Wholehearted

imagesLately I’ve been enamored with Brené Brown’s work. She is a Social Scientist who is a researcher, storyteller, and speaker who inspires audiences to have conversations about difficult topics – in particular vulnerability and shame.

If I had titled this post shame would you have even read it? Please do….this information can have a profound effect on our Personal Mastery focus. Our shame may be driving us to not show up, be our true and authentic ourselves, and to speak our truth. Also, this entire post isn’t about shame or vulnerability.

Brené shares three things we need to know about shame:

  1. We all have it. It is universal and the most primitive of human emotions we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection and are potentially psychopaths.
  2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
  3. The less we talk about it, the more control it has over our lives.

images-9Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy. Shame shows up in all of the familiar places including appearance and body image, family, parenting, money and work, health, sex, aging, and religion. To feel shame is to be human.

Brené want’s to have a national conversation about shame – how it shows up and how to manage it. Our lack of identifying shame and our inability to speak about it is causing us to perfect our lives and to keep playing those broken tapes of inadequacy in our heads.

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough. If we want to develop shame resilience, the ability to recognize shame and move through it while maintaining our worthiness and authenticity, then we have to talk about why shame happens.” – Brené Brown

images-10She has an amazing ability to explore these unspoken and painful topics using real stories of people who she’s studied and learned from. She also shares her very vivid life’s stories, thoughts, and feelings about how she struggles with vulnerability and shame in a genuine and humanistic way that her audience can’t help but connect with, giggle about, and understand. Her TED Talk on vulnerability is still one of my top 5 favs.

Because of Brené’s research and conversations with people who have figured out how to speak about and use vulnerability and shame to their benefit, she developed 10 Guideposts for what she calls Wholehearted Living. I consider them to be today’s updated version of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – you know what a fan of Covey I am so it shouldn’t be a shocker that I love Brown’s work. 🙂

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think – no mater what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough! It’s going to bed at night thinking; yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. Wholehearted living is not a one-time choice; it is a process. In fact, I believe it’s the journey of a lifetime.” – Brené Brown

10 guideposts for wholehearted living:

  1. Cultivating authenticity – letting go of what people think.
  2. Cultivating self-compassion – letting go of perfectionism.
  3. Cultivating a resilient spirit – letting go of numbing and powerlessness.
  4. Cultivating gratitude and joy – letting go of scarcity and fear.
  5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith – letting go of the need for certainty.
  6. Cultivating creativity – letting go of comparison.
  7. Cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.
  8. Cultivating calm and stillness – letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle.
  9. Cultivating meaningful work – letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to.”
  10. Cultivating laughter, song, and dance – letting go of being cool and “always in control.”

images-11Recently, I attended a daylong seminar called: Daring Way for Coaches in which we studied and pulled apart Brené’s 10 guideposts. Participants were asked: Which of the guideposts do we feel we’re living most fully now and feel like areas of strength that we can draw upon for resilience? I chose numbers 2, 4, 5, & 7.

The next question asked was: Which one or two guideposts would I like to focus and build upon after the seminar? I chose numbers 1 and 6. I felt that they would help propel me to live more wholeheartedly in lightning speed – yeah right!

It’s has been almost four months and I must admit that guidepost one is kicking my butt. Here are Brené’s thoughts  about authenticity….

  • Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we thing we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. (Check, I’ve got this mostly incorporated.)
  • Choosing authenticity means that we cultivate the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. (Nope, I don’t have this one. This has been tough for me because of my perfectionist critic. Perfectionist, party of one? Note to self: keep working on this one will ya? :))
  • We need to exercise the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. (I’ve been able to implement some of this but I have an inner critic that I’m battling that keeps questioning – What if others don’t think I’m enough? Where’s that critic sledgehammer! :))
  • Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving, even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives. (Okay, I’ve got critics or as Brené calls them gremlins that cause this practice to also be difficult. I need to remember that cultivating wholehearted living is a process and a journey of a lifetime so that I’m not so hard on myself!)

images-4Because of being enamored, I’ve been working on 1) a better understanding of and; 2) putting in a framework to manage those perfectionist tendencies. AKA the sledgehammer! 🙂 With awareness, focus, work, and time I know I’ll be able to call myself a recovering perfectionist and aspiring good enoughist.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Brené’s guideposts, I highly recommend picking up her book titled: The Gifts of Imperfection. She provides ideas and practices on each of the guideposts to institute so we can live a wholehearted life.

