What are You Letting Determine Your Worth?

Back in the day I loved to walk around bookstores. A bookstore was my happy place. I loved flipping through books, feeling the pages in between my fingers, discovering new authors and paperbacks filled with wisdom. Oh it was like a little slice of heaven here on earth! But those days are gone, so now I scroll through Amazon. I scroll and scroll and excitedly click on the books that say “Look Inside.”

Several months ago, I was on a tangent of scrolling because I kept clicking on the books in the “Customers who bought this book also bought…” section, and I came upon a book by Geneen Roth. Geneen Roth is a psychologist and author who specializes in writing on women, food, and body image issues. (Her books are excellent if you are interested in those topics.) Anyway, I stumbled upon a book of hers I’d never heard of called When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair. I thought that was a funny little title so, of course, I clicked on it, and lucky for me, it had a “Look Inside” button- score!

I scrolled through the book and began reading the introduction where Roth relayed a story from one of her workshops. She wrote that a woman at a recent workshop gave this honest admission:

“If I woke up tomorrow and this whole issue with food was gone, I wouldn’t know how to measure myself. Right now, being thin is how I know I’m good. Feeling fat is how I know I’m bad. If I didn’t have this system of fat and thin, I would feel terribly lost.”

I wouldn’t know how to measure myself.

Right now, being thin is how I know I’m good.

If I didn’t have this system…I would feel lost.

How do you measure yourself? What is your system? What is the thing you hang your worth on that determines if you are good, good enough each day, each hour? What is your prerequisite for feeling worthy?

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Maybe it is food and weight- I’m good when I’m thin, when I don’t eat that but do eat this. Maybe it is how much you do- I’m good when I get a lot done. Maybe it is exercise- I’m good when I workout X number of minutes each day. Maybe it is when your house is clean and all the laundry is put away and everything is in order for the next day- I’m good when I’ve got it all together. Maybe it’s when you’re doing well at your job- I’m good when my numbers are the highest in the office. Maybe it’s when your children are doing well- I’m good when Johnny is doing well in school and Sally makes the cheerleading squad and Sarah is the first to learn to read of her friends.

So many of us hang our worth on something. We let our to do lists or our relationships or our successes and mistakes determine our worth and how we feel about ourselves. It is so natural that we don’t even realize we are doing it half the time.

And maybe you’re wondering, what’s the danger in feeling better about yourself when you’re eating right or doing well at work or hitting homeruns in the parenting department?

Those things by themselves are great; they’re fabulous. Thumbs up to you if you’re doing those things. But when we allow the externals in our lives to determine how we feel about ourselves, then we are allowing those things to determine how we FEEL in general, how we interact with people, and what we do. It’s not a coincidence that you find everything annoying after you put on a pair of jeans that fit perfectly two weeks ago but now feel too tight.

When we hang our worth on external things, we easily fall into a spiral of feeling less than and not good enough. We allow these things- the scale, the bank account, the invitation to the party, your child’s performance- to put a stamp of “Enough” “Never Enough” on our lives, and we are left feeling anxious, frustrated, and defeated. We end up on an emotional roller coaster because how we feel about ourselves and our lives changes with every number on the scale, interaction with a colleague, and check on our to do list.

If we want off this roller coaster, WE MUST STOP OUTSOURCING OUR WORTH. Meaning, our worth is not determined by what we do, what we’ve done, what we look like, what type of house we live, where we went to school, how much money is in the bank, or how much debt is on the credit card.

Our worth is separate from all of that. Our worth does not hang on anything. It stands alone. It is internal, not external

The thought isn’t Being thin is how I know I’m good. The thought isn’t I’m good when _____.

The thought is… I’m good. I’m enough. I’m loved.

There are no disclaimers or qualifiers to our worth. Our worth is unshakable, unchangeable. It is the same today as it was the day we were born before life had a chance to tell us otherwise. It is the same at the end of a chaotic day where we binged on chocolate, got nothing done, and snapped at a loved as it is at the end of the day where we crossed every T and dotted every i.

The truth is our worth is unaffected by our actions, our failures because our worth is a grace-infused worth breathed into us in the beginning.   We must protect and shelter our worth from those external factors the world likes to tell us will make us better, more likable, more lovable.

What are you hanging your worth on? What is the thing, or things, in your life that you give the power to determine how you feel about yourself? There is true freedom that comes with separating our worth and how we feel about ourselves from what we do and what others think. Give yourself permission today to let go and let your worth stand in the undeniable, irrefutable, beautiful truth that you are enough, you are lovable, and you are loved.

The Wisdom of Harold and His Purple Crayon

Ahh the wisdom of children’s books… One of the gifts of motherhood has been rediscovering children’s books. Reading them as an adult, I have discovered a treasure trove of poignant wisdom. My son, like most children, enjoys reading the same story over and over and over and over and… well, you get the picture. The latest book du jour is Harold and the Purple Crayon. Somehow I missed this book growing up but am thoroughly enjoying it as an adult. Oh what a lovely story! If you’ve never read it, you really should go to the bookstore or library and read through it.

As I have been reading this story for several nights now, I’ve had some time to reflect, shall we say, on Harold’s adventure. Harold and the Purple Crayon is about a little boy named Harold who creates an entire world with his purple crayon. Harold goes on a mighty adventure filled with apple trees, dragons, oceans, ships, picnics with pies as far as the eye can see, mountains, and tall buildings until finally he decides it time to find home and go to sleep. I know, I know, it sounds too simple to be profound, but it is such a beautiful commentary on the power that lies within us to bring our dreams to life.

This evening, the beginning of the book really struck me…

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. haroldmoonresized_9737

And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost.

haroldpageAnd he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him. But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path…

But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path…

Sometimes we need the long straight path to guide us so we don’t get lost, to give us security and direction when we are just starting out. The long straight path is indeed helpful. Necessary.

But sometimes we discover that we don’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So we leave the path. We have to leave the path for the unknown adventure.

We need the long straight path and we need to leave the long straight path. If we stay on the straight path forever, we lose the opportunity to stretch ourselves and experience the glorious uncertainty of adventure. However, if we are always leaving the straight path for the unknown, then we never establish roots or plant seeds that will one day bear fruit. Our lives need to be a mixture of both… following the straight path when we need security and creating a new one when we realize we are not going anywhere.

