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You Aren’t Afraid for the Reasons You Think

You Aren’t Afraid For The Reasons You Think

Are you afraid? What are you afraid of? Why? What’s underneath it?

We have many experiences in life that have caused us to be fearful. Young children try to make sense of the world. When others in their lives act in ways they don’t understand, the child tries to make sense of it. Often the child will assume that it is somehow their fault. So they start limiting themselves of things that are dangerous to do or things that will get them into trouble: don’t steal things, don’t eat sweets before a meal, don’t play or have fun when someone is in a bad mood, don’t smile when someone is angry, fear of loud noises, … What are things you learned to be afraid of as a child?

Story: A Father’s Fear

This is a story I heard a long time ago about a fearful father. The story went something like this. The father had a daughter. One day, for the first time, she experimented with makeup. She wasn’t very good at it. She spent a lot of time until she got it to where she thought she looked pretty. She was proud of herself. As in many early attempts, it was way overdone, not very subtle.

Her father saw her. Seemingly out of nowhere he went into a rage and hurt her severely. Years later when he and his daughter made peace, they finally understood what had happened.

The father had been the son of a prostitute. At some point he became the person who was expected to find customers for his mother if he wanted to eat. His mother had worn overdone makeup. He decided that when he grew up, he would walk away from it all and he had. His daughter’s inexperienced overdone application of makeup had triggered those earlier memories with such a force, that he went out of control and into a rage before he even knew what had happened. His fear transferred to the next generation. Without realizing it the father had been afraid that his daughter might become a prostitute. The makeup triggered that fear. In the end he couldn’t walk away from his fears but had to acknowledge and work through them and heal them. Only then could he be free of the fear and rebuild a relationship with his daughter. In the meanwhile his daughter had learned to apply makeup in a way that was truly flattering to her.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

We can spend a lifetime working through all our fears. Or we can spend a lifetime working through the fears that stand between us and what we most aspire to. Our fears will keep getting in the way until they are resolved. Decide what you most want in life. Then work through those fears first that stand between you and what you’ve chosen. There are four ways to deal with fears: flight, fight, freeze or face.

1. Flight: Avoid fearful situations. In extreme circumstances they become phobias: fear of snakes or spiders, fear of heights, hear of crowds, fear of germs and sickness, fear of nothing to do and boredom, fear of being wrong and making mistakes, fear of anger.
2. Fight: Respond in anger. Many people are afraid of anger in someone else. Becoming angry therefore can become a defense against whatever you are afraid of. It keeps people at a distance.
3. Freeze: Some hunted animals, when escaping from their predators isn’t an option any more, will play dead. Some predators will only eat live pray. People who freeze, basically “hold their breath” hoping the frightening situation passes soon. They may be unable to move or take action.
4. Face your Fears: Fears hold you back from what you might otherwise enjoy. The more you want something and are afraid of failing, the more difficult it may be for you to act. Taking action steps towards what you want, being willing to fail, taking a risk, overcoming an obstacle – that is where your greatest satisfactions and accomplishments will come from. And some of your greatest disappointments. The challenge lies in deciding what you want, then going for it, and being ok with achieving or failing to achieve what you want.

Taking it Farther:

To truly heal a fear, you can keep taking action until you are no longer afraid. For example if you are afraid to try new things, you might have been afraid of learning to use a computer and using email. At some point you became comfortable with it and you are no longer afraid. Repetition over a period of time dissolved your fear.

Other fears, like in the story of the fearful father, can more easily be traced back to an event or experience in childhood. Understanding those situations more fully (a girl experimenting with makeup does not signify that she on the path of becoming a prostitute) helps you let go of triggers. There are many ways to let go of triggers: tapping, therapy, Neuro Emotional Technique, coaching, and others. The important thing is to identify and let go of triggers that prevent you from achieving those things most important to you in your life.

Contact me:

If you would like to know about your energy levels and how to bring more positive energy into your life, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment and coaching. Start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

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Good Grief! Is Grief Good for You?

Good Grief! Is Grief good for you?

Are you de-pressed? If unresolved grief is weighing you down, you might be “pressed down” by the weight of it. If the memories are a constant in your life (you think about it at least weekly), your life might be held in place like a boat with an anchor.

So what is grief?

Grief is deep distress at the loss of something valued or necessary, something taken from you without your agreement.

We can grieve the loss of people in our lives. We can also grieve the loss of a job, loss of a sense of feeling secure when incurring a major financial blow, losing the comfortable and familiar when moving, or the loss of our health. We may also grieve the loss of a belief: losing trust after a confidence or commitment was not kept, a broken promise. If grief stays unresolved, we add to our burden of grief that we carry around with us. It weighs us down or de-presses us.

Therefore, resolving grief and bringing closure will free us up, will give us room for more energy and joy in our lives.

Story: Resolve your differences – regularly

I was recently shown photos from a funeral. One of the photos showed two sisters who attended the funeral ceremony of their mother. The expressions on their faces were very different. One face was stricken with grief – the other was at peace.

Here is what I was told. One of the sisters spent time with her mother as her mother’s health was failing. They talked things out. When the mother passed away, there was a sense of peace and closure. Things were resolved. Her mother was no longer suffering in ill-health and in pain. Old emotional wounds had been healed.

