How To Say Goodbye To The Pain Of Feeling Judged

judgediiFeeling judged could well have been my client’s specialist subject.  For a long time it was mine, too. But that is hardly surprising. Most people who have been harshly judged in their lives – especially if feeling judged happened to them in childhood – have a tremendous fear of feeling judged again. They dread experiencing a repetition of the painful thing that has already happened to them. Precisely because they have a fear of feeling judged, that fear is constantly present for them. So it does not take much for them to feel judged. This week, a client told me about her unfortunate experience of feeling judged.  She met someone socially who asked her some questions that she found awkward.

Feeling judged to be fundamentally flawed

“It was as if this person could see right into my mind.” she said.  “They knew that I couldn’t defend myself.  They obviously knew that I was easy prey.” My client was deeply distressed by the episode.  It ruined what could otherwise have been a  great evening out.  Needless to say, it was not the first time that she had ended up feeling judged – and humiliated, and vulnerable. Since my client had a pattern of coming away from encounters feeling judged and bruised, it made sense to look at her pattern of feelings.  She, after all, is the common denominator in all her encounters. My client took her experience to mean that there must be something wrong with her; she must be fundamentally flawed. I take it to mean that she has a belief about herself (or a small sackful of beliefs) that keeps reactivating old wounds.  You cannot have a pattern of painful beliefs without having been badly wounded In the first place. For myself, I try not to carry a sackful of beliefs around with me.  For years and years, I carried a very heavy sack-load.  All it ever did was give me back-pain.  Now, I travel light.  Less is more.  I now carry just a small “capsule” wardrobe of beliefs – positive beliefs. One of those key capsule beliefs is this: You can always heal from old wounds and old scars. As a child, my client had been “easy prey”. What child is not, when faced with a damaging adult? However, as an adult, my client is free to choose to believe quite different things about herself. We talked about the old belief that she was easy prey.  We agreed that she did not want to live the rest of her life as a hostage to that belief.  Even she in her currently misery knew that she deserved much better than that. We talked, also, about some of the things this other person had – allegedly -intuited about her, that had left her feeling judged. I pointed out to her that I had no way of knowing whether or not her perception was accurate, and the other person was, indeed, deliberately trying to wound her.  But, in the end, that was not terribly important.  What we needed to focus on was her response .  I added that I could see that she was doing The Feeling Judged 3-Step, and it was not working for her.

The Feeling Judged 3-Step

My client, obligingly, asked me, “What is The Feeling Judged 3-Step?” “It’s an incredibly common little dance. Most of us do it without even being aware that we do it. “Here how it goes. The set-up for the Feeling Judged 3-Step occurs when you meet someone. You may be meeting them for the first time, or they may be someone you already know. Either way, you have two dialogues going on; the external one, and the “What-do-they-think-of-me?” one inside your own head. “Step 1 You feel that they are judging you. “Step 2  You decide that they must be thinking about you the thing you least want them to think. (In other words, you project your worst fear into them, and into their mouth.) “Step 3 You start to feel TERRIBLE because you are feeling judged so harshly by this other person. “ My client made me go through the whole scenario three times before she could finally internalize it. Then she said: “OMG! So that’s why these people always know exactly how to push my buttons! And I thought that they had some kind of laser vision into my heart! Really it has been something I have been doing to myself – and I had no idea I was doing it.” There will always be people out there who judge you – for their own reasons. But feeling judged is another matter entirely. As Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t exactly say: “Nobody can make you feel judged without your pre-empt.”  You really don’t have to do the Feeling Judged 3-Step.  You can always change your footwork – and your feel-work.

