Are You Looking for What’s Wrong?

Look for what's right

Choose momentary discomfort over long-term resentment. — Brené Brown

So much of the time, we would rather stay small and imprisoned than face the uncertainty of becoming who we are meant to be. The resentment that comes with keeping our dreams under wraps may be a life sentence, but it’s also a known commodity. It’s within our comfort zone. In order to stay there, we have to slip into denial, numb out, and stuff down our real feelings and our true selves. What a high cost we pay for that so-called “comfort.”

I became aware that my denial had caused an underlying tension in almost everything I did, and tension is the opposite of freedom. In my career, people-pleasing and workaholism became escapes. I kept jumping through hoop after hoop in order to receive recognition and earn a gold star. But no amount of gold stars was ever enough to fill the emptiness of living an inauthentic life.

My hard work was also an attempt to be good and “do things right.” In my mind, being wrong meant I’d be punished—which, on a deep level, is what I expected most of the time. In her book, The Right Questions, Debbie Ford asks, “Am I looking for what is right, or am I looking for what is wrong?” I was always, always looking for what I was doing wrong.

Looking for what’s wrong tends to be the default way of viewing the world for most of us and has us look at our lives through the narrowest possible lens, zooming in on the negative. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—if we look for what’s wrong, we will find it. It becomes an excuse we use to justify our moods and bad behavior and gives us a way to avoid taking responsibility for our lives.

Whereas, looking for what’s right allows a whole new reality to emerge. It opens our hearts and allows us to live in a state of gratitude for what we have. It’s a life-enhancing choice that promises peace, satisfaction and fulfillment.

This question has the power to shift a moment by refocusing the lens of our perceptions and takes practice. It can be as simple as looking at the world through “what’s right glasses” – vs. “what’s wrong glasses.”

Most of the time, we’re wearing our “what’s wrong glasses” and we’re held captive in an invisible prison of our own beliefs. In my marriage, for example, I believed that my husband held all the cards. That belief happened to be true, but only because I allowed it. My belief that I was never going to be good enough kept our unhealthy dynamic in place.

As long as I stayed and propped him up, I could hide from what I truly wanted and from all I was capable of becoming. Leaving my husband meant I would no longer have excuses for not fully inhabiting my life—a terrifying thought.

So, what beliefs are silently running your life and holding you back from bursting forth into freedom?

Are you ready to put on your “what’s right glasses” and let looking for what’s right become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Ask For Help

Ask For Help

One of the reasons I refused to ask for help for so long was that I didn’t want to appear vulnerable. I’d spent a long time thinking that “strength” meant being totally invulnerable. Never letting them see me sweat, as I’ve said. But it turns out that it takes way more courage to say “I don’t know how to do this” and “I can’t do it alone.”

It felt scary to let anyone see what I judged as my “weaknesses,” but as it turned out, it was safer than I realized. As soon as I asked for help, I discovered how many people were not only willing but were happy to give me whatever I needed.

Showing my vulnerability made me appear more human to others. I had projected the image of “superwoman,” and they had actually believed me! Once I let down my shield, they could identify with me and relate to me for the first time. The result was that they felt closer to me. They were all human, too, and they had all felt vulnerable.

I also discovered that asking for help ends isolation we feel from lack of connection and intimacy. I slowly started allowing people more into my world so that they could see all of me—both my “efficient” self and the part of me who throws up her hands and says, “I don’t know.” Feeling “help-less” wasn’t necessary anymore, though, because help was always right there. I only had to ask.

What’s Your Worthiness Quotient?

You approve of you

One of the easiest ways to tell if your self-worth could use a tune-up is by paying attention to how you judge yourself. Do you get very upset when you make a mistake? Do you say, “Damn! I’m such an idiot!” Do you tell yourself that you aren’t smart enough, aren’t good enough, aren’t capable?

Sometimes, that voice of judgment is so automatic that we don’t actually “hear” it, but we sure do feel it. The excuses come next. “Oh, I can’t join that class. It’s stupid.” “I can’t take that job. It’s too far away. What a commute that would be!” Underneath those excuses is the longing for the very thing we’re pushing away. And we push it away because we’re afraid we aren’t good enough.

