Mar 282013
 

Vulnerable_Whole_03_28_13

Earlier today I was having a conversation with my co-worker about taking things personally. I wrote about this recently and the topic was a bit fresh in my mind. Of course, it’s something I actually think about daily since taking things personally is a challenging aspect to change.

The conversation was centered around business and we both agreed that there was (generally speaking) an inherent difference between how men and women handle business situations. We agreed that women tend to get involved more “personally” and emotionally where men tend to be much more rigid and emotionless.

This all got me thinking about why it’s like this and how this translates to our regular (outside of work) lives as well. Vulnerability has been at the forefront of my mind over the last few weeks. I wrote about it recently when I faced my anger towards the kiosk workers in the mall, Brene Brown spoke about it on Super Soul Sunday, and several other sites and podcasts spoke about it including Zen Parenting Radio.

So I had to ask the question following my conversation today, Why do men and women view and incorporate vulnerability differently and how does that impact our lives?

If we look at the definition of vulnerability we can see that it means we have the ability to be hurt emotionally or physically. Vulnerability is an Inherent Quality that we all have and one we’re born with. Obviously, all humans stand the potential of being hurt emotionally or physically. We can’t fully appreciate we’re vulnerable until we also appreciate our other Inherent Qualities such as resilience and strength. Accepting ourselves as we are means it’s okay to accept we can be hurt AND we’re strong and resilient at the same time. These are opposing qualities that coexist nicely together because they allow us to get punched in the arm and heal. They allow us to have a girl or boyfriend break up with us and eventually we’ll recover.

The problem exists when we remember we’re strong and resilient but forget or deny we’re vulnerable. We are whole because we’re made up of many different Inherent Qualities. When we start picking and choosing which qualities to accept we lose the concept of our wholeness and things begin to breakdown.

From a young age boys are taught that if they show fear, get hurt, show any emotion other than happiness or anger, or follow any path outside of what a “Man” should be, they’re punished. Vulnerability is looked upon as a weak attribute and certainly not something to celebrate let alone validate. So boys and eventually men live their life with a wall up. You can’t just take away the fact that you’re vulnerable. You can only deny it and we do that with walls and masks. We act as though we’re not vulnerable by over exaggerating our other qualities such as strength. The problem is we can get hurt and we do get hurt. That hurt is never acknowledged, it can’t if you’re a man, and so we resist anything that stands in our way (perceived or otherwise).

So men walk through life rigid, inflexible, and with a huge wall up either deflecting anything coming in (Hello, afraid of getting married!) or not allowing ourselves to accept when we’re hurt (Hello Rage, Alcohol, and Drugs!).

Women on the other hand (typically) are raised to have and express their feelings (not all but at least sadness, fear, and grief). Mostly they’re allowed to accept their vulnerability which is a beautiful gift all in its own. The other thing girls and women do though (many men do this too) is take things personally. Many women fall victim to “people pleasing” even at the risk of sacrificing their own wants and needs. You can’t be a “people pleaser” and not take EVERYTHING personally. The two exist together and can’t be separated. The catch here is that if you’re both vulnerable and fully open it’s impossible to stop the rush of feelings that come in! This is almost the opposite affect we see happen to many men. Over time women (like men) learn to put up walls to protect themselves.

The problem we see in both scenarios is that neither one is healthy. There is no balance as we’re too open or too closed off. It’s led me to believe that besides having to accept and embrace our vulnerability (good job Ladies!) we also have to use good boundaries (almost good job Guys!). Walls are not boundaries (at least not healthy) which is why I only said, “almost good job…”. Healthy boundaries allow for the appropriate things to enter our inner self and inappropriate things to be left “out there”. This means we get to be both vulnerable and esteemed at the same time! I get to put myself in situations where I may get hurt (Hello Vulnerability) knowing I’m strong and resilient all while having healthy boundaries.

So what does this look like in the real world?

There’s a million examples but I’ll use a common one.

John and Sally begin a romantic relationship that lasts for several years. Things seem to be going well by all measures and Sally wants to step up the game. She hints at John about marriage but John is resistant and won’t approach the topic. Months go by and Sally finds herself talking to the wall as John will have no such conversation. Eventually, John and Sally part ways and both are devastated. While (on the outside) John bounces back pretty quickly (inside he’s torn apart) heading off to the bars and dating many different women, Sally is stuck. Sally is heartbroken and spends the next year in seclusion only hanging out with her closest girlfriends.