MY FAVOURITE SANDWICH

What's your favourite sandwich?  Mine is definitely the 'feedback sandwich".  It's a wonderful thing to have to hand.  Admittedly, it's one of those things that you might prefer to give rather than receive but, hey, nothing's perfect. You've probably come across the" feedback sandwich" before: it's a three part thing – or, more correctly, a 3 step way of communicating with someone.  Here's the recipe: Part 1 praise/reassurance Part 2 carefully worded observation of what could be done better Part 3 prais/ reassurance. Parts 1 and 3 are all about picking up on what you like about what someone else is doing or saying.  Instead of focusing on the thing that could be annoying the living daylights out of you.  It's just a fact of life: people tend to be more receptive to criticism if they don't feel under attack. If you don't trigger their fight or flight reflex, they're probably going to be more willing to listen to what you have to say.  If they hear what you say, there's a better chance that they will respond appropriately: i.e. in the way you hope they will respond. It's cheap, cheerful, and effective. I was talking earlier with a colleague  who is as familiar with the feedback sandwich as I am. A certain family member had been driving him mad, being as provoking as only this person can be.  He'd told her in no uncertain terms where she was falling down on the job of behaving like a functional adult.  He told her how he wanted her to behave instead.  And he added: "But she wasn't listening, of course." "Of course" is about right. No feedback sandwich, no cooperation. He was peeved with me for suggesting that he should shelve his intense –deserved – irritation so as to express himself in a pleasant, encouraging manner.  He didn't think her behaviour merited that. It probably didn't. Still, it's all about deciding what matters to you. If what matters most to you is doing your best impersonation of a pressure cooker hissing and spluttering when you've just opened the steam valve, then the feedback sandwich will be a waste of your time.  You'll be denying yourself the pleasure of a good hiss and splutter. But if what you really want is to help that person move beyond being so annoying, then the feedback sandwich is very probably the best cheap and cheerful tool to hand. Even better, its effect is cumulative: the more you use it, the better the results tend to be. Besides, when you use it you don't have to spend the next hour, or several, trying to calm yourself down again.  No major incident need occur in the act of communicating. That's why I love the feedback sandwich. Fury is a dish best served hot.  Revenge is – allegedly – a dish best served cold.  The feedback sandwich is the dish best served habitually.  That's my take on the feedback sandwich. What do you think?

WHAT AREN’T YOU TELLING YOURSELF?

What three things are you telling yourself that aren’t helpful?  And what aren’t you telling yourself that might be immensely helpful to you? Let me explain. It can’t be news to anyone anymore that the Universe keeps presenting you with the same lesson until you finally learn it.  What we often forget is that most people are slow learners – especially me. (Or maybe it just feels that way sometimes.) At the weekend I attended a seminar for speakers.  One woman attendee wanted to become a speaker but was T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D to stand up and open her mouth.  She did that thing of running to the back of the queue and then pretending she was invisible.  It didn’t work too well as she is strikingly attractive and has a delightful presence. The moment came when she was the queue: everyone else had done their bit and sat down.  Blanching visibly, she stood up to speak and shared an extraordinary tale of courage in adversity.  She’d returned home one day to find herself locked out of her home and her life, with no going back.  She’d held it together, gone through some incredibly tough times, and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more resourceful. We all applauded wildly.  When she sat down, I turned to her and said: “After everything you have come through, are you really going to let yourself be terrified by how some imaginary people may judge you as fledgling speaker?” Do you see what she hadn’t done? She hadn’t derived any strength or comfort from the extraordinary strength she had shown in another area of her life. Was I right? Absolutely.  However…  Just a couple of days later, I found myself doing exactly the same thing: catastrophizing about something that my Shih Tzu would have shrugged off in seconds. Animals don’t overthink things.  Basil K never even overthought an irate Annie when his housetraining was decidedly iffy.   He just shrugged and accepted that I was overreacting and that, too, would pass. It’s really easy to get caught up in the “what if” moment, the “what-will-they-think-if-I-do/don’t…?” So, here’s a small, slightly early, Christmas gift you: permission to tell those “What if” moments to go take a hike.  Instead of focusing on how someone - whos’s probably too busy, too bored, or too beleaguered - to fixate on your teeny tiny ‘misdemeanour’ anyway, how about you focus instead on the extraordinary strength you’ve shown in a much more important situation? If you can’t think of one such situation right now that just means you’re terminally modest.  It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  It did, and almost before it was over, you were reciting Ms Terminally Modest’s mantra: “Oh, it was nothing special. Anyone would have done that.” Stuff and nonsense!! Trust me on that. So, let me ask you again: What three things are you telling yourself that aren’t helpful?  And what aren’t you telling yourself that might be immensely helpful to you? How about setting aside 5 minutes – just 5 minutes – to have a good, productive, adult dialogue with yourself for a change, instead of automatically intoning Miss Terminally Modest’s Miserable Mantra.

ARE YOU REALLY READY?

