I want to share something that’s a little fresh, maybe even a little raw for me.
It’s not some great thing I discovered 10 years ago, or 5, or even 1—that I can share from an oh-so-wise place.
This is happening right now.
One of the things that I thought I’d tamed were the tapes in my head that would tell me I was ridiculous, weird, incompetent, wrong, lame… You know the ones.
I really thought I’d licked them and fully embraced loving and accepting myself.
I’d upgraded the messages about following my own path and speaking my truth and all that stuff, but very recently I realized how often I judge what I feel in my body and try to shut it down.
You feel lots of sensations when you’re highly sensitive + observant + an empath.
Feeling is kind of all you do.
But I’ve been dissing my neurological system for ages it turns out. Telling myself, those sensations are wrong, stop feeling that way, no one else finds this hard, you’re weird for feeling all this stuff, just deal.
The thing is, truly loving yourself doesn't just mean loving the parts you like—it means loving all the parts, even the ones you're working on.
I realized I needed to find some times/spaces to observe all the sensations and not suppress or judge them.
Yesterday morning at yoga I drew a card before class from one of the decks of oracle cards. It was linked with sensuality—relating to the perception of things through the body—and I paid attention. Those signs and reminders happen for a reason, after all.
I decided to use my yoga practice to observe through my senses without shutting anything down.
This whole thing may sound weird, but stay with me.
There was so much sensory stuff going on: tingling in my fingertips, muscles that tightened and cramped, energy flowing across my face like a piece of soft fabric—I could even feel the blood pumping through my arms as I lifted them above my head and brought my sweaty palms together.
And gratitude. So much gratitude I felt like my heart might burst.
I was in awe that these kinds of sensations are going on all the time for me, not just when I take the time to keenly observe.
My big aha was that I want to be in a state of amazement, love, and gratitude for my highly attuned senses, to love even the parts of myself that sometimes annoy me, and to end the messages of STOP THAT, YOU’RE WEIRD, ENOUGH WITH THE SENSITIVITY ALREADY.
I'm focusing on embracing all the ways I experience sensory stimulation and appreciating how incredible my neurological system is.
And I'm replacing those negative messages with this simple mantra: ALL SENSATIONS ARE ACCEPTABLE.
It's definitely a work in progress.
This topic is a little messy and unpolished because I want to convey that even when you’ve done lots of personal work, there’s always another level of growth. And there's always more you can learn about yourself and love more deeply.
My question to you is this: Are you willing to get a little messy and shake things up? Growth and insight don’t happen when you stay in your comfort zone and keep things that same.
It happens when you take a step into the unknown, toward your truth. When you suspend those negative messages for a minute—the ones that tell you (wrongly) that you’re not worthy or deserving of better—and take a small leap of faith.
If you're ready to explore this further, use the contact page and let me know.
It took me a long time to accept that stress looked different for me than for most people.
I was often ashamed and embarrassed because of my “failure to function” in situations where it seemed others had no problem.
And then the feeling of failure, of not being enough, just compounded the stress.
For a long time I didn’t realize how it important it was to get my needs met (solitude, time in nature, moving my body…) to be able show up as the best version of myself.
Here are a few examples:
I didn’t go to a childhood friend’s wedding that I’d RSVP’d yes for because I was so burned out from caring for my one-year-old. When the babysitter came I stayed in my regular clothes and went out for comfort food and a quiet evening in a bookstore. There was no way I could deal with a big, noisy gathering and hours of conversation in a large group.
Twice in my life before becoming a solopreneur I worked in an open office under fluorescent lights with zero control of my environment. In addition, for many months in both jobs, they didn’t actually have room for me and so I used whatever desk was available at the moment, having to switch spots multiple times every day.
Instead of scheduling a meeting with my boss to talk about how hard this was and to solve the issue right away, I just sucked it up and tried to make it work until one day I lost it and broke down in tears. Finally people got it and things changed, but I felt like an idiot for not being proactive AND for being “such a wimp”.
There were days back when my three kids were 4-14 or so that I couldn’t fully engage with them. We were homeschooling at that time and together all day every day—exhausting for an introvert. I spent large chunks of time online playing word games until my girls had some fracas or emergency that pulled me away from the numbing screen.
