A Tidal Wave of Grief

I read once that grief comes in waves and when I envisioned it, I assumed that the waves gradually got smaller as they do in the ocean as it comes to the shore. What I didn’t expect is that sometimes the waves are tidal size waves and sometimes they are little baby waves and there is no way to predict which one is coming!

This past week marks the 5th year since my husband passed and on our wedding anniversary, I got hit with a tidal size wave from out of the blue! There were no warnings … just bam! Like all the significant special dates that remind me of him I psychologically prepare myself and our anniversary is usually a big one as when he was ill it was on our anniversary that things really started taking a turn for the worse, he then passed just over a week later, so needless to say it is an emotional time for me and I know 5 years may seem like a lot of time to some but for me the shock and trauma I experienced through the short 3 months of his illness is still something I cope with.


So back to the tidal wave… like I said I knew it would be emotional but what I didn’t expect was the barrage of guilt and self-blame that came on this particular wave. I know that there is sometimes survivor guilt and I think in the bargaining stage there is definitely some guilt but what I got was none of those, it was full-on assault from my mind on how I was the WORST person alive and was a horrible wife and so on and so on. This was new for me as I had not really had a lot of self-blame sure a little bit that I could have done more, been more compassionate etc but this was way more than that, this was a downright assault on my character, all from my own mind. I am so grateful that I have the tools that I do as I was able to stay afloat during the wave of emotions and keep my head above water. I have spoken with a few other widows and we have shared stories but I have not found in the literature the kind of guilt and self-blame that I experienced, so I thought I would write about it because I am sure I am not the only one who has had this happen and I am hoping for those of you who find this it will be a comfort to know that you are not alone!

Why I think this came up so strong for me this year is that in the past 5 years I have been on what I call my journey to authenticity I have been finding out who I really am beyond all the stories and mind chatter. And in the past year, there has been some major growth and I have really started to feel sure-footed in who I am, this confidence and strength have allowed me to make some changes in my life. I started dating, I have been able to reclaim my house and let go of the things I was holding on of my husbands, and I was able to finally set him free in the form of releasing his ashes all of which I felt sure about at the time I was doing them. But then this anniversary came and the tidal wave of self-judgment and guilt, most of which was around one major realization that I have had this year is that who I was back then was responsible for a good share of our relationship being as trying as it was! Through my journey I have realized that I expected a lot from him because I was not there for myself, what I mean by that is I did not love myself, therefore, expected him to show me how much of a good person I was and that I was worthy of the love that I was withholding from myself. This is not a good foundation for a relationship, because for the one needing the reassurance there will never be enough as you don’t believe it anyway, because you don’t love yourself or feel lovable.

Sound a little confusing … it goes like this because I had a core belief that I was not worthy of love I withheld it from myself by being SUPER critical and judgey of everything I did, I was a perfectionist who could never measure up to the impossible standards, all of this was reassuring my belief that I am unlovable. This was all going on for years before I met my husband (as most of our beliefs are set when we are toddlers) anyway enter a relationship and they start telling you wonderful things about you, and that they love you BUT that is in direct contradiction to the belief that you are not worthy of love and are unloveable, so guess where the mind goes “he’s just saying that”, “he has to say that because he married you”, “he doesn’t mean it”, “if he really loved me he would/wouldn’t…” and all the other ways our mind negates things that go against a belief we hold. Because that’s the thing about our beliefs they live in the subconscious and we always seek out information to prove they are correct, even if that means it hurts. So, the whole time I was thinking that our relationship was not as good as it could be, because he didn’t really love me, guess what it was me not being able to see that he did.

 

With this realization and a few others, it became increasingly clear to me that my version of our relationship was not (and this is always the case) the real version, it was what I saw through the lens of my beliefs, perceptions, and stories. This became abundantly clear this year as I started to repeat the same patterns in a new relationship and had a front-row seat to how this belief was playing out which made me realize that I was not as innocent as I thought.

Anyway, back to the tidal wave of guilt! With all of these realizations I couldn’t help but wonder would our relationship have been better (and I am sure it would have been) had I been the real me (the person I am now) rather than the old version of me… and there is the guilt!

After doing a lot of self-compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness I came to terms with the fact that I was doing the best that I could with what I had and that is all I can ask of myself. I truly believe that we all are doing our best at any given moment, and I have no problem accepting that in others, it was just a little harder to swallow for myself. But that is the beauty of challenge it shows us areas where we need to grow and as far as I have come, I still have some more work around loving, accepting and forgiving myself. And that is what this tidal wave was all about, I needed to release this energy and continue to grow in the area of self-love.