What is your heart longing to do? What does your journey look like right now? Do you need the long straight path to keep you from getting lost or do you need to leave the path and set off on a new adventure? Wherever you are on your journey, remember you can choose the path… and don’t forget your purple crayon. ;)

The Truth about Anger (Part 2): Getting to the Root of Our Anger

Has this ever happened to you: you are going about your day and something happens that totally ticks you off. You become completely frustrated and irritated as if from out of nowhere. The dust settles, some time passes, and then you wonder Why in the world did I just get so angry? Why do we get angry?? What is our anger really about?

Last week we started a discussion on anger. We defined anger and discussed that anger does not have to be destructive. Stuffed anger is just has harmful to our spirits and relationships as out of control anger. We keep anger from being destructive when we learn to identify what anger feels like in our bodies and how we act in anger.   It’s normal to feel angry; it’s what you do with and in it that really matters.

We left off last week by saying that anger is a secondary emotion. Of all the things I’ve learned about anger, this little fact has been the most helpful. What does it mean that anger is a secondary emotion? Like an iceberg with it's tip rising above the ocean, there is much more going on than initially meets the eye.  It means that there is always another emotion behind anger, and that emotion goes much deeper than the anger that is exploding above the surface. Yes, you may feel angry… really, truly angry. But there is another emotion that is fueling that anger.

Learning to manage your anger means digging past your anger and identifying that root emotion. It is that root emotion that needs to be recognized and shared. Staying in your anger rather than taking the time to understand the true emotion that is fueling that anger will block anyone, including yourself, from really knowing and understanding you. Your anger then becomes a mask that keeps your authentic, vulnerable self from being seen. If we want to develop closer, more intimate relationships, we must learn to lower that mask.

The three emotions that I find are often at the root of our anger are fear/anxiety, shame (feeling insecure or not good enough), and hurt (specifically disappointment). Let’s take a closer look at how each of these feelings can pave the way to anger.

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FEAR/ANXIETY

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or dread of something unknown that may or may not be real. Anxiety and fear are parts of life. Yet, so often when we are angry, if we dig real deep we may realize we are actually feeling anxious or scared. We can feel anxious over everything from running late to church (confession: I snap at my husband more on the way to church than any other time we’re in the car. Lovely I know) to worrying if our children are going to grow up to be serial killers because they won’t eat to green vegetables to wondering if our job is in jeopardy. When we are feeling anxious or stressed, we are much more likely to respond to someone in anger.

Let’s look at how this might play out… Work has been particularly stressful lately and there has been talk of layoffs. The environment is tense, and you are taking on extra projects trying to prove your worth and value to the company despite the air of uncertainty. You also notice that everyone in your life just happens to be especially irritating lately, and you have been arguing more with your spouse and family members. Simply put, you just feel crabby, irritated, and all around angry.

What is going on here is not that you are now an angry person or that everyone you know is all the sudden irritating, but really you are feeling anxious about the uncertainty of your job. Anxiety and fear leave us feeling weak and exposed. We counter that powerless feeling with an emotion that makes us feel “powerful”. All that adrenaline pumping through our veins certainly does make us feel powerful. In truth, though, it is a false sense of power… a false sense of power that is very seductive. That seduction is why we keep returning to the trough of anger again and again when we feel weak and powerless.

If you can slow yourself down and identify the anxiety, then you will be able to handle your anger in a more productive way. You will be able to communicate that you are feeling nervous about your work situation, and you will connect with your loved ones at a deeper level. Understanding that we are angry but then understanding what is actually behind that anger is what allows us to build emotionally honest and vulnerable relationships. Recognizing this connection between anger and anxiety/fear can be a real a-ha moment and learning to honestly and vulnerably communicate your fears can prevent all sorts of unnecessary conflict.

SHAME/INSECURITY

There is nothing that sends us into anger quicker than feeling insecure, unworthy, or not good enough. Feeling inadequate quickly triggers both our anger and anxiety, and in these situations we are inclined to either withdraw or lash out. Take a second and think of a time when you felt insecure or unsure of yourself? In that moment, how did you react to those around you? Did someone else bear the brunt of your feelings of inadequacy?

When we are feeling insecure or wondering if people are judging us, it is so easy for us in turn to become disgruntled and critical of others. When we are feeling bad about ourselves we are much more likely to use criticism and shame as our weapon of choice. We spew our shame onto someone else as a way of disconnecting from the pain of that shame. Looking at this root of our anger takes a lot of courage because we do not like to admit we feel insecure, and we really do not like to pinpoint the things that make us feel insecure. We feel insecure about our insecurities.

Slowing yourself down and learning to identify that your anger is masking deeper feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy, allows you to begin to address and heal those painful feelings. You can then share what is truly bothering you rather than picking a fight with someone and covering them in your shame-induced-anger.

HURT/DISAPPOINTMENT

Feeling hurt is a raw and tender root of anger, and hurt is often linked to disappointment. Whether we mean to or not, we have expectations. We have expectations for everything from a trip to Target to what our future is going to look like to how a dinner or a conversation or a vacation is going to go. When things do not go as planned or hoped, we feel disappointed and that disappointment may manifest as anger.

This happens all the time, and it is a great example of how we try to bury sharing our true feeling and deflect that disappointment by getting angry. Disappointment-induced-anger can be especially dangerous when we are unaware we had any expectations to begin with. It is in those scenarios when, if we are unaware of our own expectations, we are more likely to react defensively and blame another person. We do this because we are in a fight/flight response and our mind’s automatic response/goal is survival. We try to “survive” this disappointment by shutting down the emotion and turning it into anger. We have to teach our mind’s automatic response that there is another way. In sharing our true emotion, in this case disappointment, we are actually practicing vulnerability and openness, which will create more intimacy in the relationship.

Are you seeing a pattern here? We use anger to shut down and mask the emotions that leave us feeling weak or exposed or uncomfortable. But ultimately, this mask does no one any good. We have to slow ourselves down from reacting impulsively in our anger. Anger that is impulsively fired off injures individuals and relationships. But when we slow ourselves down, peel back the layers, and look at the true emotions behind our anger, we build awareness in ourselves and intimacy in our relationships.

So here’s our challenge. Everyone is going to have a bad day. Everyone is going to have a day where they have a little less patience. Everyone is going to feel frustrated, anxious, insecure, disappointed at times. It is normal. It is okay. The challenge is what are you going to do with those feelings. Are you going to let them turn into anger or are you going to spend some time understanding and sharing them?