For many decades I didn’t know or understand the impact that being an introverted highly sensitive person had on my neurological system.
I wasn’t taught skills that would help me to navigate the world with Sensory Processing Sensitivity. And since who even knew that was a thing, I just figured it was because I was weird, defective, or not trying hard enough.
Also, I didn’t learn that it was okay to arrange my life to suit my temperament because I thought I had to take care of everyone else first and make do with whatever dregs of energy and organizational capabilities were left over.
Can you relate?
Stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization and its effect on our emotional and physical health can be devastating.
For those of us who are HSPs, and who pick up on all kinds of things that others don’t, the toll of feeling wrong, deficient, or weak just adds to the weight of the stress. Add a little anxiety, fear, and worry and you've got the perfect storm.
And frankly, every year we live with extreme stress shortens our lives.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
How would it feel to find out you’re not wrong or crazy?
What if you could learn skills that would help you navigate situations that are currently stressful, worrisome, or frustrating?
How about if you mastered some subtle shifts in the way you think so you can have some breathing space to approach daily life with more joy and ease?
And what if I told you these changes have worked for scores of women I’ve worked with in the past several years, my three highly sensitive daughters, and many friends?
It's all true.
And you don’t need to wait any longer.
Just use the contact page and let me know you want to know more.
That’s really the only way I can describe the transformation I’ve manifested in my life.
That may sound airy-fairy, but maybe if I show you the before and after snapshots you’ll understand how both magical and practical it's been.
A few years ago I realized I was caught in a less-than-satisfying communication pattern with one of my kids. It's humbling to tell you all this, but it's what our daily interchange really looked like.
Late afternoon/early evening I begin to make dinner. I realize that my daughter has been on the couch reading for two hours since she got home from school and no chores have been done. I start feeling agitated.
I call from the kitchen to where she is in the living room.
Sweetie, have you done your chores?
Dinner will be done in half an hour, please go take the dog for a walk.
Fifteen minutes later.
Stop reading and take the dog for a walk!
—I don't care! I'm busy. I'll walk him later.
GO NOW BEFORE IT GETS DARK!
A half later we sit down at the dinner table. I've got an edgy feeling in my chest that feels like it might explode if provoked.
Did you do your chores and take the dog for a walk?
What do you mean? I told you to do that before dinner. Did you finish your homework and straighten your room?
ARGH. Why don’t you do what you’re supposed to?! Now you have all this stuff to do before bedtime and I bet the dog won't even get his walk!
— I don’t care! You can’t make me! I don’t want to do anything!
She storms out of the room and runs upstairs, slamming the door to her bedroom and leaving the rest of us to finish dinner in an awkward state of yucky feelings.
I'm disappointed in myself and in my daughter. The edgy feeling in my chest is now heavy and regretful and I have a hard time eating.
This went on for longer than I want to admit. It certainly wasn’t the only place in our family life where there was antagonism and strife, but it’s a good example of what was going on.
I decided there had to be another way and set my mind to changing myself and my language to shift the dynamics.
*********MAGICAL TRANSFORMATION OCCURS********
Late afternoon/early evening I begin to make dinner. I realize that my daughter has been laying on the couch reading for two hours since she got home from school and no chores have been done.
I go to the couch and kneel down beside her.
Hey, sweetie. I know you’re deep into that book. I’m sorry to interrupt you. Can we talk for a couple minutes?
She stops reading. I make eye contact and touch her arm.
I’m starting to make dinner and it’ll be ready in about half an hour. What chores do you have left?
— I need to walk the dog, do a little homework, and straighten my room.
Ok, would you be willing to get the dog walked before dinner and then we’ll have time to play a game after we eat?
— Yeah, but I just have three pages left in this chapter. Can I finish it and then walk the dog?
Sure, are you willing to really stop when you hit the end of the chapter?
— This book is so good I just want to keep reading! But yeah, I’ll stop. Maybe if I get everything else done I can read a little more before bed!
That’s a great idea. Ok, I’m going to go cook and make sure that we have something good to eat in a little while. You’ll finish the chapter and take the dog for a walk?
We sit down at the dinner table a while later.
How was your walk?
— Good! We saw a baby blue jay getting fed by its mama.
