If each of our lifetimes is a string of continuous events, sometimes, the combination of that major event, our reaction to it and the people involved become a bit like a knot that forms in the string, needing to be untangled at some point in order for that experience to serve us and those we will journey with going forward (personally and professionally) in ways that will best serve our growth and theirs. One of the acts of healing that often needs to happen in order to help untangle those knots, redefine the stories that bind us and allow us to be fully available for our life purpose/s again, is an act of forgiveness. How the conversation will look, who it involves (self or others), what each needs to hear and how each of us needs to be loved in those moments to heal looks and feels a little different for everyone.
Sometimes it just feels too big or painful. I know that one intimately. But here too is a working example of this kind of healing conversation in motion. A few weeks back, I was reminded of one of my own blame stories i hadn't forgiven me for while watching the movie The Shack (2017). Many people have heard me talk over the years of my Mum's death having happened 2 days before my 9th birthday (an interesting karmic entanglement i think alone, given that my Mum was in labour with me for 72 hours and it was a very difficult, breached, forcep delivered birth, in which, in my experiences of exploring it, it felt like there was an element of at least fearing one of us wasn't going to make it that went beyond the psychological death any Mother must go through in the process of birth to become a Mother. For that reason, (with maybe a small hint, ok maybe massive pinch of a co-dependent mother-daughter attachment and over-responsibility thrown in) the windows of my birth and her death have always felt undeniably related. But the deeper concern for 8, about to be 9 year old me, was the fact that my Father, my Grandfather and my brother (as well as I) didn't get to say goodbye to my Mother by 5 minutes while at least 2 hours of those last minutes were spent collecting me from a birthday celebration for me I was admittedly already concerned about having at a time we knew was coming close to being her last few days (and after they'd dropped me off, she later took a turn for the worse and the hospital staff decided it was time and so a new string of events for the day was planned.)
After i watched that movie, in which at least one of the characters is an older sister blaming herself for many of the events in the movie, the 8 year old, within the grown up in me came to the surface and cried and cried. To her, to knowingly stop someone from being able to say goodbye to someone they love would be unforgivably, overwhelmingly huge in the direction of a belief that says 'you just don't do that." Her self blame and maybe others at least perceived blame, became a part of one big knot that needed to be healed in the string of my life.
So grown up me had a job to do to help her forgive herself and see the story in a new way. I had to mentally hold her and reassure her that there are a string of so many decisions and events made by many people that lead up that moment, so she's not to blame. I had to tell her that, even if karmicly speaking, our Mother and I did have this weird link between our births and deaths, our Mother's decision and timing of departing, her emotional processes full stop were her own axe to grind and not little me's burden to bear, so to maybe let that one go. And finally, if she was so worried that her being here had done so much harm that in some way contributed to her Mother's departure, as i followed my gut on what needed to be said to heal through this process, I asked her to consider, that what if, (i don't talk about this much all the time now, but in years past, adult me has done a lot of Reiki/hands on healing, as well as Neo-Shamanic work with family, friends and clients and watched some rather remarkable things happen during and after those sessions in terms of halved recovery times, improvements of pain and physical conditions and amazing turn-arounds in emotional wellbeing and life circumstances, which defy logical scientific explanation and testability, hence you can't claim a cure or guarantee an outcome, yet) what if, with all her crazy, funky "healing abilities" or even just being HER, is it possible that, actually she helped her Mother to have another 7 years on this planet she wouldn't have otherwise had BECAUSE she came through as her daughter? How many amazing things happened in that extra 7 years? Her brother was born for one, and has gone on to be amazing and have two gorgeous kids, her Mother was a social worker and lord knows how many more people she helped in that extra time before she got sick. Not to mention she herself grows up to have a fairly positive impact in the lives of tens of thousands of people in the Wellness and other service based industries over the years, helping them to change their own lives for the better....there might just be a little something in that. But in the end, it wasn't her job to do it FOR her Mum, no matter how much help she got, only each person themselves in the end can make the choices and do the things for themselves that will see them heal and grow as adults, or not. In her Mother's case, it was her time. There's nothing more she could've done to change that. So is what she thought still true? Or does she maybe see things a little differently now? And can she maybe let it go? And everyone else's stuff in it that isn't hers go? And get back to that promise she made to give her all to living a life she loves? I finished that imaginary conversation and then left that information, that change of perspective to integrate.
