I think a lot about dreams–or, put more plainly–people getting to have, do, and be what they want. It has taken a lot for me to own something this straight-up and to the point: I want to have the life that I want, on my terms, and that’s okay. I think that there’s a way to have the life that you want that is collaborative, and kind, and not about power trips or hurting others or taking from someone else and leaving them without.
I want you to have, do, and be what you want. I want you to do what you want with your life.
So, back to dreaming: I was thinking about the incubation of dreams. The way we go after the dream is just as important as the fulfillment of the dream, itself. In the same way that a baby needs nourishment in the womb, our dreams, on their way to being birthed, need nourishment.
So how is your dream incubating? As you’re working, what’s your dream marinating in? What’s the energy that it’s gestating and developing in?
- I don’t know why I’d bother. No one will show up, anyway.
- I’m putting all of this work in, so it had better work out for me!
- I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid.
- This is hard, but it’ll be worth it.
- I live a good life now, and I know I’ll live a good life, later–no matter what the outcome.
- I’m afraid, but I’m willing to trust. I’m afraid, but I’m willing to trust. I’m afraid, but I’m willing to trust.
It’s worth it to stop, and ask yourself: As I’m doing this thing, trying to make this change, trying to get this business off of the ground, trying to navigate a difficult child or marriage, trying to make new friends, walking around the art store looking longingly at the paint sets, thumbing through travel books, praying for a health miracle…
…What’s the atmosphere in which I’m creating this dream that I’d like to be born?
Are you creating an atmosphere of trust, gratitude, and love alongside the reality of your fear? Or are you immersing yourself in an atmosphere of such abject fear that you’re shutting down along the way to the finish line?
The conditions under which our dreams are created do affect the outcomes. Stop, breathe, get present to what you’re creating at all points along the way.
Several years ago, it was a dream just to have a full coaching practice. Then it was a dream to lead retreats and e-courses. When life coaches first started to email me to ask for advice on business, my initial reaction was, “Who, me?” and later, when it was clear that people were saying, “Yeah, you,” I did “sessions” privately and over dinner or, in one case, hanging out on someone’s couch.
I didn’t go public with this because I didn’t want to deal with anyone’s perception that I was just another one of “those” life coaches who couldn’t make a business float with personal growth, so she was switching to doling out business advice out of desperation. This was an odd, covert period, where I’d enjoy geeking out on talking strategy or social media or anything else entrepreneurial, trading resources and information, mostly because I’d spent so long feeling like I knew absolutely nothing, and once I started to get the hang of things, I thought it was really neat, like showing off a puzzle after you’ve finally (painstakingly) completed it.
I never intended to ever really have any branch of my business that focused solely on business. I figured that at best, the Coaching Blueprint e-program would be a helpful resource to direct people to, given all the emails that I was receiving–it was taking too much time to type responses to questions. That program debuted, people loved it and asked more questions, and I decided to update it and then that was well-received, too.
This year, through a series of various events, I came to decide that it was time to turn CoachingBlueprint.com into a full-fledged website. The program itself is still available as a digital download, but the website will also have some free resources and give the program its own home and space, and hopefully the next step is that a community can thrive there.
I’m asked quite often: “How do you know the difference between fear and when it’s just not the right time?”
I take this to be a question that’s really about knowing when it’s time to stretch, and when stretching is not in your best interests. Like any muscle, stretching can feel good, and it can also go too far and cause injury.
My first answer to this sort of question is that it’s always about developing some level of somatic awareness–the ability to learn what different sensations in your body “mean.”
On some level, I can’t tell you the hard-and-fast rules for knowing “when.” The sensation of fear in my body will show up differently than the sensation of “this just isn’t the right time for this project,” but trying to exactly articulate how they’re different is difficult to do–and from my work with clients, I’ve learned that it’s different for everyone, even when one can articulate it.
I’ve learned, in seven years of working with clients, that no one makes decisions based on “what’s rational” or “logical.” In fact, most people come to me because they know what’s logical, and they’re struggling with how they feel when it contradicts “logic.”
People make decisions based on how they feel. Developing somatic awareness is how you know when it’s time to stretch.
I knew that it was time to stretch because something in me said, with enthusiasm, “Yeah!” when I was considering the option of turning this into its own website.
But make no mistake: I was also afraid, at the exact same time.
I define courage as “feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming.” There’s no waiting for the fear to go away before leaping, and there’s no trying to not feel fear in this equation.
You feel it all–and that ends up providing you with a richer experience of life. You feel afraid–and you don’t make yourself wrong for feeling that way.
