not much traffic, I turned left, we were broadsided at 50km/hr., spinning into a merciless pole.  Whew that my broken nose was the only visible casualty (besides my temporary insanity: “maybe Mom won’t notice the dent” I told my first-on-the-scene big bro!) My posse got trips to Hawaii via the insurance money; I got a decades-long limiting belief. My parents never spoke of the accident to me past that night: apparently my 4th-child, sibling-induced pattern of being so competent and not needing much direction led each of my parents to interpret my quiet calm as “handling things well”: no need to rock the boat. You okay?In reality I was in a state of shock, feeling 3-yr-old-little-girl-fear, desperately needing someone to come hold me and give me words to understand the startling randomness of life and the perceived personal failure that the accident provoked; and, just to have someplace safe to cry. Reminiscent of my actual age three when my Mom “disappeared”, and, with no conversation around it everyone just got on with things (per last post, she was in hospital for an extended period due to a car crash), this incident simply reinforced my belief that when life is confusing: you just figure things out by yourself… and get on with it.

Act Two… I continued on my conveyor-belt life: college… first job… up the ladder to second job… next rung third job. I had new players in my life but they were typecast per the uninspiring others, so trusty old universe stepped in again:

Read More: Stalkers, FBI… say whaat???  And  “Why Your Life Sucks!” (page 2)

Sister Act

sister nun blondeGood Golly Miss Molly… can you smell the change in the air: that summer-to-fall slight earthiness edging out the sweeter scent of summer??  My supersmell usually picks that up to the day, reinforced by a chillier now-I-need-a-sweater evening.  The air changed August 20th FYI; I mentioned it to my parents in a phone call that day and could hear the way-post-term-pregnant pause and unspoken “huh?”, followed predictably by: “oh, uh, okay… your Aunt phoned….”. A clear example of tribal lines. I asked about my Aunt: I’m long past trying to get my parents to relate to some of my traits for which they simply have no first-hand experience; and sincerely appreciate the occasions when they may explore me with me more.

Prior to my little summer hiatus, my last post entertained exactly this concept of going outside of your family-of-origin to seek your “tribe”: your support system. It provoked more than a few comments* from readers- ranging from relief to guilt, that family members may not be your best tribesmen as per the unofficial rule book of life.

You’ve asked me to elaborate on my alluded to “misfit” in my family tribe. I am more than happy to do so: I offer mentorship for the pure and simple reason that so many people have been able to learn and grow from my story and its muddy tributaries. Sure, I’ve had some “fun” and unexpected elements to my tale, however, what proves to offer the most value is my out-and-out “normalcy”. The perception that a challenging life comes with a history dominating in dysfunction still prevails: bad parents, no money, disabilities, abuse, no role models, few opportunities; or, if blessed with a few decent elements, you must be the freak, the geek, or – oh my – the one with the deviant gene. The contradiction of my having challenges in life even with a “textbook-perfect” upbringing is unsettling to people (and has made more than a few folks in my life very, very uncomfortable). Even though we clearly know as adults “well of course, nobody’s life is perfect”, people want to be able to have a place to attribute (…excuse… blame – pick a verb) their problems; and they want the reciprocal and comfortable justification that others “have it all” because of their golden roots and obvious advantages. If that were NOT the case then………omg.

privilegeWell, I had somewhat golden roots. But guess what: as even a bush-league gardener can tell you, any roots being nurtured in the wrong soil will struggle to thrive – or survive. From the stereotypical image of a family misfit, I in no way fit the mold – in fact quite the opposite.  I looked like my family and peers, had friends, good grades, was outgoing; no rebellious army fatigues or mohawks- -and never has black lipstick touched these lips! I looked normal. I was normal. My normal. Just terribly uninspired as I went through my “Stepford” bootcamp. Pre-conceived ideals suck the living souls out of us – and in my case, it took 20 years to get it back.

What I think has been most valuable to realize- and hammer into others, is that no life path follows the clear pattern of any other; and that the definition of success is yours and yours alone. While there are some societal foundations to facilitate order and cohesion, the rest of your life is a blank slate and you manage all the tools with which to write upon it… or draw upon it, or dance upon it, or turn it into a cake, a rocket ship, a sports playbook, a Tibetan prayer mat….
Blank SlateMaybe your tools are common and familiar to others; maybe they are one-of-a-kind and/or history-making. There are no shoulds: just can’s, do’s, be’s. Act from intuition, desire, joy, curiosity – not from expectation or others’ definitions of living.

Our greatest enemy is conditioning without the understanding that life is yours to change and mold as you need or want. Conditioning happens quite naturally, and for the most part with no calculated agenda; and it can form a very solid, secure jumping-off point to a healthy life. The key, however, is knowing without question that you have free will and permission – if not outright support, to realign your thoughts, beliefs, actions, environments or tribe to foster your authenticity. In my experience, this has not been a standard ideal: and it must be. Challenging the popular book, all we really need to know was not learned in kindergarten.

So… wanna hear more of my story, eh? Well, here we go with…

Sister Actsister true

What are the odds that of the 7,256,508,556 people in the world (as per to-the-second clock on worldometers; oh look, now it’s: 7,256,508,842 ! lol), that the five others in my family are going to fit the criteria for my personal acceptance/ support/ inspiration team?? Well, actually, a lot closer than the now 7,256,509,002 others, science might say – and logic too, given that my siblings and I have come from essentially the same nature/nurture pool. Not really though, and with the rapid advances in the fields of neurology and epigenetics¹, my family and I get further and further apart.

Apparently, most young adults think that they’re the “different” one in the family – the more misunderstood one: go figure!  Read More Sister Act (page 2)

Quotes to Query

See Quotes on… family!

Are YOU The Village Idiot?

Find Your TribeAccording to the latest research, the three components of true happiness are: gratitude, forgiveness and, without a doubt, social connection.

We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts.

Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity. It helps us understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves.