In this example, Sally was vulnerable in that she was open to “possibly” getting hurt by furthering the relationship. This is a beautiful thing and should be celebrated! It took both strength and vulnerability for her to want to take the relationship to the next level. John wanted nothing to do with marriage and even though they were in a long lasting and healthy relationship he wasn’t going there. It was obvious that John was not accepting of his vulnerable nature. He was too scared at the thought of what could happen if they got married. He put up a wall and shut out Sally. Once the relationship ended, John’s wall was still up so he wasn’t feeling much of the pain from the breakup (at least not consciously). Sally on the other hand took the break up to mean that she was a horrible person, not worthy of marriage, and doomed to be single. She personalized the breakup to mean that John’s issues had everything to do with her.

In a healthy situation where both John and Sally accepted their vulnerability and had healthy boundaries things would have gone much different. Let me give you two possible scenarios to show you.

Scenario 1 

John and Sally begin a romantic relationship that lasts for several years. All things seem to be going well by all measures and Sally wants to step up the game. She hints at John about marriage and because both are in love and think it makes sense to continue the relationship they get married. Both know they could potentially get hurt if things don’t work out but they know they’re resilient and strong. They also both respect each other and know that they other person doesn’t COMPLETE THEM. They are not two halves joined to form a whole but rather two wholes joined to form two wholes.

Scenario 2

John and Sally begin a romantic relationship that lasts for several years. All things seem to be going well by all measures and Sally wants to step up the game. She hints at John about marriage but John is reluctant to push the relationship further. John asks Sally for some time to sort out his feelings and returns to have an honest and open conversation. John tells Sally that while he loves her and their relationship, he’s not interested in marriage at this time. Sally tells John that this is a deal-breaker for her and both agree to go their separate ways. They both feel great sadness and grief over the loss of their relationship. However, they leave the relationship knowing they were both open and honest about their feelings. Although they both spent several months getting “back to normal” they didn’t allow the rejection of the relationship to take on any other meanings (ie; I’m not good enough, I don’t matter, etc.).

What this all leaves me realizing is that if we want to be in the flow of life we need to both accept ourselves as we fully are and have healthy boundaries in place! Of course, this is easier said than done but like any shift we make in our personal lives it begins with awareness.

Are you aware of when you feel vulnerable? Do you allow vulnerability in your life? In what ways do you protect yourself in vulnerable situations? Have you ever put up a wall to protect you? These are some of the questions you may want to consider as you continue on your own path. As always, I encourage you to leave your comments and let me know what works for you.

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

 

Mar 252013
 

Being_A_Man_03_25_13

Ever heard of the guy who’s driving somewhere new and won’t stop for directions even though he’s lost?

What about the guy who never admits to being wrong?

How many guys do you notice that have anything short of a mental breakdown after their team loses?

What about the one who has all the answers to “your” problems even when you’re not asking for them?

These are all very typical examples of your average guy and yes, I’ve partaken in every one of these scenarios many times over in my life. You don’t have to look far to notice situations in which a guy is either trying to fix someone or something, focused on being right instead of learning, winning instead of having fun, or giving the appearance of being smart instead of being real.

Often times we mistaken these behaviors for arrogance, ignorance, machismo, testosterone, and downright asinine characteristics of the men in our life. And while there are instances of all these characteristics perhaps I believe there’s a deeper explanation and one that bears being brought to your attention.

How many really secure, confident, vulnerable, compassionate, sensitive, and sweet men have you met? Ones that express those qualities over and over again on a regular basis? If you’re like most people you’d probably respond by saying that you’ve never met a man like that or perhaps only one in your life. There’s a reason for this.

Let’s take a further look…

Secure

There’s no way your average man can feel secure when his sense of who he is, is tied to things outside of his control. His sense of self is tied to a sports team, a car, the clothes he wears, his job, how many beers he can pound, how much weight he can bench, and how many women he’s slept with. With all of those things changing so often and so quickly there’s no security to be had.

