As you may have read in my book, I had absolutely no idea how to set boundaries prior to finding my way through my divorce. Most of us don’t know how to set them. We’re taught to put others ahead of ourselves. (This is especially true for women, but there are plenty of men who have the same issue.) I have heard Cheryl Richardson say on several occasions,“If I spend my life pleasing people, I spend my life.”
Up until that point in my life, I definitely had been spending it. And I was just about bankrupt when I finally woke up.
Not everyone puts others ahead of themselves, of course, and some of us are more prone to people-pleasing than others. But the attachment many of us feel to keeping others happy is pretty tenacious. In a certain way, pleasing becomes our currency—the way we purchase love and attention. If we don’t think we inherently deserve love, we feel we must find some way to earn it.
This past week, our Jump Coaching group began to set boundaries. And, as we did, we found ourselves face to face with A-to-Z thinking.
What is A-to-Z thinking? All or nothing; it assumes that if you can’t make it to Z, you can’t have anything at all. But it doesn’t always have to be an either/or proposition. You only have to get from A to B. Small shifts add up.
If you’re prone to A-to-Z thinking, evaluate your situation thoroughly and ask yourself:
- What steps can I take today to move me 0nch-by-inch toward the boundary that I’d like to set? For example, where might I say ‘no’ when I would otherwise say ‘yes’?
- Where can I ask for what I really want instead of watering down my request to please another person?
When we answer honestly, we see that there is room to take one small step and set one boundary at a time. Then, setting that one, first, boundary helps us to develop the courage to set more boundaries.
- We are no longer reacting or responding to someone else.
- We are suddenly able to act from a clean, clear place.
Having set my own boundaries for the first time I was finally able to begin living my own life and it was amazing. And while I felt stronger in some ways, I also felt a lot like a young colt trying to walk for the first time—which is fitting, since I was indeed birthing a new identity. My legs felt gangly, like I could barely stand. And then in time, of course, I leaned to stand on my own two feet again.
So, take heart! When you set new boundaries, you may at first feel as though you have a new pair of legs. You might feel off balance, but it won’t last forever.
Yes, it can be very scary to operate from a place of what your own desires, especially when you’re a people-pleaser like I was. As children, we learn to respond in a way that brings us the least stress and trouble—and that often means allowing ourselves to be moved by others’ wants and needs. But as adults, we have to learn to get past our ingrained fears and make clear choices.
I used to wake up every morning and instantly scan my mind for what I needed to worry about. Who needed my attention. What I had to do.
Now as my eyes gently open each day, the first things I say to myself is, “I will only say ‘yes’ today to what I truly desire.”
Try it…and let me know how it goes!
- We are often outside our comfort zones
- We seldom have any idea what to expect from the future
Eventually, if we persevere, we learn that it’s an illusion to think we were actually in control.
- We are actually less in control when we hold rigidly to the familiar.
- We are enslaved by fear.
- We are not free to move with the pulse of life.
On the other hand, when we let go and surrender into the arms of the unfamiliar, we enter the flow. We can follow our truth and our desire, creating the kind of life we most want—a life filled with possibility and enjoyment rather than tension and terror.
Too frequently, we think we’re choosing peace and comfort over freedom. But in truth, we’re sacrificing our inner peace in hopes of outer peace. That outer peace is, more often than not, dictated by someone else and not by our own needs.
When we choose comfort it means replaying the same pattern over and over. Our Jump! Coaching Group talked about this in step one. Nothing will ever change for us if we stay stuck in the same pattern. We already know our outcomes from the patterns we have been living, and we aren’t happy with them. It’s not until we make a different choice that we can design a new ending to our stories.
Making one different choice can have an enormous impact as we move toward jumping into our new, better lives. It’s the starting point that leads us to the next steps.
When we choose to do one thing differently:
- We dissolve a patterns
- We prove to ourselves that there is life beyond the familiar.
I’m not going to pretend that dissolving patterns is always a smooth process; often, it’s anything but. And some of the people around you may be confused once you change the rules of the game. That’s why my Jump! Coaching Groups are so important. We’re like a Jello mold for each other to experiment with while we’re still a little jiggly, before we set firm. We hold one another in this safe space.
Are you choosing peace and comfort over freedom?
If you believed that every choice you make in the present impacts your future, by being in service to your desires or sabotaging them, what one different choice will you make today?