Yes, we get angry, but anger is not always our true emotion, so to speak. Often, anger is a mask hiding our genuine heart. If you want to live authentically, if you want to be known and understood, if you want to practice vulnerability, you have to name and share the true emotion behind your anger. That is being emotionally honest. That is letting people really see you. That is how you find your voice.

Think about the last time you got angry. What was the true emotion you were experiencing? What would it be like to share that truth with the person who received your anger?

How would your life change if you made it a practice to ask yourself when you get angry, “Am I feeling anxious/fearful, insecure/not good enough, or disappointed/hurt?” and then shared those feelings with someone you trusted.

5 in 365: The Five Lessons I Learned One Year After My Leap of Faith

This month I am celebrating an exciting milestone in my life. A year ago, I took my biggest leap of faith yet and launched my own private practice. In some ways, I cannot believe it has been a year, and in other ways it seems like forever ago that Mazi Robinson, LLC opened its doors. As I shared in a post a year ago, I entered into this venture not knowing what the future held but feeling simultaneously excited and anxious. Now, a year later, I am in literal awe at what has unfolded, the women that I have had the honor to work with, the groups I’ve been privileged to speak to, and the doors that have opened.   This past year has been filled with abundant, over the top Grace, and I am deeply grateful.

Sitting on this side of the past 365 days and looking ahead to the next 365, I have been pondering what I have learned so far on this journey. Here are the five most important lessons I have learned since my leap of faith.

If you’re afraid to do it, you have to do it. If you’re afraid to do it, then you’re probably doing something right.

As I shared a year ago, it was when I voiced my real fears about going out on my own that I knew I had to do it. I was afraid of not being able to make it on my own, of failing, of losing connections, of being judged. Those fears were very real, but what I knew then, and what has become even more of a truth for me since, is that if you give into fear, then fear wins. Fear calls the shots. Fear dictates the path. Fear keeps you small. If you’re afraid, it is a sign that you are pushing the boundaries of your beloved comfort zone. It’s a sign that you’re growing. Growth is often painful and uncertain. Fear is not necessarily a sign that you should not do something. Fear is often a sign that you are on the cusp breaking free from the thoughts that you think are protecting you but are actually imprisoning you. Fear is often a sign that you are doing something right. I now take those butterflies in my stomach and what if thoughts not as indicators to turn back but as green lights to take a deep breath and move forward.

It’s not the critic who counts… it’s the man in the arena who counts.

I’ve shared numerous times what a fan I am of Brené Brown’s research and writing. When I read the Teddy Roosevelt quote she uses as the backdrop for her bestselling book, Daring Greatly, I was immediately taken by this idea that it is better to be marred by dust and sweat then to stay pristine and safe on the outside of the arena. For the past year, whenever I have tried something new or stepped into a new arena I have repeated this mantra over and over in my mind. Success is immaterial. Critics only have power if I give them power. At the end of my life, I think I will care much more that at least I tried- tried to tried to hold Daring Way™ retreats, tried to market myself (email marketing literally makes me hum and shiver with discomfort… more on that gem later), tried to blog, etc.- then if I “successfully” avoided the criticism and judgment of the mysterious “they.” Yes, I’ve decided I would rather be filthy, exhausted, and totally poured out in the center of the arena then standing all put together on the outside.

I am my worst self when I’m on the outside of the arena.

I am my better self when I am facing my fears, standing up to my insecurities, and doing the things that make me feel uncomfortable and uncertain. I am jealous, envious, resentful, critical of others, gossipy, and “territorial” when I am standing on the outside of the arena watching others do the things that I am too afraid to do. I am my worst self when I stand on the outside looking in. Isn’t that interesting how that is the case?   Standing on the outside of the arena brings out all of the unattractive qualities we like least about ourselves. We become the critic when we give fear the power to close the door to the arena we feel called to enter. Want to be free of the jealousy that morphs into insecurity that leads to saying critical things about others? I’ve learned you have to step out of that beautifully decorated prison cell you call home and walk into the arena you keep staring at.

There is never the perfect time, but there is the right time.

When we are contemplating making a change, how often do we say the timing is just not right? How often do we think when I get to… or when I have this amount in savings… or when we get past this hurdle…? This past year has taught me that there is never a perfect time- you can’t wait for the perfect time- but there is the right time. What I didn’t share in my blog announcement last year is that when I decided to start this venture in private practice, my husband was unemployed. In March of last year the company my husband worked for was sold and closed their Atlanta office. As I was putting everything in place for the opening of my practice, my husband was at the beginning of a job search process that had no known end date. On paper, this was not the time to start a new business. We had bills to pay, a little one to take care of, and the uncertainty of unemployment to navigate. This was definitelynot the perfect time. But after much discussion, we felt it was time for this change, and as I quickly discovered it was the right time. It was the right time for me to clarify my purpose and calling. It was the right time for me to be my own boss. It was the right time for a new challenge. The lesson? If you wait for the perfect time, you just might miss out on what is right for you.

I thought I knew what I could lose in my leap of faith, but I never dreamed what I would receive.

I had a long list of things I thought I might lose, fears of what might happen, things I thought I wasn’t capable of doing. (Thinking about things like bookkeeping, web management, and marketing made me want to sit in a corner and rock.) I think anyone has such a list when they are contemplating walking away from the known into the unknown. Over this past year, I have had to let go of some things, and, yes, that was as painful and agonizing as I predicted it would be. But we have to let go so that our hands are open to receive other things. We let go of Egypt so we can enter into our Canaan. We let go of the beautifully decorated prison so we can step into our arena. What have I received?  Opportunities I never dreamed of. Occasions to hear others’ stories that I will treasure in my heart. Knowledge that I am more capable than I realized. But more importantly, I’ve received grace, a bigger and bolder faith, healing, direction, and a new understanding of what it means to live free.   It is for freedom that we have been set free- oh yes, indeed.  I have felt both carried and covered like never before, and I understand on a whole new level that our imaginations and worst-case scenarios aren’t nearly as big as God’s vision for us- Amen to that. This year has been one of the most influential and shaping of my life.    To say I am grateful is an understatement.

Those are the lessons I have learned over this past year, and I'm sure there is more learning to come in the year ahead. I look ahead at the next year and I'm so excited about what I know is to come and what I cannot imagine is around the bend. Happy Anniversary, Mazi Robinson, LLC!