Most people come to  me, coaches and therapists when there is a “problem” in their lives. Imagine – just imagine if folks used mentors as a part of a self-perpetuating wellness strategy: you might have several mentors for different facets of your life, rotating them as you proactively ebb and flow in your personal growth. Imagine creating, directing, exploring, LIVING your life fluidly, securely, lovingly — as per your birthright.  Rather, a good 90% of folks in my practice have waited until some part of their life implodes or is driving them sufficiently nuts before they finally recognize that yes, in fact, it does take a village!! Essentially, that’s what most of us in the self-development/help field are: a paid, quick-and-dirty “tribe”; because society, parents (whoever is the scapegoat-of-the-week) has failed to ingrain– without question, the simple concept that we’re not programmed to go it alone. Our genetics and our happiness quotient are structured to have relationships in our lives, and it is our inherent nature and our human mandate to seek and filter those relationships to fuel our souls.

Find your tribe, before...“Tribe” is the moniker I use to refer to the support team in our lives. Some people need a big tribe around them constantly, others, just one or two close folks at a time.  Tribe members may be for guidance, support, or simple oxytocin (happy-mood hormones) to give someone a boost for a time. We are predominantly raised to accept our family-of-origin as our tribe: they are the ones that will “love us unconditionally” and “support us to reach our dreams” – through thick and thin, right?  “Of course- they’re my family!”  Your family may turn out to be a prime source of the types of support that you need to grow and thrive, but more often than not, you need to seek out and assemble a “custom” tribe.  Who ever told us that???  Sure, we’re encouraged to go make friends… you know, for basic camaraderie (led to believe that our friends will at least, be “loyal”: and inevitably hanging on to friendships well beyond their expiration dates for that seemingly finite definition!). Eventually we clue in that our circle of friends may need to “cycle” a little, but was it ever on your radar that in choosing friends, you are in essence auditioning your life support-team,  in which case, you might have very different criteria? No: because we have been conditioned by everything from Mother Goose to The Brady Bunch to English Lit 101 to butter commercials to believe that  family is the mainstay of our support-team, and thus inherently, will be our best bet to guide us in building a happy, secure, fulfilling life. I beg to differ.

Uniquely me.My birth-family is great: I simply define life and experience the world differently than how I witness- thus perceive, they do.  We all have enough similarities that my upbringing felt sufficient: the expected life-path seemed a decent fit.  I know now that while my familial path was certainly comfy, it was slowly choking the part of me that held the lion’s share of my authenticity.  As I rode the proverbial conveyor-belt into adulthood… I could feel the My tribe.suppression alright, I just didn’t have the modelling or education yet to understand it.  I’ll expand at another time… but suffice it to say, in order to tap into, nurture, accept, explore, utilize and LIVE my true nature, I have needed to build myself another family… a soul family- my tribe.

All relationships, family-of-origin or chosen tribe (and they need not be mutually exclusive), will meet our needs or not meet our needs at any given time. The message that needs to be hammered into our philosophical understanding of life from infancy is: to continually seek relationships that will help fulfill your needs, and filter those that don’t. (Of course in my fantasy here, it’s a given that one’s uniqueness has been identified and honoured from infancy!) Understandably, a little balancing and screening is needed in the parenting department with incumbent responsibilities in both the nurturing of self-security and in the legal guardianship of our minor kids (i.e. Mom still needs to be the boss of you!).  The basic concept of respecting that we may think/be different than our family members, and to ensure safety from feeling guilty/rejected should a someone seek like-minded or supportive individuals outside of the family, is a healthy, healthy way to nurture a lifetime of great personal tribesmen.

The vulnerability in my theory- as lived, is that we may not actually recognize that something is missing for us in our Ballet? Okay.early formative years; as with me, nothing seemed missing per se, I just didn’t have any passion anywhere in my life e.g. I didn’t hate ballet: I was indifferent (BTW that is SO me, the redhead at left… and my sister beside me!!).  But I shall once more beg to differ that we are oblivious to signs of dispassion: we truly can intuit- feel when things are “off”; and in the absence of that perception, we are certainly capable of knowing when we feel absolute delight and are excited, curious, or energetic about a path or project. Start there. Find others that share your interest and invite them into your tribe — for an hour, a day… or perhaps your life: time… and your soul will tell.

Still think you’re the blacksheep?? If so, it’s time to ask yourself what the payoff is: how does your adoption of being the blacksheep serve you more that going out and simply finding more black sheep?? Or are you really the village idiot, standing all alone, and yet still in your own way? I say that somewhat challengingly… but with full understanding that while it is that simple, a change in behaviour patterns, limiting beliefs, relationships, and a bevy of new dreams for your true identity will, of course, take energy (note I didn’t say work: with freedom comes fun!).Blacksheep. Really?

Even blacksheep are born perfect! Come on, can you even slightly think that she —->
…is a reject??!

♥♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥♥

Tribes come about in all kinds of ways, for many different purposes and uses. Here are some thoughts from Dr. Julie Connor: planting the seeds so you can identify your top values and inventory your current tribe to see where there might be a disconnect.

Tribe cartoonCultivating Your Tribe

“Finding your tribe can have transformative effects on your sense of identity and purpose,” explains Ken Robinson, author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. “This is because of three powerful tribal dynamics: validation, inspiration, and what we’ll call here the alchemy of synergy.”

Next: Who To Include In Your Tribe (page 2)

School of Thought: Pre-K

Man, I just re-read that article on thought in my last blog and it was pretty intense. Some good basic info… but just enough abstract stuff to lose me at times: you?? I’ll try to break future articles down into more manageable bites! (Although my warning stands: this topic of “thought” is some thought-provoking stuff!!  Just take in what resonates for you right now!)

Thinking CapI guess one of the big concepts around “thought” that we don’t learn in kindergarten is: WE are not our thoughts.
Eckhart Tolle for kindergarteners: hmmmm?! 
Without the benefit of any teachings on this concept, there’s a general assumption that the voice that we hear in our heads is a private “Mini-Me”: sitting in there and directing our lives through silent conversation so as not to have to share everything with everybody until we darn well choose to.  Mini-Me takes everything in, filters it, edits it and then instigates action that represents who we are and how we want to live.  Not so fast:  that little rogue also makes stuff up!! He doesn’t default all input through our “values” sieve so that only the good, healthy stuff gets through to create our outcomes; he throws his two cents into the mix – whether reasonable or not!