Confident

Again, a man’s identity is completely attached to things out there in the world. Those things were all created through some sort of action or performance on his part. He’s confident in his illusional power (from money) because he has experience making a lot of it. It’s illusional because true power is never reliant on external factors like money. It’s also a false sense of confidence because that money can also be taken away too quickly and when it does you don’t want to be near this man. Witnessing the busted Ego of a man is not a fun experience. I’ve not only witnessed other men having their Ego popped but have had mine blown many times over.

Vulnerable

Are you kidding me? Is there such a thing as a vulnerable man or a man who can sit in his vulnerability? They too are few and far between. Men can’t be vulnerable because everything they have to lose is at stake. They know that the only power they hold is illusional (it’s attached to outside things) so if they become vulnerable all those things will go away and fast!

Compassionate

Yes, there are men that exhibit compassion throughout their lives. But compassion as a starting place is not something you’re going to find on your average man. You can’t be truly compassionate without first allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Through kindness, care, and selfless acts one is exposed to the elements and ripe for being taken advantage of. Men also confuse both vulnerability and compassion with weakness which denies them the opportunity for either.

Sensitive

Vulnerability creeps in again when we look at sensitivity which makes it nearly impossible for your average guy to admit and/or allow his sensitive nature to exist (and definitely in a public setting). With sensitivity comes emotion and we don’t even need to talk about guys and emotions!

So what’s the deal with men struggling to express their Inherent Qualities? All men (and women) are born safe, confident, vulnerable, compassionate, and sensitive. So why do they deny these qualities from being expressed or even realized? It’s starts at childhood and it begins with the stripping of their self-esteem and “maleness” at birth.

From birth to age 10 boys are taught the following:

You can’t cry

You can’t feel scared

Your opinions don’t count

You can’t be creative

You can’t get any form of physical attention unless it’s violent

You’re not a man unless you do something to prove it

You can’t be sensitive, emotional, vulnerable, compassionate, caring, tender, creative if you want to be a man

So, the little boy has his entire sense of who he is stripped from his very essence. He learns from any early age that what he thinks is natural is wrong and then when he wants to express his grief, anger, sadness, and fear he’s shamed and told to bury it.

Suck it up and be a man!

That boy now spends the rest of his life performing and PROVING he’s a man and that he’s enough. He’s not allowed to express his Inherent Qualities and be a man. Being right, winning, and being better than all become the driving force and the very definition of his masculinity and of his very self identification. The truth is a male literally can’t do anything to be more of a man. He was born that way from the start and those male qualities are his birth-rite not something he needs to prove or obtain.

Consider this the next time you’re around a guy who’s trying to “fix you” or won’t ask for directions or has to win. No, this doesn’t mean you should allow this behavior and certainly not allow yourself to become a victim of abuse as a result. Rather, this may put a different perspective on what shapes the men in your life.

Perhaps all guys aren’t a$$holes, jerks, arrogant, or pompous. Perhaps they are tender, lovable, caring, sensitive, compassionate, and precious people who have just forgotten who they really are. You can help by reminding them about their truth and less about why they are as you perceive them to be.

How do the men (or yourself if you’re a man) act when it comes to being right, fixing others, or winning? Do you notice any of these qualities/characteristics in them? What can you do to remind that man in your life how enough he already is?

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

 

Mar 222013
 

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I’ve gone through bouts of social media addiction. I never knew what that was about until I started on my path to self-acceptance/awareness. Although, today I’m much more aware of how my time is spent I can’t help but notice when I find myself “checking/numbing out”.

Facebook is such a wonderful place to check out! Sign on and just stare at your screen or phone and watch the updates whiz on by! It’s so easy to “like”, “share”, and of course comment, that you can’t draw your eyes away. Then God-for-bid you actually post something because then you’re going to have to go back and check every 30-seconds to see if someone “liked it”.

I’ve been much better about how I spend my time on Facebook and social media, in general. However, there are still times, and more than I’d like to acknowledge, that I’m finding myself there. It’s not that I have a problem being on Facebook in and of itself. The problem is actually showing up in other areas of my life!

What I mean is that lately I’ve been thinking I’ve stalled out a bit on taking steps towards my career goals. I created a great Action Plan that is mapped out to a schedule and everything. However, getting past the plan has been a bit of a struggle. I realize that some unexpected travel and other “life circumstances” have popped up recently but I know better than to say they are real reasons I have stalled.