What are the lessons you have learned from your leaps of faith? Are you contemplating a leap right now? What are your worries and concerns? What is the arena you want to enter? I would love to hear about your journey and what you are learning!

Choosing to Dance

Earlier this week I wrote about how it is easier not to.  It’s easier not to try.  It’s easier not to think before your lash out.  It’s easier not to connect and let people really know you.  But as I said in the earlier post, when we choose not to, we miss out on the blessing.  We miss out on seeing what our life can be about and what we can do.  We miss out when we choose not to.  As it would happen, Monday night I saw something on TV that beautifully illustrated this point. Before we go on, I should tell you that I am a huge Dancing with the Stars fan.  Huge.  I usually cry at least once during an episode.  I vote weekly.  I may or may not have tried to do the quick step around my house.  I often say the only reason I would want to be famous is so I can be just famous enough that I can be on Dancing with the Stars.   The show strikes a chord with me because quite frankly I think it is amazing that these people, who usually have little to zero dance background, learn these beautiful dances.  I love seeing people try hard, and I just love seeing these people totally step outside their comfort zones and dance.  After all, dancing is the very definition of vulnerability. (And I like the sparkly outfits too. :) )

This season, though, is like none other.  This season paralympian Amy Purdy is competing.  At 19 years old, Amy contracted bacterial meningitis and both of her legs were amputated at the knees and she lost one of her kidneys.  In this week’s episode, Amy talks about learning to walk again and her father’s gift of life twice in that he gave her one of his kidneys.  Amy shares how painful it was learning to walk with her new prosthetic legs and how one night, upon hearing a song on the radio, and she got up and danced with her dad.  She said she thought, “If I can dance, then I can walk.  And if I can walk, then I can snowboard.  And I can live a great life.” A great life indeed.  (Click here to watch Amy share her story.)

Amy and Derek’s dance this week depicts the story of her learning to walk again.  It is one of the most moving two minutes and thirty seconds I have seen on television.  This young woman who was given a less than 2% chance of even surviving the meningitis and who lost both of her legs below the knee is… dancing!  It literally takes your breath away and brings tears to your eyes as you see such an amazing display of courage dance across that stage.

No one would have faulted Amy for choosing not to.  Out of her control and without her say so, her life was forever changed fifteen years ago.  But Amy Purdy did not choose not to.  Amy Purdy chose I can and I will.

Friends, it is easier not to.  It is soo much easier.   And yes, the alternative is hard and sometimes hard is scary.  But when you choose not to, you miss out.  You miss the chance to dance.   I hope we all start choosing to dance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjb3u1IqhAw#aid=P7YuYtLOmRg

It's Easier Not To

Several months ago I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by some work related responsibilities and deadlines.  The to-do list kept growing and growing and my energy reserves kept shrinking and shrinking.  One day I thought, “It would just be easier not to.” Isn’t that so true?

It’s easier not to.

It’s easier not to try.  It’s easier not to change.  It’s easier not to put yourself out there, not to speak up.  It’s easier not to be vulnerable, not to take the risk of uncertainty and exposure.  It’s easier not to unpack the baggage that keeps tripping you up.  It’s easier to quit when it gets hard.  It's easier to believe you can't.  It’s easier to keep doing the things you’ve always done even though you know they are bad for you.  It’s easier not to choose health.

Or is it?

I’ve thought about this phrase a lot since that day.  I’ve thought about how true it feels, yet how dangerous this belief is.  Yes, it is easier… in the short term.

In the short term.

That’s the key.

It’s easier not to in the short term.  But in the long term, that easy path turns into a pothole filled road.  Choosing not to rarely leads us to where we want to be or who we were created to be.  Choosing not to leaves us outside the arena looking in.  And when we are on the outside looking in that is when we are most likely to be judgmental and critical of those who are on the inside.

Isn’t that the kicker?  We choose not to, but then we resent those who choose YES over NO.  When we choose not to, we end up staring through the window and watching as people pursue new adventures and opportunities, as they unload their cumbersome past, as they make healthy changes that bear sweet fruit.  We end up staring through that window as we wrestle with the most uncomfortable of emotions- resentment, regret, fear, and frustration.

No, it’s not easier not to.  It feels like it in the short term.  It feels like it, but although our feelings are valid, they are not always true.

Everybody has those days when it feels easier not to.  That’s normal.  The challenge is how do you keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off.  How do you keep going?

We keep going by learning when we need to sit and be still and when we need to move.  Sometimes the very thing we need is rest.  Stepping away from the problem and doing something totally unrelated might be the very thing that gives you the perspective you need.  Giving yourself compassion and validation that this is a tough mountain to climb is often just what the doctor ordered.  More often than not, sharing your frustration, concern, and anxiety with a trusted loved one gives you the ounce of energy you need to keep moving forward.  We keep going by refocusing on why is this so important to us anyway.  Why does this matter to us?  What do we feel called to do?  When you push through the temptation to choose not to over I’m going to, you move closer to your unique purpose and farther away from your fears.  Yeah it may feel easier not to.  But when you choose not to, you miss the blessing.

I hope this week you give yourself the rest or compassion or time with loved ones you need to continue in your journey.  Choose long term over short term.  Choose purpose over fear.  Choose the blessing.

Do you ever have those days when you think, “It would just be easier not to”?  How are you learning to choose “I’m going to” over “not to”?  Which path are you choosing today?

What Do You Need To Give Up?

I was raised Southern Baptist.  This means a few things:  I grew up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, I have been to a tent revival (white tent, funeral home fan, folding chairs… the whole nine yards), and I really only celebrated two religious holidays, Christmas and Easter. It was only when I started teaching at a Catholic high school and attending a Presbyterian church that I discovered anything about an Ash Wednesday service or the season of Lent.  My first Ash Wednesday teaching school I walked in and saw one of my co-workers with ash on his forehead.  I leaned in, so as not to embarrass him, to tell him that he had something on his forehead.  He smiled and said, “Dear, it’s Ash Wednesday.”  I nodded like I knew what he was talking about and went about my merry way.

I quickly learned about the traditions of an Ash Wednesday service, and it is now my favorite church service of the year.   There is something so moving about the service- the idea of preparing your spirit for the gift of Easter, the hope in surrendering your “ashes” for healing, and the beauty in the gentle touch of someone drawing the cross on your forehead.