I hope some of this resonates with you out there and you can take my experience as an opportunity for you too to grow.

Namaste

What if Everything You Want is on the Other End of Patience

I have to admit patience is really not my strong suit I struggle to stay patient especially when I am passionate about something. This has been a big lesson, that I am still learning, especially with my business.
When I started out building TSW Life Coaching I was passionate and felt in my core that coaching was exactly what I was meant to do, I just knew it and still do! The thing that I didn’t realize at that point is that I had my own growing to do and that would take precedence over my business. This was my journey and it has taken me a long time to accept that things happen in exactly the right order at exactly the right time and my only responsibility is to have patience and be aware.

I have had so many instances of the Universe providing for me exactly what I need at exactly the right time that I can’t (even when I try to), deny that there is a Divine plan for me, there is for all of us. Where we find stress is when we try to control the situation, and we miss the opportunities along the way because we are so focused on the end goal that we miss the journey. Not to mention that we judge ourselves and compare ourselves along the way which makes the journey at points really miserable.

In my example, I am a way better coach than I was because I have taken the time, despite how much of a struggle it was at times to build myself before building my business. The growth and insight I have received on this journey has allowed me to serve my clients at a higher more in tune level and that was the reason for the longer than originally anticipated journey.

This doesn’t mean that I think my growth has stopped, I don’t think it ever does and that excites me! What I do think is that too many of us have a goal and all we do is focus on the end. Yes, it’s important to have goals but I think we need to focus on the journey as well and be patient and understand there are bigger things at play. In our culture we are all about doing, striving to reach for our goals pushing to make things happen, very masculine energy. There is nothing wrong with having goals and striving for them but when we only focus on the goal we miss out on life. We judge ourselves according to how close we are to the goal and we miss all the wonderful opportunities to grow along the way. We see this time as a necessary evil to reaching the goal but the perspective shift I have realized is that the journey to the goal is actually the steps needed to make the goal manifest. Even when those steps seem to be taking you in a different direction they simply are a new route to the goal that is even better than we had envisioned.

From my life as I have said in working on my business I have been challenged to grow and learn more about myself. This growth and learning have resulted in me creating something even better and more authentic to who I am than I ever could have envisioned in the beginning. Once I accepted this and really tried to lean into having patience (as hard as it is at times), the more I realized that the journey has brought myself and my business to a better place.

I guess the takeaway from this is set your goals but remain open to what it looks like to get to that goal. Be patient with the process and enjoy the journey along the way. Stop beating yourself and stressing yourself out because you are not getting to the goal as fast as you would like. Just trust in the journey!

Cougar, Bears, Bobcats & Trust! What the Wilderness taught me about myself and the Universe.

Life always gives you what you need when you need it and this lesson in trust was exactly what I needed, and no surprise when I needed it!

Last summer I had a desire to spend some time in nature with my dog. It’s like I was being drawn to the woods. I listened to this calling and took a week off from work, not really sure what I was going to do. I reached out to family to see if they had some suggestions on places where I could go, my uncle had a cabin that he said I could use. Perfect, I thought! I had never been to their cabin but things were falling in place so I trusted that this was where I should be! I took the leap of faith, packed up the car and the dog and off I went to my uncles’ cabin in the woods.

When I got there it was gorgeous, it was in the woods on a lake … it was perfect! What I didn’t realize is that it was in a small community of cabins that were pretty much abandoned during the week. Which meant I was going to be pretty much alone out there. At first, this did not bother me, I had at this point in my life become very accustomed and comfortable with being alone.

My uncle showed me around the cabin, which was built on a hill, the main part of the cabin was on the top of the hill and there was a steep staircase outside down to a basement/spare bedroom which was built into the hill. The basement/spare room was rustic, (like you could see the tree roots and tree trunks) in parts of the basement. Usually, this part of the cabin was locked with a padlock, as the only entrance to it was from the outside. My uncle showed it to me despite me objecting, as I didn’t think I would really need it, thank goodness he did, as you will see in a minute. During the walkthrough my Uncle also shared with me that they have cougars in the area he had seen tracks right outside the cabin at different times throughout the year, and that there was a grizzly bear that other residents stated lived just across the field, and that they had witnessed black bears in the area, oh and maybe some bobcats too! I am not that outdoorsy and more than anything I was concerned about my dog, who at this point was losing her mind because on top of all the dangerous animals there were squirrels and my dog loves to chase things, especially small rodents.

