Embracing Commitment

I want to share with you why I blog.

It’s a way to express my struggles and try to make sense of it all. I believe that as spiritual beings having a human experience, we’re all in the same boat to some extent. We all dream. We all have an imagination (whether we use it or not is a different story). We all struggle to learn the lessons and make sense of it all, forever in the onward and upward expansion of our lives. And hopefully, by sharing my journey, you understand that you are not alone in yours.

I also want to acknowledge it’s been some time since I’ve blogged. And to be honest, this post, I originally wrote almost a month ago. I’ve kept visiting, updating and editing. So much has happened in the past month and for some reason this post didn’t seem quite ready. Now, I understand it was me that wasn’t quite ready.

Up until last weekend this post was all about trust. Trust in myself and in the universe. It was going to be about my struggles to fund my dream (education in particular, and the huge expenses that seemingly come out of nowhere just to “test”). I was going to share some practices that helped increase the trust and tune into the right success frequency. Don’t get me wrong, this is still very important and I will still share in another post, but it I’ve come to realize it actually wasn’t what I was struggling with. The trust was part of a much, much bigger thing.

It was commitment.

I took a course last weekend that was all about exploring the different perspectives we hold and what can come available to us if we consciously choose a different perspective than the one that’s limiting us.

There were pieces of tape on the floor dividing the room into small segments and there was a sentence (perspective) in each of these segments. They said things like “limiting like a straightjacket”, “creates powerful intention” “a way to live my purpose” and “overwhelming”. The word commitment was put in the centre and we were asked to stand in the perspective that felt the truest to us.

Prior to this, I hadn’t consciously thought about my feelings around commitment and how they could be limiting me. I chose to stand in “other”. Commitment to me was elusive.

Elusive: (thank you Dictionary.com)

  1. Difficult to catch
  2. Preferring or living in solitude or anonymity
  3. Difficult to remember

I offer the definition because the word actually came to me before I had a good handle on what it meant. To me elusive was something you intend to incorporate into your life but it’s sneaky and always finds a way to evade capture. I liked the idea of commitment, but was it really for me? Because if it was, why did I have such a hard time following through?

By holding the perspective that commitment was elusive it made it someone/something else’s fault when I couldn’t follow through. By choosing to live this way I didn’t have to let anyone down (in theory), especially myself. What if I try to go for my dream and fail? What if I fall flat on my face? Well, what would happen if I didn’t go for it at all?

We were then asked to stand in the perspective that’s the least true for us. I chose “exciting and juicy”. Commitment to me was anything but exciting and juicy. It was filled with have tos and obligations. Missing out on y because I already committed to x. There was no spontaneity, no aliveness. I was then asked “what would be available to you if you took on this perspective?” For lack of a better word, I had an “awakening” (aka breakdown).

All I could feel was a tightness in my chest, in fact, I continue to feel it as I write this post. Over the past week that feeling and I are starting to come to terms with each other, it’s vulnerability.

All I could think of when they asked what’s available in the exciting and juicy perspective was intimacy (Dad if you’re reading this you may want to skip to the next paragraph FYI). Laying in bed with a partner, nothing to protect you, nothing to hide behind; only your soul and theirs. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it! That to me, is vulnerability.

Then I thought, what’s available to me when I’m vulnerable? What kind of relationship is available when I’m willing to be this way? What kind of life is available when I’m willing to be this way?

It’s scary shit. But it’s also beautiful. And powerful.

As you can sense, commitment now to me means something very different. Commitment to me is vulnerability. Its saying “I commit wholeheartedly to living the life I want to live, my dream”, which makes me intensely vulnerable. And finally, I’m okay with it.

Vulnerability to me means letting someone/something see all of the parts of you, not just the ones you allow them to see. It’s giving up control. It’s an exposure of the heart. It opens you up for hurt, pain, betrayal, and the sting of not getting what you want. But it also opens you up to a deeper love, joy, and sense of gratitude; and I choose the ladder. 2013-03-22-vulnerability

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Overcoming the Inner Critic

Critics

We all have it. That little voice in the back of our heads, barely audible, that chimes in the exact moment we get excited about doing something new, something that’s probably outside of our comfort zone. It says, oh you can’t do that. You’re not skilled enough. You don’t have the education. You want to what?! Follow your dream? Expand yourself in some way? I don’t think so!

And that voice, coaches call it the Saboteur. Pretty fitting in my opinion.

When I was first setting up the company my saboteur sounded something like “you can’t make a living from this”, “you’ll wind up broke in less than a year”, “you will never make it”. Even as recently as yesterday, I was having a conversation with my coach telling her all the reasons why I wasn’t going to take that next big step, even though it’s exactly what I want. She called me on it. I definitely didn’t particularly appreciate at the time; but it’s what I pay her for.