Working in the personal development world as I do, almost everybody you meet has a big vision for their life and their future – which is great.  We’re here – among other things – on a journey to self-actualization.  So, why wouldn’t we have a big vision? Where it gets interesting is when you start to look at the time-frame. Most everybody will tell you they want it NOW.  Or yesterday. Again, that’s perfectly reasonable.  Why wouldn’t you want the best for yourself right NOW? But this is where it gets interesting.  Wanting It –whatever It might be – in the privacy of your own room and your own head doesn’t get you very far. I was going to say, “You aren’t sending out a clear message to The Universe, the people around you, or even yourself…"  But actually you are. That’s sending a clear message, alright. Just not the message you had in mind. Wanting is always better than not wanting.  But wanting without implementing is a bit like willing the bus to come – without even going and standing at the bus-stop.  The bus may well come to that bus-stop but, if you’re still sitting in your armchair in your own home, unless it’s a mind-reader (which buses, generally, are NOT) it will leave without you. The bus will do what the bus is scheduled to do, blithely unconcerned whether you hop on it, or not. Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a day with a wonderful VIP client – who’s just starting to realize how wonderful she is.  She’s wanted to be on that bus for a long time; even though she didn’t believe the bus ran anywhere near her home or that she had a pass to get on said bus. She was as knowledgeable as anyone else about what she couldn’t do – and be, and have. And she didn’t find that very interesting, or inspiring.  When she turned her focus to thinking about how it would be to be, do and have the things that she had believed were out of her reach something amazing happened. First she pulled the curtains back on the glass walls. Then, rather quickly, she found her way through to the other side.  In a very short time, the quality of her relationships with other people changed dramatically.  It was almost as if she went from being emotionally invisible to being highly visible in their lives.  Other people started to acknowledge her and show more consideration than they had ever felt they needed to do, before. That required some implementation on her part, sure enough.  It meant taking some action to show the world – and herself – that she really was ready. It meant getting out of her comfort zone. But staying stuck actually requires a LOT of implementation: it requires a LOT of treading water.  As for the ‘comfort zone’, that’s a real misnomer.  There is nowhere less comfortable than your ‘comfort zone’. I’ve always kept small dogs.  First time round, when my small dog was a tiny puppy, I bought him a tiny basket.  The bigger that tiny puppy got the more he had to coil himself up to get every bit of his petite person into that basket. Dogs, I’m told, quite like that. But then dogs aren’t on a lifelong journey of personal development.  They’re just here to have fun, and give (and turn their doting owners into idiots). Human beings do themselves no good at all when they coil themselves into a life experience that is too small for them. Life begins outside the proverbial comfort zone. The truth is, you’re really ready when you let go of the comfort zone, fix your gaze firmly on the thing you tell yourself you want, and keep stepping towards it. The Universe needs a series of messages from you before it kicks into consistent action.  Simple as that. What messages are you sending?

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE READY?

How do you know when you’re ready? Ready for what? You might well ask. Ready to take your life to the next level.  Ready to step up to the plate and do the thing(s) you tell yourself you really want to do. Isn’t it enough that you’re just telling yourself that you really want to do something? Not entirely.  See, the thing is, you can’t just cherry-pick the best 5%, 10%, or even 15% of your internal dialogue.  It’s great that you tell yourself about the MORE that you want in your life – whatever that More may be. But then what? What happens? For a lot of people, your internal critic(s) (otherwise known as your IBSC – your Itty Bitty S**tty Committee) kick in and… What do they do? They start waving red flags, and shrieking “Danger! Danger!”  They tell you that because of some deep-seated flaw in you, other people may be able to do whatever it is, but it’s going to be a lot harder for you… Or even impossible for you.  They envelop your world in a thick cloud of Doom and Gloom.  (They are the folks from Doom & Gloom ‘R Us, after all.) And you believe them. They’ve always told you that they have your best interest at heart, and your best interest lies in keeping a low profile. A seriously low profile. So low that you don’t even dare to put yourself at the centre of your own world. Because if you did… What?? What is the worst that could happen? Sure, Doom & Gloom ‘R Us are failed apocalypse scriptwriters.  They failed because they weren’t good enough to get a paying job doing what they do. So, what’s the point in listening to them? When did they last talk to you about the good things that could happen to you?  When did they last paint, in glowing colours, the new scenarios you could step into where you found yourself on a positive spiral?  A spiral of things getting better, and better? “Bah! Humbug!!!”  Doom & Gloom ‘R Us are probably screeching right now. They’re doing that for a reason: when you step up to the plate, they’ll be out of a job and unemployable. Hey ho! So, when are you ready? You’re ready when you finally turn to Doom & Gloom ‘R Us and lay it on the line with them.  They may still be screeching.  But you’re not listening.  Instead, you’re focusing on an internal conviction that you really can do, be and have that thing – whatever that thing may be for you. Doom & Gloom ‘R Us may be asking: “Who are you to…?” You can hear them.  But you’re NOT paying attention to them.  You’re excited and inspired enough by that thing that you want in your life to walk forward, leaving that chorus of caterwauling behind you. Things change when you take charge of your situation, instead of letting Doom & Gloom ‘R Us run the show. All being ready is really about is this: just saying: “I’m the one in charge here, and I commit to believing in my own core wisdom and ability.”    