Cool! What game do you guys want to play after dinner?
A happy family time ensues. No yelling. No disconnection. No running upstairs. No beating myself up for being a bad mama.
Basically, that shift brought harmony, ease, and joy into our house just about every evening.
It’s not really magical—but it feels like it. The tools I used are all easily learnable skills.
But (through no fault of your own) you probably weren't taught the principles of Agreements vs Expectations, am I right?
I'd love to help you learn. Just use the contact page to let me know and I'll share more with you. ♥︎
This week I want to share some thoughts on forgiveness. Stay with me. That might not sound sexy or fun, but honestly, it’s a game-changer.
I’ve been slowly digesting The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu. It’s taken me a long time because this turned out to be a difficult concept to deal with—especially the last section on self-forgiveness. (More on that in a future post. I'm still contemplating!)
I’ve always prided myself on not holding grudges against others, but this book helped me see where I was hanging on to past hurts and how it was damaging my connections. I saw how the undercurrent of resentment was not serving me, the other people, or our relationships.
All of this made me very uncomfortable.
In January I chose to write letters to each of the people where I felt there was unresolved pain. I rewrote the letters many times, read them to supportive friends, and tucked them away in a notebook while I chickened out over and over.
My chest felt constricted and I got dry-mouthed and nauseous every time I thought about sending these letters of both apology and forgiveness. Over time I got clearer and clearer on why I wanted to do this.
And then finally, I was ready.
I felt clear that if I connected from a positive place, with the intention of forgiving past hurts and clearing things up, then I was acting generously and responsibly. I'd worked through my emotions and now it was the other person's choice how to respond.
One of the relationships I chose to release since it didn’t seem healthy to renew it. I apologized for any way I might also have hurt this person, expressed my gratitude for the good times we’d shared, and wished them well. It seems so straightforward now writing those words, but at the time it was so so hard.
The process felt heavy and grindingly slow up to that point. It took so much courage to finally address the letters and put them in the mailbox. (Yeah, I sent real snail mail letters!)
I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
I felt light, free, and joyful—more than I had experienced in a long, long time. It seemed as though a deep wound had finally healed. I had no idea how much these old transgressions had been weighing me down and taking a toll on my spirit.
The words in The Book of Forgiving that I initially read and glossed over, have new meaning.
Until we can forgive we remain locked in our pain and locked out of the possibility of experiencing healing and freedom, locked out of the possibility of being at peace…
When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberators. We don’t forgive to help the other person. We don’t forgive for others. We forgive for ourselves.
I know, it’s bold.
I get it if you feel uncomfortable with those words, or even reject them, or think they're selfish. I know I did. It's part of the process because it takes time to wrestle with new ideas.
You could easily choose to just stick it away as information “for later” and not really deal with it.
What I know from experience as a self-help book nerd is that taking in information without putting it into action is more clutter for the mind.
Picture adding a bunch more boxes of stuff you "might use one day" to your garage or basement only to unpack them 10 years later and wonder why you kept all of it.
Great ideas don’t help unless you use them, practice them, and finally embody them. Give me a shout out on the contact page if you're ready to give peace a chance.
There was a time when I didn't know what "having healthy boundaries" meant, nor did I know that I didn't have any.
When a therapist pointed this out several years ago, I wondered how it was possible that a person could be more than four decades into life and not have learned this skill that sounded essential.
I began to realize that this actually explained a lot. Like why I frequently let myself be talked into going to things that weren’t my idea of fun.
Or why I wasn't really aligned with some of my friends but didn't know how to extricate myself from the relationship.
Or why I’d let my kids do something that really annoyed me, quietly seething to myself, until I couldn’t take it anymore and lashed out. (Setting a boundary, to be sure, but not in a healthy way.)
When I saw that this was really true, I was totally overwhelmed. I panicked and my stomach lurched wondering how I would ever catch up.
It seemed there were situations and people all around me that needed boundaries now that I was aware. It was like the floor of my emotional house had just dropped out.
In order to set boundaries I had to know what I wanted, so I found I had to pay attention to my needs and wants much more closely.
Really, in a nutshell, that’s all boundaries are: defining what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do.
I also had to work on actually saying what I wanted instead of hoping others would read my mind.
