coaching

10 thoughts on asking for help

8461114451_ae837e12f1_z1.  You don’t need to know what is wrong.  If you have a feel that something is, that is all you need to start.

2.  You don’t need to have a solution.  That is what the help is for.

3.  Help is not for other people.  It is for everybody.  It is for you.

4.  Help is not weakness.

5.  Asking for help is a sign of strength.

6.  Being afraid or uncomfortable before, during and possibly after asking for help is normal.

7.  Being brave is not without an element of fear.  Being brave is acting despite of that fear.  Be brave

8.  Crying is not for girls.

9.  Asking for help will make life better in the long run.  Trust in that.

10.  If you don’t ask for help, what is the alternative?

I hope that helps.

How do deal with your ego and it’s ugly cousin, impatience

3254923387_ca4d070d0c_zWhat you want to do versus what you think you should be doing

When you first starting something new, like your own personal development, there is a strong tendency to want to progress and be at a certain level almost immediately.  Nobody likes to be a beginner, or the new guy/gal, but being the rookie is a vital stage that helps us learn essential lessons and skills.

If you could take time and be OK with going slow and appreciate every step of the process, then you go much deeper into your understanding of yourself and strengthen the benefits of what you are trying to do.

But believe me, it is not always easy. I tend to rush things and want to improve quickly.  Being conscious of slowing yourself down is a skill and like all skills needs practice.  In this case of growing patience and valuing the process, your biggest obstacles (OK, let”s just say it, your enemies) are ego and impatience.  Here are some insights on that will help you cultivate a relationship with your ego, understand impatience and realize that the happiness and change you are seeking is right here today in the process and not at a hopeful endpoint.

Ego

To be honest, in personal development there is no end point.  This is a quote that I not only like, but really illuminates the moment in your thoughts when your ego gets the best of you.  The quote is by Darren L. Johnson and reads “Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision”.

This is the moment when we know what we should do, but in order to preserve our appearance either to ourselves or others, we choose to protect our image rather than do what is best for us.  This same voice is the one that convinces to stop doing something when we are tired, finding it more and more difficult and perhaps increasingly more monotonous.  Ego is the voice in your head and the uneasy sensation in your chest and stomach when you think you’re not doing enough, being enough and/or moving fast enough.  Some examples of when your ego starts to talk (if not scream at you):

  • The mileage in your daily runs is not progressing enough in the preparation for the marathon
  • Your hamstrings are not loose enough in yoga
  • Your blog has fewer visitors than you think you should have
  • Your relationship is not where you think it should be
  • You are not cutting down any longer in smoking.  In fact, you want more.
  • Those desserts are not getting cut out like they were last month.  You are now even cheating.

All of these are based upon where you  “think” you should be rather than where you actually are.  So where do these thoughts come from?  The ideas that your ego has are put there by you. You’ve determined the point that you should be at by comparing yourself to others OR to some mythical idea in your head.  This comparison of where you are versus where you think you should be has brought out your ego loud and clear saying: “WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

This then leads us into impatience. 

After the ego has been chattering and telling us to hurry up and improve, it is natural to become very impatient.  This quote by Charles Caleb Colton sums it up by saying “Patience is  the support of the weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength.”

If you could support the areas that you view as weaknesses or shortcomings, then the strength that allowed you to try in the first place would not be ruined.  You allow yourself to keep going. 

However, your ego can be very persuasive and when it speaks, your natural defence is to become impatient.  This immediate feeling of impatience is your ego’s way of trying to lessen the gap between where you are and where your ego thinks you should be.  This strong desire created by your ego to quickly have you become the image it has starts you pushing, the beating yourself up, and the operating with very unrealistic expectations.  This powerful combination of ego and impatience can either make your work miserable by placing you in a constant state of catch-up or frustrate you into quitting.  Either way, your work falls by the wayside just to silence your ego and get rid of the suffocating panic.

How to move past ego and impatience

Once ego has spoken and impatience is running rampant, there is a very simple choice:  learn to work with them and move your work forward.  I suggest the latter. 

If you can let your ego do it’s talking without reacting impatiently, the question changes from “Why am I not good enough?” to “How do I want to choose to show up to the situation?”  This keeps you in the game.  This prevents you from starting many things and ultimately quitting them and This is a big shift.

A questions to work with

Work gently with yourself and ask “Am I driven by where I think I should be in the process rather than appreciating where you actually are in the process?”  It is important to work from reality and not an invented future.  When you make this shift, notice what happens.  It might be hard to accept at first in some cases, but I guarantee the leanings from an accurate view of reality are much more powerful than a reality tinged with ego.  This topic is the basis of my ebook.   I”d love to hear your feedback and comments.