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

I don’t know about you, but it came as a real shock to me that it’s not always the brightest and best who  get the best results in life.  And it’s not about luck, or silver spoons.  When it comes down to it, what matters is what they listen to. This week, I’ve been reading the delightfully titled: “The Situation Is Hopeless But Not Serious – The Pursuit of Unhappiness”.  The author, Paul Watzlawick, had the bright idea of deconstructing the art and practice of making ourselves unhappy.  Rather well, IMHO. Watzlawick makes a telling distinction between sadness and depression.  He observes that ‘thick-headed and unimaginative types… hold the simplistic view that occasional sadness is part and parcel of every life. And if it is not over by tonight, it will be gone by tomorrow morning.” Depression, on the other hand ‘is something else.  It is ‘the ability to continue telling oneself what one was told in childhood, namely, that one has neither right nor reason to be sad.”  Now, this resonated with me because, in my experience both as a coach and as a living breathing human being, I had noticed that a great deal of iteration is required to keep bad feelings at the top of their game.  You have to: a)       Go back to the lesson(s) you learned – most commonly, in childhood - about your own inadequacies b)      Keep repeating them –unquestioningly – to yourself. Not for a moment would I deny how painful the process is.  But, still, it is a process of unconscious brain-washing of the self. When you are in that self-brainwashing mode, it’s very hard to heed what goes on outside you, and around you. Even more annoyingly, the ‘noise’ of that self-brainwashing deafens you to a belief in yourself. Because no matter how loud that depressed - and depressing – message may be, underneath it there is still a core of – all too quiet –self-belief. And that’s what struck me about the people who enjoy success, fulfilment and happiness: they aren’t listening to the depressing stuff.  Some started off with slightly less than most, but the majority simply learned to turn down the volume and forget about it. Somehow, they discovered that there is no law that says you MUST listen to the depressing stuff. There is no law that you have to give your attention to the stuff that makes you feel bad.  It’s not as if hearing it out even helps you to deal with it. Far from it. By the time you’ve given it a fair hearing, it’s ground you down. So, if there’s no point listening to that stuff, because it serves no useful purpose, what would you rather listen to? How about turning up the volume on the good stuff, instead?

Thank God for Richard Dawkins – and The Real Reason Why Fairy Tales Suck!

Thank God for Richard Dawkins. Had he not told us what to think as regards fairy tales many of us might never have known. The problem with fairy tales, according to Professor Dawkins, is that they are potentially harmful to children because they “inculcate a view of the world which includes supernaturalism”.

“Statistically,it’s just too improbable” for a frog to turn into a Prince.

Quite so.

Now, I have always rather admired Professor Dawkins. There is a great deal to admire. However,if this is a serious pronouncement, I must take issue with it.

Children, as a breed, are not stupid. They can be gullible but, generally, they are not stupid. It is in their interest to believe in magical beings bearing gifts for them – like Father Christmas, and the Tooth Fairy. What's more, most parents of very small children actively encourage their children to believe in these myths.  In reality, Father Christmas is mummy's and daddy's big, red, white-bearded helper; he only rewards virtuous children who toe the family line. Children are bright enough to know you don't look a gift-bearing magical being in the mouth.  (That’s one of the things they learn from fairy tales, no less!)

But do children really need to be told that it's “statistically too improbable” that a frog will ever turn into a prince?

I don't think so.

And I don't believe that is the most important issue.

As I see it, the damage that fairy tales do is not about that kind of statistical improbability. It's about teaching trusting little girls some toxic myths about love that can have a long, long half-life.

Let's stick with the frog-prince thing for a moment. It's essentially the same myth that underlines Beauty and the Beast: the love of a good, humble, virtuous girl will be enough to transform a lower form of male life into a much more appealing form of life.

The statistical improbability is far too great to make it a good belief to hang your happiness on.

But a lot of women do.

They believe that behind the bad, or nasty, facade there's a wonderful man just trying to get out.

It's a truly misguided kind of optimism. In fact, it’s the same kind of optimism that might lead someone to buy a box of eggs from the supermarket in the hope that if they provide those eggs with the 'right' conditions, they'll end up with 6 dear little chicks.