Ash Wednesday marks the 40 days prior to Easter and is the official start of the season of Lent.  As tradition goes, individuals either give up something that is deemed bad or a hindrance in their life or they start doing something that is beneficial.  I always find it interesting to hear what people give up or what they add.  You often hear of people giving up sweets or alcohol or something like that.  The latest trend seems to be giving up Facebook.   (I thought about giving up Facebook, but who am I kidding?  I’m an avid Facebooker- they’ll have to pry Facebook out of my cold, dead hands.  J)  The idea behind giving up something is meant to be an act of purging and cleansing so as to refocus your spirit.   Letting go helps us open our hearts and minds.  Surrendering something, even if it is only for 40 days, helps clarify what has power in our lives.

I like the idea of Lent.  I think it is good for us to practice intentional surrender.  Surrendering and letting go are really quite the opposite of what we naturally want to do as humans.  We naturally want to control.  We naturally want to be in charge of our own fate.  So often, we want to hold on rather than let go.  We want to hold on even if we know the holding on is killing us.

What do you need to surrender?  Whether you observe Lent or not, where in your life do you need to let go?  What are you holding onto that is holding you back?  What do you need to give up?

What if you gave up shame?  What if you gave up fear or anger or caring about the number on the scale?  What if you let go of second-guessing your decisions?   What if you let go of the grudge and the resentment?

This Lenten season I want to give up fear and control.  There are some things in my life that I want to control because I am afraid.  I am afraid of losing them, of these things being taken from me.  I realized recently that when we start holding on so tightly because we are afraid of something being taken from us, then we are in danger of that thing, even if it is a good thing, becoming an idol in our lives.  We’re in danger of sacrificing our peace of mind and values on the altar of that idol.

When we start making those sacrifices, what we don’t realize is that we’re really not in control because that thing or that person is now controlling us.  We like to think we are in control and that this decision or that decision will bring the outcome we want, but that isn’t the case at all.  The relationship we love, yet we fear losing, ends up controlling the peace in our hearts.  The dream job we worked so hard to achieve, yet feel there’s no rest in because we’re compelled to continue climbing the ladder, ends up controlling our schedule.  The lifestyle choices we put into place to make us feel better, yet we still don’t think we’re pretty or thin enough, end up controlling our confidence and sense of worth.  We end up controlled by the thing we are trying to control.

I want to give up fear, and I want to give up control.  I want to hold loosely the things that could so easily become idols in my life.  I want my hands to be open to receive, rather than closed in white-knuckled fear.  I want to really embrace the posture of surrender because this is what I know about surrender…

Surrender is not weakness.  Surrender is not defeat; it’s not quitting.  Surrender is acknowledging where you end and the Power greater than you begins.  It is letting go of the idol.  Surrender is freedom.

What do you need to give up?  Where do you need to let go in your life?  Where would you like to experience the freedom of surrender?

You Learn Courage by Couraging

A year ago today, I sent an email that set in motion a series of events I never could have predicted.  Here’s the backstory… In the Fall of 2012, I started reading and thinking more about what it means to live brave and be courageous.  I’ll admit when I think of courage the name Mazi Robinson does not immediately come to mind.  I am still afraid of the dark.  I don’t see scary movies.  I still have weird fears about attics, crawl spaces, and storage rooms and will not go in them by myself. (It is a hard and fast rule… much like my no fruit policy.)  I have no desire to jump out of a plane, bungee jump, or do anything that is remotely adrenaline rushing.  So when I started thinking about courage and living brave, my instant thought was I am not a brave person.  And my next thought was I want to be.

Over the next several months, I learned that living brave was not just jumping out of airplanes, but living brave had a deeper meaning to it.  Living brave means letting others really see you.   It means letting yourself be vulnerable and leaning into that vulnerability rather than running from it.  Vulnerability and courage go hand in hand-  anytime time you are being courageous, you are being vulnerable.   So I got honest about all the things I avoided and ways that I hid.  I started challenging my justifications for why I didn’t do or try certain things.  I started to identify and peel back all of my armor that I thought was protecting me but was really keeping me small and hidden.

How do you build courage?  You learn courage my couraging.  You stop hiding.  You stop avoiding and justifying.  You start doing.

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As I began to make little changes here and there, I noticed a shift within myself.  As I stopped doing some things and started doing others, as I tried new things and let go of old, I started wanting more.  I wanted to try more new things and let go of more old habits.  You learn courage by couraging.  I still felt some intimidation and second guessing- should I do that, say that, try that- but I learned to navigate through that dialogue in my head because I knew it was coming from my shame self, not my true self.  I was on a nice little personal growth journey, and then… and then I spent a weekend in January with a wonderful group of women.

Last January, I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat for a local church.  Let me say that it is not unusual for me to cry on the way home from a speaking engagement.  I usually feel so grateful for the opportunity to speak and teach that crying seems to be the only way to let that emotion out.   But on the way home from this retreat, I cried out of sheer awe.  Later that week a friend asked me how the retreat went, and I told her it had been the single most powerful experience of my professional life.  Because you see these women… these women asked for prayer.  They didn’t ask for prayer for their aunt or their neighbor’s cousin or their co-worker’s niece.  They asked for prayer… for themselves.  They said I’m lonely, I’m lost, I’m hurting.  With tears streaming down their faces they boldly admitted that they were tired and struggling to connect with God, with their husband, with their family.  And they didn’t write it on a notecard or say it sitting down with their head hung.  They stood up with heads held high and were vulnerable.  I have never seen such cut open, let-yourself-be-seen courage in all my life.  I was in pure awe of the vulnerability expressed and the courage lived out.

Brené Brown says that courage is contagious.  It certainly is.  These courageous women moved me, and I wanted to be brave and vulnerable.  I wanted to stop giving into my fears of I can’t and what will people think.  I knew exactly what I needed to do, what I had been avoiding doing for a year.  A year prior to this I had the idea for this blog.  I spent all of 2012 trying to convince myself not to do the blog, but the idea stayed with me.  I realize that for a lot of people starting a blog does not seem like that courageous of a step, but for me it was, and continues to be, the definition of vulnerability.    You see, I don’t consider myself a writer.  I have always been incredibly insecure about my writing.   (I am well aware that comma splices and other punctuation crimes litter these pages and am deeply appreciative that no one ever corrects me.  My deep issues with grammar are for another post…) Yes, I speak and teach all the time, but for some reason having people read my words, rather than hear them, feels much more exposing for me.  But the idea of this blog, and other changes I wanted to make in my  life, just would not go away.