When my critical voice starts to shout, I say, “Oh, here you are again. I’ve been expecting you, and I’m going to turn your volume down now. We’re not doing that anymore.”

Also underneath the excuses are our “what ifs” – “What if I’m not good enough to get that job?” “What if I’m not smart enough to keep up in that class?” We would rather stay safe and small than take the risk of finding out that our “what ifs” are correct.

But here’s the thing: When your self-worth is strong, the “what ifs” aren’t so scary. What if you take the class and find out you can’t keep up? So what? If your self-worth is solid, it won’t be damaged. You aren’t going to die if you can’t keep up in some class! The same is true of that job. If you don’t get it, so what? It’s hardly the only job in the world. With a strong sense of worthiness, we’re much less likely to let “failures” get us down. Instead, we see them as learning experiences that propel us forward to even better opportunities.

The condition of our self-worth is also revealed in how well we care for ourselves. Just as we demonstrate our love for others through our actions, we demonstrate self-worth through making sure we’re eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising enough. We nurture ourselves, taking time for what we need in order to feel good. That might be meditation. A walk in the park. A hot bath. A talk with a friend. Alone time.

It also means taking credit for our progress and our successes. We pat ourselves on the back when we do something well. We acknowledge our talents and abilities. We notice our growth.

Healthy pride comes from a place of knowing your worth. Arrogance actually comes from a lack of self-worth. It’s putting on a good show of self-worth, but it isn’t real worthiness. Do you know someone who has healthy self-confidence, yet isn’t boastful or arrogant? That person could be a good role model. Even if you don’t know anyone personally, you can probably find someone in public life who exhibits that kind of confidence. What would it feel like to take healthy pride in what you do and who you are?

Remember there’s no “ultimate” or “perfect” state of self- worth. No matter where you start, you have the opportunity to improve. So let’s look at ways you can increase your willingness to be worthy.

The Dance of Deprivation and Worth

I am enough

Some of us have an underlying commitment to unworthiness. Our identity is actually tied to it, and we believe that we’re fundamentally unworthy. Why would anyone make a commitment to such a thing? Childhood programming, of course. But this particular commitment is often tenacious, because we’re afraid of feeling worthy.

The secret benefit of the commitment is that it keeps us safe. Think about it: If we dare to believe we’re worthy, what if we discover we’re wrong? We’d not only feel terrible, but we’d also be humiliated. Choosing to feel unworthy from the start is a preemptive strike. “If I already know I’m unworthy, the new kid in the school yard can’t hurt me as much when he tells me I’m ugly.”

Even if we don’t have an underlying commitment to unworthiness, we might have a pervasive belief about worth. One of the beliefs I hear a lot is “I’m not enough, and there isn’t enough.” That leads to the underlying commitment to deprive ourselves. If there isn’t enough, and we’re not worthy, that means everyone else gets first dibs. We’re afraid to take our rightful portion.

Women tend to take care of others first, which often leaves little for themselves. Did your mother do that? If she modeled that for you, it’s a big part of your programming.

Take my client Pauline who says, “So much of my self-worth is based on what’s on the ‘outside,’ rather than how I feel on the inside. I tend to let my husband and close friends have their way almost all the time without even thinking about what I want. I realize now that I don’t speak up because I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me.”

With awareness, Pauline can begin to catch herself, correct her behavior, and make a different choice. Whenever she sees herself starting to take “the short end of the stick,” she can stop and say to herself, “No, I’m enough, and there’s enough for everyone. I get just as much as everybody else. I deserve to have first dibs. I deserve to say which movie I’d like to see. I deserve to choose the restaurant.” It can start as simply as that, and then spiral out into more important areas of her life. Of course, we all have to make compromises and allow everyone in a group to have their say and their piece of the pie. But we certainly deserve to give ourselves equal treatment.

This habit of putting others first also comes out in “the chameleon act.” If you’re a people-pleaser type like me, you frequently turn yourself—like a chameleon—into what others want and need you to be. Whether that’s who you are or not. I still sometimes catch myself wanting to do that. It comes out of the fear that who I am isn’t enough, and I’m not worthy of being me.