Sadly, nice little girls, and nice women, do not possess some kind of transformational magic wand that will turn losers into perfect lovers.

Unfortunately, they tend to be the last people to realize that.

So, they unconsciously take Beauty and/or Cinderella for their role model.  They don’t make it their mission to go around kissing true green frogs.  But they may well kiss quite a lot of human pond life. 

And Heaven help them if they meet anyone masquerading as a Prince.  They’ll probably start warbling: “I know you/ I walked with you once upon a dream”.

Will it turn out happily as it did for Sleeping Beauty?

Statistically, that, too, is highly improbable.

So, here’s the thing: unlike Professor Dawkins, I don’t think too many children are likely to be harmed by the “supernaturalism” of fairy stories.  But generations of women have been harmed by the simplistic and misleading view of relationships peddled by fairy tales. 

Perhaps we need to teach children something useful about the way that most relationships work.  

Stay Calm, You’re Worth It!

Have you ever noticed how quickly your fight-flight-or-freeze reflex is triggered? Something – or a couple of things, or three – come out of the blue and, because they represent a challenge to you, you respond by going into overdrive.  Fight, flight, or freeze.  In the blink of an eye, “It” – whatever “It” is - can turn into a survival issue

It's been one of those weeks at Kaszina Towers (actually, one of several); a week fraught with drama. There really has been a lot going on with an on-off house move, an elderly parent in and out of hospital, a very sick dog (now, happily restored to rude health) and much more besides.

Yuk.

My fight-flight-or-freeze reflex is easily triggered. Having been brought up in an environment that was always on High Drama Alert, I can slip into Drama Queen mode at the drop of a hat. This week, there's been an avalanche of hats. I could have had a field day with them, all.

In the event, I couldn’t be bothered. 

It would have taken up too much energy for no useful purpose.

The problems all had/have to be dealt with.

Doing my best Drama Queen routine wouldn't help.  Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I should. Ranting and raving to the best of my ability, might drown out the actual problem, in the short-term.  It might even end up impressing an audience – provided they were securely tied into their seats before I got underway.  (Otherwise, they might just vote with their feet.) 

Still, at the end of the rant, the problem(s) will still be sitting there waiting to be dealt with.

Drama-queening does not magically conjure up a rescuer - or a reprieve - out of thin air. It doesn’t terrorize problems into submission – more’s the pity.  It just leaves you feeling worn out.

So, I got on with it.

Calm and self-care have to be the way to go.

When you have to square up to difficulties, it makes sense to be as fit as possible to deal with them.

Normally, a raft of measures works best to keep you fit to face afflictions. Taking care of yourself, and actually employing the therapies and modalities that you know work for you are good ideas. Being kind to yourself works, too.  That doesn’t mean shoes, handbags, or even gym visits.  It means showing yourself the kind of care and compassion you'd show another person whose friendship you value.  You know it’s the best way to go with them.  So, why would you do anything less for yourself?

Finally, how about taking a leaf of Elizabeth Gilbert's book – she of “Eat, Pray, Love”?

When times are tough, why would you not eat what nurtures you, pray to whoever – or whatever – you believe in, and keep your heart as open to love as possible?

Stay calm, you're worth it. And be sure to do the things that will keep you calm, and functioning as well as possible.

 

Do you have a gift you’re not sharing

Have you ever been to one of those workshops that’s largely – if not exclusively – female? 

What does that tell you?

I was at one of those workshops the other weekend. It was one of those workshops about getting your gifts out there, to the largest number of people. And guess what?

It was 100% female.

It was 100% made up of women who wanted to get their message out there. Extraordinary women with extraordinary stories, and extraordinary gifts and talents.

And you know what?

They’d spent years, and years, not daring to put themselves out there.

They didn't know how to share what made them extraordinary. In fact, when they talked about their uniqueness they did it in such a dull way that it was really easy to turn off.

Do you know what I'm saying?

They were talking about the nuts and bolts of what they did. They were using lots and lots of abstract words and phrases – like 'spiritual teacher' and 'feminine energy' and 'inner resources' and 'empowerment' and 'miracles'.

All buzz words right?

But not great at conveying the What's In It For Me factor?

When it comes down to it, that's what we're all looking for, isn't it? What do I get out of putting my trust in you, rather than the next person? What is really in it for me?

Yet, being women this talented bunch were visibly uncomfortable with the concept of sharing what they – as unique and special individuals – had to offer. 