Lost? Let’s see if we can paint a picture:

You’re a university student trying to finish a term paper by tomorrow. Your current dream is to become an engineer; you’ve worked hard to get to this final semester with decent grades and this paper is important. You’ve set your good intention and you’re gonna work your a** off all night – get this done and do it right!!! 

But wait for it — here it comes… a THOUGHT: “Hey, let’s go to the pub for one drink”.  Now if YOU were your thoughts you’d put that idea right through the “likely-to-produce-good-results vs. likely-NOT-to-produce-good-results” funnel, which is directly connected to your values sieve and the outcome would most definitely be: you WOULD NOT be going to the pub tonight.

Mini-Me, however, reshapes this whole concept: this time, driven by a scent that just wafted intothoughts mini me your dorm room, subconsciously reminding you of that “hotness” that you’ve been crushing on all year and the high likelihood that they’ll be in the pub!  All of a sudden: there’s room for a change of plans in tonight’s professedly rock-solid schedule! Even though YOU are pretty clear on your current direction and priorities, YOUR THOUGHTS can hijack the situation- without you even being conscious of it (i.e. that sneaky smell).  Mini-Me presents with something resembling a reasonable idea worthy of consideration, yet… “where did that come from”?! You weren’t even slightly contemplating anything but homework tonight!!  That rascal!

It’s actually quite a simplistic fact when you think about it: how could we be our thoughts when they are so malleable and can be so easily manipulated: can you say flakey much??  And if some of our thoughts are sub-conscious, then reason says: we can’t possibly know ourselves very well – and yet it is entirely possible to know yourself inside-out!

This article from Inner Frontier introduces us to “automatic thought” (now also being considered amongst the idea of “cell memory” in some of the new neuroscience research). It brings awareness of our unmanaged and “mindless” habits of thought; and gives a little peace of mind that our learning curve around changing our thoughts and behaviours come by us honestly! Whew!

Read More: The Value – or Overvalue of Thinking (page 2)

Why Do We Mess With Perfect?


In the comparison game, your biggest archenemy, your greatest source of envy, competition and judgement is without question: YOU. You constantly compare yourself to you.

Now hold on a minute: didn’t we just decide a few posts ago that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, rather, the healthy behaviour is to measure ourselves against our own measuring stick?  Ya,here it is:


Compare me to me.

Well, seems like there might be a catch in that plan too! It’s the right concept, however the starting point of that measuring stick may need to shift, and in fact, remain fluid.

Now that doesn’t seem right?? How can I measure against something that doesn’t remain static – it can’t  possibly give me any realistic accuracy for comparison!?!

Bingo! Everything is made up folks! Starting points, end points, what is better, what is worse… it’s all been made up.  Some things are somewhat more factual than other things e.g. the sun will rise again — or willllll it… do we really know it is rising… isn’t that just the theory-du-jour until some new discovery gives us another option?  Okay, okay, we’ll leave Philosophy 101 for another day – back to human behaviour: some things are adapted more universally in an effort to make societies collaborative and function cohesively; things such as laws, policies, school systems. We don’t need to look too far to see how malleable those things are though: I live in BC Canada virtually on the Washington state border, and if my legally-married-here gay friend put one tippy toe on the south side, it would constitute societal disaster in that demographics’ decree. Our two societies grew up virtually identically, yet evidently, a fence in a field can dictate self-worth.

It reminds me of the seemingly innocuous Sunday roast yarn:
Mom makes the best roast beef in town. Every Sunday since forever you’ve watched her skillfully prepare her prime cut: trimming both raw ends off, lovingly Mom's the best cooksalting it, ladling the juices over the brown beauty every 30 minutes as it cooks to mouth-watering perfection – everyone says so. One ordinary childhood day, you go to your neighbour Steve’s house for dinner and you watch his mom plunk the familiar rosy beast raw into the pan, throw it in the oven at 375° and then tell you kids to have your hands washed by 5.
Ew yuck! There’s NO WAY you’re sticking around for dinner – that’s just plain wrong how she’s cooking that beef!! That’s it, these folks are officially not good cooks and over time, relegated as weird inferior people generally; and you masterfully avoided Steve like the plague for fear of being invited to dinner again. The measuring stick had been firmly planted; and eons later when you invited your Mom and Grams to Sunday dinner in your own home, you proudly began the well-practiced routine of cutting and salting, ladle at the ready. Grams pipes up ” why are you spiking all our blood pressure with that dang salt – and whaddaya rich or something lopping off the ends of yur roast like that, geez, must be nice!” With patronizing glances between you and Mom, you reply in a diplomatic: “remember Grams, that’s the way a good roast is made – just the same as you did it for Mom when she was little, and how she did it for us when we were little!”Burn the Beer
“Ya – til you dang kids moved out and I got a new pan and a new oven! That dang pan was never big enough for those dang roasts, and the dog needed feeding anyhow. And salt was the only way I’d have any chance of gravy drippins the way that dang oven kept overheatin! All’s you need to do to cook a roast is throw the dang thing in the oven and pour me a glass of wine!!”

Wowzer wow wow! Fancy that. One ill-conceived idea of right and wrong set your guide for comparison completely arbitrarily. Hmmm. Wonder what the spinoff of lost opportunities or re-directs might be in any one simple conclusion we draw. At the very least here, you might have scored a few more freebie dinners with the neighbours whatchamacallems  – oh ya, the Jobs.

Our versions of good- bad, right- wrong, strong- weak, successful- loser are very much sculpted by where we grew up, who we grew up with, what we were taught – and of course in which era we grew up in. Sprinkle all of this with a little bit of our own personal biology, disposition, and interpretations of what we experience and you have a pretty fickle foundation in which to anchor any measuring stick. And now I’m really gonna mess with you: some of these rules, attitudes, behaviours, conclusions whatever we call them are completely unconscious: we file our interpretation in a nice little internal hiding spot with the autopilot switch on.  We have no idea that some of our behaviours are actually choices, they are so embedded – just so… the way it is.  Not even a notion to ask Grams about.