These days, I’m better able to stop myself from morphing into what somebody else wants. It still takes some effort, but I make it a point to check in with myself to find out what I need, want, feel, and think before I move on to anyone else. This allows me to respond, rather than react, to people and situations. It allows me to be more authentic, and it spares me the resentment I would feel later because I didn’t get what I desired.

Now what about you? Are you ready to admit you ARE enough? Are you ready claim your piece of the pie?

The Healing Power of Poetry and Journaling

Each day-let go
Writing is how I solve and dissolve complex equations of heart and head. It is my personal commitment to revealing, as poetry has the ability to connect us to one another. We discover ourselves in words, unveiled and immersed in the precision of the present moment.

I have been writing to capture and process the details of my life since I was 11. The practice of poetry is my way-finding. It’s my guide. Distilling and illuminating the essence of a fixed moment in time, like a snapshot. The pure, concise extraction of an experience, like espresso.

In some way, it didn’t happen if I didn’t write about it.

In fact, my first book is called Writing For My Life and that title couldn’t be truer. Writing literally saved my life and helped me…find me, the real me. That book is far more to me than simply a collection of poetry. It’s a bridge. From my own experience to that of so many others.

Making myself vulnerable through these words has opened my eyes to the ways in which each of our stories are intertwined, coursing through one another. It’s not only the meaning, more the feeling that resonates between us. We are all of us writing for our lives.

Poems became the stepping-stones along my journey from fear to self- acceptance; shame to self-love; punishment to self-forgiveness; self-doubt to self-worth. I offer my heart to you with the hope that it serves as a compass to lead you back to yourself, and an invitation to find and trust your own voice.

reclaiming the lost pieces of me

in seven hours
we reached the desert
by morning
clear blue sky
and red rock wake us
move us
remove us from
the usual

we travel
to see what happens
elsewhere
to find the difference
in ourselves
inside another place
reordering the regular
giving order to what has gone before

call for what has passed
and what will come
mark this moment

my body goes back
into the healing
it sits
in a canyon
i never left
drops down into
unlimited time 

this writing
this ancient meaning of movement
distracts the body
creates a space
for the silence
of making

yes
each day
i can do
one more thing

seven river crossings
bridge past to present
rising and falling
between breath and bone
the perfect landmark
lights up a landscape

i could only come from center
something to go back to
so rooted and close to earth
becoming whole is a profound secret

each day – let go
everything is at stake

What’s Hiding Out in Your Unexpressed Anger?

Permission to Feel

So what’s hiding out in your unexpressed anger?

The Answer: Your Freedom! Anger that’s withheld or repressed can eat away at your desires, robbing you of the intimacy you crave, your dream career, prosperity, peace, wellness and joy.

Last month on my radio show I had a lovely listener, Jennifer from NJ, ask me about anger and I think it’s such an important topic that I want to take some time and shed a little more light on the subject.

I want to start by saying it’s ok to be angry and feel anger. But so many of us bury the emotion, internalize the anger and even reject that we have a right to be angry. As if being angry is not “proper” or “appropriate” to feel. And then we disown and dissociate from it.

Most of us think anger looks like an explosion of aggression and hostility. And yes, anger can look like that. However, unexpressed anger surfaces in different ways for different people – like neediness, control, anxiety, being overly critical, cynical, depressed or like the caller…stolidly independent. And it’s hard to recognize this as unexpressed anger because we don’t have a relationship with it. The expression won’t look the same, what you need to look at is the emotion underneath the behavior.

And what you’ll find, if you dig a little deeper is you actually draw people towards you that do express anger and mirror your unexpressed anger back to you.

So what I want you to do this week is explore your relationship to anger. Think about how you express—or don’t express—your anger and how anger may be expressed in a healthy way for you.

And if you’re wondering how to express your anger in healthy ways, here are a few I’ve picked up over the years:

  1. Take a plastic baseball bat to a pillow
  2. Yell outside from a hilltop
  3. Take a shower in the dark and scream
  4. Go kickboxing
  5. Sing it out
  6. Write about it
  7. Blast music in your car and shout it out

Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel and learn to own your anger so you can heal into a life of greater freedom.