I remember the first times I went against the proposed plan. I said, I'd rather not to go to a movie tonight. I just want to stay home and read. (Classic introvert move, right?)
I held my breath and waited. They said, "Sure, let's make a fire and and read. Sounds good."
The sky didn’t fall. Lightning did not strike me. The other person didn’t get angry. I did not die.
I let my breath out slowly. So this is what it’s like to set a boundary? I might be able to get the hang of this.
It’s gotten so much easier to know what I want and express it that most of the time I don’t even think about it anymore. There’s no, OMG I have to set a boundary! It’s just stating what works for me or doesn’t and figuring out an agreement with the other person.
Knowing I can handle whatever comes up and comfortably say what I'm willing to do has been incredibly freeing. I even forget that it was once so foreign and hard.
But every once in a while I see it so clearly and I’m reminded of how important this skill is and how I used to be clueless. I had one of these reminders this week.
I was talking to a friend on the phone and three times in our 20 minute conversation she stopped talking and moaned with discomfort as her not-at-all-small dog jumped on or off her lap.
The third time it happened I said, You know, you don't have to endure this, there is a solution. You say, No, Fido! Down. And then don't let him jump up again.
“I knowwwww,” she said. “But he likes to sit on my lap.”
Suddenly I had a flash of understanding. This person complains about how work takes over her life, how her kids never clean up after themselves, and how she never has enough time to get things done, meanwhile she’s devoted to being all over social media.
I understood then that the untrained dog is just one of a host of places where my friend has not set boundaries.
I love to help my clients master this one. It’s like a muscle that starts out pretty weak, but gets stronger with continued use, until you don’t even think about the work it’s doing.
What would your life be like if you could set effortless boundaries around what you’re good with and what you’re not? Most of us highly sensitive introverts really struggle with that for a bunch of reasons.
We don’t want to seem selfish. We don’t want to inconvenience anyone. We don’t want people to think critically of us. We don’t feel we are worthy. We never learned how. We don’t want to feel any more awkward than we already do.
So we stay quiet and we suck it up, give away our energy, and end up exhausted and not very content. Then we tell ourselves, well, this is just what life is like.
Uh, no. No it’s not. Life can be really magnificent and we all deserve to experience that.
If you're ready to learn how give me a shout on the contact page.
This week I was led to make another really hard decision. I hesitate to tell you the nitty-gritty details of reforming my people-pleasing ways, but I think you might relate.
Last week, I chose to say no to an invitation for a professional gig so I could put my energy toward the work I love. This week it involved stepping away from a relationship in order to be true to myself.
The other person brought elements of chaos, struggle, and scarcity to the partnership—things I recently vowed I was done with. When you make a commitment to let go of beliefs that no longer serve you, the Universe gives you ways to practice.
Like when you say you're going to eat really healthy for the next week starting today and then come home to find your kids have made double chocolate brownies with chocolate ganache frosting. But I digress.
Anyway, I was at first uncertain what to do, so I tapped into my intuition to gain clarity on the situation. For me, my inner guidance is like a deep, quiet, internal knowing. It feels solid and right.
The problem is, I don’t always like what it tells me because it doesn’t follow the people-pleasing principles I've learned.
But if I get really honest, I know my intuition is right.
I’ve sometimes made decisions that were wrong for me because I did what someone else wanted me to do, or what I thought I should do, or what would keep me in good graces.
I can confidently say that making life choices from this mindset does not have a good track record for me. It always ends up somewhere between bad and disastrous. But still, when faced with displeasing someone, it can seem easier to just ignore that little voice inside and do what they want when you're a people-pleaser.
What I saw this time was that if I did what my intuition was telling me, what I knew deep down was right for me, the other person would be unhappy and hurt.
But if I did what they wanted and continued the partnership, I'd be compromising the agreements I’d made with myself to end unhealthy patterns.
My inner wisdom said Do what's right for you! My people-pleasing side said How can you put your needs above theirs? How selfish!
This clashing of ideas felt awful. My stomach churned and I couldn't sleep soundly.
I journaled, meditated, pulled wisdom cards—hoping there was some way that would make the other person happy and maintain my values.
But I got the same message over and over again. Step away, step away, step away.