It has not always been easy – but it has been somewhat magical! – to feel the space opening in our internal worlds as we are no longer hiding ourselves and placating our fears. As Independence Day approaches here in the US, I asked them to envision personal freedom by imagining a life free from whatever it they they are holding onto so tightly, and what’s available on the other side of whatever it is they desire to change.
Living according to habits is like never trying a new recipe: We miss all the other flavors that are possible. When we start to think differently, the outside world begins to change. Transformation thrusts us into the unfamiliar.
Allowing ourselves to imagine it helps it become familiar, it fills that space and allows us to find comfort and stability. You don’t actually have to make the leap in order to reap the benefits of a new possibility. All you have to do is start to visualize different options. By willingly considering what potentialities may exist in the abyss of the unknown, you can begin to imagine yourself free.
Visualizing ourselves free:
- Gives us a new perspective and allows us to reframe our situations
- Has us begin to feel excited about the possibilities for our lives
- Invites us to step into the unfamiliar where new opportunities live
- Allows us to see who we would be if we were no longer living a life that was
I am so proud of the women in this group for allowing themselves to imagine what their lives could be after the changes they long to make. Imagining themselves free has already opening them up to a new understanding about themselves and the future that lies ahead.
Can you imagine yourself free? What are the feelings, thoughts and physical sensations you notice? Feel free to share below!
Are YOU considering making a change? Are you yearning for a safe place with the necessary support to take your next step? Are you looking for accountability to hold you to the commitment you make to yourself? If so, register here for your for your *complimentary* jump-start session To enroll in my Fall 2104 Jump! Coaching Group!
The brave women in my Summer 2014 Jump! Coaching Group are bonding, growing, and realizing their own strength and courage. Last week we took Step 2 and began telling our truth to someone safe. While we’re each other’s “someone safe” here in our group, many were also able to confide in the people they’d designated as safe vessels over the course taking this step.
Revealing our truth to ourselves is one thing, but then sharing it with another is a scary step for many people. We’re afraid others will see us as unworthy or unlovable, so we feel we must hide our weaker areas. But, by being vulnerable in front of others shows allows them to see our humanness and have compassion for us on a deep, genuine level.
Hiding is actually a way of giving up on life. Only by fully participating in life—letting others see us for all of who we are—can we live the full life we all want so much. We can’t be loved for all of who we are unless we allow ourselves to be seen for all of who we are.
Revealing – and then sharing – our truth is the gateway to intimacy.
We’re all hiding something we think we need to in order to be loved and accepted. By pressing the release valve on our internal pressure cooker and letting the steam out make it so guilt and shame can’t actually survive, and we also learn we don’t have to go it alone.
While the fear of revealing ourselves is natural, doing so unburdens us and helps us overcome the fear of judgment. Why? We discover that people aren’t judging us nearly as harshly as we expect. In fact, in my experience,our biggest issue is how much we judge ourselves.
Learning to trust another is actually about learning to trust yourself first.
After letting my own secret out, I felt such relief. I discovered how much more energy it was taking to hold onto it than to be transparent and authentic – energy that is now available for me to use in a far more constructive and nurturing way.
Stop and think about it: What is the cost of holding on to the mask versus the cost of letting go? Only you can answer that question and trust me, it’s worth investigating. Join my Fall 2014 Jump! Coaching Group and take the 10 Steps in my book Jump … And Your Life Will Appear with a supportive community to hold you accountable to the commitment you make to yourself!
C’mon…click the pink arrow or button to register for your complimentary jump-start coaching session today!
immersing and emerging
i watch her swim
away from fear
toward a sea
free from restraint
she does not look up
breathing in and out
immersing and emerging
out of her body
as she glides
into a confident sheath
peace ignites her core
for the first time
she understands awareness
by being seemingly unaware
standing now she rises
her flesh propelled by
bone muscle tendon
blood is rushing her
all love begins
once you know
you are the root
of your own suffering
choose to disengage
from the periphery
harness and recognize
the strength inside
breath is the private mantra
follow your feet knees hips
belly heart hands
be willing to lose your balance
surrender to what matters most
and dive into the unknown
“Truth is visceral. You can feel it in your bones….in the core of your being, it is there.”
Last week, thirteen extremely brave women embarked on a journey of courage and truth together. On Tuesday, June 10th, my Summer 2014 Jump! Coaching Group Program began with the first step toward a new life, admitting what they already know.