They were even more uncomfortable with uncomfortable with sharing the gift of who they are.

That's women for you.

We do it in every area of our lives, don't we?

We play so much smaller than we truly are.

We do it in relationships where we say: “I don't expect you to love me for my gifts, and uniqueness, my quirks and frailties. I want you to love me – and I'm prepared to work to make you love me – by being as nice, and modest, and self-effacing as I possibly can be.”

And we do it in the areas we are most passionate about; in the areas of our dreams and aspirations. We say:

“I have this gift-thing. But because I have this gift thing, and it's an integral part of me, it can't be worth that much. Besides, it's not really about me, anyway. I'm just this conduit-thing. It passes through me, without having much to do with me. So, when I have to talk about it, I'll just talk about it in an abstract way. I feel more comfortable like that. And you're bound to understand what I'm talking about, since nothing I have is terribly special.  I know it’s not special.  It can’t be special – because I have it. Whereas you're special. So, you're bound to be able to fill the blanks, and make sense of what I'm not telling you... Won't you?”

It can be really hard for someone to hear what you're not saying.

How – and why – should they hear what you're not hearing?

Did you know that you OWE it to them, and yourself, to share that awareness?

Do you have any idea how your gifts will grow, when you’re prepared to step up to the plate and put them out there?

What’s your plan for 2014?  Are you prepared to take that leap of faith?  Or will just carry on playing much smaller than you know you are?

Discover how you can stop being a "Best Kept Secret" in 2014.

Are you the best kept secret?

bestkeptsecretawardsmallHave you ever had the thrill of discovering a 'little'' restaurant, or tea-room? Have you ever discovered a 'little' service like a dress-maker, or alteration hand, or even – in my case – the wonderful computer repair guy who's kept me sane...ish for the past 5 years.

It's funny how often we used the word 'little'' in connection with these little-known treasures.

The question is: do you want to be one of them?

Do you want to be one of the best kept secrets in your field?

I don’t know if you know this, but I trained as an Alexander Technique (AT) teacher, back in the last millennium. Now, the Alexander Technique is pretty amazing. It changes lives. Massively.  Clients of mine who'd been crippled by chronic back pain, for years and years, became pain-free, and could get back to living a normal, active life. Some of my clients were able to say “No” to invasive back surgery, because they stopped needing it.  They were able to give up their pain-killers, and still look and feel way better than they had in years.

But here's the thing:

I wasn't anything special.

Most Alexander teachers have extraordinary stories to tell.

That's why there are a lot of people who are devoted to their 'little' Alexander teacher.

With so many successes, does it strike you as strange that the Alexander Technique – which has been around for 120 years, or so – is still a Best Kept Secret?

It shouldn't.

The problem is that most AT teachers have a real problem: they’re brilliant at what they do...

BUT…

They're Too Modest to Market.

They think that Word of Mouth will work, for them, like a forest fire. They imagine that the AT is so great that people will just flock to them.

It doesn't work like that.

littlemissmodestsmall

It's one of those things that drive me mad. In the course of a year, I meet so many outstanding Best Kept Secrets, who are Too Modest to Market themselves. They have issues around their worth: do they really deserve the success their gifts can bring?    They have issues around money, and beliefs that they don't really deserve to make money. Least of all for sharing their gifts!!! 

What happens to these Best Kept Secrets?

The short answer is that they carry on being Best Kept Secrets.

And they keep on playing small. Seriously small. You see, there’s a problem that a lot of lovely people are too modest to recognise: a gift is not truly a gift until you get it out there. 'Out There' is the fertile soil in which gifts grow, and blossom.  ‘Out there’ is the only place where your gifts can truly come to fruition. 

Being a Best Kept Secret leads to going round in circles, struggling for clients, struggling for income, and struggling for self-belief.  It reinforces self-doubt.

Self-doubt leads to procrastination leads to stagnation, and withering on the bud.  

Have you ever had one of those brilliant ideas that, after 3, maybe 6, months on the back burner, didn't inspire you nearly as much... And yet, at one time you'd known you could take it somewhere special.

Sometimes the difference between doing something amazing with your gifts and doing nothing isn't very big, at all. Mostly, all it takes is a mind-set shift, around money beliefs, and marketing. 

bestkeptsecretvisibleThat simple mind-set shift makes all the difference in the world between thriving and just struggling to survive – like my lovely client Leona, who said to me this week: “I’ve made massive headway, and finally shifted something that had been there forever.”