I still didn’t like that answer, so I continued to search.
Recently I’ve been using a resource from Dialectical Behavior Therapy that promotes healthier relationships. I hoped maybe it could help me solve my dilemma.
These statements jumped off the page!
I may want to please people I care about, but I don’t have to please them all of the time.
The fact that I say no to someone does not make me a selfish person.
I can still feel good about myself, even if someone else is annoyed with me.
REALLY? Can I feel ok about myself even if I disappoint someone? Isn't it terribly selfish? Couldn’t I just ignore that little voice even if it’s not the best for me?
All these things were swirling in my head, but at the bottom there was the quiet voice of inner guidance: Say no thank you, kindly and lovingly, and then step away.
I knew it was true—that I needed to do what was right for me. So that’s what I did. I listened to my intuition. I went with my gut. Even though it was really hard to know I'd be disappointing the other person.
I didn’t hear from them for what seemed an eternity. My thinking turned fear-based and I braced for the anger and shaming words that I imagined were to come.
But that’s not what happened.
What happened followed another DBT statement:
If I refuse to do a favor for someone, that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. They’ll probably understand that too.
A message finally came back saying, I’m so sorry this won’t work out right now and grateful for all I've learned from you. You're a lovely person and I wish you all the best.
Friend, I know firsthand these things are not easy to do. I get that. But imagine for a minute what your life would look like now, if you’d kindly, gently said no thank you to all the people and things in your life that didn’t align with your truth.
Who would you be if you’d listened to the small, quiet voice within guiding you toward your purpose?
Right. We’d all be quite different people.
I also am compelled to say, with blatant discrimination against women and other marginalized folx raging in the world, that we must stop worrying about what others will think and continue to raise our voices and speak our truth.
If you feel yourself holding back out of fear, I encourage you to reach out to a sister who can help you stay connected to your vision, who will reflect your gifts and what you're being called to bring into the world.
We need you and what is uniquely yours to bring. Getting side-tracked to maintain someone else's comfort doesn't bring your gifts to fruition.
The next time you need to make a choice, listen to your inner wisdom. If you can't hear it, get with a good friend who will help you listen more deeply.
What I’m sharing with you today feels pretty scary, but I’m doing it anyway. (Read on, and you’ll find out why.)
With all the growth that spring offers, over the past month or so I’ve felt an unshakable urge to make significant changes in my life.
So, for April’s full moon, I decided it was time to commit. But I knew that creating change for myself wouldn’t come from trying to figure it out in my head. I needed to connect with a larger force.
I decided to do a fire ceremony I had learned while working with a shaman many years ago.
I began by reflecting on what needed releasing to move forward.
After some reflection, the answer became clear. I was ready to get rid of any and all traces of approaching my life from Struggle, Scarcity, and feeling Inept. (Ok, that’s hard for me to admit, but I really want to share that with you!)
The words galvanized me.
I created a small bundle made from twigs, leaves, words, and twine that represented Struggle, Scarcity, and Ineptitude—the three things I was ready to release for good. To burn away these limits and clear space for change, I would offer this bundle to the fire.
When darkness fell I built the fire, slowly, thoughtfully meditating on what I was about to do. Because throwing things into the fire is serious business.
As the fire began to blaze, I called the four directions, the heavens and the earth, and my ancestors to be there with me. I danced around the fire, letting Struggle, Scarcity, and Ineptitude build within my being.
It was intense and there were tears—I kid you not. And when I couldn’t bear to hold onto them one second longer, I cast my bundle into the fire.
Whoosh—in a flash it was consumed by flames!
Like magic, I instantly felt Ease, Abundance, and Capability flow into every part of me.
I danced around the fire again—this time with joy! Everything looked incredibly appealing through a lens of Ease, Abundance, and Capability.
If you’re still with me, you might be wondering how I know this change was real.
Life offers tests.
Recently, I was invited to do a gig that I’m really good at, but that doesn’t align with my purpose.
For a few days, I considered saying yes.
Because even though this gig has always left me exhausted, I thought to myself, Just do it… make things easy for them... receive payment with a smile.
After dragging my feet for a few days, it hit me: Saying yes would come from a place of Struggle, Scarcity, and feeling Inept.