Get R Done!

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Larry the Cable Guy coined the phrase “Get R Done” and I’ve been a fan of how the act of saying it (especially the way he does) can help me buckle down and get things done. Just try it…………..see what I mean! 🙂 Getting R Done, AKA being task oriented, doesn’t always mean that a person has self-discipline. A person can be great at getting things done yet when they also focus on the steps and learning that will help them to grow then they are practicing self-discipline.

Some people view self-discipline as an act of religion or only practiced by up tight and prudish people. I say this just isn’t so!  Look at history and you will see that successful people aren’t successful because they are lucky. Successful people are successful because they are disciplined in their actions, thoughts, and words. They create goals and retain focus on them, they have an understanding that it takes willpower and hard, roll up your sleeves, and roll around in the muck work!

“Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There is a season for sowing and a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you to know which is which.” – Gary Ryan Blair.

Self-discipline isn’t just about having willpower and self-control, its about tackling the wants over needs constant message in our heads. It’s about making choices when our goals are about to get railroaded and choosing to have a long-term focus rather than a short-term focus. And no…self-discipline doesn’t have to mean self-denial. It’s knowing the big picture and how our choices and actions will effect when we reach our targeted goal.

Before we can start practicing self-discipline we need to understand ourselves.  When we understand who we are and what we are capable of, we can then focus on mindful awareness of what we are doing or not doing to get things done. When we identify undisciplined behaviors we can then make a course correction to eliminate them. Maybe try keeping a log when these situations happen so that you can track your progress in remaining self-disciplined.

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The practice of self-discipline won’t work without your conscious commitment to the process. We need to follow through on what we say needs doing. If needed, ask for an accountability partner to help ensure that you are working on staying focused and Getting R Done!

“Self-discipline is awareness of consequences.” – Dalai Lama

Embrace the difficulty of staying disciplined. Self-discipline can be a hard thing to do guys! Listening to that devil on your shoulder sometimes can seem more fun and gratifying yet we need to rely on the angel on the other shoulder to guide our focus back to the big picture and the end goal.

Train your inner voice to help you to Get R Done! This process can help you to regain focus when its lost and to have the courage to keep working to move forward. Remember that the price of discipline is always less than the price of regret.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” – Jesse Owens.

If we can view self-discipline as a positive effort rather than a mode of denial we can create new habits of thoughts, actions, and words to improve our ability to motivate ourselves to persevere until our goal is achieved.

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A friend asks me each week what I’ll be sharing in my next blog post. Actually, his positive feedback has helped me remain disciplined in maintaining my blog! He is my unofficial accountability partner. 🙂 He recently shared with me that he is motivated by reading my blog topics but he is struggling with how to pull it all together. I shared with him that he has great timing because the pulling together of Personal Mastery concepts requires self-discipline! Here’s my take on it:

  1. Timing is everything. Whatever time of day you are most effective cherish and guard this time. Use it to work on the steps you need to Get R Done! For me, I’m most effective early in the morning so I block out that time to work on my current two primary goals. The first goal is my coaching certification course work and the second is writing for my blog.
  2. Write your goal down. Don’t keep it in your head – because that’s where it will stay! Build a plan to reach your goal by breaking it into workable parts. Again ask for an accountability partner if you’re concerned that the devil on your shoulder my override your drive and focus. This is a difficult area for many people who are feeling stuck in the how too’s of goal setting. (Spoiler Alert! – goal setting or what I like to call goal achievement plans is the topic for next week post.)
  3. Create a vision of your goal and attach an emotional component to it. When emotion is involved we are much more likely to do the work needed to be successful. Attaching an emotion gives the motivation and energy we need to complete the tasks.
  4. Create a goal to do list and a daily to do list and prioritize them. Each workable part you created in step two have smaller tasks that need to be accomplished. The act of checking items off a list can also be a visual motivator to completing a task or reaching your goals.
  5. Don’t wait until you reach the end goal to celebrate. This is a very important step! Celebration of the small successes you’ve just achieved will keep you motivated to keep working at it. Self-discipline is hard but it shouldn’t be painful!
  6. Be positive and be persistent. You know what you want to achieve, you can visualize yourself achieving it, you can feel the joy and pride of accomplishment, and no mater how long it takes or how hard it is YOU CAN DO IT!!