Our safe container – a learning laboratory of commitment, support and accountability – was instantly created as each woman shared her specific desire to change. Such strength showed by sharing out loud what’s screaming inside our hearts, demanding to be heard. We presenced our challenges and objectives while invoking the healing and hope for the lives longing to be lived …the lives awaiting us all on the other side of the work we’ll be doing together over these 12 weeks.
In our first session together, we learned about the lies we tell ourselves and walked through what happens when we deny, avoid, or minimize the truth. We discussed survival strategies and our failed attempts at rationalization, justification and compartmentalization.
We confirmed that everyone has things we feel we need to hide in order to feel loved and accepted, and explored the ways in which the mind buries but the body never lies. “Let your body be the barometer of your truth,” I said. “Truth is visceral. You can feel it in your bones….in the core of your being, it is there.” By going back in time to the original experience of when our shadow beliefs and underlying commitments were born, we can clearly see the constellation of relationships and events that consistently play out in our adult lives. The feelings and physical sensations linked to that time also help us understand the core beliefs we have that are shaping our current choices and outcomes.
My group of summer jumpers is showing up to play full out, willingly examining what they’re most committed to deep inside. All week long we’ve been sharing actively on our private Facebook page, taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to seek guaranteed support, celebrate one another, acknowledge ourselves, and nurture relationships that will inspire transparency and trust to permeate throughout the rest of their lives.
We have launched off step one, journeying toward the Jump into the truth of the lives we want to live…and there’s no turning back now! I applaud each of these brave women as they take the important steps – inch-by-inch – to dissolving past patterns, habits and behaviors; reframing old disempowering limiting beliefs into new empowering ones, and making lasting change!
Although I’m an early riser and definitely a morning person, I’ve never been a roll-out-of-bed-and-go kinda girl. I like to take my time…to ritualistically have my coffee, write in my journal, look out my big picture window at Boulder Creek and the Rocky Mountain Foothills (when I’m actually home, that is.) Even if I have an early flight or am on the road with an early call-time, I set my alarm for at least 2 hours before I need to leave. This isn’t for primping and prepping, but rather to ensure I have ample time to be with myself, before engaging with the world.
In the past few months, as my life has become increasingly more full, I’ve been blocking this time out – in my already very color-coded calendar – in yellow for ME.
And, over the past 4 weeks – in direct response to an overwhelming period of overbooking myself into a corner with no time to eat or pee or get outside – I’ve been scheduling absolutely everything! My daily journal-writing, hikes, runs, yoga, visits with friends…even grocery shopping! I’ve noticed that by claiming space in my calendar for my non-negotiables, I easily and effortlessly keep these commitments to myself, just like I would if they were appointments with clients.
With this practice, I’ve also been able to create a calendar – and a life – with much more time for me than I ever could have imagined. Gone are the days of everything being back-to-back-to-back! Instead I have all the time I need for a fulfilling workday, complete with contemplation, fitness, food…and bathroom breaks!
Imagine how your life would change if you made the same commitment to your own non-negotiables that you do the priorities of others.
I’d love to hear what would be possible for you…as well as any of your practices for honoring yourself! Please reply below!
Are you consciously relating the present to the future?
Where we are today is a culmination of the choices and decisions we’ve made, and actions we’ve taken, up to now. If we don’t change what we are doing now, nothing will be different in the future. This is motivating. When we begin with new choices and actions based on clarity of where we want to go, we can begin to make conscious and educated decisions in the present and be in service of this highest vision for ourselves.
I am here today because of my own deep work in my own internal world. Each day I get to experience decision making that relates today with tomorrow and keeps me on track for life I truly want to live. I work on this continually. I ask myself, which option will get me where I really want to go?
This is just one aspect of what we’ll be working on in my Summer 2014 Jump Group Coaching program, launching on June 10. Enrollment is open now!
I will hold a safe container where we’ll meet, speak our truth, and support each other with accountability. Having this space to be present, open and accepted as the most transparent version of ourselves is a powerful catalyst in making the shifts and changes we so deeply want and need.
As we take the steps from Jump … And Your Life Will Appear, we’ll make a commitment to reveal our deepest truths. When this happens, we release the valve on the pressure cooker inside, learn we aren’t alone, and learn we are all hiding something we think we have to in order to be loved.
Over 12 weeks we’ll weave together the threads that connect us as we set the stage for the change we want to make, the jump we want to take. Whether it’s waking up to our lives when we feel asleep, doing something we have only talked about or thought about so far, leaving a job to start a business, moving to a new state (or even country), or making a relationship change, we must first get clear about our own alignment around what’s important, create new boundaries and empowering beliefs that will move us into the future we most desire.