If you want 2014 to be the year that you make massive headway, too, then this may be just what you are looking for.

 

What are you not seeing?

Have you ever had that feeling: “I've tried everything I know, and I still can't get it work?”

That's what seems to happen at times. especially in relationships, doesn't it? We try, and keep on trying, everything we know. And we keep on getting the same - dispiriting – results.

Back in the last millennium, I trained in the Alexander Technique (AT) – one of the best kept secrets in the Western World – but that's a story for another time. One of the great gifts I got from the AT is the futility of trying.

Working is great.

Applying what you know is great.

Reviewing and rethinking are great.

Trying, on the other hand, is a bit of a stinker.

Trying simply means bringing a huge amount of effort to bear, without thinking about:

a) whether or not trying is the best tool in the situation

b) the lessons to be learned from your previous tries

My wonderful first coach and mentor, Nicola Cairncross, is a whizz at 'computer stuff'. I've made huge progress over the years and gone, I suspect, from a perfect 0% in 'computer stuff' to a creditable 25%.  On a good day. The bottom line is I my relationship with technology is still a little ambivalent.

That leaves me with a couple of choices. I could beat myself up for being a slow learner/only gradually climbing the continuum from useless to average. Or else, I could congratulate myself for small achievements (and small mercies) and keep going and learning.

Which approach do you think is the more constructive?

The second one, right?

How much do YOU use the second approach?

Lovely Nicola taught me another precious lesson. She taught it to me specifically with reference to my technological prowess but, dear Nicola, if you happen to be reading to it, the validity of that lesson extends way beyond IT. Nicola taught me this:

“Once you've spent a bit of time trying, and you're still not getting anywhere, stop. Then reassess, and get appropriate help.”

 

Where technology is concerned, Nicola reckons about 10 minutes will do it.

Admittedly, that's a tad short where other areas of your life are concerned, but the message is fundamentally right.

That’s to say, it works for all areas of life.

If you're getting bogged down – in any area of your life - that means there’s bound to be  something you're missing.

The trouble is, if you've been looking for something - and missing - it for a while, then you become accustomed to missing it. Which means not seeing whatever it is becomes an established part of how you 'see' a situation.

I notice this in my clients, and the people I speak to, all the time. They keep on missing The Obvious about their relationships, and themselves.

Like the lovely lady who's spent years trying to get the Law of Attraction to work for her, but doesn't really believe in herself. Or the lady who believes she deserves the wonderful relationship – except that, when it comes down to it, she has a big issue around her self-worth. Nobody's given her permission to feel good about herself, and so she doesn't. Does that have an impact on her relationships? You betcha.

Or there's the talented business owner who doesn't really belief that she deserves the success, and financial rewards she desperately wants. Is that success going to happen any time soon, when she doesn’t believe she deserves it? No, it's not. She might as well be standing there with a big sign saying: “Validation, please don't stop here.”

So, let me ask you:

What are you missing?

What do you know you should be doing, but aren't doing? What do you not believe about yourself that you really need to believe, right now?”

Remember lovely Nicola's prescription:

“Stop. Reassess. Get help.”

It doesn't get any faster, or more effective than that.

What's to stop you from doing that?

Not the knee-jerk answer.

But the underlying fear?

Transformation lies on the other side of letting it go.

“It’s About Nice People”

mindshiftIt happened years and years ago: my first Alexander teacher said something that turned my thinking on its head; she said:

“This work is about nice people getting nicer.”

Those words really spoke to me. Can you guess why?

If you're thinking that I belonged to the ranks of those people – largely women – who don't feel terribly good about themselves, you'd be right. So, the words: “nice people getting nicer” gave me hopeMaybe it would work for me, too.  Maybe I could get rid of that secret “If-they-knew-what-I-was-really-like... part of me” and become the person I thought I might be.

That was the start of my journey of personal development.  (My Long Night’s Journey Into DayJ)

As a coach, I've been privileged to help many other people – largely women – along their journey of discovery.

That journey is not just about nice people becoming nicer – although that, in itself, is pretty impressive. It's a profoundly holistic journey. It's about nice people discovering the treasure inside their own heads - and hearts. It's about nice people discovering who they truly are, as opposed to who they fear that they may be. It's about nice people laying the demons of the past so they can have the rich, full life they deserve. That internal journey is at least as exciting and enriching as any journey you could take in the outside world.