The new website is live, today. If you’re a life coach, I welcome you in. Click the graphic, below:
Several years ago, someone who was angry with me told me–as a reference to my own behavior–that she “didn’t understand any woman who was insecure, much past the age of eighteen.” At the time, I was twenty-eight.
In the immediate moments after she said this, I hid the sting of her words. I started doing what Dr. Brene Brown calls “the hustle for worthiness.” I started saying things that (I hoped) sounded neatly packaged and tied together. I began trying to position myself in the best possible light.
Then, I promptly spent the next few years alternatively avoiding or trying to impress this woman. When I was in a room with her, I hustled hard. I talked about cooking or social justice or travel or learning languages, things that I knew that she was interested in. If there was any way possible to get out of an event that involved her, I bailed: “Gosh, so busy, gee, wish I could, but I’m working so hard on [insert hot shit product launch or new entrepreneurial endeavour].”
This was, of course, more insecurity. She had hit the nail right on the head with her assessment of my behavior. And–despite my best efforts, over the years I would hear about more criticisms of me, my approach, things I said, things I did, even though I was hustling so hard to change her opinion of me.
When most of us are in this kind of a situation, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to start tearing down what the other person said. For awhile, that’s what I did. I mentally justified why I was insecure, or felt relieved when a friend expressed feeling insecure (hey, it’s not just me!), and I tried to avoid being around her so as to avoid ever again hearing her criticisms.
But really, the problem wasn’t what she said or what she thought.
The problem was that I believed her.
The problem was that the moment that she made it clear that insecurity at my age was patently uncool, I superimposed her worldview over my own.
In that moment, I had had a choice. I could have said what I’d experienced to be truth up to that point, which would have sounded something like, “Actually, I completely disagree. It’s been my experience that everyone has pockets of insecurity, and I’m fine with the fact that I have mine. I admit to them, because that’s honest. I’m doing the best I can to work through them.”
It was because I didn’t believe her that I started hustling for worthiness. She didn’t “make me” hustle. I chose it.
How to Respond When People Criticize
As far as I can tell, people are going to deliver their assessments of your behavior. There’s no amount of hustling for worthiness that’s going to save you from someone’s criticisms or gossip. There’s no amount of trying to “do it right for them” that will spare you their stuff.
And really, it is their stuff. What this person was really saying to me about insecurity was that she didn’t like insecurity. I don’t know what that meant for her life, at the time.
All I do know is that since we can’t control other people, I see a few options in such situations:
1.) You can hustle harder to try to smooth things over, make them happy, phrase it in the right way, convince them that you’re awesome. This will be effective approximately 50% of the time, but the other 50% it won’t–and what works for them, will be completely different for someone else, so be prepared to shape-shift like a mad woman depending on who you’re talking with, if you pick this option.
2.) You can limit contact with them so as not to be around any criticisms. This option will be helpful for the person in question, but then someone else will crop up, so this also carries with it no guarantees.
3.) You can decide to know yourself, deeply and honestly and intimately, and to love all parts of yourself. With this option, what people say may hurt sometimes, and other times it won’t, because you’ll know yourself enough to know that it’s not true, or you’ll decide to throw down a little shadow work and see criticisms that trigger you as a place for investigation.
Let it be said: I really like door #3.
Door #3 is the journey of really understanding who you are–not just the shortcomings, but also all of the wonderful and unique things that there are to celebrate.
Door #3 is the path of finding out that there’s more goodness there than you were aware of, once you actually look closely.
Door #3 is the path of deciding whose opinion you want to matter, and whose you don’t–and assigning a hierarchy, even, of putting your opinion first and then those of the people with a demonstrable record of care.
Always choose door #3. Your energy can go into shape-shifting, and it can go into avoidance…or it can go into richly and divinely becoming absolutely everything that you already are, and loving this you, wholly and totally.
The energy will go somewhere. Where do you want yours to go?
Whatever happened with this person? I realized that I had felt insecure and that actually…I was fine with that. Whatevs. I came to understand that anything that came out of her mouth was just her worldview, her lens on life. Any criticisms that she had could just be reduced to feedback–feedback that I could use, or dismiss.
Really, I got so sick of knuckling under that fear–my own fear–of bracing myself for what she said, that something within me came to understand that it wasn’t worth it to me, to live that way. I stopped babbling about topics that she was interested in, when I was around her. False confidence (fear) gave way to practicing courage as I took a deep breath and risked disagreement, talked about what I was most interested in, and quit trying to be her version of cool.
I quite literally decided to just be myself, and that she could deal with that however she liked. Interestingly, in taking the focus off of hoping to impress her and be liked, I found more things that I actually liked…about her.
When other people criticize you, don’t fear what they say. Fear believing them (and then work on that). It’s betting on yourself, and that’s a bet that’s worth investing in, totally.