I know that when I don’t want to feel my pain and push through to resolve that I turn to isolation. Not isolation in the form of hiding out by myself. Rather isolation in the form of addiction or numbing behavior. It’s exactly why I got into drugs at a young age, it’s exactly why I became addicted to people most of my life, it’s exactly why I became addicted to food, it’s exactly why I became addicted to buying things, and the list goes on.

Fortunately for me, most of these “addictions” are part of my history. I say most because the reality is I probably still eat on occasion to soothe some feelings I otherwise don’t want to feel. Thankfully, it’s not something that’s killing me but I do have about 25 lbs to lose. Similar to addiction, numbing is another form of isolation or coping. It’s another activity we do that takes us away from having to feel our feelings and really get through and past the pain we still carry.

It’s the numbing-out that I find myself doing more these days (than actual addictions). I find myself watching tv, eating cause I’m bored, playing iphone games, and most commonly Facebooking <– is that even a word?

It’s showed up in two ways for me. First, as I mentioned earlier I’ve been thinking about my lack of productivity in terms of my career growth. Then even more recently I’ve noticed some critical feelings I was having for some others that seemed to be on Facebook all the time!

I speak about not judging others and have always said that you can’t judge another without first judging yourself. Well guess what? I knew in that moment I was judging myself. I knew that for me to have feelings about other people overusing Facebook that it said everything about me and nothing about them.

The solution to all of life’s problems is never out there but always right here.

As soon as I looked back at myself it was so obvious what all those feelings were about. So where does that leave me? Well, there’s a couple of things I need to sort out. First, I need to accept that there are times (not every single time) when I’m on Facebook and I’m numbing-out, as I’ve mentioned. The reality is when I’m most joyful, creative, open, and connected is not when I’m Facebook. Nor do I even think about Facebook when I think about what a nirvana might be like.

I had dedicated a paragraph here talking about how I know I’m not alone, citing examples of how others “numb-out” on Facebook too. But I’ve removed it. When we begin to make our problem, everyone else’s problem we strip out responsibility. The reality is it doesn’t matter if other people are doing this or not. I know that I am. Whether or not others are doing this makes no difference in the fact that I don’t want to continue this way or that the responsibility to change is 100% on me.

So what now?

When I go on Facebook I need to ask myself how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling sad, lonely, rejected, frustrated, or ashamed I need to consider not getting on Facebook. Rather I need to sit in these feelings for awhile so I can resolve and not just cope with what’s holding me back. This is going to be a challenge but this isn’t working for me so it has to change!

This isn’t about banning Facebook. Facebook is not the problem, numbing-out is! If I just banned Facebook I might be more productive for a day until I started to have some feelings and then found another way to cope, another way to isolate. Facebook would be replaced and the vicsious cycle would start all over again. The only way to resolve this is not by fixing the symptom (too much Facebook time) but the real problem (resolving my unhealed hurt from my past).

I know it will be a challenge. I know I’m going to face some uncomfortable feelings. I also know that the only way to live an Authentic Life, a life in alignment with my Inherent Nature is to welcome vulnerability and hold on tight for the ride! When the ride is over only one thing will happen…I’ll be ready to jump on a bigger one!

Do you find yourself numbing-out at all? Hours in front of the TV? Facebook? Eating when you’re not hungry? If so, what ways do you find helpful in getting to the bottom of your unresolved hurt? Please leave a comment below and if you’ve enjoyed this post and wish to receive more like it please consider signing up for my free emails!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

 

Mar 182013
 

03_18_13_Self_Acceptance

On Friday I received an email from a friend asking for some support on a project she’s launching. It was a group email sent out to several other people, whom I didn’t really know, and me. Being as supportive as I am for this friend I was excited to help her out. However, I wanted to do my due diligence by first asking a few (ok, maybe like 10) questions. So, I typed out the response and hit “reply all”.

A few minutes went by and two of the other people on the email chain responded with very short but to the point emails. Yes, they would help!

It wasn’t but a few short seconds later that my brain started going crazy with thoughts!

Was my email too long?
What did these other people think of all my questions?
Did they think I was crazy to have to ask so many questions before just saying yes? 
Maybe I should have just replied with a yes and left it at that!
They think I’m crazy/weird.
 