Now as a part of normal growth and maturity, of course, we diligently take stock of our lives at sensible intervals, checking in with the standard questions:

  • what are my goals and dreams now, what do I want to do to advance them;
  • who is in my life to support me, where am I giving;
  • is this society I’m in one that I believe in and that is best for my goals;
  • what are my philosophical and spiritual beliefs now, do I need to see more of the world to find a better fit for me…

Whaa-huh? Come on – you do this, don’t you, every few months, years at least?? I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t on any of the tests I took in school; and in my family, my circle of friends, you just jumped on the one-size-fits most conveyer belt and you were off . Re-evaluate life? Nope, definitely not on the assigned reading list.

Context is the basis for everything and context is fluid. Some people were nurtured with this ideal, some have it inherently. For all though, at any point in time we can adjust, change, toss or add any rule or measuring stick you want. That may mean seeking new people, jobs, environments, societies etc. that work with your new definitions – and there is a reality factor attached to what you can anticipate with your choice, but it is that, a choice.

More permeations of our core beliefs, inner critic, thoughts and choices to come….. MUCH more really!  Here’s a perspective from Janet Robinson-Gillmore’s blog expanding on “context” from family behaviour:

And p.s. in my dictionary there is “perfect” – no need to politically-correcticize it with synonyms intimating that nothing is perfect and imperfect is perfectly perfect. My dictionary might be updated hourly, but it’s MY dictionary. Go get your own.

Read More: The Undoing of Being (page 2)

Highly Sensitive People: Not Your Grandmother’s Introvert!

sensitive & A-OK!

Samsara HSP Blog

In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people.

According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

Additionally, she says, the success of The Highly Sensitive Person is cause for celebration: “We’ve done it ourselves. And not surprisingly, since we are 15 to 20 percent of the population – that’s fifty million in the United States. Highly sensitive people are real, we exist, and we’ve proven it. That alone is something to celebrate.”

Another cause for Aron and her fellow HSPs to celebrate is the acceptance into mainstream psychology of the HSP personality trait. After numerous in-depth interviews, as well as surveys of over one thousand people, Dr. Aron’s findings have been published in Counseling Today, Counseling and Human Development, and the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Elaine Aron has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and a thriving psychotherapy practice. She is the first therapist to tell HSPs how to identify their trait and make the most of it in everyday situations.

Highly Sensitive People have an
uncommonly sensitive nervous system…

– a normal occurrence, according to Aron. “About 15 to 20 percent of the population have this trait. It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long, bombarded by sights and sounds until you are exhausted.” An HSP herself, Aron reassures other Highly Sensitives that they are quite normal. Their trait is not a flaw or a syndrome, nor is it a reason to brag. It is an asset they can learn to use and protect.

In defining the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron provides examples of characteristic behaviors, and these are reflected in the questions she typically asks patients or interview subjects:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

Dr. Aron explains that in the past

HSPs have been called “shy,” “timid,” “inhibited,” or “introverted,” but these labels completely miss the nature of the trait.

Thirty percent of HSPs are actually extroverts. HSPs only appear inhibited because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation. They pause before acting, reflecting on their past experiences. If these were mostly bad experiences, then yes, they will be truly shy. But in a culture that prefers confident, “bold” extroverts, it is harmful as well as mistaken to stigmatize all HSPs as shy when many are not. In the Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron reframes these stereotyping words and their common application to the HSP in a more positive light and helps HSPs use and view these aspects of their personality as strengths rather than weaknesses.

Sensitivity is anything but a flaw.

Many HSPs are often unusually creative and productive workers, attentive and thoughtful partners, and intellectually gifted individuals. According to Dr. Aron, HSPs could contribute much more to society if they received the right kind of attention – and her national bestseller proves that this 15 to 20 percent of the population is eager to get off on the right foot in asserting their unique personality trait.

Read more:  There are many websites from both the medical and personal perspectives on HSP (including  and of course Dr. Aron’s book is a classic.

Read Me

THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D

BONUS VIDEO! from Marie Forleo, renowned life & business coach… well in her own words:
“I often say if Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Oprah and Jay-Z had a love child, it would be me.  That’s because I’m part business strategist, part marketing maven and part spiritual ass-kicker with a side of hip-hop swagger.”
Marie is highly entertaining – and SMART!

Read/see more from Marie on YouTube, or:

Belief Systems: Big 5 Culprits

The Big 5 That Develop Your Belief System

by Cathy Campbell, Inspired Personal Developmentprincess frog

From the moment you come into the world, you begin developing your belief system. And just how do you do this?

That first sentence contains a major hint of a notable attribute of developing beliefs… your system of beliefs forms from irrational input as well as rational!

Obviously as a newborn you don’t have a well formed capacity for logical deduction, so developing your belief system is not necessarily a rational process. Rather, it’s a process based on your experience of the world.

Whatever information comes to you in a form that you can digest, (ie. you have the necessary perception to process it), you file appropriately into your fledgling belief system.

As you mature, your abilities and understanding expands, and ultimately you are developing your belief system based on 5 primary methods of gathering information. Note that: only one of these stems directly from your personal facility of critical thinking!

Five Main Reasons You Believe

It can be very helpful and enlightening to know why you believe what you do. You might be surprised to realize some of the shaky ground you have formed your belief system on.

The big 5 are:

  1. Evidence
  2. Tradition
  3. Authority
  4. Association
  5. Revelation

Evidence Based Believing

Evidence shows that one thing causes another. The understanding of causation appeals to the analytical and critical thinking part of your mind.

Developing your belief system through this method is very rationale and based on the use of logical thinking.

The skills associated with evidence based believing develop as we mature, and become more honed through education. In this mode you look for facts. You look at events that are measurable, and where one thing directly causes something else. Scientific studies supply results from research and critically tested hypotheses to support evidence based beliefs.