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“Being self-disciplined is the number one component that creates long-term success and it is a required ingredient to accomplish our goals.” 

Knowing Your Beliefs

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“The only thing limiting us in life is our belief that there are limits!” – Author unknown

What are your personal beliefs and why are they important in the practice of Personal Mastery? Our personal beliefs are deep-seated thoughts and assumptions we hold that were formed in childhood. They are located within our conscience and sub-conscience and influence how we think and interact with others, the world, and ourselves. Early in life, messages and lessons from our parents, relatives, teachers and friends set the foundation of our beliefs. They are intertwined within our personality and become the rules we follow and filters we use to make decisions. Understanding our beliefs is part of understanding who we are.

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Our relationships with our family members, particularly our parents, have great influence in how we view and react to our beliefs. Some of our beliefs are positive such as most people are kind, I’m a good teacher, I’m intelligent. Some beliefs are negative and limit our ability to be our best such as I’m ugly or not smart enough.

Think about how the belief of being ugly would influence your self-esteem and confidence. If we believe we are ugly, our self-worth diminishes and we feel unworthy of love. First I’d like to say…no scream that no one is ugly! Let me say that again because sometimes women in particular allow our American culture of body perfection to influence what we believe about ourselves. NO ONE IS UGLY! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder means that the perception of beauty is subjective.

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“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” – David Hume

Most of us some time in life battle negative beliefs that threaten to derail our personal and profession success. Negative beliefs are otherwise known as limiting beliefs. As we mature, gain life experience, and are exposed to diverse ways of thinking we may realize what we believe may not be accurate.

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I realized in my 20’s that I held a limiting belief that I wasn’t smart enough. I took a psychology class which we reviewed our personal values and beliefs. We went through several exercises that helped me to uncover this belief, which started when my parents told me that I would be repeating second grade. It was the ultimate failure – If I couldn’t advance in school, I must be dumb.

I was a young second grader who was almost debilitating shy. I had just moved from another state and started a new school. I struggled with getting to know with my classmates (my introverted trait) and when I was at home I heard nothing but frustration and upset from my five older siblings about our move and the loss of their friends. My world was shaken and I was struggling to make sense of it.

Uncovering the limiting belief of not being smart enough was a life changer for me. It wasn’t because I wasn’t smart enough; emotionally I just wasn’t ready to move on! I didn’t understand this when I was in second grade. I had created a limiting belief, which caused a ripple effect with my education and learning until my early 20’s.

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The recognition of this belief took a weight off of my shoulders and gave me a huge confidence boost but, discovery was just step one of the process. I now needed to work on the replacement of it with a positive belief. I needed to tell myself (often by the way) that I was smart enough. Every time I thought I wasn’t, I would remember that this was untrue and to tell myself that I was. This change didn’t happen overnight and I must admit that there some occasions when this limiting belief rears its ugly head.

I’m a happy optimist through and through. I will always take the high road, look at the bright side, yes the glass is always half full 😉 and I’ll (almost always) turn the other cheek. It is a value my Mom instilled in me and one that I treasure deeply. This is also the value that got me through school up through my 20’s!

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali

Knowing our negative beliefs is a useful first step in conquering our limiting beliefs. There are many ways to identify these beliefs and to help us to work on the removal of them. Here is one site that reviews limiting beliefs and provides you guidance on how to remove them.

“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.” – William James

Knowing Your Personality

 “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

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Knowing yourself is how the Personal Mastery journey begins. This concept is the foundation to understanding what makes you YOU! We all need to understand what makes us tic. What is our personality type? What are our beliefs? What are our values? What are our natural strengths? Understanding these components can help us lead happier and more fulfilled lives.

After writing this “Know Yourself” post I realized that I needed to break this foundational Personal Mastery concept into several posts – heck my design with this blog is to capture your attention, make you think, and to help you to understand who you truly are so that you may be the happiest and most successful you can be! Realistically, I also recognized that we are all busy and our attention span is limited. There is only so much that can be discussed in one post. 🙂

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If you haven’t taken a personality quiz before, I highly recommend it. Your personality type is a part of your personal and professional “why.” Understanding your type is an opportunity to comprehend your deep-seated thoughts and unconscious processes. Here’s a site that is based off of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers’ approach to personality that will help you discover your personality type.