After getting all settled in, I decided to take my dog for a walk. We ventured out with some apprehension as I had never been there and to be honest my dog is my baby, so I was concerned for her safety (as I often am). We took a walk and found a path to walk for a bit. It was nice, I soaked in nature. Feeling more grounded and mostly calm, because on my walk I had realized this was the first time since Woody passed away that I had been on a trip completely on my own. I had travelled on my own but always had people to meet up with or conferences to attend, this time I was completely ALONE! This thought was exciting but as with anything outside of our comfort zone was also uncomfortable and so I was also feeling a bit anxious.

We (my dog and I) spent the rest of the day enjoying the lake and the woods… then returned to the cabin at night time.

It was a bit nerve-wracking being there with Bramble in the dark as she was on high alert for squirrels and I was definitely on alert for any potential risks. Not that it felt overwhelming but just on alert!

I went to bed in the QUIET absolute silence, which was nice but also made it obvious how very alone I was!

About 2:00 am I was awoken by my dog. Once I got my bearing from being startled awake, she let me know she needed to go outside. I turned the outside lights on (giving the wildlife fair warning to disperse, at least that was my thoughts and left them on for a minute before we ventured outside). Bramble was of course on a leash because as mentioned she loves to chase things and I didn’t want her running off chasing a squirrel in the dark. We walked out the sliding door and as there were now moths and mosquitos swarming the lights, I turned to slide close the door behind me. Didn’t even have a second thought about it, it was a sliding door with a latch lock, no worries, right?!?!

Bramble walked around outside well truth be told she hunted around, turns out she just wanted out to hunt squirrels! I pulled her back on her long leash and we turned to open the sliding door… it didn’t open! It was locked! OMG!!!! Sliding doors don’t lock, I thought so I pulled a little harder feeling more frantic and the anxiety rising!

It didn’t open! OMG!!!OMG!!! OMG!!! I was alone in my PJ shorts in the middle of the isolated wilderness with bears and cougars and god knows what else lurking in the shadows, not to mention being eaten alive by mosquitos and I was ALONE! Absolutely, ALONE!

My car was locked, the cabin was now locked, and I didn’t even have shoes on! As I sat on the picnic table fear quickly turned into a complete state of panic! What was I going to do?

There were not a lot of options.

I took a couple of deep breaths put a couple of prayers out to the Universe and I’m sure swore a couple of times. Fear had completely settled in now and as our minds do, I went to some pretty dark places. I envisioned myself still on the picnic table hours later covered in welts from the mosquitos, I pictured a grizzly bear, and bobcat and cougar coming to check us out (oh the places our minds go) After what seemed like an eternity of running through devastating scenarios, my warrior instinct kicked in … I was familiar with this part of myself as it had come in useful in dealing with Woody’s passing. I mustered up my courage and calmed myself down so I could think. I started making plans on how we were going to make it through the night. No sooner than I summoned the warrior in me did I remember there was the basement and it was unlocked (thank goodness my uncle insisted on showing me this part of the cabin).

I went into the basement and looked around to see if there was anything, I could use to get me out of this situation. I could have just stayed in the basement, but it was dark and to a city girl like me a little creepy, who knows what creepy crawlers and rodents were hiding in the shadows. If need be, at the very least, I had somewhere to be until dawn! As I looked around feeling more inspiration and more trust in my abilities, I scoured the basement to see if there was something, I could use to open the door. I found a few random things screwdriver, a dragonfly metal ornament with a flat edge (I thought I could flip the latch) and a few other random items that could maybe push the latch up. I tried them one at a time…. Nope, nothing worked!

I kept looking around and then there it was … a LADDER … YAY!

I took the ladder outside after struggling to free it from its place hanging on the wall. I placed the ladder next to the only window that was unlocked (it had the air conditioner vent in it). The ladder just and I mean like JUST reached the window. Remember the cabin is built on a hill so the ladder was sitting on uneven ground, and in order to reach the window, I would have to stand on the top step, the one that clearly says do not stand on. I again mustered my strength and carefully climbed the shaky ladder and stood on the very top. There I was like 6 feet up, all the time being aware that there could be any number of wild animals watching me! Probably licking their teeth at the prospect of me breaking my neck on this shaky ladder.

After some struggle and a lot of persistence, I was able to push the hose for the air conditioner out of the window which left me a small opening to get through. This whole time I had Bramble locked in the basement, I could hear her at times trying to open the basement door to get to me or more likely squirrels.