February 5th, 2013, I emailed my friend, Kristen, and told her all that I said above.  I told her that this felt like a big step into the arena for me and that I believed she was the one that could bring my ideas to life.  Kristen has this amazing ability to infuse grace and beauty into everything she touches.  I wanted her fingerprints on my daydreams.  I knew that I could entrust my little brainstorms and hopes to her and that she would get it.  From that email, she began designing this blog and events started to unfold that I never could have imagined.  All of my little daydreams that I had silenced with thoughts of you can’t do it and what if you fail finally came to life when I started my own counseling practice in June and a whole new world of experiences and opportunities opened before me.

You learn courage by couraging.

You learn courage by being around courageous people.  I think of all the things I learned in this past year, the most important lesson was that you never enter the arena alone.  You never take your leap of faith alone. You enter the arena with the people in your life that have modeled courage for you.  You enter the arena with the encouragement of friends’ words ringing in your ears.  You enter the arena with the One who will never leave you alone or ill-equipped.

Have you been thinking about making a change recently?  Do you have a dream you would love to bring to life?  Do you want to start facing your fears and living more courageously?  Are you ready to step into the arena?  Do it.  Do. It.  Life inside the arena is riskier; it is more exposing.  Life is messier in the arena, but it is better than sitting in the stands watching others live bravely and boldly.  The stakes do get higher when you put yourself out there.  But let me tell you, it is so worth it.  Maybe it doesn’t feel like it in those first 30 minutes or hours or days when you are still wrestling with doubt and uncertainty.  But one day you will wake up, and you will realize I did it… I survived the uncertainty and I now taste the sweetness of being brave!  

You learn courage by couraging.

You never take your leap of faith or step into your arena alone.  The models of courage precede you, and the speakers of truth and encouragement walk beside you.  And maybe, if you are lucky, God will send you a special friend who can make it beautiful. :)

To those wonderful women last January… thank you.  To Kristen… Happy Anniversary.  Thank you for bringing this past year to life.  Here’s to more daydreams becoming reality.

Are You Ready to Break Free and Live Brave? (The Daring Way™ is coming to Atlanta!)

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This month I've been talking about looking ahead into this wild, unknown that is the start of 2014.  We are about to wrap our first month of the year and hopefully you have spent some time in over these weeks thinking about what you want this year to look like for you. What are your hopes for this year?  Would you like to stop living under the yoke of perfection?  Would you like to stop second guessing yourself and instead start living brave?  Would you finally like to separate your sense of worth from what you do and what you think others think of you?  If so, I believe 2014 is your year to do it!

As you know, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown, bestselling author and TED sensation.  Her research and writing on shame and vulnerability have been life changing for me personally and professionally.  Last June, I started the process of becoming certified to facilitate her newest workshop, The Daring Way™ and am thrilled to announce I am offering my first  Daring Way™ retreat: Daring Women:  Show Up, Be Seen, Live Brave™!
 
What is The Daring Way™?  It is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The material was developed to help men, women, and adolescents learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing a courage practice that transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.  If you are tired of wrestling with feelings of not being good enough, if you would like to let down your guard and let people really know you, if you would like to discover, or maybe rediscover, your true voice that has gotten silenced and covered up, you do not want to miss this opportunity.   
 
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The two-day retreat will be held in Atlanta on Saturday, March 1st- Sunday, March 2nd (9:30AM-4:30PM both days) with plans to add dates in April and/or May.  These upcoming retreats are specifically for women, but I will be holding Daring Way™ retreats in the future for men and women, moms, couples, and individuals in the helping professions (clergy and mental health counselors).  The retreat consists of teaching, discussion, individual reflection time, and small group processing.  Over the course of these two days, we will discuss:
 
- What is the arena in your life you want to show up and be seen
- Vulnerability, vulnerability myths, and the connection between courage and vulnerability 
- How to practice empathy and self compassion
- The armor we use to "protect" ourselves from being vulnerable
- How to identify and change our thoughts of unworthiness and feeling not good enough
- How to create a life of courage as we embrace our story and step into the arena
 
The Daring Way™ is a cost-efficient, personal growth experience.  If you have thought about beginning a personal growth journey or you are feeling stuck in your life, The Daring Way™ consolidates weeks of therapy and can jumpstart and accelerate your personal development.  Having gone through the material myself, I can tell you that the content and exercises help you discover the keys to living the life you were created to live.  This retreat is a great opportunity for individuals or girlfriends or even your small group to set aside time to uncover the things that are holding you back as you look ahead to the future you want and deserve.  
 
Seating is very limited (8-12 participants)and the Super Early Bird Registration rate is $325 and the deadline is this Friday, January 31st.  The Early Bird Registration ($375) deadline is February 14th and Regular Registration rates ($425) apply after that.     Included in the cost of registration is a personalized notebook, a Daring Way™ workbook,  a journal, a copy of one of Brené's books of your choosing, and two catered lunches , snacks, and beverages.
 

For more information about The Daring Way™, go to http://mazirobinson.com/the-daring-way/

For information on the specifics of this upcoming retreat and future retreats (such as dates, times, location, cost), go to http://mazirobinson.com/upcoming-workshops/

For more information on what is included in the cost of the retreat, the retreat format, and other frequently asked questions, go to http://mazirobinson.com/workshop-faqs/

 
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like more information.  I look forward to daring greatly with you!

Thoughts for Thursday- Are You Brave Enough?

In honor of  my earlier post, What's Your Theme Song, I thought our Thoughts for Thursday post should be a song rather than a quote.   Yesterday a friend of mine, knowing how much I love the song “Brave” right now, sent me a link to this amazing video created by the patients and staff at University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Do me a favor- stop reading and watch the video.  It is truly  a must see.  You won't regret it.  (Click on the picture below for the video.)

 

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Pretty incredible, right?

There are so many things you could say about what makes this video moving, but what stands out to me is how truly BRAVE those children, nurses, and doctors are.  We are never more courageous than when we choose to have hope and joy in the midst of pain and fear.