A week later, i now have no charge around something that, 2 week ago it felt completely overwhelming and had seen me altering my behaviour around birthdays, celebrations and in how i engage in relationships for decades. Re-contextualising that story in 8 year old me's head allowed her/me to move from blame to forgiving myself, hence starting to untangle that knot and any related knots and now we/ I am free to engage in life and human connection, in business, in leadership in a whole new way.
That distinction between the blame we hold for ourselves or another, over the power we ourselves have to heal and resolve the situation entirely for ourselves and hence find the thread in the string that leads to forgiveness, is a big one for many of us.
The trouble with choosing “I can’t” or “I won’t” is that we can keep ourselves (and possibly others) tied in knots in ways that prevent us being able to engage in life fully in future, in ways that keep our hearts closed and walled off, or flat out preoccupied with our own process, where we might have otherwise, as Mack says to his eldest daughter in The Shack, have available bandwidth to be there for others, personally and professionally. Our thread, like a piece of wool being fed into the loom, along with many other threads of wool (people around us), when it is tangled, struggles to be weaved into the rich tapestry of life, of love, of Leadership and the picture of service and abundance that we have intended to be a part of. This potentially leaves us with a story defined by pain and suffering to tell too, a story of potential victimhood or loss or war. Over a story of triumph over the odds, of lessons learned, or one of healing, empowerment, gratitude and determination, despite whatever it was that went down.
Does this really best serve what we really deserve in life? Does it really best serve our future relationships, or our clients by the quality of the story we have to tell and how much of ourselves we have available to give? What potential version of a future us would we ourselves find most inspiring, loving and supportive, if we were the one on the receiving end of us? In the end, only each person can choose to go there or not for themselves. That internal sensation of peace and relief that arrives when we arrive at that place called forgiveness, may not always happen on the instant gratification schedule that we wish it would either, especially when it involves forgiving ourselves, sometimes that healing takes a commitment to repeatedly showing up to have a conversation with the part of oneself that hasn’t forgiven and let go, to ask it what it needs now to heal many more times than just one, until all associated mental threads of our own within the knot can accept it or we've cut free the threads of others tangled with our own string within it, But any time we’re struggling to show up for those moments, I find it helps to remember the people we love and who love us the most as well. To remember everyone we are yet to love and all of the people we will go on to one day help and inspire. And do it for them. Be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be for them. No matter what has been said or done, it’s never to late to change the story and choose the path of future happiness and love.
Until next time, have fun, take care
We discussed some of the challenges i went through at the start of my Wellness speaking career, as opposed to the years of standing on stage as a Character in the realm of live theatre and comedy performances (totally different thing!) And i share some of the strategies I'd been taught over the years and have been sharing with clients over the years to help them bust through their fears about public speaking, to be able to put themselves out there more confidently than ever before.
Some of the things we cover:
-replacing "nervous with service" (credit for that one to Matt Church, Col Fink and Sacha Coburn) and why this is so powerful in application
-the stages we go through in speaking up and owning our voice and how to become ok with speaking your truth in a heart-centred way
-how childhood experiences influence our adult communicating and relating capacity and contribute to the fears we can face stepping on stage as adults and some of the therapeutic modalities and one powerful strategy that can be utilised to help manage and resolve these
Click on the picture above or here to listen or download on iTunes, it's episode 25 and approximately 40mins
If you have any questions or would like some support to help you speak and lead with infinitely greater confidence in your Wellness or Service Based Business, I've just made some new session times available in August, which you can see and book in for below and i'll be in touch asap with all the details.
Until then, have fun, take care.
I hope you’ve had an interesting and peaceful week for those of you in school holiday mode right now. I’ve had an interesting one doing those terribly fun things you do when you’re transferring life and work related registrations interstate….this whole jumping aboard the NSW train is all getting pretty real now. Earlier in the week, I had set up a few meetings, interviews and events to go to..