After taking a deep breath I stretched my leg up and got it through the opening, still not totally sure I could get my whole body through this small window, but I had to try! I sat there straddling the window in the middle of the dark, quiet woods, trying to find my footing on the inside of the cabin, when my tippy toe found something that felt stable, I made the push to get in through the window.  Although I am sure not so gracefully, I made it through and stumbled into the cabin.

I almost cried with relief. I was so proud of myself! I didn’t give up; I had shown again I was stronger than I thought, and I had not given into the fear and anxiety that had plagued my mind just minutes earlier. I quickly went and unlocked the door and this time I left it open, as I went basement to get Bramble.

Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well the rest of the night my adrenaline was pumping. During the rest of the night, I again reflected on how I am stronger than and I think, and it was at this time I realized I am completely good on my own… I can do it!

I also realized although I am good on my own, that I don’t want to be alone anymore either! this was really the first time since Woody passed that I actually wanted someone in my life, I didn’t NEED them but actually wanted to share a life with someone again. This was huge for me!

This experience also reaffirmed to me that the Universe really does have my back, it really does provide us with what we need, when we need it. I am not only talking about the ladder here but the challenge itself which provided me with the opportunity to recognize that I am safe and capable and stronger than give I myself credit for.

The next day, I tried, out of pure curiosity, to make the latch lock on itself again, I tried numerous times to recreate the scenario from the night before (I did have the keys this time) and could not replicate the door locking.

Later, I spoke to my family and they said that it had never happened, and they were stunned (as I was that night) that the door locked. They even tried to make it happen since and have never been able to replicate the latch locking.  I should also mention they were surprised that there was even a ladder out there, they didn’t know why it was there!

I truly believe it was the Universe providing me with a lesson I needed to learn and for that I am grateful!

I completed my wilderness escape the next day by going for a long hike to a waterfall and taking in nature in all its beauty. This renewed trust in my safety and trust in the Universe made this hike completely enjoyable. I was able to be present in the moment, enjoying nature. I was so trusting I even let Bramble off the lead, and she ran through the woods, loving the adventure.

This is not the first and I am sure not the last time I will be given challenges from the Universe that further prove to me I am safe, and strong and that the Universe really does have my back!

Winter of the Soul

It has been a while since I have written, not for lack of trying. What I have found for me is if I force it then I am out of flow and nothing comes together and that definitely does not bring me joy. Therefore, I write when I feel I have something to say. Lately, I have been trying to come up with something and nothing is coming, which is rare as either myself or my clients are always in a state of growth and learning and the Universe is always there with new lessons. But lately, as I said, nothing has been coming together for me to write about and then it struck me last week, maybe that is the lesson (and the blog)!

Winter of the Soul

Sometimes we just need to pause, turn inward and reflect.  Although things seem slow and unchanging on the outside, I am sure there is a lot going on under the surface.

This is like winter.

In winter, Mother Nature goes into hibernation mode. I take that hibernation as a time to turn inward, to slow things down and really get ourselves in a healthy state for the upcoming Spring season. Previously, I have struggled with these times on my journey. They feel stagnant! Probably because in our society we focus so much on keeping our eye on the prize, basing our success and failure on observable measures of movement. We are taught that if we stop, take in the moment, take the time to turn inward that we are not moving forward… we are stagnant. But what is wrong with that! We need this time just as much as we do the blossoming of spring. They are both important!

In this space of turning inward, the Universe has presented me with opportunities to heal past hurts, move through blocked emotions and look at new challenges. All of which are supporting me in becoming the best version of myself. Now that doesn’t sound like being stagnant, does it?

My big realization is, we need to embrace the quiet times, we need to trust in the process. We need to understand that in life there will be times of quiet solitude where our souls recharge. I am positive in these times that things are going on quietly in the background, preparing us for the next chapter. And this work although not observable is just as important!

 

 

 

As I am sure I am not the only one who struggles in these times, I thought I would share some tips to help:

  • Stop judging yourself by other’s or societies standards
  • Be patient
  • Trust in the process
  • Use this time to really recharge your soul

So, the next time you come to one of these winters for your soul, honour it, enjoy it! Spring is just around the corner.

5 Life-Changing Resolutions for 2019

The new year is a time when so many of us start taking stock of our lives in efforts to evaluate where we want to make some changes. Most of the time we focus on external changes that we feel will bring us happiness, but what most of us fail to realize is that happiness comes from within.

These 5 resolutions when practiced regularly are life changing! The simplicity of implementing in no way minimizes the positive effect they can have on your life.