Joy and happiness are two different things, and I think we often confuse the two.  Happiness is temporary, momentary, fleeting.  It is like hunger- it’s going to come and go.  I can be happy when I buy a new pair of pants, but by the time I get home I can be completely angry about something.  But joy… joy is deeper.  It is more foundational.  Joy has to do with our spirit.  Happiness has to do with our circumstances.  Joy has to do with how we view the world and ourselves.

Joy is an interesting emotion.  Most would say they want to experience joy; they want to feel it.  But in truth, I think letting ourselves really experience joy and hope is actually a very scary prospect.  What if?  What if it doesn’t work out?  What if it is taken away from me?  What if it doesn’t happen? What if she don’t get better?  What if…  Joy leaves us feeling exposed, and whenever we feel exposed, our instinct is to protect.  We “protect” ourselves from the uncertainty of joy by throwing it away with worst case scenarios and cynicism.  We give it away before it can be taken away.  We think we’re protecting ourselves, but really we are depriving ourselves.

But what if you let yourself have hope?  What if you let yourself get excited about that thing on the horizon?  What if you danced in the midst of your fear and anxiety?  We are our bravest when we give ourselves permission to have hope and joy when all signs in our life point in a different direction.  We're not talking about a “smile and never let ’em see you sweat” philosophy.  That is denial.  That is self-protection run amuck.  That is dangerous.  We're talking about acknowledging your fear and your pain- not denying it- and giving yourself permission to feel  joy.  We're talking about letting yourself exhale.

What we see in the video is that in the midst of real fear and pain and uncertainty, those patients gave themselves permission to dance, to laugh, and to be silly.   That is courageous.  And what we can readily assume is that when the camera stopped rolling those same patients gave themselves permission to cry and rage and pound their fists when they needed to.  That is brave.   It's the type of brave that takes your breath away.

Whenever you allow yourself to have hope when you know the possible reality, you are being brave.  Whenever you allow yourself to feel joy when your instinct is to throw it away out of protection, you are being courageous.

Are you brave enough to hope?  Are you courageous enough to feel joy? 

You Want Me to Share What?!?: Lessons In Vulnerability

I always find it interesting when I discover reoccurring themes in my conversations with individuals.  Although we think we are the only ones, we all wrestle with very similar concerns.  At the top of that list is our struggle with knowing how to open up and share our thoughts and feelings with others instead of stuffing them and keeping them inside.  For many, we don’t know how to open up.  We do not know what to share or where to start, and we are afraid to share because we don’t know how it will be received.  As a result, we keep our story to ourselves, and we use smiles as Band-Aids to cover our aching hearts. We stuff so many of our thoughts and feelings that eventually we end up like a balloon filled with too much air and ready to pop.  We let air out of our balloon by sharing our story, and this means leaping into vulnerability.   This means we have to open ourselves and let ourselves be truly seen.

Sometimes when I encourage people to be vulnerable and share with someone what is going on with them, they usually give me that look that says, “You want me to do what?  You must be crazy!  I’m not telling someone that!”  Beginning to practice vulnerability feels a little unnerving at first, especially if you have spent most of your life guarded behind a series of impenetrable walls.

As I have shared before, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown’s research and writing on shame and vulnerability.  She defines vulnerability as risk and emotional exposure.  Vulnerability is that heart racing moment when you do or say something that pushes you outside of your normal pattern and routine.  Vulnerability is scary because it does feel like a risk to put yourself out there and deal with the uncertainty that accompanies letting your guard down.  Being vulnerable does not mean we are weak, weepy, needy, or clingy.  Being vulnerable means we are strong and courageous because it takes courage to show our brokenness and talk about our mistakes.

This emotional risk naturally begs the question- who can we open up to?  With whom do we take the leap of vulnerability?  Brown says that you share with the people who have “earned the right to hear.”  We share with those who have earned the right to truly see us and know our story.  So what does that mean in practical terms?  We share with those who give us empathy and compassion, who listen without judgment and without trying to offer a solution or a “look on the bright side” reframe.  We tell our story to those who demonstrate discernment, wisdom, and the ability to keep our confidence.  We open ourselves up to those who show up not only for us, but also to us.

So am I encouraging you to lay it all out there for every Susie, Sally, and Sandy to see?  Heavens no!  There is a difference between being vulnerable and oversharing.  Oversharing is not vulnerability.  Oversharing actually inhibits true relationship building and ends up being a barrier to connection.  People overshare for a variety of reasons.  The trick is becoming aware of when and why we are oversharing.

  1. Sometimes we overshare as a way of testing others to see if they can “handle” us or if we are going to be too much for them.
  2. Other times we overshare because we are experiencing something so painful that we just have to purge it from our minds.  We start sharing without taking into consideration if the person is a safe, close friend who will respond with empathy and compassion.
  3. Lastly, we may overshare as a way of trying to create an immediate, albeit false, bond with someone.  We have such a strong desire to create some sort of attachment that we try to jumpstart connection without laying the necessary groundwork to a true relationship.

 

When we begin practicing vulnerability and sharing our story, we want to do so in a relationship that has a strong enough foundation to bear the weight of the information that is shared.  Our level of vulnerability matches the level of closeness in the friendship.  As you grow closer, you go deeper in vulnerability, and as you go deeper in vulnerability, you grow closer.  Vulnerability creates intimacy.

If you are nervous about beginning to practice vulnerability, remind yourself it is baby step process.  Start in the shallow end and work your way into the deep waters.  Remember, we share with those who have earned the right to hear.  This isn’t a race.  There is not a “Best at Vulnerability in Friendship” prize waiting for you at the finish line.  There are people out there who want to know you as much as you would like to be truly known.  Vulnerability is truly the gateway to connection.

What is an act of vulnerability you could take in one of your relationships today?  What is something you could try, create, or share with someone? 

 

Brown, Brené, Ph.D., LMSW. (2012). Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. New York:  Gotham Books.

Thoughts for Thursday- Owning Your Story

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This week I had the pleasure of speaking to Peachtree Presbyterian’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group.  What a wonderful group of women!  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak on the power of our personal stories and what it means to embrace the beautiful and messy parts of our story.  When we choose to embrace our stories we are saying I am going to show up and be seen.  I am no longer going to hide and play up one part of myself while I play down another.  I am going to be brave.

Owning our story takes courage because too often we feel it is easier to stay quiet.   We want our story to be different or we hide or ignore the parts  we don’t like or regret.    Sometimes we remain silent because we don’t know how to make sense of our story.  Other times we worry what people will think if they know this or that part of our story.  Perhaps we  may even suffer from story envy.  Why does her story seem so good, interesting, easy?  Why does my story always seem so complicated, hard, disappointing?