Mid week I found myself at one, at one point, pulling an impromptu 5 min sales presentation out of my butt on an imaginary service I just invented and delivered it to a group of like minded peeps, also interested in making a difference in the world, we all did in fact. I’m always my biggest critic and I’m judging to the level of the part of me that once beat 750 other people to get into performing arts school, so I thought maybe that was ok for someone with my level of Training and Business and Sales Mentoring experience, was a bit nervous, might’ve looked a bit flat. After the facilitators left the room for a bit, the room started to chat. After a few bits of feedback to each other and the nearest neighbours on theirs, and me to mine, it was like the whole room all at once, in sync turned to me with the OMG face, to tell me that they thought mine was freaking amazing, how did I do that, it was so real, I was so confident, what’s my background?” …and suddenly I’m feeling myself with an audience attuned to my every word, like the elder at story time, asking for Mentoring (which I’m conscious of NOT doing in someone else’s space, because, well, it’s their space). In truth, for a group of people pretty new to this, I thought they did remarkably in fact and I told them that too as the Facilitators returned. Fifteen minutes later, I get offered a contract. And on the way out the door with the group, every single person was wanting to connect next week or soon for public speaking and sales mentoring. If I’d been asking for signs in the lead up to the new moon this week about what elements of training and experience I should add to my re-launch plan from September, I think that was a fairly decisive indicator.
What is it that we do in our "inner game" so to speak that helps us shift from that initial fear and uncertainty, to eventually being able to deliver a short piece like that with positive impact and this perceived level of expertise? I was interviewed by a colleague for a podcast last week, in which I was talking about the internal and external transformations start up business owners go through in putting themselves out there in the early stages of business and stepping into their personal leadership. In that podcast, I talk about my journeys both in the performing arts realm in initially getting on stage for performance purposes and about my later journey when it first came to speaking in the Wellness and Personal Development Industries at a professional level. About both the challenges that I personally had to grow through, along with the mindset, healing and practical strategies I implemented to build my confidence and resilience in putting myself, my wisdom and message out there on a bigger scale, as a leader and speaker. There’s a bit of insight on why what I delivered this week hit the mark in there and it will go live next Friday. Stay tuned to my Facebook or She Lives a Life She Loves page for updates this week if you’d like to check it out.
As i reflected upon some of the other mindset shifts that i've either shared with start up clients in recent years or that i felt have made a difference for me personally in how i show up on stage over the years, here's another 3 inner game insights i'd add:
No 1: Always approach every single opportunity to speak with both gratitude and respect for both the opportunity and the people in the room. Part of the gratitude to them is cultivating your ability to be present to and recognise the uniqueness and amazing potential of each person sitting in that audience. The more you can stand on a stage, connected to your heart and soul and look at any one of them from that place, the more they feel like you really see them and are talking straight to them, before you've even opened your mouth with relevant content.
No 2: Let go of your attachment to giving a shit what people think of you. The more of authentic you you put out there, the more some people are going to fall in love with you the more they learn about and see you and the more the others who don’t gel with you (or aren’t ready to pick up either what you’re putting down or to grab the boomerang of projection they just threw at you) will self select out, declaring to people, I don’t know what it is about her/him, but I just don’t like them. Maybe some days you’ll speak and everyone will say that you rocked it. And some days you will speak and learn from it. What’s most important of all though at the end of the day is what you think of you. That’s the one thing you always have complete and total control over. What can you reassure yourself with that helps you believe that you belong there? Last but certainly not least,
No 3: Every time you step onto a stage, online or live, learn to own that space like you belong there and take up space like what you say is worthy of being heard. When you vow to give it your everything and do your best to be of service, it also becomes easier to believe that you belong there. I like to remind myself too (this is slightly hippy whoo whoo) that If you’ve created or been offered that opportunity, remember too, you have a soul contract with all of the people there to be of service in delivering what you know that they came to hear. So in that respect, you’re not just showing up where you belong, but in every respect embracing your destiny and the potential of who you came here to be. So every time going forward now that you step onto a stage, any stage, own that stage, take up that space like you belong there. The more you speak and the more your audiences share their experience of you with you, the more you too will come to believe it.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
3 Individual and Collective Shifts that will Dramatically Improve our Relationships and Help De-escalate the Battle of the Sexes
We're all unavoidably seeing it and feeling it this year aren't we, the moment you jump on social media, the news or often when you walk out the door. Maybe at home, maybe at work...it's on the conversational docket....the battle of the sexes has really escalated 10 points up this year, hasn't it? It's more the question than ever now, how do we love and honour each other and support each other in this new climate, individually and collectively to heal and move through this and realise our highest potential? I say with a lot of love (at the same time as not wanting to get caught up in past wounds or the drama, yet knowing i know so much right now that can help, for those who are interested to read or discuss it), while at times its very painful to watch and experience, there also exists a lot of hope, because now, NOW we're really getting down to what we really need to heal and move forward, individually and collectively as people together. To truly honour each other and support each other to realise our highest potential. This blog is about a few additional communication related insights and practices i'd been contemplating this week that i think can help.
