Insights from Nature

I posted this quick video on social media as I got some clarity on self-care and trees. Check out the video here.

As I sat with the information for a while and continued to insights that I wanted to share.

Looking to Nature for not only caring for ourselves, but we can also use it to look at playing small; really the 2 aren’t entirely exclusive.

When I talked about a tree not sacrificing itself for others. It doesn’t say “oh no you take the water and the sunlight; I’ll just stay here in the shade” It takes what it needs to grow big and strong so that it can take care of the eco-system around it. As a tiny sapling, it cannot support the eco-system but as a big tree, it can. It can shade new saplings, house birds and animals, feed and support the whole eco-system around it.

This is the same when I think about playing small.

What I mean by playing small is not showing up in your life completely and authentically. It is not speaking your truth because you may hurt others, it is people-pleasing and sacrificing yourself to be accepted, it is not being BIG in life and shading your light for fear of stepping on toes. It could and does look different for everyone.

For me, I was playing small when I was in my social work world. What that looked like was me sacrificing myself while striving to be a “good worker”, it was following the ‘rules’ even though I knew at my core that it was only band-aiding bigger core issues, it was hiding my spiritual side because I feared being judged. All of this was me not being true to me, some of these actions I was aware of consciously and some were unconscious patterns.

So again, I look at Nature for wisdom, because after all we too are a part of Nature,too!

Looking at trees, again the sapling doesn’t say ‘oh no I don’t want to get too big’, I may hurt someone’s feelings’ it just grows to be big and strong because that is what it is supposed to do. It is made to grow into the biggest, best tree it can be; so it does!

Even if you look at the animal kingdom. Where in nature does an animal sacrifice itself, or play small and weak to be accepted by the group? Can you imagine a wolf pack where the individual wolves don’t want to be too good of a hunter to spare others’ feelings? Or too good of a tracker so others don’t think they are arrogant?

NO! That is not what happens!

Each member of the pack has a role that they fulfill for the survival of all! They are the best hunters because that is their role in the pack or they are the best trackers so their pack survives.

We are not meant to be meek; we are not meant to hide our talents for fear of being “to big for our britches”. Even that colloquialism speaks to it the cultural programming around playing small … I mean Whose britches? If they are yours then they fit you, period!

Why I feel we play small.

There are a couple of reasons that I think we play small. These are stories that on some level we have accepted and now they are running our lives.

The first is that we will be viewed as arrogant, or egotistical. We fear that if we own our strengths or speak up, others will have a negative view of us; that we are not playing as part of the team.

Is this true? Do you ever think that your friends who speak up for themselves, or that own their strengths are arrogant? Do you see someone who is confident in their abilities as being an egomaniac? Of course not! We admire confidence, we marvel at people who are brave and put themselves out there, we cheer on those who have the courage to speak up. So why don’t you do this for yourself?

The other reason I think we play small is that we don’t want to hurt others. We feel if we shine too bright, we will shadow others and hurt them.

Is this true? Does showing up in your life owning all your gifts and talents mean you are trying to be better than others? Does it mean that you are saying well I am good, so you are crap? Does your dimming your light make others shine brighter?

NO! To all of these!

These stories that we tell ourselves are directly tied to our cultural and personal programming. The ‘be a good girl’ (aka nice, polite, cooperative girl) programming that teaches us to stay small. But what I think this comes down to on a core level is that we are so desperate to be loved and accepted that we sacrifice ourselves to be understood, to be included, and accepted by the majority.

 

 

I also think we play small because we are truly scared of our power, we are scared because we have been playing small for so long, (we have been going along to get along) that we can’t envision anything different, and the thought of how truly amazing we are, is terrifying!

I have struggled with this for most of my life, I was partially aware of it before but even now with it being fully in my awareness there are still times it comes up. That is how deep this programming runs. Although I have cleared and healed it on so many levels, it still pops up and it takes conscious consistent work to get me comfortable with showing up BIG in my life.

Something to think about

I want to leave you with this thought. What would happen in Nature if every tree, every animal, every flower stayed small. We would have no forests, no gardens, and no species. It is not up to everyone else to do the work and rise up in their life, it is up to each and everyone one of us to show up BIG in our own lives.

Take the Next Step

What is one area of your life you are playing small?

What is one thing you can do to step up for yourself?

Lesson in Gratitude

I had an interesting experience the other day, and for me, it was a great reminder of why gratitude is such a life changer!

This is how my morning started…

I was getting a cold, so was feeling not the greatest. I woke up to a colder than expected morning and was getting ready for work. I went to take my dog for her walk, and a thought popped into my mind ‘you should probably start your car before your walk’ (usually I do it after). So I did, and it didn’t start. It’s 430 in the morning, so there is not a whole lot of people awake to ask for a boost not to mention it is freezing outside. This had completely upset my morning routine!