All these feelings of insecurity and thoughts of not being good enough were surfacing. Why in the world would this seemingly benign transaction bring up so many things for me? I even questioned if I should write about it for fear that you would think I’m a nut job too! Hello Vulnerability!

I had to stop and really digest what was going on. It’s not uncommon. Something happens and a rush of thoughts and feelings come over us. For many of us, myself included, it happens so often we don’t even think about it. It’s just par for the course. Perhaps it happens so often we can’t distinguish between a healthy emotional response and one filled with a bit of charge like this one.

I knew the answer would be found in the meaning I was applying to the other email responses. Those emails said nothing about me, both literally and figuratively. So, why would these responses, which had nothing to do with me, spark all these thoughts and feelings?

Through all my personal work (and it will never stop) I have managed to weed out most of my False Beliefs. Though they still show up from time to time. A False Belief I carried most of my life was that I was not good enough and the need for acceptance was very strong for me. Every now and then that False Belief pops back up and I need to remind myself that it’s bullshit.

So I know I don’t want all those thoughts and feelings in the future but how do I prevent that from happening again? 

Those False Beliefs I carried conditioned me to respond to life that way. We’re all conditioned to some extent or another and that conditioning is either based on our False Beliefs or our Inherent Nature. We either automagically (Thanks Steve Jobs) respond to see life wearing our FB Glasses or wearing our IQ Glasses.

Driving down the road and getting cut off by a passing motorist causes many of us to go from 0 to “Screw You” in about 2.4 seconds. That’s a conditioned response and it’s based on wearing our FB Glasses. It’s great practice to think about which glasses you’re wearing the next time you quickly respond to a situation (both good and bad).

In order to recondition myself I need to practice wearing my IQ Glasses. The first step is awareness. I was aware of how I responded to those emails and I was aware of what I was thinking and feeling. Now I need to willfully and intentionally remind myself that I am good enough and that I am acceptable as I am. I need to challenge that False Belief so often that the norm is “I’m good enough as I am” and not the other way around. It takes a lot of practice and willful intention but it’s doable. I already notice it’s affects in so much of my life.

Situations like this used to come up so often for me it was just par for the course. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of my conditioned response in the past. Now that I am though I can take steps to literally change how I respond to life in the future. I can’t judge myself for “messing up” and I need to forgive and move on. I need to acknowledge that my spiritual journey, my journey to self-acceptance is not one of perfection but one of progress.

Are you aware of how you respond to different things in your every day? What steps do you take to recondition your conditioned response? It’s a long journey but one that is so fruitful and rewarding. I’m so fortunate to have you along with me on mine!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

P.S. If you’re somewhat new to this site you may not have read, “Remember Who You Truly Are!”. As a regular contributor of www.TheDailyLove.com I have republished that post there and invite you to check it out! Click Here To Read The Article!

 

Mar 152013
 

Vulnerability_03_15_13

Vulnerability has been on my mind the last few days.

It started with a trip to my local mall. It’s one of those malls that has the kiosks spread throughout. Ever since I can remember I’ve had a real issue with the majority of the workers at the kiosks. Whenever I would walk by they would jump out and ask, “Can I ask you a question?” or ” What kind of  cologne do you where?” or some other question to trap me into talking with them and buying their products. It smelled with the scent of that stereotypical “used car salesman”. So I always avoided them at all costs. Sometimes going as far as pretending I was on the phone or acting as though I couldn’t hear them.

I never really gave it much attention why I allowed my brain to attack me like that. After all, this was my problem and there’s obviously something about me, my past that has me so bent on these people. The truth is they’re just high school/college age kids trying to make a buck like anyone else. They’re not mean, and while they may jump out in front of you as you’re walking in the mall they’re not actually abusing you. So what’s my problem?

Well the other day it happened again. I was actually getting myself prepared for it as I was walking through the mall. I had it in my mind that when I encountered one of these “Kiosk Nazis” (okay, that was a bit harsh lol) approached me I would be present, mindful, and decisive. Not one approached me until I was almost out of the mall. I had stopped by Art of Shaving to pick up some shaving cream.

 BTW, they have great shaving cream that even my wife uses!

So, out of the corner of my eye I notice two women eyeing me up from their kiosk. I turn and WHAMO BAMO!! They’re all up in my mug! She asks, “What kind of skin care products do you use?” and I immediately froze up! All that planning out the window! The only words that I could muster out of my mouth were, “I don’t use skin care products” and I quickly walked away. But just before I turned I could see her eyeing my Art of Shaving bag and start to point to it as to suggest that I was lying (which I was by the way). I hurried up the escalator with my back turned to them in shame.