You can also establish beliefs based on your personal experience of cause and affect. You might continually witness a consistent outcome from your actions. For example:

  • If you drive a certain route at rush hour, you know you will be 10 minutes late and upset yourself and others. Therefore you believe it’s best to take an alternate route during rush hour.
  • When you make dinner for friends, they express their appreciation, and you feel great. Therefore you know you will get enjoyment by creating dinner for friends.

This method of forming beliefs is also responsible for ‘learned helplessness’. If you consistently perform a behavior, and always get a negative outcome, you may come to believe that you have no power or influence in creating what it is you are aiming for. For example:

  • Because you are always 10 minutes late when driving that certain route at rush hour, and it is the only route possible to take, you know you will be 10 minutes late. You will feel upset, and you will upset others. Therefore, you always feel distressed in this situation.
  • When you make dinner for friends, no one expresses their appreciation, and you feel like a failure. Therefore you stop cooking dinner for friends.

The trick in the learned helplessness scenario is to adjust the elements that you can, and accept the things you cannot change. This might possibly include altering the physical elements such as setting alternate meeting times or places, or cooking different meals or inviting different friends!

But certainly one thing you can change, through gaining understanding, is how you view these events. For example, you could say:

  • If that is the only route possible to take during rush hour, and I cannot change appointment details, I will be 10 minutes late. That is reality.

Therefore, I have 10 minutes in traffic to put to use as I wish by listening to relaxing radio, personal development recordings, or reviewing the things I’m thankful for today. I will explain this situation to any other people affected. Whether they decide to make the best of the situation, is up to them. I am not responsible for how they view reality.

  • If I cook dinner for friends, and no one expresses appreciation, I can ask myself exactly why it is that I want to cook these dinners. If you feel like a failure when no one expresses appreciation, then you are likely looking to others to reinforce your self worth. That shows it’s time to recognize that your self worth is something always with you. To tap into it, spend some time talking to a life coach for personal development.

Adopting Traditional Beliefs

The traditions perpetuated through families and societies are a major factor in developing your belief system. We are often showered with traditions day in and day out when growing up, so they can be extremely easy to adopt, without even questioning. When you believe in a tradition, recognize that they have served some generation well. Yet it does not mean they are based in truth, nor necessarily have continued usefulness for your life.

There is a funny and telling story about a woman from a certain family where the women always cut their roasts in half prior to roasting. The third generation daughter said she did it because she understood that it made the meat more tender. Her mother said that she learned it from her own mom and thought it was to reduce the cooking time and save on energy usage. When the oldest woman, grandma, was asked about it, she said that the oven she had when raising a family was very small and it was necessary to always cut the roast in half to fit it in!

So not only was there a belief being passed down that it was important to cut the roast in half, the reason behind the belief was totally lost, and no longer relevant to the women’s lives!

It is through family and cultural tradition that many people formulate their primary belief system. Social culture, family bias, and societal prejudice all strongly influence formation of:

  • global beliefs such as:
    • what God is
    • political theory
    • science
    • personal value
  • topic specific beliefs:
    • the specific religious practice to support
    • which political party to vote for
    • which sport team to cheer for

Ask yourself ‘what role has tradition played in developing your belief system?’.

“We are so conditioned, so heavily burdened with belief, with tradition, with the past, that this actually prevents us from seeing or listening.”
-J Krishnamurti

Authority Steers Beliefs

Many beliefs are adopted from people that have a role of authority in our lives.

Sometimes these figures of authority also fall in the category of tradition, as you can imagine. For example, your parents play a role of authority in your early life and they are regularly passing traditions down to you.

Other times authority figures are independent to tradition. Some examples of authority figures who may influence your beliefs (while theirs are not necessarily based on traditional beliefs) might be:

  • a new age religious cult leader that espouses having a special direct line to ‘God’
  • doctors who tell you they absolutely know best about your health and all conflicting ideas re rubbish
  • a school teacher who you look up to, whether or not they follow ‘tradition’

Beliefs by Association

Who do you hang out with?

Whether you run with the ‘in crowd’ or the ‘nerds’, you will be adopting compatible beliefs to your own, as well as reinforcing common beliefs that you hold with your group. It is pretty much a case of ‘what you see is what you get’. As you are continually faced with particular ways of thinking within the group, you start to adopt and reinforce those ideas as the ‘right way’ to think.

Basically, by sharing time and activities, you rub off on one another and mutually influence one another’s belief system.

If you associate with hard working people who feel they are short on time and money, chances are you will be developing your belief system based around those ideas as well. Alternatively, if you spend your time with people who feel they have a very rich blessed life spending their time for their own delight, your attitude will likely be quite different.

Revelations Induce Beliefs

The definition of revelation referred to here is “disclosure of information to man by a divine or supernatural agency”. Basically, this is the experience of attaining information through what you might describe as:

  • a feeling or sense about something
  • a hunch or an inkling of an idea
  • an intuition or premonition about something
  • an insight through your sixth sense
  • a gut feeling
  • your minds eye or imagination

There are two primary and common understandings of how you may have ‘received’ this enlightening communication of knowledge:

  1. the information has been fed into your subconscious through external stimuli. It was just bubbling below the surface, and then some obscure occurrence brought it to your attention.
  2. your developing intuition, a sixth sense of perception of our world that everyone has. It may be that this 6th sense is just as powerful and ‘real’ as our other 5 senses. It has the ability to tune into other aspects of reality that humanity does not yet fully understand, nor have accurate measurements to assess.

Such inspiration can strike at any time; in the shower, driving to work, gazing at the ocean. Where ever it might have originated from may be interesting to ponder. Yet, I think the really interesting question is, ‘is the information valuable to you and how can you use it’.