Recently, I've been privileged to work with a Russian lady. She'd have said she was very ordinary. What she is NOT is a supermodel, living and working internationally. But nor is she ordinary – except in her own assessment. She is a 'normal' Russian, insofar as she is living in Russia, doing a fairly unremarkable job. And she is driven, probably more than most, by the pain, rejection, and and self-criticism resulting from a difficult childhood.

Olga was totally convinced that she was ordinary, which meant that there were a ton of things she couldn’t know about herself.  She couldn’t know that she is exceptionally bright and emotionally intelligent. She couldn’t know that she is unusually innovative, and entrepreneurial. And, of course - because she, too laboured with the “If-they-knew-what-I-was-really-like...” virus, she couldn’t know that she is a truly delightful woman.

My Russian runs to 4 words.  On a good day.  Her English is – fortunately – almost as good as mine, which is another talent she undervalued. Olga had always worked on the basis that if she can do something, it can't be worth much. (Now, there’s is a belief that you, too, may just recognise in yourself, if you take a moment to check how highly you value your own talents and abilities.)

This week when Olga and I met over Skype, she had the BIGGEST smile on her face.

bigsmilesmall

She told me how her relations with the world at large – friends, co-workers, acquaintances -  have changed. Because she's discovered she doesn't have the “If-they-knew-what-I-was-really-like...” virus any more.  Which makes it really easy for her to let people like and appreciate her.  Her relationship with her father has also improved out of all recognition. Since she's become aware that he has ‘an unfortunate way of expressing himself’, although his heart is in the right place, they have a much closer, and more harmonious connection. What’s more, she's not just on her way to getting a better job, she now sees how she can set up her own business, targeting an in demand niche she hadn't even realized she was good at!!

Better still, yesterday, she understood something absolutely mind-blowing. She understood how she can go, in a matter of minutes, from the “I can't do X” mind-block to “Oh, wow! So, this is how I take that block out of the picture, and get past it.” Not just once, or twice. But routinely, for any number of different blocks.

Lovely Olga now has the tools she needs to live her life wholeheartedly. Instead of tiptoeing around at the edges of her life, saying; “I'm not good enough to fill that space.”

I have a huge debt of gratitude to my first Alexander teacher to opening my eyes to the idea of nice people getting nicer.

And I'd like to add my own 'twist' to it. Personal development, at best, is not just about nice people getting nicer – that is 'doing' nicer – it's really about nice people feeling far nicer, about every area of their life, and radiating out a different message. Like lovely Olga does.

mindshiftAnd as lovely Olga is discovering, more or less on a daily basis, when you're feeling nicer about your life – about every area of your life – you have so much more of value to share. Which means that other people perceive the value you bring much more clearly.

Makes sense, doesn't it

So, the key question is: is that something you truly want for yourself?

Do You Worry About This, Too?

This week, I've been talking with another lovely, gifted woman who has Dreams, Aspirations, and one Big Obstacle in her way. 

You'll never guess that what obstacle is: 

ican'tsmallOkay, so maybe you will:-)  After all, it might just be something you - occasionally - worry about, too.

She doesn't think she is good enough. 

Actually, it's a bit worse than that. She routinely compares herself to other people, finds herself less worthy and deserving, and she's let this belief become her map of the world. The result is that: 

a) this belief feels absolutely true and normal to her

b) she is labouring under the illusion that everyone else feels the same way as she does 

At one point in our conversation she asked me: “Aren't you stymied by the belief that other people are better than you?” 

Here's how I replied. “Absolutely NOT. I'm truly delighted that there are great people out there. The more of them therecomparethemarketiismall are, the better. They do not in any way diminish me. Life shouldn't have to be a comparison website. There are as many ways to be great as there are individuals. Your job is simply to embrace your own way. Being who you truly are is the greatest gift you have to offer. The more you embrace your authenticity, the more you have to contribute to the World. 

Why would you not do it? Why would you settle for living your life as a negative comparison website?” 

I don't know if you know that old Mark Victor Hansen saying: 

There is an ocean of abundance and one can tap into it with a teaspoon, a bucket or a tractor trailer. The ocean doesn't care.” 

There is more than enough greatness to go round, for everyone. There's only thing that truly gets in the way of you tapping into the the feeling of being good enough to enjoy masive rewards. That one thing is embracing your authenticity. 

Being a pale imitation of other people won't work. 

Being the shadow of who you truly are is even less effective. 

tractor trailersmallShowing up as the authentic You is what gives you the licence to mosey on down to the ocean with a tractor trailer, or a whole fleet of the blessed things - should you so desire.  

Will you do it?