One point of confusion that has been on my mind very strongly this week, that comes up when we raise an issue/a point of being triggered in response to something or someone's words or deeds to the surface is the defensive reaction to it many of us have, like we've just been, like our very personality and character has just been personally attacked. This is a tricky one in the West. Because of how we've been conditioned to build our identities and self worth. Because very often, when someone asks about who you are, the innate social response is to to ask you what you do. In the West our behaviour and what we've achieved through our behaviour (not always, but often) has become one of the main sources of much of our self worth and much of our identity and personality. To the point that often, many, not all, but many people consciously think they ARE their behaviour, they are the job role they do, they are the things they've achieved. Which is great, until one thing happens; us receiving negative feedback about something that we've done/not done or created. If we have become identified with that we ARE our behaviour and our actions and achievements, if we've come to believe that our value in life is solely determined by these, then it can feel devastating and de-stabilising of one's entire reality and or the acknowledgement of one's "failures' if one is told they fell short in their own or in someone else's eyes. Even more traumatic if we've been punished and felt we've had love and forgiveness withdrawn from us along with our past failures at some point in history, and now fear the same will happen again.
Suddenly, what could be somewhat objective in discussion can become highly sensitive. If we're identified with what we do as who we are, we can take it like the person calling us to reflect on our words or deeds attacked who we are, our core identity... and when our core ego, our sense of self feels under attack, we often, not always, can go into flight flight and high defence mode. Fearing the loss of love and relationship that might come with it if we didn't measure up and can't "fix" any perceived "wrongdoing."
One teeny tiny fundamental truth remains though, in psychological and behavioural terms. We are actually NOT our behaviour or soley defined by our achievements. If we look at our identity like a cake for a moment, our our soulful identity is the cake, our personalities are made up of all kinds of yummy ingredients that went into that cake. Our behaviours that lead to achievements or not are like the icing and decorations you put on top to make it even sweeter (or maybe didn't manage to make yet). And you can get all kinds of next level creative with that. Is a cake or lemon meringue pie completely horrible thought without the decoration or meringue? No, it’s cake. Or made the right way, it’s a brownie or a slice and it’s amazing. A lemon meringue pie is a lemon tart without the egg white fluff. My point? Perhaps we do not cease to be awesome just because of what we did or didn’t achieve or how we did or didn’t behave. We as humans, our value, or lovability or worth is perhaps NOT solely determined by what we have said or done, or by the sum total of either our wins or past mistakes. And therefore, when someone gives us feedback about what their experience was of our behaviour in the form of something we did or didn’t do, it might help to remind ourselves that they are not attacking our character and our value, worth and lovability as a human being by default, they are simply commenting on something that we said or did and what their experience was when they witnessed that. Sometimes that might not even really BE about us. Sometimes it helps to ask what's REALLY going on here, before we automatically take it on like it is.
What might the difference between a character attack and asking someone about something they said or did e.g. their behaviour/their actions look like in practice?
Examples of a character attack:
Sorry, forgive me for a moment while we get a bit blunt...