What the hell!!??? This is ridiculous! LOL

As I’m riding up the escalator I think to myself, “What the hell happened, dude?”. I did exactly opposite as I had prepared and I was honestly confused as to what the deal was. So I sat with it for a moment. The word, Vulnerable, popped up again in that moment. But, how any why would I be vulnerable in a situation like that?

According to Websters the definition of vulnerable is:
(the first two being more appropo)

adjective
1.  capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
4. Bridge. having won one of the games of a rubber.

Now in that moment I most definitely was capable and open to being tempted or bribed. Although, that in and of itself is not that big of a deal. The reality is vulnerability is an inherent quality of ours. We are vulnerable at birth. In life there’s always the possibility that we can be emotionally or physically attacked. That’s just how it is and in fact that’s something we should embrace not try and reject. Yet, my response was not one of acceptance or embrace, was it? Rather, my response was that of flight or fight. The underlying feeling of that vulnerability must have been fear! But, what did I fear?

I needed to look back in my past to think of early occurrences of when vulnerability showed up as fear. I must be confusing vulnerability (which in and of itself is not bad or good) with fear (which normally is not good). When I looked back I did recall times in my childhood. One instance I recall as a young boy where I was with a babysitter. I remember standing in front of her in my boyhood innocence ready to show her a magic trick I learned. I felt so excited, open, and vulnerable (since I felt I was being judged for the outcome of the trick). I was showing her a card trick and just as I finished she laughed and said, “I can see what you’re doing”. There was a mirror behind me and I guess she could actually see the cards from the reflection. I felt so sad, angry, and most of all embarrassed. I learned that day that if I’m going to be vulnerable I’m likely to be shamed for it.

Because vulnerability led to being attacked in many instances I learned to fear vulnerability. Perhaps this explains why I have so much fear around public speaking, fear around others finding out I’ve done something wrong, and fear about performing in general. These are all circumstances of great vulnerability. In each of these cases, I’m completely open, exposed, and capable of being attacked.

I fear being attacked (emotionally) and so I fear vulnerability.

The problem is that vulnerability is an inherent quality of mine. In other words, it’s nothing to fear at all. It’s a part of me and I need to accept that part of me if I’m going to fully love myself and in turn, fully love others. The truth is I may have been attacked in my youth and in vulnerable situations. But I need to parse out the feeling of fear from my vulnerable nature. The two cannot equate with each other.

The only way for me to do this is to remind my “little boy” that he’s safe. He’s with Adult Josh now and he has protection. He did a great job protecting himself from being vulnerable but now he doesn’t have to anymore. It’s clear to me that “Little Josh” showed up the other day at the mall. When vulnerability showed up at the kiosk “Little Josh” felt scared and almost literally ran away!

Where was “Adult Josh”? I abandoned myself in those few moments. I was not present. I was a little boy and that little boy was running the show.

I truly believe that awareness is the first step in reclaiming our Authentic Self. I’ve never had this awareness before writing this post. I always knew I just hated those kiosk workers and avoided them at all costs. I know now that I don’t have to avoid them anymore. I know now that “Adult Josh” can walk right by them as cordial and polite as ever holding “Little Josh’s” hand. I’ll look over at him and let him know he’s safe with me.

Now, I need to take this new found awareness and get past that next big step I want to take which is public speaking. I have a message to bring and I need to bring it even if it means holding “Little Josh’s” hand while I do.

Do you notice when vulnerability shows up in your life? What feelings do you assign to being vulnerable? How has it impacted you in your life?