 

Prioritize Self-Care

Too many of us, put ourselves last. We give to our family, our friends, work and even strangers, but when it comes to caring and giving back to ourselves, we simply don’t.

Sometimes it’s because we feel we are being greedy if we take time for ourselves, sometimes we feel we don’t deserve it, and sometimes we feel we just simply don’t have the time. Whatever the excuse, it’s this simple. If you continue to give to others and don’t care for yourself, you will eventually burn out!

It may come in the form of withdrawing from life, physical illness or feelings of resentment. However it manifests one thing is for sure if you neglect yourself, it definitely will!

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

 

 

This year vow to yourself to take care of you! You deserve it! Schedule time for self-care … and the important part … actually, enjoy that time. Do things that recharge your soul and bring you joy! If you don’t care for yourself who will?

 

 

Take Time to Pause (Practice Mindfulness)

We all lead busy lives and I understand that you may think “I don’t have time”. The thing is, if you don’t pause, life passes you by. Pausing means taking a minute to be mindful, to be in the moment, to really be present to the current experience. This is a simple thing that you can do at any point in your day. Take the time to just be, it’s like a daily recess for your mind, body and spirit.
Vow to yourself that every day, at least once a day you will pause and be in the moment. Who knows, you may like it so much that you practice it more often.

Practice Gratitude

I have written numerous times on the importance of practicing gratitude. It is something that all of us can do and its effects are life-changing. Gratitude shifts our mind from a feeling of lack and negativity to one of positive abundance. Who doesn’t want that?

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

 

Every day, take time to list at least 5 things that you are grateful for. Some days they may come quick, some days it may be a struggle. But stick with it and you will start to notice that it becomes automatic. All of a sudden you will start to notice you are not practicing gratitude, but living a grateful life and that is powerful!

 

 

Befriend your Inner Critic

 

 

We are our own worst critics! We are harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be, and yes, there are protective aspects to our inner critic. (read more about your inner critic here). But we do not have to take the negative messages that we say to ourselves as the absolute truth. We have a choice!

 

 

When you recognize that you are being critical try having a conversation with yourself. Recognize the message then choose to not believe it, let it go if it is not helpful! Don’t let your inner critic hold you back this year, move past the negative messages. They are not the truth. Most of the time they are just fear!

 

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This almost goes hand in hand with the inner critic. When we compare ourselves to others, we usually are either doing it in a way that minimizes us or degrades others, neither of which is helpful! Instead of comparing yourself, recognize that we are all different and we all have our unique journeys. The one thing we do all have in common is that we are all doing our best with what we have at any given moment.

 

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

Instead of comparing yourself try having compassion for both yourself and others. Know that you are doing your best and so are they! Don’t assume that you or others are doing things purposely to screw up or hurt you. I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning excited, at the prospect of failing at life, we all try, but we all have our different ways. We all make our way through life the best we can.

 

This year, if you find that you are comparing yourself to someone else, stop and recognize that you are the best version of you and no one else in the world could do a better job of being you!

 

 

 

These are 5 simple things that you can implement today, but the effects are life-changing. When you are able to master these skills, suddenly you may notice that your other resolutions are either now irrelevant or seem easily achievable.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever 2019 brings I wish you all the best for the New Year. My hope is that you are all able to live a life YOU love!

Dear 2018…

As we approach the New Year I am looking forward to new adventures and new growth. I am also finding myself thinking of the past year and what I have accomplished, and I am reminded that it is important to celebrate our accomplishments and successes. Too often we just gloss over all that we have done, and we rarely celebrate it. Usually, when we accomplish something we just look towards the next challenge. I encourage you to take the next couple of days to reflect back on the past year and recognize all that you have accomplished, these questions will help guide you, to celebrate you!

 

 

What was my biggest challenge this year?

Reflect back on what was the biggest challenge you had this year? How did you handle it? Even if it did not turn out as you wanted, or things were not perfect, what did you do at this time to get yourself through? Celebrate the fact that you made it through and perhaps even learned something along the way. Pat yourself on the back. That you coped and survived, that is awesome.

What strengths did I realize?

Think back on your year, what new strengths can you identify? Is there something that you never thought you could do or something that you said previously “oh that’s not me!” but you did it anyhow? All too often we are quick to judge ourselves and minimize our strengths take this time to recognize your strengths, make a list of at least 30 strengths that you possess. These don’t necessarily have to be new strengths but maybe ones that you have minimized in the past. Congratulate yourself on your strengths, focus on the positive.

Look Back before Moving Forward

What have I accomplished?