But hiding or holding onto parts of your story out of shame or bitterness means you are letting those painful chapters continue to injure and harm you.  You remain a victim.  Not talking about the broken family, the addicted loved one, the neglectful parent, the regrets, the lonely marriage, and the major life disappointments won’t make them go away.  Staying busy won’t silence those nagging thoughts for long.  Trying to look like you have it all together all the time will eventually wear thin.  You eventually have to face and own those troublesome parts.  If you don’t, they will continue to own you.

To embrace your story, you have to face your story.  You have to dig into the past, uncover the hurts, and rediscover what brings you joy.  In going through this process, you discover the theme and purpose for your life.  You learn that nothing in your life was pointless or a waste.

Embracing your story means you are choosing to be seen over hidden.  It means you are choosing grace over shame, courage over fear.  When you learn your story you can learn from your story.

What is your story teaching you today?   How can you start bravely embracing all the parts of your story?

Thoughts for Thursday- Let Your Light Shine

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Your playing small does not serve the world… Wow.  How powerful is that thought?  We play life small in so many ways.   It’s almost as if we are afraid to take up too much space, to have too many needs… to be too human.  But maybe by playing life small, we are actually creating more angst for ourselves.  Maybe it is the trying to be small that is making us feel so suffocated and discontent.  Maybe small isn’t working for us anymore.

Remember the little song you used to sing as a child This Little Light of MineThis little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  I won’t let anyone blow it out, I gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine.  Those words take on a whole new meaning in adulthood when fear, insecurity, loss, and disappointment threaten to cover our light.  You were born with a light and you were born to take that light around the world.  When we try to be small so as to please everyone and bother no one, we cover our light.

It takes courage to let your light shine.   And, thankfully, courage is contagious.  People see someone stepping out of the shadows and it gives them the inspiration to uncover their light.  Light brings forth more light.  It’s the best ripple effect ever.

How are you covering your light right now in your life?  How are you playing life small?  What is one thing you could do in the next week that brings you out of hiding and lets your light shine?

 

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I'm gonna take this light around the world and I'm gonna let it shine. I'm gonna take this light around the world and I'm gonna let it shine. I'm gonna take this light around the world and I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I won't let anyone blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine. I won't let anyone blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine. I won't let anyone blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Daring Greatly with the first Book Giveaway!

Over a year ago, I had the idea to create this blog.  I thought and brainstormed as to what I wanted this blog to be about and the various topics I wanted to discuss.   The first thing I thought of was the title, Voice Lessons for Today.  I knew I wanted this space to be about finding your true voice and the lessons we learn along the way.  One of my main goals was to provide a place to continue the conversation… continue the conversation that starts between friends over dinner, the conversation that occurs within a small group, the conversation between confidants, the conversation that begins in the counseling office. I also wanted to incorporate some fun features into the blog.  I love books, as I have mentioned before, and I love recommending books that have spoken to me in hopes of passing on the lessons and insights.  But why stop with recommending?  Why not start a book Giveaway?   So today is our first Book Giveaway!

Recently, I attended a three-day training in San Antonio with Brené Brown.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a huge fan of her work and books.  Brené Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and she writes on such topics as worthiness, overcoming the feeling of not being enough, and learning to practice courage and vulnerability by living authentically and boldly.  I am in the process of becoming a certified facilitator of her new workshop curriculum, The Daring Way.  The Daring Way curriculum is based on material and research from all three of her books, I Thought It Was Just Me, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.  Daring Greatly is her latest book and it is a New York Times bestseller.  The training was excellent!  I feverishly took notes and soaked up every ounce of information.   I gained a new way of looking at the age-old struggle of shame and heard powerful ideas on empathy, self-compassion, and learning to live courageously.  The weekend was inspiring to say the least.  Here are my Top Five Favorite Things I learned and heard over that amazing weekend:

 

1.     Until you are comfortable with the reality of failure as always a possibility, you will never have innovation, creativity, or freedom. Practicing vulnerability means embracing risk, uncertainty, and the possibility that you may fail.  Vulnerability is showing up and letting yourself be seen.

So true!  Nothing paralyzes us more than the fear of failure.  We can literally stop trying anything new because we are afraid of failing.  What if we accepted failure is always an option?  What if we grew comfortable with the possibility of failure?  What if we took all the power away from this concept and viewed it as merely a possibility that we can overcome and learn from rather than a reason to not even try?

 

2.    You can be brave or you can be comfortable, but you can’t be both.

Love.

3.     Comparative suffering is one of the main ways we shame and silence ourselves.

Comparative suffering is when we tell ourselves we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way because there is someone who has it worse.  Yes, there is always someone who has it worse than we do and perspective and gratitude are extremely important in building resiliency.  But comparative suffering silences our sadness, which does need to be voiced because it is only by truly feeling our emotions that we can be free of them.  More on this to come!

 

4.  You cannot offer others more compassion than you are able to give to yourself.  If you struggle to give yourself compassion, then you will eventually struggle to practice compassion with others because you will feel resentful when you are expected to give it to another.

So many good nuggets here, especially when you think about why you may struggle with being empathetic with certain people in your life or at certain times in your life.  If you are struggling to understand and be empathetic to others, perhaps that is a sign that you are starving yourself of self-compassion.  (This is particularly important for helping professionals to consider.)

 

5.     When in doubt, be human.

Well, that about says it all.

 

In honor of my excitement over the training, our first book to give away is Daring GreatlyDaring Greatly discusses the ideas above, as well as learning to courageously practice vulnerability by showing up and truly being seen in your life.  If we embrace risk and uncertainty, that inner critic has much less volume, and we will discover that life is much better when we step into the arena than when we are sitting in the cheap seats.

So here is how the Giveaway is going to work:  if you are looking for a great read for that upcoming vacation and would love to have a copy of the book or perhaps saw Brené on Oprah or heard her TED talk and are interested in learning more about how to live courageously in the face of uncertainty, then either leave me a comment below or send me a message through the contact form.  I will draw two names at the end of the week and mail the winners a copy of the book!  (Be sure and leave your email address so I can contact you for your mailing address.)  Happy First Book Giveaway and have a great week!

 

 

It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly…”               Theodore Roosevelt