And that was the old me.
The new me chooses differently. And my answer became clear.
Saying no felt so uncomfortable. Risky. Scary. Selfish. But I knew it was the right thing to do.
As I sat down to write the “no thank you” email, my chest was tight and heavy. I re-wrote it half a dozen times. Finally I just said it straight out: Thank you for asking, but I’m unavailable. And, I’ve refocused my business and will be unavailable for this gig going forward. I wish you all the best.
Even though I knew it was the right choice, I hovered over the send button for what seemed like forever, agonizing over how this would impact them.
Finally, I pressed Send.
And an amazing thing happened.
The tight and heavy feeling transformed to open and light. By acting from Ease, Abundance, and Capability, I felt free and had a surge of energy.
No Struggle. Just commitment to my path.
I did a little happy dance in my office and leaned into the sensation of expansion, and saying yes to those things that will enable me to have the bigger impact I’m meant for.
Setting new boundaries and taking those first steps into the new version of me was scary. But I survived. And by choosing my path of Ease, Abundance, and Capability, new doors have opened and I’m loving every moment of it.
Springtime brings change that, in general, is easy to accept. The cold temperatures give way to warmth, the dormant plants begin to bud and flower. Even the rain is welcome, bringing a palette of greens that dazzle the eye.
Is change this well-received in your inner life?
While you might enjoy digging out warm-weather clothes, personal growth such as changing your belief system or thought patterns probably isn't something you've got on your calendar.
The thing is, if what you’re looking for is new energy or a fresh outlook to bring vibrancy to your world, personal growth is where it’s at. New spring clothes, fresh tulips on the table, or taking out your sandals are only very temporary lifts to the spirit.
The only thing constant is change.
It’s funny that humans can be so resistant to transformation. Everything in your life is dynamic and it often takes less effort to go with the flow than it does to try to stop everything and shut it down.
True story. One of my daughters was extremely resistant to change when she was young. I wanted to move the bookcase with all the kids’ books from one of the bedrooms out to the living room where we did the most reading. She thought this was a terrible idea. I proposed that we try it for a little while and see how we liked it. When I went to move it I found she had tied herself with rope to the bookcase and taped up signs saying DO NOT MOVE all over the bookcase. Talk about resisting change!
It's not good or bad, it just is.
One thing you can do is accept change as the norm rather than an unusual random occurrence. When you have a situation where you need to move forward, try to just experience it rather than judging it good or bad.
When you let labels direct your reactions to your life you’re not coming from the highest version of yourself. If you can commit to integrating what you’re learning without judgement you can stay more present and be open to what it will bring for you.
This evening is the new moon. For the next two weeks until the full moon it's a wonderful time to put effort into new ventures, ideas, and growth. It’s a rich time for setting intentions to become more aware, responsible, proactive, and present.
Where are you in your life right now? What is working, what is not? Where do you sense the need for change? When you grow your awareness and clarity of the present, it can help you see what changes need to happen and how to do that with ease. This is where working with a coach can be incredibly helpful. Having a compassionate guide to view the situation with kind and objective eyes and ask bold questions that lead to your next aha moment is so valuable.
Embrace change with ease and grace.
As for the Big Bookcase Move, in the end we did try the bookcase in the living room and after a few days we all—even the resistant daughter—decided we liked it better there, so it stayed… until the next time we decided to move it!
Thanks to the Power Path, School of Shamanism, and Michelle Motuzas for insights.
Much of the personal growth work I do, and support my clients in doing, focuses on shedding the limiting beliefs that keep us from moving forward.
Limiting beliefs constrain you in some way. They’re concepts which you’ve come to believe as truth, but are so deeply ingrained that they can be mistaken as facts. These beliefs are often nothing more than conclusions you’ve drawn based on your childhood experiences. They focus on your self-identity, capability, and worth, and keep you from reaching your full potential due to how they inhibit you.
During childhood these beliefs may have served you, and that’s why you held onto them for so long. But as an adult, these beliefs may no longer serve a purpose. In fact, they can actually become a hindrance when they’re no longer compatible with your life or circumstances. Your life has undoubtedly changed, but if your beliefs have remained constant, it can be why you’re feeling stuck in the present.