Certainly Albert Einstein asked this question of the wild ideas he came up with, and look where it lead him and the world. He ushered in a raft of new beliefs for humanity. Just some of Einstein’s words of wisdom on the subject:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The Art and Magic of Believing

It is widely understood that most beliefs you hold have not originated with you. Rather, you have primarily adopted what makes sense to your experience and understanding at the time. You continue in developing your belief system largely by agreeing with ideas that come into your awareness.

Once you understand this, it gives you great strength to:

  • review your beliefs, and ask with nonattachment, “do they have a solid basis and do they serve you well?”
  • drop any feeling of threat when your ‘adopted beliefs’ seem to fall short, or come under attack

You have accepted your beliefs based on what you knew at the time. As you learn more, it is reasonable that your belief system will undergo change and growth.

© 2008-2013

Who The Hell is “Society”?

“I am enough. I am not my history” – Melody Ehsani

This article’s theme area:

From My Perspective: Sihle Mahonga January 22, 2013

Never did I ever think that I would be one of those ‘shamed students who take FOREVER to complete their degrees. I am now in my 5th year out of school and still have a year and a half to complete my degree. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “geesh whats taking her so long to finish a 3 year degree?” and this is what they DON’T tell you when you fail or you take another major or you simply want to take your time.

  1. The somewhat shame that is connected to an underperforming or ‘slow’ student
  2. The raised eyebrow every time you say your student number in relation to your year of study
  3. Your own voices telling you “LOSER” “STUPID” “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” “I KNEW IT, ITS TOO HARD”

I know them all…but you see it isn’t all black and white between achievers and non-achievers.

There are those who, stifled by society, are pushed into the life of academia. Those who at 1am in the morning cut cloth, paint, draw, write music, update their scrapbook – only to get up in the morning and carry the never-ending flow of textbooks. Those whose parents pressure their children to do something that they never thought of themselves doing, all for a piece of paper called a degree.

I’m not calling down on academia but I am calling down on those who think academia is life. Right now I have applied to study Music and Fashion (depending on which one I am chosen for).

I wasn’t built for academia

I was built to create and inspire, to roll around in my imagination and bring forth life.

I write, I sing very well, I draw- what I can do with these hands and mind is enough.

My creative mind is enough.

My body (and the crazy things I adorn it with) is enough.

I am enough

I’m not my high school math paper (which mind you, was 23%). I am not what my friends think when I told them that I was on a different path to them. I am not my so called ‘lost years’. I am not my history.

I am going for it and I know somehow, I’m going to make it through. Don’t let doubt and deviant behavior of society define who you are. You who are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am enough. I am not my history.

Are You Your Own Martyr?

Are you giving up too much
to keep everyone else happy?

Taking on the martyr role in any relationship is a recipe for unhappiness. In the following article, Dr. Robert Holden explains that there are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice.

Understanding the difference and finding a balance between what you give and what you get in your relationships is essential to your happiness, health and well-being. From co-workers to friendships to family, there are key reasons behind the sacrifices you’re making in your relationships that upon closer examination, will reveal whether they actually “contribute” or “contaminate”. See if you recognize yourself in any of the following real-life examples, and if so, pay attention to the powerful exercises to help you “let go” and say YES to a more beautiful – and less exhausing life. -SL

10 Steps to Letting Go of Unhealthy Sacrifice

By Robert Holden
August 06, 2010

So… there are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice. In my work, I have seen people try to use unhealthy sacrifice to save a marriage. It appeared to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. I have seen lovers try to play small in a relationship so as to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. I have seen children get ill in an attempt to heal their parents’ relationship. I have seen business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well-intentioned, but it never really works. Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, for instance, you have to be willing to sacrifice fear for love, independence for intimacy, defenses for joy and resentment for forgiveness. To be successful at work, you have to be willing to sacrifice being in control to allow for innovation and sacrifice chronic busyness for genuine success, for instance. Healthy sacrifice helps you to let go of what does not really work in order to embrace what does work. So, how much unhealthy sacrifice are you in right now? Sometimes the habit of unhealthy sacrifice is so unconscious we are the last to recognize it in ourselves. Would you be willing to sacrifice unhealthy sacrifice so as to shift your life and experience greater joy, love and abundance?

Assess your “sacrifice personality” with the following 10 questions:

1. I am true to myself in my closest relationships. In our first coaching session, Claire, a 28-year-old classical pianist, told me, “I want you to help me prepare for a conversation I need to have with my parents.” Claire grew up in a musical family. Her father was a well-known conductor. Her mother played first violin. “Classical music is a religion in our family,” Claire said. Claire was an accomplished classical pianist. “I’m good at it, but my heart’s not in it,” she said. “I really want to play jazz. That’s what my soul wants. But I’m afraid it’s not what my parents want.”

The story of sacrifice usually begins in the family. The primary sacrifice is a movement away from your authentic, unconditioned self to a more adapted, pleasing self. Early on, you notice what wins smiles, applause, approval and love, and also what doesn’t. Being adaptive is normal and healthy, but too much of it can cause a pattern of unhealthy sacrifice later in life. The movement away from your authentic self to a pleasing self is a fall from grace that leaves you chasing happiness outside of you. Other symptoms include feeling unworthy, being afraid of rejection, always giving your power away and ultimately feeling unloved and unsuccessful.

Letting Go Exercise: Meditate on being true to yourself. First, ask: “What does being true to myself really mean?” Second, notice how good it feels to listen to your heart, to follow your joy, to trust yourself and to be authentic. Third, look at where you could be truer to yourself. Fourth, notice any fears that arise and question: “Are these fears true, or are they just fears?” Be willing to let go of being “good,” “nice” and “pleasing” so that you can be real and so that people can see who you really are. Remember this: When you are true to yourself, you cannot betray anyone else.