A lesson in Gratitude

My parents live just around the corner from me, so I decided I would go and pick up their car (as they are out of town) and take it to work and deal with my car later. I walked my dog who I have to say loves the cold, so she wanted to stop and smell, I wanted to hurry up, I was freezing not to mention a bit grouchy about my car! I picked up my parents’ car as I walked past my parents’ house. The car was in the garage… nice it was warm, but to get it out I had to find their keys and the garage opener, nothing that significant just a few minutes and a little frustration added to the already frustrating morning. I drove home feeling a bit frazzled.

I went to prepare my breakfast and spilt my almond milk and started thinking ‘oh it’s going to be one of those days!’. When I left for work, I was a couple minutes behind schedule. I got a few blocks from my house and realized I had left my keys at home (as I didn’t have my car) which meant I did not have my work keys, so I cursed, turned around and returned home. Now I was rushing! Of course, on my way to work, I hit all the red lights… this never happens as I am the only car on the road this early. I grumbled at the lights and started to curse this day. It seemed the morning, well the last 45 minutes had been a series of unfortunate events. I realize nothing major, but it was enough at this point, to get me grumbling, grunting my frustration and complaining about the day already!

It was at this point it hit me… ‘Really?!? Tara what do you have to complain about’.

A Lesson in Gratitude

 

That’s when my perspective shifted. I had so much to be grateful for…

I had woken up in a warm home, I had tried to start my car before my walk, I had access to a car that was all ready to go, I had completed my morning routine with only a couple of minutes lost. REALLY what was the big deal?

This thought reminded me too often we focus on life’s frustrations. I started out my drive to work focusing on the fact that my car wouldn’t start and by the time I got to work the reality of the situation sunk in. Really… it was a great day! Things could have gone so much worse. I could have had to take a cab to work, which would have resulted in me being late, I could not have had time to make my breakfast, I could have gotten all the way to work then realized I didn’t have the keys, and there are so many worse complications that could have happened!

By the time I got to work my mood had shifted, and I was ready for the day. In fact, I didn’t even think about my car again until I went to leave work and realized I had my Dad’s car.

A Lesson in Gratitude

Now I know that for most of us when we have these kinds of days, we focus on it, we repeat the days’ frustrating events to coworkers, family and friends. We grumble all day about how our day is going, but the truth is if you took a minute refocused and looked at it… really you conquered those little trials, you persevered, and they ended up being minor frustrations rather than big catastrophes!

Therefore, I challenge you the next time you are having ‘one of those days’ take a minute to refocus look for the opportunities to be grateful for and I guarantee you, it will change your mood for the day!

Where Did All the Unicorns Go?

So lately I have been doing some healing work with my inner child and my adult Self around play. IT has been a struggle for me because I have forgotten how to play, not saying I don’t have fun, but it seems there is always a reason or purpose behind doing the things I find fun. When I do the work to uncover a disowned part of myself, I dove headfirst into playing.

First, of course, was the analytical … how can I play? What do you do to play? And this led me to reflect on how I played when I was a kid and observing how my niece and nephew played. And I realized a lot of it was around imagination. OK great, start imagining, I thought.

So I tried and let me tell you it was like I malfunctioned!

There was fear, (panic really) and judgments galore. I dove deep into the feelings and what I realized is my adult brain could not compute imagination. It needed a purpose to imagine, ie visualization. It needed something plausible, it did not like anything non-logical and nonsensical. Which is exactly how children play.

Think back when you were a child you had a magic toy that could do magical things. Or you had tea parties, and you completely imagined the tea in the pot and the glasses. It didn’t need to be there because in your imagination it was there.

My adult brain did not like this and when I tried to imagine scenarios of like me being swept off my feet by a prince and riding off into the sunset like a princess. My brain was like “NOPE”. It couldn’t let go of its grasp on reality and wanting to figure things out. It went straight to ‘how is this going to happen?’. ‘where could you meet a prince’, logistically ‘how could they sweep you off your feet?’.

I found all of this interesting and it got me to thinking, what happens to us that we lose our imagination. Is it gone, or does our mature brain just poke so many holes in our imaginations that it eventually ceases to exist? Or maybe it is that we are ‘smart’ now and we KNOW that there is no tea in the pot. Either way, I found it sad really that I could no longer imagine and play with stories in my head.

As with all my personal healing/growth work, I persevered and am happy to report the other day when I was swimming, I imagined I was a mermaid! So slowly but surely my imagination muscle is being flexed and I can play a bit more.

Now you may be thinking why would I want to pretend to be a mermaid, or that there is tea… I am an adult! I get it, it does sound weird but there are wonderful things that we can do with our imagination muscle that we are limiting ourselves from doing by keeping this part of ourselves suppressed.

Wouldn’t it be nice to instead of on your commute home you could imagine a fairytale story rather than running through your to-do list or judgments about your day? Wouldn’t it be nice to, before going to bed you could imagine anything that you wanted? What if instead of concentrating on self-judgment and internal dialogue you could create fantasies in your head that were probably never going to happen but you could just do it … for fun? What an escape that could be to have the freedom to just imagine anything, and oh your inner child would love this experience.