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

Mar 112013
 

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I spent the vast majority of my life doing things based on what others thought of me. Just about every decision I made was based in part or in whole on how I thought others would respond. I probably did it so often, I didn’t even realize when it was happening. Here’s just a few things that would be decided due to what others thought:

  • What I wore
  • What classes I took in college
  • What job I would seek out
  • Who I would be seen around in public
  • What purchases I would make
  • What kind of car I would drive
  • Whether or not to smile and show my bucked teeth
  • Taking off my shirt at the beach
  • The need to be the center of attention
  • Acting small and not contributing in certain situations

These are just a few situations I found myself in and there were many, many more. I even remember telling others that I didn’t care what they thought but that wasn’t even true. I felt so lost most of my life that I didn’t even know who I was. I remember taking on attributes of other people to feel connected to those around me. I remember watching a show called, Growing Pains, with Kirk Cameron. He was “the cool kid” who everyone liked and I remember he had this smile that would be accentuated by one side of his mouth. So, I would smile like him, raising one side of my cheek; kind of like a sideway smile. I remember noticing how someone would walk or laugh or use gestures.

There was a time in my early teens when I became aware of what I was doing and I felt like I was made up of different people. I didn’t know who I was but I knew where all of my parts came from. Because it was so important to me that I felt accepted by others I wanted to make sure those attributes I stole from others were ones that people liked. life was very black and white at the time. I either thought I was accepted or thought I was flat-out rejected. That left me in an extreme of emotions from feelings excited, happy, connected, loved, lovable, enough, and whole when I thought I was accepted. When I thought I was rejected I felt sad, angry, alone, not good enough, unloved, unlovable, broken, and worthless.

Of course, there was no in between or middle ground. I know now that this was because all my sense of self was outside of myself. What other people thought of me wasn’t just important it was my life line. It was the difference between feeling on top of the world or buried 6-feet under. All the while bouncing back and forth between those two opposing emotions. Life was never relaxing. I was working hard to find acceptance and it zapped so much energy out of me when I didn’t find it.

Life now is much different. There are still moments that I think of what others think of me. There are still moments when I think or know that if someone doesn’t think favorably of me that I have some feelings about that. Besides only having a minority of my decisions based on what others think I’m very much aware. I’m aware of why I make decisions even if that awareness doesn’t come until I’ve already made the decision. The benefit is that it allows me to understand why I’m doing things and to make changes in the future.

The other difference and quite possibly the most significant one is that I love myself. No not in the Egocentric- I’m better than others- kind of way. Rather, I know I am enough, I am lovable, I am whole, I am loved, and I am of worth. I know that everyone else is also even if they have forgotten, like I did.

When we accept ourselves with the qualities I just mentioned then it literally doesn’t matter what others think of us. In fact, it makes it very clear that what others think of me has everything to do with them and nothing to do with me. I know that when someone doesn’t accept me as I am in my fullness that it must be something from their past that has clouded their vision. We cannot judge others without first judging ourselves. That means if someone is judging me, they are judging themselves. That tells me right away it has everything to do with them.

Above all else it’s the meaning that I apply to the thoughts they may have about me. The difference looks something like this:

“He/She doesn’t like my hair”

They are a unique person with their own tastes vs I’m ugly and not good enough.

“She/He doesn’t like what I do for work”

Something in their past tells them that the work I’m involved with is less than desirable vs I’m not enough and less than they are.

In the two examples above the positive and loving response is all about that person. In the negative/fear based response my response to them is all about me!

You may not be at a place in your life where you accept 100% that you are whole, lovable, enough, of worth, and that you matter. If that’s true that’s perfectly okay! This isn’t about loving ourselves perfectly but rather being aware of our responses to other people’s thoughts and feelings about us.

The next time someone says something that causes you to have feelings you don’t like (i.e.; sadness, loneliness, rejection, anger) ask yourself if you’re making their reality about you. If you are, remind yourself that you are lovable, enough, and whole AS YOU ARE. Remind yourself that their thoughts and feelings are their reality and don’t reflect who you are as a person.

It takes a lot of practice but I can attest that as I work on this for myself I learn to have more love not only for others but also for myself. I also learn that I can live a more moderate life and not one as a victim to others’ thoughts and feelings.

I am Enough and so are you!

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

Mar 042013
 

03_04_13_Passive_Aggressive

When I first learned of all the ways someone can act passive aggressive I was quite taken back. I hadn’t realized it covered such a wide spectrum of behavior and what was worse was that I had exhibited a lot of it myself. I suppose it was easy for me to notice it in others but not so much in myself.