Look back on the year and recognize all that you have accomplished. Again, this does not mean that everything had to go right or perfect, but chances are there are still some accomplishments, maybe even smaller, ones that you can celebrate. For example, you wanted a new career and haven’t found that yet, but you have updated your resume, taken courses that will help you get your dream job, or maybe you have stepped out of your comfort zone and applied for jobs that you feared. Whatever it is, the accomplishment doesn’t have to a big huge thing it could be the little hard steps you took towards your big goal.

 

What am I most proud of this year?

Ask yourself what you are most proud of doing this year. For me, I am proud of how much I have grown in the area of self-love and how I have really embraced all the aspects of myself that have shown up this year (the good and the (perceived ‘bad’. I have continued to put myself out there both with my business and socially and have grown tremendously in this area. I have really stayed true and followed my path at times it has not been easy, but I persevered because I know it is the best thing for me.

Be kind to yourself and recognize what you have done this year that you are proud of.

 

These are just a few questions that can help you celebrate 2018 and how you have shown up throughout the year. When you go through the questions, write it down, it is easy when we just do it in our heads to counteract the positive but when it is in black and white it is a lot harder to discount it!

For some of you, this may be difficult (as it is at times for me). We are so quick to judge and criticize ourselves and we feel if we celebrate ourselves that we are bragging or being egotistical, this could not be further from the truth!  If we are shouting from the rooftops how great we are and that we are better than everyone else, then, that is ego. If we are saying “wow, I am proud of myself because I have accomplished this, or handled this, or have these strengths”, that is showing ourselves love and giving ourselves a pat on the back, not bragging!

Bonus

If you do take this time to celebrate 2018 and how you showed up, your outlook for 2019 will be a more positive and it may change your perspective for your New Years resolution from “I need to fix this part of me because it is broken” to a much kinder more compassionate “I want to grow more in this area because I am worth it”.

Wishing you all the best in 2019 and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Check in next week for tips on New Year’s Resolutions!

 

How to Protect Yourself from Negative People

Have you ever spent time with people who live the glass is half empty lifestyle? No matter what is happening, they ALWAYS have something to complain about! I have to admit I struggle with people like that. I am definitely the glass is half full personality. Through my years working with people, I have come across this personality trait many times. It is still one of the hardest ones for me to deal with.

 

 

 

I find when you are around a negative person it just feels draining, it’s like they are sucking the energy right out of you. Or is that just me? With the holidays around the corner, we are all bound to run into some negative people – angry shoppers, annoyed drivers, stressed out coworkers – all of which can dampen our holiday spirits, but only if we let it! Here are a few ways to protect yourself from the negativity and help you have a happy holiday season.

 

It’s Not About You

I think this is one of the hardest things to come to terms with. I think a lot of the time we tell ourselves that it is maybe something we did or said that put this person into a negative mood. We think if we would have been nicer, smiled more or were friendlier, then they wouldn’t act this way. This couldn’t be further from the truth! When someone is in a negative place they are choosing that. Maybe not consciously, but it is their choice and you are not responsible! You are only responsible for yourself. No matter what you did, or did not do, you can NOT make anyone feel anyway. The reverse is also true they can NOT make you feel anyway either. So, when you encounter one of these negative people, remind yourself “It is not about me”. If you do feel that you have offended someone, then apologize but don’t take the responsibility of their crappy mood, they have a choice!

Not Your Responsibility to Lift their Mood

I felt for years it was my job to “fix” peoples moods (there is still a little voice inside me at times). I felt it was my responsibility to make them feel better. To help them become more positive. I used to try and point out the silver lining, or try to show them the positive side. This is a skill that works well in my own life, but when someone is being negative they often find ways to rain on anything you may point out, which can be frustrating and draining. What I realize now is it is not my responsibility to “fix” other peoples’ moods. It is not even my business how they are choosing to feel. This may sound harsh but unless I am given the invitation, I try to leave people to it. This revelation has mainly come about from the fact that I realize now we all have to face our feelings and that we if we choose to, we can learn from every situation. Therefore, by me trying to fix their mood, I am robbing them of the opportunity to learn and grow.

 

Try Compassion

Despite being able to see how much pain and suffering negative people are in (knowing it is not my responsibility to “fix” them), I still want to help. Having been in a negative frame of mind from time to time, I understand that this is an uncomfortable, unpleasant place to be. Therefore, I understand, that on some level this person is suffering. I choose to use compassion. Either out loud or in my mind, I send the negative person compassion for their suffering. This is as simple as stating “May you find peace”. This simple statement can sometimes switch their mood. Even if it doesn’t, it feels good to hold a space of hope and compassion for them, even if for just a minute.