Tearing up the contract: How to be your true self and end outgrown friendships

Tearing up the contractThe Facebook Unfriend Dilemma

When Facebook first came out, one of the first friend requests I received was from an old second grade classmate.  I think we all got a lot of those.  So in next days and weeks after I accepted her friend request, I was inundated with images, her thoughts and just a general intimacy of somebody that I didn’t know.  To be honest, I never really knew her in second grade.  

I can’t remember if I didn’t know how to or it didn’t yet exist, but I wanted to hide her and couldn’t figure out a way.  So after really wondering how I could get out of this new “relationship” and thinking I was a horrible person, I just deleted her.  And despite initially feeling bad, it felt pretty good, pretty quick.  

We have contracts with people

At certain points in our lives, we have a specific types of a relationships.  In some cases, they are our best friends, spouses, partners, peers, casual friends and even those in our lives that we don’t care for.  These relationships are often unspoken but defined by our actions and the energy we spend on maintaining them.  Some are enriching, some are neutral but often many are draining and regardless of what they contribute to our life, they take up energy.  The question is “Do we want to spend our energy on this?”

However, as we change in life (as do they) it also makes keeping that initial contract we have with them difficult.  It is like 2 business partners that agreed to open a vegetarian restaurant, but then ended up running a slaughter house.  The initial bond that brought them together has disappeared yet the only thing holding them together is an outdated sense of loyalty, fear and/or an unwillingness to look at their current reality.  All that is left is an outdated “signed” contract.  

Avoiding old patterns

When we keep showing up to that person out of respect of how things once were, we are potentially creating a great deal of stress.  We end up reverting to old patterns of the way we used to be and not our true, present selves.  Of course, if we go into the relationship with the aim of positive nostalgia, then it is completely healthy.  However, if the relationship is one that makes us behave in ways that we no longer enjoy, find possible, drags down our positive improvements and/or unconsciously (perhaps even consciously) impedes our growth, then it is time to tear up that contract.  In short, we deserve better.

Obviously, it is not as easy as the “unfriend” option on Facebook, but nor is it usually that complicated.  The key lies in speaking our truth and when we do, one of two things will happen:

1.  The person will adapt to our present self thus creating a new contract or, 

2. The person won’t adapt and they will start to fade into the past.  

Be Honest

The key here is being honest.  If we don’t agree with what they say, then speak up.  If we don’t want to do something, then don’t.  If our whole reason for keeping a bond with a person is simply out of obligation, then it is not a relationship. It is a job.  So the choice then becomes, do we want to redefine our contract or quit.  If we speak our truth (a tall order I know), then the rest quickly falls into place.  

The Heath brothers in their book Switch talk about keeping our environment as resistance free as possible.  In some cases, that resistance is people that no longer deserve our attention and energy.  If we use truth and honestly as our method of cleaning up the path, we then minimize the resistance and ultimately stress in our life.  

Our self imposed limits

ElderlyA beautiful, powerful reminder by Susan Sontag:

A lot of our ideas about what we can do at different ages and what age means are so arbitrary — as arbitrary as sexual stereotypes. I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people. The values associated with youth and with masculinity are considered to be the human norms, and anything else is taken to be at least less worthwhile or inferior. Old people have a terrific sense of inferiority. They’re embarrassed to be old. What you can do when you’re young and what you can do when you’re old is as arbitrary and without much basis as what you can do if you’re a woman or what you can do if you’re a man.

 

The mechanics of listening

ListeningIf you watch a very good mechanic, they often just listen to an engine.  This audible peak into the health of the engine gives the mechanic incredible feedback into what needs attention. 

On the path of becoming your true self, you have to let your self simply idle much like that of an engine and listen to what is inside; what is on your mind, the cadence of your breath and how you feel in your body.  You don’t need to judge or run away, but like that mechanic hunched over the hood, just give it your attention. 

Start small with a minute.  Close your eyes.  See what comes up.  See how you feel.  See where it leads and why.  

The first essential step we all need to take

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 2.10.45 PMIn the book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa (who is Pema Chodron’s teacher) he wrote “Habitual patterns allow you to look no further than 3 steps ahead of you.”

Brilliant.

Simple.

100% accurate.

The start of the path to our true self is seeing our true environment, both inside and out.  And it starts by analyzing our habitual patterns and then letting them go.  

Once we’ve let them go, the path then gets longer and brighter.  We can see more than our next fix. We see more than 3 steps.

A tall, but very rewarding process.

Being true to yourself and not to others

You are brave enough to want a true version of yourself, but can you act on it?

If you decide that a change is what you want, it’s going to bother some people.  They might not say it, or directly show it, but they will get pissed.