Why is this? Why does it have such a big impact? And, how can we make it work for us instead? Here some tips that have helped me multiple times on this journey.

  •  Acknowledge it’s presence. It does exist and everyone has one. However, you are not your saboteur. 
  • Understand its purpose. Your saboteur exists for a reason; it’s to keep you safe. It’s the one that says “don’t touch that” when you see something hot or the voice that comes up when you start dating someone that you “know” isn’t good for you. Deep down it really does care for you and it’s designed to keep you alive. However, simply “surviving” is much different than truly living.
  • Personify it. Seriously. Give it a name. My Saboteurs name is Dolores. She nags, has Einstien-esque hair and crooked fingers. By personifying, you’re taking it one step further separating it from you. This may feel a bit like split-personalities (and I’m a Gemini, it comes with the territory). But I assure you, personifying your saboteur will not result in you being medicated… At least it hasn’t for me yet.
  • Shed some light on the situation. Saboteurs like to live in the dark of our subconscious. It lives in the background like the soundtrack of a movie. It’s there, but you’re not 100% aware of it. What if you gave it a voice? What if you said out loud all the things it was saying? The most amazing thing happens when all of a sudden you turn up the volume and put a voice to those thoughts… They start to melt away.
  • Have the courage to overcome. When I started writing down all the things Dolores said a couple things happened. First, I looked at my list and was overcome by emotion. If you’ve read any of my prior blog posts you understand this is pretty normal. But I had to fully embrace all those words and everything I was most afraid of. Not an easy thing to do. But as I sat with it a bit longer something else amazing happened. The super confident, courageous part of me started to rise up and totally discredit all those things on the paper in front of me. It said, “I can do this”, “I deserve this” and “I have everything inside of me I need to be successful”. I am enough.

So who are you? What are all the amazing qualities/skills/abilities/personality traits you do have?

Compiling this list is tough. Why? We spend far too much time listening to our saboteur and all the things we aren’t, we lose touch with all the amazing things we are.

The core of your being, your best self, knows better. It says- I am capable, I have the experience, I have everything inside of me I need in order to be successful. I am good enough, I am lovable, I am worthy.

When I ask people what is holding them back from that next step, 99% of the time the answer is “I’m scared”. Guess what, fear is actually a good thing. It’s a signal that says you’re heading into foreign territory. Fear is the boarder of the reality in which you’ve known. Of course you’re scared! If it wasn’t scary, it wouldn’t be worth it.

“Failure” (if you want to call it that) is the absolute best form of feedback. It took many hard lessons and ugly cries to realize this, but I’m serious. If you try something and it doesn’t work (after the initial sting is gone, Hagen Daas has never let me down) you say, ok, so that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. What about it didn’t work? The whole thing wasn’t a failure; there is always something within it (a choice, a behavior, an attitude) that didn’t work. You ask the right questions, you figure out what it is, and you try again.

And when the saboteur steps in and starts to shake your confidence, tell (insert name here) that while you appreciate them looking out for you, you deserve this, and you are enough.

The Power of Letting Go

letting go

Someone once told me that in order to make room for new things in your life you truly have to let go of the old ones. Easier said than done…

For me, the scariest part of letting go is saying goodbye to something that has been a huge part of my life, shaping the person I’ve grown into. This became painfully obvious last week when I was back in my hometown for a little R&R before beginning the next leg of my journey.

I was only out of my last career for two days before I sat down to write my bio for a vision workshop. I tired, but the words wouldn’t come out… none that sounded good anyway. All I could do was stare at the blank computer screen. By the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a bunch of scrapped drafts. Why couldn’t I concentrate? Tired and frustrated I decided to sleep on it.

It wasn’t until my coach said, “Kim, of course you’re not going to be able to concentrate! You’ve just finished something that has been a part of your life for a whole decade and instead of allowing yourself time to feel that and grieve, you’re forcing yourself to the next door without closing the first.” I thought about that for a minute. Could that really be the reason I was having such a hard time.

Before I could process any more she asked me a powerful question, “What did that career give you?”

At first I didn’t understand. What do you mean, what did it give me? It gave me a steady pay check, benefits and three weeks of vacation a year. No, she said, it gave you much more than that.

It gave me support and connection. It enabled my growth in so many ways. It provided the perfect arena to realize and practice my passion. It allowed me to be a part of literally hundreds of young peoples lives. It allowed me to teach them something, that hopefully they’ll carry with them for a long time. And most importantly, it allowed and enabled me to arrive where I am now, on the brink of my next big adventure.

The thing with being unaware is there is no knowledge of a problem in the first place, only stuck feelings. Like an intense fog covering up a beautiful day. Once you ask yourself the right questions, the fog clears and all your left with is clear sky. Some questions that helped clear my fog include:

  1. What doors in my life are still left ajar?
  2. In what ways would closing them benefit me?
  3. What would need to happen for me to do this?