 

 

Remove Yourself from the Person

 

You have a choice when faced with negativity: You can choose to remove yourself from the situation, by simply excusing yourself or, if that is not possible and you are forced to be in the situation, you can choose to not allow their energy to affect you. This can be done by simply making a conscious effort to not let their energy cloud over you. Say in your mind “I choose not to let this energy affect me.” Or “I block all negativity from affecting me”. By saying this, you are setting the intention to protect yourself. It’s almost like you are putting up an energetic barrier to protect you.

Set Your Boundaries

If you don’t like it, set your boundaries. Tell the person the truth. If you don’t like the behaviour, tell them; if you want them to be a part of their life but don’t appreciate the negativity, tell them that too. You deserve to have boundaries and they deserve to know the truth! Be kind but firmly state what you want. Maybe it’s saying something like “I enjoy our friendship, but when you are being so negative, I struggle to be around you. I would appreciate if you kept your negativity to yourself when we are together” or “I find it difficult to hear you always complaining, I like spending time with you, how can we make this work?”. Trust yourself, you will find the right words. If you really want this person in your life but are having difficulties with the negativity, tell the truth! Check this out, for more tips on setting boundaries.

 

These 5 steps can help you protect yourself from the negativity around you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be positive and reduce the negativity in your life. You deserve a happy, positive life! Try these tips over the holidays because there surely will be people you will run into who are in a negative frame of mind!

Behind the Mask!

With Halloween approaching, I started to think about costumes and masks. The fun of playing with masks (and costumes) can be witnessed by watching kids and some adults who know how to play! They love Halloween because they get to dress up and play different roles or characters, like the video I received last night of my nephew. He is dressing up as a dinosaur this year and in the video, he was roaring and shaking his tail and stomping around like a dinosaur. He was, for that moment, a dinosaur! That’s the fun part of dressing up – being able to “play” someone or something else for a while. This trying on of different characters or roles is fun and can teach us a lot about ourselves and others!

 

 

This got me to thinking about the masks that people wear daily, myself included. It struck me how sometimes these masks become such a part of our identity that the thought of taking them off is too much to bear, it is like they are no longer a mask but they now define who we are.

In this case, we are no longer playing a role – we are that role. When we over identify with a role it is no longer a mask, rather it becomes a part of our identity. We start to define who we are,  and judge ourselves based on the idealized version of the mask. This is where we get into trouble! It’s like we lose ourselves and struggle to become this idealized version of the mask. The problem here is that we lose who we truly are, and define ourselves by the a role we play we stop embracing all of who we are!

Common Masks

For women, masks that we wear are “good girl”, “nurturer”, “good wife”, “problem solver”, “beauty queen” or “good mother”. For men, common masks are “provider”, “protector”, “good father”, “good husband” and “can shoulder anything”. There are countless other masks that we wear but these are some of the common ones that I have found.  Again, none of these are harmful or negative, if we try them on at times, but when they become a definition of who we are, they are out of balance and that is not healthy for us.

Nurturer Mask

An example for me is that, for as long as I can remember, I have always identified with the mask of a nurturer, that’s why I went into the human services field. For many years I was Tara who helps people, Tara the social worker! I so strongly identified with this role that I am sure that is how I introduced myself (or at least made sure in the first couple minutes of conversation I made that clear). While I was proud of the work I was doing, I now recognize it was out of balance I had lost “Tara” and I was just Tara the social worker. In my mind, my job defined me. This imbalance resulted in working late hours, taking calls and texts from clients in the evenings and on the weekends, always going above and beyond to see my clients succeed and when they didn’t, I was taking their failures as my failure. “I should have done more” and “bad nurturer” was the message. The thing is, when we over-identify with a role, this gives our inner critic fuel to start berating us because we have not measured up. On the other hand, if it is just a mask that we wear (at times), then there is room for mistakes and a perceived failure can be viewed as what they are a mistake, rather than, “you suck”. This also means when it comes time to change the role you are not faced with an identity crisis. You are still you…just changing a mask! I am sure lots of you can relate to this. Too many of us over identify with our careers. We think we are what we do, we let our work define who we are! But…we are more than our careers, we are friends, mothers, artists, wives, sisters, daughters … the list is endless!

Behind the Mask!

 

That is where I am now. I am Tara. I have many different roles, but before all of them I am me! This is a much healthier, happier place to be. It allows me the freedom to choose when and what masks I will wear. The best part is when the mask comes off, I know who I am without it, my mask no longer defines me!