• Are you headed to where you want to go?
• What is aching, deep inside you that needs to be heard?
• What will be possible for you once you let that out?
As coach, I commit to hold you accountable to your commitment to yourself. I will hold your feet to the fire with grace and love.
Are you considering a change? Are you yearning for a safe place and the accountability necessary take the next step? If so, there are a few spots still open in my Summer 2014 Jump Group Coaching program. I hope you will join us and jump into the life you want to live!
Click here to join the group (limited spaces remain).
When I met Margaret Geaney in Maui this past January at Hay House’s Divine Love seminar with Wayne Dyer and his special guests Anita Moorjani and Immaculée Ilibagiza, I had no idea what was in store for me by my willingness to say “Yes!” to this charming lady.
Margaret told me that her book group would be reading Writing For My Life –– my book of poems – this spring. OMG! Did I hear that right? A book group was reading my book! I was blown away!!! She knew that I was speaking at Hay House’s I Can Do It! Vancouver conference in May and wondered out loud to me if there was any way I’d be able to come join them from there.
And the next thing I knew, this past Monday, I found myself on a 20-minute seaplane ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo, BC with Margaret waiting for me at the dock. We had a delicious lunch at Penny’s Pilapa right there at the harbor front, and then took a 10-minute ferry ride to Protection Island – a tiny slice of heaven with a population of about 350 where most of the book club members live. The lush island is full of artists, writers, musicians, naturalists, scientists….and magnificent gardeners!
Margaret handed me off to Nella, a wonderful woman who took me on a tour of the 1km x 2km island via golf cart.
She touchingly shared with me that her husband had picked up my book that morning and began reading poems from it to her. We swung by their house and upon introducing me to him she said, “Go on Peter, she’s huggy.” Very sweet!
She took me to the fabulous newly renovated and redecorated Paige Cottage where I’d be spending the night so I could drop my things before heading back over to Margaret’s house in Nanaimo for the book club followed by dinner at Asteras Greek Taverna.
What a treat it was for me to be in the company of these wise women, sharing their observations and insights about my book while often quoting particular passages to me that most resonated with them. A special shout-out to Marion: deep gratitude for your tender questions; and to vibrant Valley: I so enjoyed and appreciated our lively conversation. I was truly touched to discuss process and healing; self-indulgence vs service; poetry vs prose. And they were excited for me to share about my new book, Jump … And Your Life Will Appear as well.
After dinner, a bunch of us headed back to Protection Island via ferry and I slept like a baby in the serene surroundings.
At 9am the next morning, dear Denise took me out on a nearly 2-hour walking tour – a passionate runner, Denise was bummed I didn’t bring my gear with me, but since the seaplane has a very strict weight limit, I only traveled there with the bare essentials. Instantly walking and talking non-stop like old friends, we traipsed on forest trails down to the “beaches”, poked our heads over fences to see many magnificent gardens, and even “snuck” into her best friend’s painting studio! Such an enchanted island, what a treat.
And then before I knew it, Denise and I were in her boat with her husband Mike at the helm, just in time to catch my seaplane back to Vancouver and beyond…
“Have you ever had a Nanaimo Bar?” Denise asked me as I was about to check in for my flight. When I said “No” she insisted I have one before I board the plane so we walked back to the coffee shop and she bought one for us to share! Chocolate and nuts and coconut and other yummy goodness! Woah! What a fantastic send-off after such an exciting adventure.
I was amazed at all the new experiences I’d made myself available for in just 24-hours by opening myself up to saying ”Yes!” to the unknown!
What will you say “Yes!” to today?
“Sit on the floor,” my therapist said. I looked at her skeptically. Had she lost her marbles? But she was patiently waiting for me to do as I was told, so I slowly skootched off the couch and onto the carpet.
She handed me a long piece of rope and told me to make a boundary around myself, illustrating my own personal space.
Without thinking too hard, I hugged my knees tightly into my chest and made myself as small as possible before circling the rope as close to my body as I could. Wow, this was a very telling exercise! Clearly, I didn’t have any boundaries. The reality was right there in front of me—or around me—and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was willing to be violated if it served or pleased someone else. I am hardly alone out there. Most of us don’t know the first thing about how to set boundaries.
How are your boundaries? Think they’re too hard to make?
I have a process for creating a Self-Love Map and setting boundaries. To read about it and begin the work of creating your new self-love map, check out my article, How To Set Boundaries (Even If You Think You Can’t), on MindBodyGreen!