Another thing about limiting beliefs is that they’re innocuous. They don’t stand out and shout, Look at me! I’m messing up your life! They hide in the shadows and make you think you’re being smart, cautious, and discerning about your choices. That you’re keeping yourself safe or putting your commitment to your family first or keeping your nest egg safe from a hair-brained idea.
Here are some common limiting beliefs:
I don’t deserve love/getting my needs met/money/success.
I don’t have time.
I’m not creative.
I don’t want people to judge me.
I’ll sound stupid.
I don’t have the skills.
I just got lucky this time.
I don’t know enough.
Even if I’m successful, I won’t be able to sustain it.
I’m just going to fail, I shouldn’t even bother to try.
People won’t take me seriously because I’m too young/too old/a woman/fat/thin/not an expert…
Even if I work hard at it I’ll never be good enough.
I can’t do that because I have kids/don’t have the money/need to take care of my parents.
I’m just not motivated.
I don’t have the energy.
I don’t even know where to start.
These may or may not look familiar to you, but if you stay aware the next time you’re making a decision about something that’s meaningful to you or moving you in the direction of your dreams, I’m quite certain you’ll find one of these limiting beliefs at the bottom of your decision-making.
If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.
—Louise Hay, author, healer, publisher, and a founder of the self-help movement
Awareness is always the first step in making changes. You can’t shift something you don’t even know exists. But once you’re conscious, then what?
See if you can identify if that belief is serving you in some way now. It can also be helpful to uncover how you developed this belief and how it protected you. Most limiting beliefs come about in childhood and are used to keep us safe.
Next is to ask yourself what you really want? What are the dreams, goals, contributions that are truly meaningful to you?
And finally, to create an empowering belief to replace the limiting belief. This can become almost like a mantra. When you hear that voice in your head saying, You don’t deserve to take time for a walk on this fine spring day—you haven’t knocked half the things off your to-do list yet! you are alerted. This is exactly what I’m hearing as I sit here writing while it’s finally warm and sunny in my neck of the woods.
Now you know your limiting belief has kicked in. It can be very powerful and even shaming: You can’t take time to care for your needs. You need to keep working. Don’t be a slacker!
The empowering belief I’ve adopted is something like: When I make space to care for myself I’m more motivated, efficient, and engaged. To do my best work I need downtime.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't—you're right.
—Henry Ford, business magnate
I actually grapple with almost every day. Growing up I was taught that taking care of yourself is selfish and if there’s any work to do you should take care of that first before you do anything pleasure-based.
My dad was a small business owner who also had a couple low end rental buildings. He was always working. I learned from him that while it was honorable to work for yourself, it was hard and took all your time, and even when you worked really hard you didn’t make bank, and that’s just how life was. I think one of his limiting beliefs was that he didn’t feel he deserved to be successful or make a lot of money.
My dad died of cancer at 79 and never really slowed down to enjoy the freedom of being your own boss and calling the shots.
Consequently, I inherited many of many of those same limiting beliefs. One of the most devastating for me as an HSP is around taking time for self-care. The first step was awareness and identifying the voice in my head. It would say, You don’t have time to do something selfish like go for a run in the middle of the work day! Sit down and finish all the things on your list first!
Once I knew what was happening I could pause and choose to make a decision that was right for me, but I have to admit that it’s something I still struggle with. But when I started realizing that I was much more effective, efficient, and engaged when I got exercise and time in nature it made it easier to give myself the space and time for that.
Then I created an empowering belief or ideal message for myself to replace the “get back to work” message. It’s something like, Remember, when your needs are met you can accomplish so much more. It changes a little from day to day depending on what I need to hear.
Now I’m at a point of amassing evidence so that if I drag my feet or the limiting belief has a greater hold on me one day I can whip out my history of success to overcome my hesitance. I tell myself, The days when you make time to get outside and move your body are the ones you’re the most creative, positive, and effective. Go!
I believe that change can happen instantly when we’re committed, but I also know that changing the thought patterns, habits, and brain connections takes time. Because of this, I’m compassionate with myself when I skip a day or realize I’m creaky because I’ve missed a couple yoga classes. Beating yourself up does not help you move forward. Compassion, honesty, and uncovering old beliefs that no longer serve, does.