Play and imagination I have found are essential parts of living authentically, to owning all of who you are, to being creative, and to finding hope. See in our imagination we can disconnect from whatever stresses we are feeling and whatever negative anxiety-producing stories our mind is feeding us and instead focus on something magical, something fun, something non-sensical, something that can make us laugh and smile. We can use our creative mind to create positive outcomes, instead of the negative ones it likes to focus on.
The impact of this is enormous in the sense of the law of attraction and manifestation. Not to mention in the positive energy that we would be putting out. We hear about this all the time how we need to ask for what we want, we need to visualize what we want and you can create it. I do believe this, but I have to say it wasn’t till I started playing with my imagination did I realize I was missing the one critical component to the formula for manifestation. We need to just let our imaginations soar. See when I used to try to manifest things into my life I would visualize and then my adult brain would kick in and come up with the specifics on how this needed to happen or how it is not plausible (just like with the teapot). Now that I am playing with my imagination, it is not restricted in the logistics anymore, I just get to imagine what I want and truly feel into it and that is the winning recipe for manifestation!

I do have to say I am still working on imagination but the more I work the easier it gets, and the more I feel my creativity and play coming back to me and it feels fantastic.

Now I know where all the unicorns went, my adult brain banished them into the darkness like it did my imagination (and every other disowned part of myself), and it only took conscious intention to bring them out of hiding!

 

Why Do We Need to Hurt?

This past month marks 5 years since Woody passed, I started reflecting on all the changes that I have made over those years. That got me asking… why is it that it took a major loss for me to find myself!

It is funny, (and kind of sad) to think that I needed, and I think most of us do need, a big shakeup to get us to reevaluate things and make changes. Why does it have to be this way? Why do we need to be devastated and shaken to our cores to actually start listening to ourselves?

I am not the only one, I have found this with most of my clients too, they have come to coaching because they have had some big life event happen, relationships breaking up, loss, divorce, losing a job, a risk to their health … something big happened that shook them up and they realized they needed and wanted more.

Why do we need to hurt?

I ask myself this all the time. I do consult calls with people who know they want something different, who are in one way or another suffering in their current life. They completely agree and recognize they are not happy, but they are not willing or ready to make any changes.

No judgment!

That was me, the whole time before Woody passed, I knew that I wanted more for my life, but I stayed with what I knew because it was comfortable. That is the number one reason, I think people don’t make changes. And why they wait until they are forced to. We get comfortable! The more comfortable we get the stronger the fear of making changes gets. The stronger the fear, the quieter (or at least the less we hear) the voice inside us telling us that there is more.

 

 

It’s like comfort kills the voice of our dreams!

 

I have recently been listening (again) to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, if you haven’t read or listened to this book, I highly recommend it. It has a great story with great life lessons intertwined. As I was listening, one gem, in particular, talked specifically about this, the character stated, “I don’t know how to deal with change because I’m used to the way I am”. This really speaks to that being comfortable piece, but it also speaks to settling. I can attest to that, too!

 

 

 

As I mentioned, I was comfortable in my old life, sure I wanted more from my career and my relationship, but it was OK, so I settled. There definitely was a voice inside telling me that my dreams were not being realized, that I was settling, that I was not being all of me, that I was hiding my gifts and talents (or at least using very little of them), overall I was playing small. Looking back, I am sure that is why I felt stressed most of the time! It’s stressful suppressing your dreams, and who you are, and what you know you are capable of doing! It kind of feels like now, had I listened to this voice things could have been different; but because I didn’t the only way the Universe could get me to wake up and pay attention was to shake me up … and that is what it did!  

What is it about change that scares us so much?

In my experience, we as a collective see change as something daunting, and scary and most of us equate it with negative outcomes, (probably because of our negatively wired brains). So, we shy away from the very thought of it. I think for most of us, this fear controls us, we convince ourselves, “you should just stay where you are, it’s safe, known and things could be worse on the other side”.

 

Yes, things could be worse that is a possibility, BUT it is just as likely they could be great! And in my experience, that is usually what happens!

 

 

We never seem to see that side; we only see the worst scenarios playing out. I can’t tell you how many people including myself, who have gone through something major in their life and we end up creating a new life that is even better than we ever expected.

What changes?

I think when your life has been thrown into turmoil your perspective shifts. You lose that fear of change. In a way, because you have been forced to change, it suddenly doesn’t seem so scary! It’s like you have learned (or been forced) to embrace change!

Also, I think you are more willing to risk, you have already lost, so it is less daunting. And this combination allows us to override that negative mind, so we grab life by the horns and say, “let’s do this!”

The thing is…

This option is available to everyone one of us, at any moment, we just need to choose to take it! 

 

 

 

That is why I wanted to write this blog, I hope it reaches some of you out there who, like me, have that little voice telling you that you were meant for more, that you are playing small and that it is time to step up!

 

 

 

My hope is this will amplify that voice, and be the encouragement, you need to move past the fear stories that your mind has created. If this has stirred something up in you then go get it, don’t wait for life to throw you into it!

We all deserve happiness!

P.S. You are stronger than you think, and you don’t need trauma to show you that. If this is you… take a deep breath, start tuning into that voice, trust in yourself and take steps towards your dreams, it’s not nearly as scary as your mind leads you to believe!