Good Mother Mask

Another mask that I often see women over identify with is the role of “good mother”. This is definitely an important role, but if you have convinced yourself that you can’t be anything but a “good mother” then you are out of balance.

  • Does the thought of not baking the cookies for the bake sale (even though you are tired or sick), bring on shame?
  • Does the act of being late to pick up your kids send you into throws of negative self-talk and guilt?
  • Does the thought of your child not being perfect, make you feel like a failure?
  • Or probably the most common – Do you run yourself ragged taking care of your kids and feel guilty if you take time for yourself?

I would suggest then that you have over-identified with the “good mother” mask. If this is you then being a good mother is no longer a mask,  it has become a defining part of your personality! When this over identification happens, you are determined to succeed at the role at any cost! A mistake feels like failure, at a core level! You are no longer you, the person who is a mother, rather you are MOTHER. The role has become your identity!

The truth is, you were a whole person before you became a mother and you still are! Mother is a role you play, an important role for sure, but one among many others. You are still you, at your core – “good mother” or not.  If you have over-identified with this role, it won’t feel like that, it feels like the role of mother defines who you are, and that is not healthy!

Behind the Mask!

 

Don’t Forget Who You Are!

This Halloween when you are considering a costume, take a minute to consider the masks that you wear daily. Are there masks that you wear that have become too entrenched? Masks that no longer feel removable? Masks that you feel define who you are? Then it’s time to start looking at whether they are serving your overall wellness!

 Happy Halloween!

Thanksgiving Promise

I speak about gratitude often, and with this weekend being Canadian Thanksgiving I am reminded of how important it is to have an attitude of gratitude all year round.

Thanksgiving Promise
I have found in my practice, both my own and with my clients, that practicing gratitude is life changing! Here are a few ways how gratitude helps you:

 

1) Switch your thinking from a negative space to something lighter.

We are naturally hardwired to focus on the negative, that means that we spend a lot of our time in negative space. We look for the bad, we look for all the things that can harm us, but the fact is we are not at risk all the time, we don’t NEED to be constantly on guard. Therefore, when you notice that your mind is in a negative place you can retrain it by shifting it towards gratitude. Instead of being focused on the negative, be thankful for the fact that you are safe. Be thankful for Mother Earth, be thankful for your families and loved ones who support and help you; really anything that you can think of. Turn your negative thoughts into thoughts of gratitude and rewire your negative brain!

2) Move through fear.

I am sure I am not the only one who has been in an overwhelmingly joyful situation and suddenly a wave of fear rushes over and ruins the moment. We feel this joy, like when we are having a romantic evening with our spouse or a play date with our kids and all of a sudden, this wave of fear comes over us. We fear that our child could get sick that our spouse could leave us … that something horrible could happen to take away our happiness. When this happens, you can turn your mind towards gratitude. Instead of letting fear rob you of the joyful moment you can be thankful and joyful!

 

3) Recognize the good.

Just like training any muscle in our body the more we can turn our thoughts towards the good the stronger that muscle gets. By focusing on what you can be grateful for rather than what is going wrong we train ourselves to see the good. We build that muscle and after a while (when that muscle develops) we will automatically see the good in all situations. This even applies to life’s hard lessons when we are suffering. Because you have trained your brain to be grateful, you will be able to see beyond the suffering and recognize (no matter how small) the good in the situation. There is always something good in any situation, train yourself to see it. With every storm comes the rain that nurtures the Earth.

Thanksgiving Promise

 

4) Grounds in the present moment.

When we are practicing gratitude, we are grounded in the present moment. Living in the past or forecasting the future causes us grief. When we are ruminating on the past, thinking and rethinking about what went wrong, what we could have/should have done; or, we are forecasting the future, let’s face it, it’s usually forecasting doom and gloom; we are not in the present, we are not living mindfully. When you practice gratitude, you are firmly grounding yourself in the present, you are using your powerful mind to focus on what is good, in the present moment, and that is exactly where we find peace.
I can’t speak enough about the power of gratitude, but I also know this can be a struggle when we are in the middle of a stormy time, but that is precisely when we need it most! All I can say is you won’t understand how powerful this practice can be unless you try!

Thanksgiving Promise

 

 

 

This Thanksgiving make a promise to yourself that you will practice gratitude daily; take that Thanksgiving feeling with you into the future and see how life changing it can be! And remember there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!

With much gratitude for your following, Happy Thanksgiving!