And… after you set one, would you share it with me here? I would love to hear about the work you are doing to create positive, lasting change in your life… and as you jump!
Re-printed with permission from the May 5th edition of the Present Moments Newsletter from Hay House for the upcoming Hay House World Summit. To join the mailing list and learn more, visit the Hay House World Summit site.
This week, I have one of the easiest columns to write. It’s about someone I know very well since she’s our Event Director and I’ve been working with her for more than a decade. I’m talking about Nancy Levin. About a month ago, we offered Nancy a publishing contract and as of today’s release of her newest book, Jump…and Your Life Will Appear, she will be an official Hay House author.
With her warm and gregarious personality, Nancy has been such a dynamic force behind the success of our I Can Do It! Events. I didn’t really know about this other side of her creative talent until a couple years ago. Someone showed me a poem that Nancy wrote for the wedding of our event manager Mollie Langer and her husband Andrew. When I read it, I was very moved by Nancy’s powerful words. The next time I saw her, I said, “Nancy, you’re a real poet” and asked if she would read some of her poems at the opening of our conferences.
As more and more people resonated with her poems, Nancy decided to put together a collection of her favorites and published them with Balboa Press. Her first book was Writing for My Life…Reclaiming the Lost Pieces of Me. Soon, Nancy joined our roster of event speakers and began giving 20-minute talks about her own personal journey.
While journaling about this new chapter in her life and the major changes she was experiencing, Nancy noticed the many valuable lessons she had picked up by working so closely with some of the wisest spiritual teachers of our times—Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Doreen Virtue, Gregg Braden, Cheryl Richardson, Brian Weiss, and more. These were the seeds that eventually sprouted the manuscript for her latest book—Jump…and Your Life Will Appear.
In her new book, Nancy offers 10 steps to help us all get through major changes that we sometimes have to make in our lives. My favorite chapter is about—“Asking for Help,” and you’ll find out why when I tell you my story.
I recently took a week’s vacation in Idaho with my wife Kristina and our kids, Ava and Dane. We just bought some property there and are in the process of building a barn with an apartment above it. If you’re standing where this place is going to be built, you can see an exquisite landscape of giant trees and magnificent snow-capped mountains. It’s absolutely beautiful.
While surveying our backyard, I noticed a clump of dead trees that was obstructing our picturesque view. I anxiously purchased a chainsaw so I could try my hand at clearing some of the older, lifeless trees. Since some of them were more than 60 feet tall, I thought it best to talk to our contractor first. He showed me how to safely cut these trees and clear the brush. I have to admit, I really enjoyed taking on this role of a mountain man in the brisk Idaho weather tackling nature with a chainsaw in hand. I proudly succeeded at cutting several enormous trees, doing it exactly as our contractor instructed.
But in the middle of this fulfilling task, the chain suddenly flew off the saw. Being a guy who doesn’t really like to ask for help, I spent the next three hours trying to get that chain back on. When my wife suggested going back to the store for help, I didn’t want to admit my failure and insisted on doing it myself. I upset everyone around me and even berated myself by thinking what an idiot I was for not being able to do something as simple as putting this chain back in its place.
Finally, I gave up and brought the chainsaw back to the store. Swallowing my pride, I surrendered to the Universe and asked for help. The cashier said he knew what to do and I asked him to show me so I’d learn for the next time. But when he examined the machine closer, he told me that the chain had broken and I would have never gotten it back on! If only I would have just asked for help in the beginning, I would have saved myself and my family hours of anguish.
Later, I sat down with Kristina and my kids and admitted that I had a big problem with asking for help. I wanted to share my feelings with them and let them know what a good lesson this was for me. Then I remembered reading a chapter in Nancy’s book about how we often believe that we’re revealing our weakness when we ask for help.
Nancy’s book Jump…and Your Life Will Appear was especially helpful for me and I think it could help you, too. You may not be cutting down trees anytime soon, but you may find yourself working too hard or worrying too much over something that could be solved by just reaching out for a hand.
As Nancy says, “Imagine a world where everyone feels too selfish to receive. No one would have the profound pleasure of knowing they’ve helped someone else. Know that the world functions in a healthier way with a balanced, steady flow back and forth.”
I’ve included a couple photos of our beautiful view in Idaho. I’ll have to remember to take a video next time.
My best wishes,
I share my “Tips to Live By” from the same Hay House communication in my recent post One Different Choice.