Love 2.0

all love begins with self-love

 

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, I’ve been reflecting and remembered this piece I wrote two years ago and it’s as relevant today as it was then so I want to share it with you! Enjoy! ~ NL

It’s time. I’ve been resisting. But it’s time now for me to write about awakening to the wellspring of love, because more importantly I know that it never could have happened had I not awakened to myself first.

I often talk about honoring the space between no longer and not yet, for it’s in this liminal space that resiliency and resourcefulness are born.

I spent much of last year self-resourcing. And finding resiliency in self-love.

On February 25, 2014 – my 49th birthday – the man I had been seeing and I decided to part. We left each other, though still very much in love, because we wanted different things. Eight years younger than I and never married, he longed for a partner and playmate to share life with. And I, having left an enmeshed co-dependent marriage, was a workaholic, happily entrenched in my career and on the road for long stretches at a time. The truth is that I was either working or recovering. Love and play felt like items on my to-do list. Yet I believed I could juggle it all and give myself fully to everything. That belief ultimately stretched our relationship to its breaking point and sent me into eight months of solid certainty that it’s far easier to be alone.

And it was.

During those eight months I self-published my book Jump … And Your Life Will Appear which did so well during its initial release that Hay House offered me a deal to republish it. I traveled for speaking engagements and to be with family and friends. I often hiked for several hours a day. Woke up when I wanted to and went to bed when I wanted to. Ate what I wanted to. I watched what I wanted to when I wanted to. I firmly established my coaching business, allowing me to take the giant jump of leaving my day job.

Over that summer, friends of mine got married and their wedding was like the one at the end of every romantic movie, times a billion. The gorgeous, joyous and madly-in-love couple exchanged vows, pledging their hearts and souls to one another before friends and family against the backdrop of sunshine and waterfront. It was magnificent. Really and truly. And yet as I sat there watching, it was so crystal clear to me that I didn’t want what they were having.

Why on earth would I want that? I had no one to answer to and no one to take into account for decisions I was making. I was free from the obligation of relationship. And I could work as much as I wanted to! It was sheer bliss.

Until it wasn’t.

I started to long for fun and play: for full moons, camping, road trips, mountain biking, and the yummy love that my guy infused our relationship with.

These are things at one time I resisted for fear they would threaten my work. This wasn’t about being lonely or wanting a boyfriend. It was about wanting him. Wanting us.

When my guy and I split he helped me load up all the stuff that was at his place in Aspen so I could drive everything back to my place in Boulder. He even packed me a spare head for the electric toothbrushes we have.

Remember, we left each other in love.

Nearly eight months had passed without any communication. He made that request and I was determined to honor it.

Historically, I’ve been really good at restrictive, righteous self-control and less good at following my heart.

And then, one sunny Saturday in October, I took a risk.

Over the past few years along the journey to finding my own truth, my own voice, and my own power, I’ve learned that when we stay inside the lines too rigidly, we stop the flow of allowing. Sometimes we need to burst the dam and let the pent-up energy move so that new possibilities and options can emerge where before there was only stagnant, lifeless water.

It took me years to stop thinking I needed a permission slip. Years to know that my life was my own and that I didn’t owe it to anyone. Years to get free from believing the only way to be loved is by buying it, bending over backwards with people-pleasing. Years to know that everything we are seeking externally needs to be resolved internally first. Years to live life from my own inspiration, motivation, and agency rather than in response or reaction to anyone or anything else. Years to know that our present-moment choices can actually predict our future and that every choice we make today is either in service of the life we desire living, or sabotaging it. Years to know that the answer to freedom is self-love, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness.

I took a risk and followed my heart. I was so worried about breaking a boundary that I almost didn’t.

Here’s some of what I emailed:

i want to relinquish
the rigid stronghold
that’s keeping us apart
and let you know
i miss you in my life
i love you always
i am in love with you still

Here’s some of what he wrote back:

thank you for reaching out. i appreciate the risk you took in doing so.
after writing and rewriting you for the past two hours, i don’t know what to say. it feels good to hear from you. i am crying.

Turns out, as fate would have it, he was in Boulder that weekend. Two days later we met for a walk and sat on a rock in the creek for four hours. It was as if everything and nothing had changed.

We have been together ever since.