The amazing thing is that when you're no longer fighting to uphold the limiting beliefs you free up energy to use for other things.
In freeing ourselves from words, beliefs, and attitudes that block us, we choose the path of life. We free ourselves to create from a clean slate, from a belief that all things are possible. This act takes a tremendous amount of courage, just as creating a future free from our past wounds takes a tremendous amount of courage. It can be exciting to think about all the opportunities you can create for yourself.
—Sandra Ingerman, author, healer, and shaman
Last week I talked about embracing change. This can be difficult when you’re stuck in some way—and there are a lot of ways to be stuck! That’s especially true when you perceive being in a rut as something negative that's beyond your control instead of a signal to your psyche that something needs to shift.
I want to share with you three common roadblocks that can keep you marching in place, and a suggestion for moving past each one.
When you fear the outcome of taking action it can be challenging to make a move. You might fear what others will think, or fear that you’re not enough. Maybe you fear you won’t like the change, or that it might be too hard for you, or that you don’t know enough and you need to be certain of everything before you can make a move. Maybe it's just that it seems easier to stay stuck than anything else. Any of those could slow you down; more than one might be totally paralyzing.
The good news is most of your fears are unfounded. Steven Pressfield explains it as Resistance in The Art of War, and it shows up as any kind of roadblock in your way. Psychologists say it’s your Ego trying to keep you safe from the unknown. Evolutionary biologists talk about how your fight/flight/freeze response gets triggered now by things that aren’t really dangerous.
The reason for your fears doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you recognize them as mere thoughts and don’t let them keep you stuck.
Suggestion: Simplify everything down to two simple forces, LOVE and FEAR, and choose to go with LOVE. Use that as the lens to look at your thoughts and to make choices on your actions. If you come from LOVE—for yourself, for others, for the universe—things feel expansive, possible, even warm and fuzzy. What would be an exciting, slightly expansivel next step if you use LOVE as your guide and let go of fear?
Highly sensitive people are masters of overthinking. You may have realized how much time gets sucked up by rolling possibilities around and around like marbles in your brain. In some ways this connects to fear, because you want to be totally sure you’ve thought through every possible trajectory before you make a choice. Or maybe you imagine every response each person in your world might have to the action you take. Honestly, none of this is helpful. It doesn’t help you take action, it just keeps you in the rut. The sooner you can recognize when you’re spending too much time on the same question, the better.
Suggestion: Set a timer for how long you’ll spend to research or think about a certain decision. Fifteen minutes for something small, a couple hours for something larger. List pros and cons, write down probable outcomes, get facts that are relevant. When the timer goes off, stop. Set the timer again for 1-5 minutes and use that time to choose your next action. If you can’t decide by the end of that time, flip a coin representing the two top answers, and follow through on whichever one you get. If later on you receive more information and feel another choice is better, that’s fine. You can always switch it up if there’s a good reason. The point is to get out of analysis paralysis and do something.
LACK OF WORTH.
Feeling like you’re undeserving of the good things in life is a showstopper. It’s often connected to putting everything and everyone ahead of yourself. When you get all that taken care of there’s little time or energy left for you and so your dreams and ideas go to the bottom of the list—every time. Sometimes there’s the self-defeating question Who am I to think I can/should/deserve _______ ?
These limiting thoughts are often leftover from childhood when, as a highly sensitive child, you took in unkind and erroneous information from others and it lodged deep in your belief system. You may have ideas about yourself that no longer serve you. In fact, they do the opposite, they sabotage you.
Suggestion: Take time to discover what it is you truly desire.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
If there were no restrictions on time, money, energy, or education, what would you love to try?
If you go back to the dreams you had as a child or adolescent, which ones still hold excitement for you?
Now remind yourself that there’s a mission you’re here to complete that no one else can do because it’s uniquely yours to carry out. To ignore this dream is a huge loss, not only to you, but to the world that awaits it. You are worthy and deserving of bringing this vision to fruition. What is the first baby step you want to make in moving closer to your dream?
Above all, remember to be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up when you realize how long you’ve been standing still is not helpful in any way. Be grateful for the awareness you have now and the opportunity to take action, all the while practicing self-compassion.
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