What I enjoyed about this site was that not only did they provide detailed information regarding your personality, they review how your personality type relates to others in the workplace, what your ideal career is, how do you parent, types of friends and lovers you relate to as well as your overall strengths and weaknesses. (Note: I’m not a fan of focusing on one’s weaknesses but I am a fan of understanding how to manage around them. More to come on this topic when we review or natural strengths in another Know Yourself post.)

It has been several decades since I’ve taken a personality quiz. Interesting, but not surprising, is that the outcome to the quiz was exactly the same. Not one change! This is one more piece of proof that you cannot change your personality in adulthood. You can only change your actions and behaviors.

So here’s where the personal sharing happens…Let me stand up proud and tall first……

I’m a INFJ!

What INFJ stands for is: Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging. I’m not a fan of the word judging but I also know that my Catholic upbringing instilled this trait in me. 😉

INFJ’s are fairly rare and have a strong humanitarian outlook. They tend to be idealists, prefer closure and completion, and are doers as well as dreamers. INFJ’s have a combination of vision and practicality which often results in taking on a disproportionate amount of responsibility. We are mistaken as extroverts because we are outgoing and genuinely interested in people. We enjoy having deep and long-term relationships with friends and family, have great empathy, and are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. INFJ’s self-expression comes more easily to us on paper and we tend to have strong writing skills. Yup, this is me in a nutshell.

Yes…….I’m an INFJ and proud of it!!!

You might be asking….. How much does it cost to get access to this information? Access to both the quiz and the information is free! There is no time like the present…..click here to take the quiz, read about your personality type, and gain valuable feedback to who you are!!

I would love to hear from you after going through this exercise. Please post a comment and reply to one or all of these questions:

  1. What were your results?
  2. Did you find it accurate?
  3. What did you discover and learn about yourself with the quiz?

The Power of Forgiveness

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“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – Steve Maraboli

We’ve all been hurt by the words or actions of others but the wounds left by hurt can lead to feelings of anger, bitterness and even vengeance. When we are hurt by someone we love and trust we put up walls and allow bitterness and our sense of injustice to foster negative feelings and actions. Our American culture emphasizes holding a grudge, paying back the ill begotten, and keeping score. If we don’t learn how to forgive we can become emotionally and physically ill.

There is a growing body of research on forgiveness that when we can forgive we are happier, more empathetic, and hopeful. Those who make it a habit to forgive are more likely than the general population to have:

  • Fewer episodes of depression
  • Higher self-esteem
  • More friends
  • Longer marriages
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Closer relationships
  • Fewer stress-related health issues
  • Lower rates of heart disease

I want these health benefits…don’t you?

Freedom to Forgive

Forgiveness is a decision to let go of your resentment, bitterness and anger. It eases the grip on how you emotionally relate to the hurt that you feel; it will help you to focus on the positives in life. Forgiveness doesn’t justify the hurt or remove the other person’s wrong doing, it allows you to come to terms with it and get on with your life.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forgiveness is a process of change. Start the process by reflecting on the facts, not the emotional effect, of the situation that caused the hurt. If you have multiple areas where you’ve been hurt, review each one separately. Ask yourself, what part did I play in the situation? How has it affected my life, my physical and emotional well-being?

Use the value of forgiveness and the importance it has on your ability to move forward with creating a positive and passionate life and to move away from the role of victim. Release the control and the power of the offending party or situation. As you let go of resentment, you’ll no longer define your life by those who have hurt you.

To have the offender change their actions or words isn’t the purpose of forgiveness. Forgiveness is about changing your life, bringing you peace, happiness and healing. It is about removing the power that offenders have. Forgiveness is a process more than it is a destination. Acknowledge that terrible things happen in life but commit yourself to making a difference and changing yourself.

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“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” – C.R. Strahan

This process isn’t just about forgiving others; it’s about forgiving yourself. Take some time to assess and acknowledge the wrong’s you’ve done and how they have affected others. But do not judge yourself too harshly – you are only human; you have and will continue to make mistakes. If you are truly sorry for what you’ve said or done to others in the past admit that you’ve caused harm and let those who you’ve offended know that you are sorry. Remove the excuses, speak the truth and ask for forgiveness. We cannot force someone to forgive us, but we can commit to treating others with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Forgiveness is not an easy process but it is one that can literally save your life.