We put closure on the past so that we can do it differently now.

It’s a tall order. Building on the good, facing fear, and allowing for expansion and possibility. To be independent and entwined, each successful in whatever way that means. To be all in this loving relationship where we speak our truth and where we don’t get threatened or lose ourselves in love.

It’s a tall order, I know, but day by day we’re doing it.

Sometimes it’s glorious, sometimes it’s messy, sometimes unskilled, sometimes graceful. But we are always all in, and that makes all the difference.

I no longer have one foot out the door. I’ve shifted the belief that being in relationship and being successful in my career are mutually exclusive. We’re just wrapping up a six-week stint in Moab, Utah, where I’ve made mountain biking my priority while also devoting myself to my coaching business, and my relationship – everything is thriving.

I will always love my work but I have a reverence for play now too, appreciating the ebb and flow of how one feeds the other.

And still, the bud of self-love that awakened in me blooms big, reminding me that while life might indeed be easier when alone, it’s much more fun when shared.

 love 2.0
for aaron

i used to
feel small
and sinking

so afraid of
being swallowed

today
i feel your heart
reeling me in
above waterline
to breathe again

now
when i am submerged
i remember that
air is always available
in love with you

* this piece first appeared in Best Self Magazine

3 Things You Need in Order to Jump! Right Now!

I live by my own Transformation Equation: Change = Vision + Choice + Action

You know you want change. You can feel it in the pit of your stomach. You close your eyes and picture it in those rare moments of quiet solitude. You want transformation…but “wanting” is not enough.

Here’s the deal: if you don’t make different choices, you won’t get where you want to go and your future will look eerily like your past.

Your present moment choices determine your future … they’re your crystal ball. If you want a different future, you have to make different choices.

The truth is that your heart has already jumped … your head just has to catch up with your heart! No matter what the external jump is, the internal jump must be fueled by a deepening of self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-love, self-forgiveness, self-trust and self-worth.

I live by my own Transformation Equation: Change = Vision + Choice + Action.

If you want to jump, if you truly want change, if you want your life to look different than it does today, and yesterday and 20 years ago…then you need these 3 things:

VISION: Your vision exists inside you. It’s your ideal envisioning of your life. It doesn’t need to be created, simply uncovered and dusted off a bit. I love keeping my clients accountable to the commitment they make to their own evolution. Holding the vision they reveal for themselves, even when they’re unable to see how they’re going to get there. I tell my clients when we begin, “You don’t have to believe, you simply need to believe that I believe.” And, inevitably, they find themselves living into it.

CHOICE: Too often I hear “But I don’t have a choice!” and I reject that…lovingly. You do have a choice. And every choice you make either serves your vision or sabotages it. You’re simply clinging to the familiar because that’s what you know and the unknown is too scary. Today you have a choice, to choose the unfamiliar and lean in to your discomfort—or you can stay exactly where you are. Trust me when I tell you that there is another way.

ACTION: The world will start to shift as soon as you take your first step towards living in alignment with your truth and desires. Movement mobilizes possibility. Take action today, and chose not to stay where you are. It might not always be fast or easy or pretty…but truly inhabiting the life you’re meant to live will always be worth it!

The only thing preventing you from creating, living and experiencing the life you really want…is you. Come Jump with me!

My next Jump Coaching Group begins Thursday, February 9th. If you’re ready to take the next steps toward transformation, self-love and acceptance, I’d love to support you!

The stories in our stuff.

Letting Go

Resistance can rear its ugly head in many forms, beliefs, excuses and stories.

And most of the pain we create in our lives is due to stories we tell ourselves that aren’t true—the inability to separate fact from fiction.

Why do we choose to tell ourselves false stories?

Because we don’t want to face “what is.” Reality feels threatening to us, but reality has a way of forcing us to accept it eventually.

Letting go of excuses and patterns that don’t serve you anymore is an important process in both my Jump and Worthy coaching programs. By honoring your truth, you make emotional space and open up a new world of opportunity.

What kind of opportunity?