2. I feel guilty if I am happy and others are not. Lucy was 22 years old when we first met. She had fallen in love with a man she would eventually marry. “I’m in love, very happy, and I feel guilty as hell,” Lucy said. Growing up, Lucy’s father suffered from depression and alcoholism. He was occasionally violent toward her mother. “It was me who helped her to be strong enough to finally get divorced,” Lucy said. Lucy’s mother fell into two more abusive relationships. Each time, Lucy helped her mother untangle herself. “We bonded together through adversity,” Lucy said, “and now I’m afraid that my happiness will somehow tear us apart.” Unhealthy sacrifice is often perpetuated by an erroneous fear that your happiness is selfish. If you believe this fear, then too much happiness will feel wrong, bad, illegal, blasphemous and harmful to others. Is this really true? Here’s what I believe: You can’t get depressed enough to make somebody happy; you can’t get ill enough to make someone else well; you can’t get poor enough to make somebody rich; and you can’t betray your heart to save someone else.

Letting Go Exercise: To help you let go of the belief that sacrificing your happiness makes everyone else happier, make a list of all the people who are truly grateful for your self-sacrifice. This list should take you two seconds to complete! Next, consider this affirmation: “My happiness is my gift to others.” Think about how this might be true for you. Reflect on how your happiness can help you to love others more. Letting go of the fear that your happiness is selfish creates new possibilities of growth and joy for everyone.

3. I often end up being the caregiver in relationships. “I’ve fallen in love with the most handsome man, and I want you to help me not turn into his mother,” said Stella, a 36-year-old human resources director of a global company. Stella had had two previous long-term relationships. “Each time the big, strong man became a little, helpless boy,” Stella said. “And the gorgeous, sexy woman [i.e., Stella] ended up in employment as a full-time carer.” This was Stella’s first serious relationship for six years and she didn’t want to fall into a role again. Roles in romantic relationships are usually a projection of roles first forged in childhood. When I asked Stella who was the martyr in her family, Stella replied quickly, “My mother, big time.” If a family has one martyr in it, then unhealthy sacrifice is something everyone will have to deal with. Classically, everyone in the family tries to heal the martyr, and they usually end up in unhealthy sacrifice trying to do so. The authentic, unconditioned self is lost as you take on the job/role of being the helper, the good child, the peacemaker, the healer, the responsible one, the grown-up one, the hard worker, the strong one, the invisible one and the martyr.

Letting Go Exercise: Take a look at your family. Identify the roles everyone played when you were growing up, including you. Notice if you still play these roles in romance, with friends, in work and on your spiritual journey. Notice what this costs you. Playing a role leaves you feeling like a cardboard cut-out of your real self. You feel flat and lifeless. You try to be positive, but really you feel removed, unappreciated and resentful. Remember this: Roles are self-appointed. No one said you must take on this role. If you are in a role, there must be a better way. It’s time to make a new choice.

4. I am afraid of giving too much in relationships. “I’ve met a new girl, and I think this time she could be the one,” said Dan, a 34-year-old firefighter based in New York. “You don’t sound very happy,” I said. “I am very happy,” Dan replied. “I’m also very scared.” “Why?” I asked. “Because every time I commit to a girl, I end up giving too much,” Dan said. “Is that really true?” I asked. “It feels true,” Dan replied. “Is the problem that you give too much, or is it that you give yourself away?” I asked. The unhealthy sacrifices you have made in the past can, it not healed, put you off relationships for life. Or they can put you off taking the next step in commitment and intimacy in your current relationship. When you are in love, you recognize that love wants to give everything, totally, and there is no feeling of loss. However, when you are in unhealthy sacrifice, giving always feels like loss. Why is this? Well, partly it is because unhealthy sacrifice is an attempt to give without receiving. Also, unhealthy sacrifice is a covert operation of “giving in order to get” (e.g., “If I give myself away to you, you will keep me, wont you?”).

Letting Go Exercise: When you play the role of the “giver,” you usually also end up playing “the loser.” Inevitably, your relationships end up feeling one-sided. People seem to take more than they give. Your relationships seem to take a lot out of you. The first step in letting go of the role of “giver” is to inspect the role more closely. You may find, for instance, that “giving too much” hides feelings of unworthiness, a desire to please, a fear of rejection, wanting to be the one in control, a reluctance to receive and a lack of authentic presence and openness on your part.

martyr woma

5. I am good at asking for what I want. “Whenever I need something from someone, I buy chocolate,” said Carol, a 44-year-old schoolteacher. “Why’s that?” I asked. “Chocolate never says no,” Carol replied. “How much chocolate do you eat?” I asked. “A lot,” Carol said. Unhealthy sacrifice leads to dysfunctional independence. If you are a DIP—a Dysfunctionally Independent Person—you are trying to do your life all by yourself without help from anyone else. This is your way of declaring to the world: “I have no needs.” Truthfully, you have plenty of needs; it’s just that you suppress them. Why? Probably because you are trying to avoid a repeat of past disappointments when some of your needs were not met. Inevitably, you end up more needy than most, but you cover it up by being strong, being a giver, being cool, being independent, being cynical, being busy and being dishonest with yourself.

Letting Go Exercise: When you let go of your dysfunctional independence, you feel so much more alive, open and abundant. You also discover that asking for what you want is a chance for others to connect with you, to know you and to love you. Being willing to forgive and let go of old wounds helps you to move out of separation and unhealthy sacrifice. Now, instead of expecting people to read your mind and know what you need or want, you can actually tell them. Doing this feels emotionally risky, but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. Now you’re ready for a real relationship.

6. I find it difficult to receive fully from others. “I hate birthdays,” said Phil, a 38-year-old doctor from London. “All birthdays?” I asked. “God no! I love other people’s birthdays,” Phil said. “You hate your own birthday,” I said. “I don’t like the attention, and I don’t like being given presents,” Phil said. “I love presents,” I said, being a bit provocative. “When someone gives me something I feel like I owe them, and I can’t relax until I’ve paid them off,” Phil said. Unhealthy sacrifice promotes a kind of giving that blocks receiving. There are usually two underlying dynamics at work. The first dynamic is unworthiness. Your self-worth creates a personal allowance that judges how much you will let yourself receive from others. With especially low self-worth, receiving from others leaves you feeling indebted, obligated, owing and duty-bound to give back. The second dynamic is pride. And hidden beneath pride is competitiveness, superiority, egotism and other murky feelings. According to pride, to receive is unnecessary and to receive is to fail.