David Richo, Author of the book, “How To Be An Adult In Relationships: The Five Keys To Mindful Loving”,  writes that passive aggressive behavior can be exhibited in the following ways:

1. Sarcasm
2. Not following through on agreements
3. Teasing
4. Sulking/Pouting
5. Silent Treatment
6. Getting your digs in
7. Withholding sex as a weapon
8. Acting contrarian
9. Secretly harming another
10. Withholding Attention, Affection, and Appreciation
 

On the surface a lot of these behaviors seem to be what you’d find in young children. Yet, I can’t help but recall how many times I’ve acted this way as an adult or seen others do the same. So why is it that as adults we’re still acting the same way we did as children?

The answer might lie in our inability to say, “No” to others when we don’t like something. Passive aggressive behavior is a form of expressing anger. As children we’re not often allowed to express anger. Teachers, parents, caregivers all made it very clear that getting angry around them wasn’t going to work. Often times we were even punished further for getting angry.

If someone shuts you up it doesn’t make what you have to say go away, right? It’s the same thing with feelings. Just because you’re not able to express your anger doesn’t mean you’re not feeling that feeling anymore. We still need to express that anger but in a more (perceived) “safe” and passive way.

Of course, the problem with passive aggressive behavior is that it doesn’t resolve your anger and often times makes it even worse. It can confuse others and often cause them to become combative. In many cases the passive aggressive behavior isn’t a one time occurrence and seems to be a repetitive behavior.

So what can we do?

Consider that you HAVE A RIGHT to feel anger. We haven’t been taught the difference between the expression of healthy anger or abusive anger. This leaves us going right to abusive anger in almost every situation. However, did you know you can express anger and do it in a healthy way? A way that’s not abusive to another person?

Healthy anger means you raise your voice a bit, have a stern look on your face, verbally express what you don’t like, take responsibility for how you feel, and excuse yourself from the situation.

Abusive anger means you yell loudly, call another person names, blame the other person for how you feel, use violence, scold, and make threats.

Healthy anger means you don’t like something, you’re aware of how it makes you feel, and you express your right to feel that way and to avoid the situation. Abusive anger means you don’t like something, make it about someone/something else, throw up all of your stuff on them, and ultimately becoming a victim of their actions.

The other challenge with telling people we don’t like something is that it feels very similar to telling someone, “No”. Telling someone else No is just as hard as hearing a No from someone else. The problem gets worse because then we wind up saying Yes to something we really meant to say No to. This sets us up to disappoint the other person and make us look untrustworthy.

How many times have you told someone you would do something (knowing you couldn’t) and then wound up letting them down? I’ve done this a million times and it’s a perfect example of when that Yes should have been a No.

The truth is a No to you is a Yes to me!

When we say, “No” to someone else we’re really saying, “Yes” to us! Our No has nothing to do with the other person. The same is true in the reverse. When someone says, “No” to us it literally has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with them. In fact, you might even argue that to take someone else’s No personally is to act in arrogance. When someone says No it’s ALWAYS about them. Always.

Saying No can also be so freeing. I don’t mean in a disrespectful way but in a kind, “Thank you, but I’m not going to be able to attend.”, type of way. You are truly showing up for yourself when you give an honest No to someone. To do otherwise, is to abandon oneself.

So the next time you begin to feel the feeling of anger creep up do the following:

1. Acknowledge that you have a feeling of anger. This is distinct from confusing who you are with your anger (ie; I am Angry). Instead choose to say to yourself, “I feel angry”. It’s different and a very important distinction. You HAVE feelings. You are NOT feelings.

2. As an adult, acknowledge your right to express the feeling of anger.

3. Remind yourself that to share your anger in a respectful manner is showing up just as much as if you were to say No. This is a Yes to you!

4. Allow the other party to have their own feelings. This isn’t a time to cater to their feelings (assuming you are respectful) but rather a time to show up for you.

Remember, you are a responsABLE person who is at choice in every given moment. Anger is one of those hard feelings to express because it’s often tied to so many things from our past. Being aware of the feeling around you and having another choice about how to handle it is key to living an Authentic Life and one where others will want to play a part in it.

What things do you do that allows you to express your anger in a healthy way? Do you notice when you’re acting Passive Aggressive? If so, can you tell what that’s really about?

With Gratitude and Appreciation,

Josh_Sig

 

 

 Photo Credit
 

Before I let you go I wanted to share a new video I made with you! If this is the first time to the site it’s a nice and short introduction to what we’re about. Give it a look and let me know what you think!

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