TruthThey know you as you are now and how you’ve been, and now you want to go and change all of that.  Shame on you.

Whether it’s being overweight, out of love, wanting a new career, or not wanting to drink as much (or at all), you changing impacts others.

Many people deep down want you to be happy, but only if it is at little cost to them.  How many times has somebody said to you something like “Hey, I want to try ….” and your first, secret, dark, shameful reaction is “How is this going to affect me?”

I’m not saying it’s fair, or abnormal, it’s just a reaction.  But if a person is doing all of this hard work and trying to be a better person shouldn’t others care?  Or at least be really, really interested?

Scenario One

If you went on a trip to Africa and had an amazing time, and the weekend after you were back, you had a party with all of the people in your life, how would most conversations go that evening? To be honest, the whole scenario sounds pretty pretentious to me and I would not be caught dead at this type of party, but I’m using to exaggerate the situation.  Think about the range of reactions that people might have to hearing stories of your vacation.

There would be a few that were genuinely interested, some who wouldn’t really care, and the vast majority would listen just waiting for you to finish your story about the safari all the while formulating a counter story in their head and then jump in just as the second the last syllable flies out of your mouth. “Oh yeah, cool.  Well, last year, my wife and I were in India.  It was amazing. And the….”

Right?

We’ve all had that conversation. And let’s be honest, we’ve probably been the person coming up with the “yeah but” India like story at some point in our lives.

When we hear about others doing new stuff, changing, exploring the world or themselves, there is a trigger in our brains that makes us instantly look at our lives.  It can bring up a primordial reaction to defend ourselves.  We feel that if somebody has done something, I need to defend my doings.  I’m a doer too. See.  Look.  Hey, listen to me.

Courage is like gold: when you have it, you’re rich and when you don’t, you want it.  You doing something, anything actually, to positively impact your life takes courage. Loads of it.

And this characteristic threatens others. It makes others look at their lives. And in many cases, they don’t like what they see. Or they don’t like what is lacking.  And their discomfort and their reaction to your actions is often sent back to you in the form of negativity, avoidance and mockery.

But here is something to keep in mind:  A person’s personal change is not about anybody else other than themselves.

And when we feel threatened because we’re not losing weight or going to Africa, we forget that it has nothing to do with us. It is all about their own unhappiness and inaction in their own lives.   If I’m not drinking and my friends are annoyed or even distant, it’s not at me.  It’s really at themselves.

Either way, we seem to be really good about making other people’s actions all about us. 

Scenario Two

So what if we take this one step further.  If other people’s reactions to your change is getting in the way of your change, can you consider the following:  The reason that you are having difficulties being your true self is the same reason that got you into your current situation; you’ve been trying to please people all along.  You have a history of not saying no to things that you really don’t want to do.  You do it because others want you to.

But now that you want a change, people around you are getting weird, pissed, rude and really uncomfortable with it.  So what do you do?

You stay the same.  You keep the status quo.

You’re back to pleasing them, but not yourself.  The same diet, drinking habits, job you hate, life style that is slowly killing your soul (and perhaps your body as well), and/or the same relationship that you’ve not cared about for years.   They’re happy, but you’re still struggling.

And just like always, your change has a pin in it.

Getting past others

I know we’re taught not be selfish, but guess what?  It’s time to be selfish.

When I really wanted to stop drinking, I had to come to terms with the fact that:

  1. I wasn’t responsible for how others react.  I know their bad moods, strained and/or potential loss of relationships will create strife in my life, but what’ more important: their approval or my health?  Their approval or my happiness?  That friction in my mind, that tingling sensation that went off every time I did that behaviour that I was trying to change but not doing it, that was me not believing in that behaviour anymore.   That was me doing it for the wrong reasons.  So if I didn’t believe in it, and I  wanted  to stop but wasn’t, I asked myself:  What does this behaviour serve?  Does it serve an old belief or perhaps another person?  Can I let go of this?”
  2. This new change that I was entertaining is going to take courage.  Courage in the face of the naysayers in my head, and sadly, around me.  Years ago in one of my first yoga classes, one of the women in it dropped out only a few classes in.   I had gotten to know here a little bit and after a few weeks of not seeing her at class, I ran into her in a book store. We recognized each other but I could tell she didn’t want to talk or at least felt awkward but I had just gotten into line behind her and we had no choice.  I asked her where she’d been.  She said that she had quit because her husband didn’t want her to take yoga.  Afraid that she’d change too much.  I could see in her face that she was embarrassed and not really proud of what had just come out of her mouth.  I honestly didn’t know what to say.

 A definition of courage that I’ve heard and liked is that courage is action in the face of fear.

Change needs courage.

So what’s the fear in the way of you being your true self?