Letting Go Exercise: In my book Shift Happens!, I wrote a chapter saying there are no shortages, only a lack of willingness to receive. Being willing to receive starts with letting go of your fear of receiving. Complete the following statement 10 times: “One of my fears of receiving is…” After you have finished, look at each fear and discern for yourself if the fear is really true or if it is just a fear. At least 90 percent of fears are just fears that dissolve the moment you give them some attention. Next, make a decision to be a great receiver. Really! Make this your new affirmation: “I am becoming a great receiver.”

7. I say yes when I really mean no. “I drank too much coffee this morning,” said Julia, a 40-year-old media executive, holding her hand over her heart. “Why did you do that?” I asked. “I ordered a small coffee, and they gave me a large coffee.” “Tell me more,” I said. “The barista recognized her mistake when she handed me the coffee. She said to me, ‘This is a large one, but you ordered a small one, right?’ I said yes, and she said, ‘Are you okay with that?’ And I said yes.” “But really you meant no,” I said. “In my language, yes means yes, and it can also mean no,” Julia said. “And then you drank all of the coffee,” I said. “Yes,” Julia said. Unhealthy sacrifice is inauthentic. It means you are not really being true to yourself. When you are not true to yourself, you get confused about what is real and unreal, what is important and not and what is a yes and what is a no. This lack of clarity in you creates pain and conflict in your relationships and your work. People don’t know where they stand with you. You give out mixed messages. You are ambivalent. You try not to make decisions. You procrastinate. No one knows what you really feel or what you really want.

Letting Go Exercise: The desire to be more authentic, and to be more real with yourself and others, will help you to give up unhealthy sacrifice. One way to do this is to focus on the word “yes.” Get out a pen and a blank piece of paper and write down on the top of the page: “My Sacred Yes.” Now list everything that is a sacred yes for you, for your life, for your work and then for one important relationship (you can do it with other relationships later). The clearer you are about a sacred yes, the easier it will be to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.

8. I’m exhausted. “Hi, Robert. Sorry, but I can’t make our session this afternoon. I’m too tired to get out of bed. I’m too tired to drive anywhere. I’m too tired to do anything. I’m taking a duvet day.” That is a message left by my client Tina, a 41-year-old senior personnel manager. Exhaustion forces you to stop, and above all it wants you to stop being in unhealthy sacrifice. Unhealthy sacrifice is exhausting: you lose touch with your original energy; you override your real feelings; you don’t listen to your wisdom; and you end up feeling out of sync with yourself. More symptoms of unhealthy sacrifice include scattering yourself, wasting your energy, chronic busyness, overcrowding your schedule, feeling overstretched and overcommitting yourself. The last thing you want to do is let people down, but that is exactly what eventually happens.

Letting Go Exercise: Exhaustion is a sure sign that you are in sacrifice somewhere in your life. Exhaustion is an internal memo that is asking you to stop trying to do everything, for everyone, all the time. Exhaustion is telling you that you have to sacrifice what isn’t important for what is. One of my favorite mantras is: “You can always do one thing less than you think you can.” Yes, you’ll probably feel a bit guilty about doing less, but the guilt will wear off fast if you hold your nerve. Be wise, be courageous, remember your sacred yes” and prioritize accordingly.

9. I find it difficult to put myself first. Sian is a 42-year-old mother of two children under the age of 5 and also the vice president of a well-known global healthcare brand. She came to see me after her doctor had prescribed her antidepressants. Sian disagreed with her diagnosis. “I’m not depressed; I’m exhausted,” she said. Sian told me about the challenges of her role at work combined with raising a young family. “I have no time for me,” Sian said. “The only way I can get my haircut is to book a group appointment with my kids’ hairdresser.” My first task as Sian’s coach was clear: to help Sian get a proper haircut! Unhealthy sacrifice forces you to leave yourself out of your own life. You think something is missing in your life, and it is. What is missing is you. The real you. Every day you fill out your to-do list, and you are nowhere to be found on your own list. You make no space for you, no provision for you and no time for you. Be clear that this is you doing this to yourself. When you catch yourself saying, “I never have time to do what I want to do,” what you are really saying is, “I don’t take time for my needs.” In truth, you are depriving yourself. Therefore, you are the solution.

Letting Go Exercise: “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul,” said Prophet Muhammad. To heal unhealthy sacrifice, you have to be willing to let go of the habit of depriving yourself. Take a pen and paper and answer the following questions: “What feeds me?” “What inspires me?” and “What do I love?” Next, make a commitment to stop neglecting yourself and to treat yourself better. Everyone will benefit from you doing this. Life always gets better when you treat yourself better.

10. I feel happy and fulfilled in my life. I had been coaching Emma, a 38-year-old lawyer, for nine months when she was offered a promotion to the board of her firm. This was the first time in the long history of this firm that a woman had been offered such a position. “I’m so happy, but I’ve decided not to accept,” Emma told me. When I asked her why not, she told me, “I’m afraid the position will demand too much self-sacrifice.” I agreed with her. And I told her that, “So long as it’s healthy sacrifice rather than unhealthy sacrifice, you have nothing to fear.” The next level of success and happiness in your life, your work and your relationships does require sacrifice. Specifically, it requires you to sacrifice unhealthy sacrifice. In other words, you have to learn the difference between giving yourself away and giving more of yourself. You give yourself away when you are not true to yourself, when you play a role, when you don’t ask for what you want, when you don’t prioritize properly and when you deprive yourself, for example. Remember: Whatever you try to achieve with unhealthy sacrifice can be achieved without it.

Letting Go Exercise: Success and happiness require you to let go of your unworthiness, to let go of your wounds, to let go of your defenses, to let go of your story and to let go of your ego. The more you let go, the more you inhabit your authentic, unconditioned self again. And now you are more present, more connected, more open and more able to give yourself without giving yourself away. The more grounded and centered you are in the truth of who you are, the better you understand that to give yourself simply means to be yourself, and in “being” there is never any loss.

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