Once I was aware I could start the grieving process. This part was (and still is) very hard. I’m a very ambitious and impatient person. On the other side (as my family and friends can attest to) I am also a very emotional person. When my coach asked the question “What did it give you?” it helped transition the feelings of loss into feelings of appreciation. And appreciating the experience for what it was and what it gave you, is the first step towards healing.

Life is funny sometimes. Once I’ve learned something, and have the tools to implement this new learning, it likes to test. And not in the same nice package, because that of course, would be too easy.

I was tested literally two days later but this time in a much different way. Someone from my past whom I cared deeply for was in an accident.

We’ve been very careful to remain a friendship, which is why it shouldn’t surprise me that he contacted me, and really it didn’t. What did surprise me was my reaction to the whole thing. I realized I hadn’t fully let him go either.

Matters of the heart always seem to be much harder to sort through than leaving an old job, and of course they should be. The connection runs so much deeper. But the underlying message remains the same.

Letting go takes time. Appreciate the experience for what it was. Know that you would not have the courage to face today, if it wasn’t for the hardships of yesterday.

A while ago I was challenged to come up with 100 successes. No problem I thought. After struggling to get past 25, I couldn’t believe how hard it was!

If you are anything like me, you are constantly busy trying to figure out what’s next. We accomplish something and instead of taking a minute to truly appreciate the success, we immediately focus on what’s next. Isn’t that the whole point of accomplishing something, to feel the sense of accomplishment? Instead we put our head back down, look at our massive todo list and keep on keeping on.

It took me four weeks to finally record 100 successes. Some of them are obvious, some not so much. Some other people would call a success, while others would call a failure. One of them is finally being able to appreciate honest feedback. Early in my restaurant career, one piece of feedback would put me in tears for three hours (I’m not kidding, it happened). What matters is that you are able to see them and appreciate how far you’ve come.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone We’ve all been there. Wake up in the morning, commute, work, commute again, dinner, tv, sleep, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with routine, we actually need it. Our brain goes on autopilot so we can accomplish more, using less mental capacity. But what if you want more?

I stumbled upon this picture a few years ago and immediately it resonated with me. It has such a beautiful way of putting things in perspective. Since that time I have referenced it when coaching staff, pushing them a little, and urging them to see the bigger picture. Obviously it had some impact because when a cake was brought out at my going away dinner, this picture was on it. I gulped, got more than a little emotional, and thought, “shit, time to walk the talk”.

Last weekend was the end of my ten year restaurant management career. Why did I stay so long? Honestly, I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I knew the company, it’s culture, and what they expected from me. I was (sort of) working towards a big promotion. But when I was honest with myself, it wasn’t what I wanted; and my performance showed it.

There are two feelings, or clues, your body gives when it desires something more; longing and discontent.

Discontent comes when things don’t quite fit, when you’re unhappy and not quite sure why. Your body is saying there’s something more out there for you, you just need to figure out what that is. With longing, you daydream how your life could be different, yet haven’t taken any of the necessary steps in that direction. They key to both, is being aware and honest enough with yourself to admit you’re feeling this way. And that, can take some time.

It was almost two years before I could be honest (with myself) enough to admit that I didn’t want that promotion.  Even longer before I had the courage to have the conversation with my boss. With time it gets easier, and start small, baby steps.

When I first started meeting with a coach my first challenge was listening. For a whole week I did nothing but listen and get curious. In that week I learned more about my friends, family and myself than I had in the last year combined. The next week we moved on to truth. I was challenged on telling the truth with everyone in my life, including myself. All of a sudden I had to come clean with my feelings, not an easy thing to do. It also started conversations that had been put off for a long time. On the third week we moved on to openness, which again was an amazing (and scary!) experience. All the things I was afraid of being judged for (like the fact I wanted to leave my very safe salaried job and start my own business) were now out in the open. And guess what, the people I thought would be my biggest critics, actually turned out to be the biggest supporters. Through these three weeks the coolest thing started to happen. My “stuckness”, showed the first few signs of movement.

What are your thoughts around listening, truth, and openness? I challenge you to pick even one and practice it for the week. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but that’s exactly where you should be. Discomfort signals growth.

When you have longing or discontent to get out of your comfort zone, start with your thoughts, as small as they may be. Not only is this less scary, it’s amazing how the rest seems to fall into place. When we change our thoughts, feelings change, and finally, behavior changes. Baby steps. The first thing a turtle does before he moves anywhere is stick his neck out. Be like a turtle; take the (baby) step of sticking your neck out. If it’s scary you can always hide back in your shell. But I promise you, once you’ve seen how magical the world is outside your shell, you won’t want back in.