"you're a piece of @#$S excuse for a man" "you're a heartless angry b@#$ and a sl#t" "f@#$ your stupid (insert racial/minority/political affiliation or viewpoint stereotype)" “nice job f@#$ing up your KPI’s this week dickhead” ”piss off with your stupid trauma victim s@#$" (e.g. what is really going on is “I feel triggered/angry/upset/let down right now” but it comes across expressed as blame of the other party, in some cases combined with a label about their identity or personality said with the intention of degradation or possible imitation. The aim is often cathartic relief/release, where “@$#@ off is added, it’s essentially meaning “I feel you’ve just crossed my boundary and I’m not cool with that” but it’s what we add onto the end that makes it a character attack. The one about KPI’s points to “can I have a chat with you about how you're going right now? (in a job where this person is accountable to the outcomes of their quality of work they’d agreed upon) Is something going on, what do you need, can I support you with anything?” But that version above might be perceived as an attack, even though the real issue is about their performance/behaviour, not their character. What is expressing to the other in these ways ultimately helping resolve, when an attack of their identity is added on the end? Is it the most constructive way to build a relationship? Does it actually solve alone in and of itself the problem? Or does it add petrol to an already flaming fire? Then what? Is there a way to do it, minus what might be interpreted by the other as a verbal low blow?)
Example of addressing a behaviour and people feeling triggered:
(this is the paraphrasing of an actual conversation that was highly effective in resolving about 3 years worth of wounding and tension, when we both sat with each other in a place of heart centred compassion for each other and those wounds:
"Thank you for taking the time to sit down and have a chat with me. I really appreciate it and ............... (insert whatever positive and authentic thing you appreciate about the connection comes to mind.) I just wanted to have a chat to you about what happened earlier, because it seemed like maybe we were both a bit upset within that interaction. Would you say that's how it was for you? Can I ask you what your experience was of what i said and did and what (in their words) it was that upset you?"
Then you listen to their side, reflect on what was said and where needed, take responsibility for anything you need to and are willing to give to make the connection work.
Then you might express that you'd like to share how it was for you now if that’s ok and when they give permission, explain what it was that you reacted in response to, in terms of what they said and what they did and any known triggers you know you already had (so that they have a chance to come to understand why that’s a point of sensitivity for you. The combination of one being willing to hear compassionately, completely shifts the whole energy of the conversation instantly, from one party feeling attacked or unsafe and hence going into fight mode, to feeling safe to be vulnerable and express how they really feel.)
Then the person sharing about their experience might explain how that relates with their ideas and values on how they would like to be treated. Then the idea might be to come to a resolution on what you can both do differently to respect what the other needs and wants in the connection and will help you work together or relate together how you'd both ideally like to moving forward. Both sides need a turn on this. And it can’t be a one off, the agreed outcomes have to be followed through on and communication to become a part of an ongoing relational conversation for the impact of this kind of conversation to last.
This is but one example of many that could work, but can you see the difference between the two examples of personal attack v's addressing something someone said or did in a way that will build and deepen trust, safety and connection in any form of relationship? And why one might be more effective than the other in supporting the other and being supported to heal and realise our highest potential?
Self Responsibility and The impact Zone
As Learning Theory and Psychological theory under the headings of Cognition, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might suggest to us, in the cascade of the process of how we think and react to any given experience, e.g.
External event/stimuli > references mental database of experience to make sense of this > thinks thoughts > quality of thoughts triggers physiological changes in the body > and the experience of emotions in response to the external stimuli
We have been taught that what each person personally experienced is of their own creation, as they are the one thinking their own thoughts, referencing their own past learnings and framework of understanding of the world and having a cascade of emotions and physiological responses to something they’re experiencing in the external world.
Just as we are responsible for our own choices of words and deeds in the world.
BUT is it that simple alone? Think about these scenarios for a second: (again, let me just pre-warn you, this is about to get a bit emotive!)
Supposed me or some guy you hardly know are visiting you at your house and state we want to take half an hour to get naked and pleasure ourselves on your kitchen bench, regardless of whatever you do. “What, you just reacted to that? Love, you need to take responsibility for your reactions here. I’m not responsible for them. I’m just expressing myself over here.”