I’ll let my client Dorena tell you:

“I’m so much more alive and in touch with who I am and what I want. I am recognizing lots of opportunities to set appropriate boundaries. I’m moving forward one step at a time towards a future that I once thought was only reserved for fairy-tale endings. And I started a business and am getting paid for it! Woo hoo! I never would have imagined that a new business would be a result of coaching with Nancy—and I am so excited about it!”

Much to her surprise, Dorena launched her own business called The Breathing Room and emerged as the Space Doula.

What’s a space doula?

I took this description straight off Dorena’s website, “Space Doula – noun. A woman who is trained to support another as they create an environment that is reflective of their biggest dreams and desires.”

I love that!

Dorena has built a thriving business around helping other women move from overwhelmed to overjoyed by holding their hand as they do the emotional work of decluttering and letting go of “stuff”; stuff that can make them feel heavy, guilty, limited or less than. Helping them create a sacred space in which they can breathe, move forward, uncover passions and pursue their dreams.

 “As long as I hang on tightly, I will remain stuck.”

Dorena believes that when you attach a story to the thing, person or situation you’re fretting about, you remain in turmoil.

By decluttering your space, you give yourself room to breathe, create and nurture your own desires. And when you detach and let go, the miracles show up.

Who doesn’t want that?

What I love about Dorena’s work is she embraced the emotional work we did together of letting go and translated that into a physical counterpart.

What physical objects have you been storing your stories in? What are you ready to release so you can free up some space?

 I want to help you uncover the stories keeping you stuck! You deserve it!

Join me for my next Complimentary Jump Group Coaching Call and get ready to set yourself free!

Befriend Your Resistance

Resistance is a natural part of the process

I love a line in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love: “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.”

It rings so true, especially when you’re wanting to jump, and find yourself sitting in the uncertainty of the unknown.

Inner conflict is one of the ways we stay stuck. As long as we’re sitting on the fence, we don’t have to pick a side, hop down, and get on with our lives. Since my coaching is one massive attempt to help you disengage from your inner stalemate and make the best decision you can, we’ve got to talk about resistance.

You will have doubts. It’s not a one-time deal; you will inevitably have to make your choice over and over. I had to keep choosing to get divorced and not go back … over and over again. I had to reevaluate my decision more times than I can count. In fact, it became a daily practice.

None of us likes change.

Our natural impulse is to come up with all sorts of reasons why we should stay right where we are.

You’ll have to keep reminding yourself what you want and why the change is necessary … in spite of your resistance. And, yes, you’ll have to keep choosing, every day and every moment, to move forward—toward your fulfilling future.

As my friend Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “We heal through repetition. Each time on the spiral we go back to the same place but we’re on a higher rung, or deeper section of that particular issue.” So, every time you act in spite of your fear voices, you grow stronger.

The most important thing to remember about your resistance is that it isn’t necessarily a sign you should abandon your plan to jump. It’s just that that is where your comfort zone is—the familiar.

In my own initial jump—divorcing my husband—I approached resistance with a sword, ready to wage war. I thought if I could just muscle through the resistance, and outlast it, that I would be victorious. But the funny thing is…it doesn’t quite work out that way.

Resistance is like a beach ball. When you push it underwater, it pops back up to the surface even stronger. (Thanks to my late, great friend and mentor Debbie Ford for that great analogy.) So, as you move closer to making your jump, accept that resistance is bound to pop up to the surface and possibly even hit you in the face. Don’t push it back down. Let it be there.

And today I’m going to even ask you to…befriend it.

Now why would I want you to do that?

Resistance rears her uninvited head in the form of negative thoughts and feelings, attitudes, self-judgment, anger and distraction. But she’s a part of you. How you react to resistance may be the difference between staying where you are and breaking through to realizing your greatest desires. Instead of resenting her and wishing her ill will, you might as well sidle up to her and ask her if she wants to go get a cup of coffee.

By befriending your resistance, you honor and acknowledge her but you take away her power and eliminate the conflict. Think of her as a guide, whose job is to test you as you progress on your journey. Every time you notice she’s knocking on your door, offer to buy her a latte and inform her that you’re going to keep moving forward anyway.

Resistance is a natural part of the process. How you deal with it is up to you.

I want to help you befriend your resistance. You deserve it!

Join me for my next Complimentary Jump Group Coaching Call and find your truth!