Example 2: suppose my (fictitious) monogamous BF of the last 10 years and I just broke up 10 mins ago and he’s now kissing my best friend, next to three of our other friends in our lounge room and he says to me “What? Seriously, you just need to own your projections and your reactions. I'm not responsible for how you feel. If you cared about me, you’d be happy for me right now. We want to be together right now. Go deal with your stuff.”
Example no 3: You’re sitting at a cafe with a friend. A guy driving a rubbish truck drives up and parks out front. Several of the bins are a few metres from you. He starts emptying them into the truck and dropping them loudly back on the ground, the second one bounces off the first and nearly hits you. He says, “what? I’m just doing my job!” Seriously, can you just take some responsibility for your reactions please? They’re not my problem.”
How does each of those sit with you? How does it make you feel, if you put yourself in that scenario?
Does the “own your reactions, own your behaviour” help or hinder do you think in each scenario? Does the rule excuse a character attack, breaking the law, or what might be perceived as a moral infringement of the values, boundaries or literal safety of someone close to us?
It’s not quite that simple in the end, in practice, hey, when you want to actually maintain and build relationships?
What is The Impact Zone?
Because there’s actually a middle zone between reactions on one side and behaviours on the other. I call that the impact zone. It’s the inevitable zone in any given human relationship where we have to set the ground rules and set the vision and expectations about what is and isn’t acceptable in this particular relationship. Some of those have been collectively determined already for us and are called laws. They regulate the big things we all collectively decided weren’t cool, like people saying “I want the freedom to punch people in the face whenever I’m upset”….Western society literally voted no to this and there is as a law reflecting this.
To take it down a few notches of intensity, for every given two people, there are also values and moral standards and codes we will develop and refine within each unique connection which each of the two people involved determine as they interact and attempt to be of service to one another's growth e.g. behave and react and hence IMPACT each other in each other’s presence. This process is often done completely on auto pilot and subconsciously at the start of new relationships, sometimes consciously, but it always happens, even when, as David Deida would’ve once put it, we're being as self responsible as we can and we evolve to the phase of relationship where it’s all about “how do I be of service to the other to help them reach their highest potential? That process STILL happens under the surface. And it's still needed.
In the current 2018 social climate of individualisation however, as Esther Perel discussed it in The Future of Love presentation, what is required now of each gender and individual in relationship has forever changed now. Because as a society we’re now so focused on “how does this express who I am and what I stand for?” And “what is my life purpose? How do i live that and reach my highest potential and be who I’m here to be in all aspects of life?” Having a traditional universal gender role definition for how we should behave as wives and husbands in general or as bosses or employees or clients in any given role actually isn’t going to work now, so much as it's now a starting point for a conversation to evolve. We’re evolving to a point where each relationship and the parameters within it, need to be defined by the two people creating that relationship, which its now more important than ever to understand the self reflective processes, the visualisation and intentional processes, the self accountability processes and heart centred communication processes that we can implement to successfully create and grow each unique relationship, at work and at home. This is a MASSIVE cultural shift and role re-definition we’re going through. It's no wonder so many people are freaking out right now as all genders are being called to let go of the old ways and create individual new ones that work for each, case by case, right? I don’t know about you, but that busts my heart open about 100metres wider in just wanting to give the whole world a giant hug.
Understanding the difference between Blame v’s Personal Accountability
What though is really the difference between blame and accountability when it comes to the impact zone? Blame might be defined as putting 100% responsibility on the other person for whatever has happened (wether literally or projected). Whereas accountability might be defined as asking someone to take responsibility for their part of what they’ve contributed to the impact zone, knowing that both parties in a relationship contribute the impact zone by being participants in the dynamic. Two people means 50/50 or at least shared responsibility for the outcomes. Does that make sense?
Having an understanding of these processes and putting them into practice can not only markedly improve the quality of communication in all of our personal relationships and contribute to the personal healing and hence growth of each party in the direction of the realisation of their highest potential. But also, collectively, on a communal, sociological level, incorporating these few understandings and putting into practice these few communication strategies could start to catalyse potential shifts and healing in the current polarisation that is happening between the genders as we all work to determine, how do we truly relate in ways that best serve each others growth towards the realisation of each and everybody’s highest potential now.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.