The other sister had a lot of unresolved anger and grief. She and her mother didn’t speak. That daughter couldn’t bring herself to visit her mother in the final couple of years or even call her. Old grudges and anger and disagreements were never dealt with. Now that sister has deep lines of grief forming on her face. She is suffering.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

To heal unresolved grief means that you need to bring closure to something you may have had no control over, something that is left unresolved. You didn’t choose the timing. You had unfinished business. You don’t know how to resolve the unfinished business. The other person isn’t there to resolve it, or you feel unable to take steps towards resolution. How can you move on?

First of all, recognize that unresolved grief weighs you down. To lighten the load is to be able to live life more fully. It’s like putting down a backpack filled with rocks. You can move more freely without it, run faster, have more fun, and feel unencumbered.

Secondly, get clear on where you have unresolved grief. Did you feel that a friend has betrayed your confidence? Was a promise broken? Did your job evaporate despite your best efforts and commitment to the company where you worked? Did a relationship end? Did you lose your nest egg in the recent financial upheaval?

Thirdly, where is the judgment? Do you blame yourself for making poor choices or do you blame others: your boss, the economy, your partner, your friend?

Sometimes when we become clear on what grief we are holding onto, it will start to release all on its own. Clarity can bring a certain amount of healing.

Next, welcoming grief into our life is a big step for many. We have been taught to suppress our emotions, or at least the “negative” emotions. We are supposed to be strong and not show our vulnerabilities. This may be even harder for many men than for women. So go easy on yourself. How? Set aside some time when you are undisturbed and in a comfortable place. Think of an area of your life where you feel you have unresolved grief. Try to feel it fully. Welcome it into your consciousness. Then ask yourself if you could let go of this unresolved grief and when. Repeat the questions until you feel done or feel a sense of peace. This particular line of questioning is inspired by materials from “The Sedona Method”. For more information go to http://www.sedona.com/

Taking it Farther:

There are many ways to deal with grief. Aurora Winter uses a series of questions starting with, “If you had known that your spouse was going to die young, would you have still chosen to be with them?” For many the realization that they cherish the time they did have, releases much of the grief. In her book, “From Heartbreak to Happiness” she chronicles her own story.

There are many resources to help you process your grief. Healing grief through regular healthy communication is probably best, when that option is still available. I can help you bring closure.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it.

Often our emotional state is reflected in our eating behaviors. It feels like there is an umbilical cord between how we feel and how we eat. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to sever the umbilical cord between our emotions and what we put into our mouths.

Reaching for food when life is hard is something many of us are familiar with. We were trained to do that.

I see it all the time. A baby is cranky or just noisy (at the store, in a house of worship, at a family gathering, at the doctor’s office, …).  Next, the baby is offered something to put into its mouth: a pacifier or a bottle. An older child gets a piece of candy at the bank, the doctor’s office or for good behavior. The opposite is also true: the bribe or withholding trick: if you’re good you’ll get ice cream. Or “no dessert for you, you’ve been bad”. Is it any wonder that when we finally get control over our own food supply, we do what feels emotionally supportive, rather than what we know is healthy for us?

Here are some examples for how it can play out in our lives now.

1. A couple of years ago I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know her to be health conscious and fit. As her husband was battling cancer, she gained a lot of weight. She said she was comfort eating. She couldn’t help it.

2. Some years ago I was shocked at my response when my life coach asked me what my definition of SUCCESS was. When I looked deeply inside me, the surprising answer I found was “being able to buy and eat any food I want”.  That was the beginning of a profound shift in my relationship with food.

Surprisingly, we don’t just run away from “bad” feelings. We run away from “good” feelings as well. Following is an example.

Story: Anxious about being excited

Recently while at the roller-skating rink I had the chance to observe a family waiting in line. It appeared to me that the mother of three young girls was very uncomfortable with her daughters being excited about going skating. She tried to squash any sign of happiness and excitement with threats like “if you don’t stand still, we’ll just go home” and “you’ll just have to sit in the car while we skate” and “you’re spoiling it for everybody”. Later I saw them again in the snack bar. It hadn’t stopped. “Sit still” and “NO! You can’t have a pretzel”, sounded more like a drill sergeant rebuking a new recruit than a rational conversation.

So, what are these three young girls learning about being excited and having fun? Probably the same thing their mother learned when she was young: “it’s not safe to be excited” and “things calm down when everybody is eating”.  So, don’t be surprised if you are stress eating when you are happy or excited.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of a healthy body. I don’t need to tell you about just having more willpower. I don’t need to tell you about one more diet to try, or one more trick to keep you from food you desperately want to eat. If you and food have an adversarial relationship – you have probably tried them all.

Are you ready to change all that? Ready to start to de-link your connection between emotions and food? Like any habit, even those you have had for a long time, reaching for comforting food can be replaced with other behavior.

Start with awareness: how and when do you self soothe with food?

  • Do you lose your appetite?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
  • Do you tend to go for sweet or salty comfort food?
  • Do you eat until you go numb or the discomfort from overeating is greater than the uncomfortable feelings you had before?
  • When your life feels out of control, do you engage in “control over food behavior” such as anorexia or bulimia?

Take a moment and reflect on today or yesterday while it is fresh in your mind. Did you eat something you wish you hadn’t? How were you feeling afterwards? Did you feel stuffed, disgusted, muted, satisfied, numbed, nauseous, calm? OK. What emotions were you feeling before you started to eat, emotions you were covering up that might have been too uncomfortable to feel? What were you running away from, and running to food to help divert you?

Keep a small notebook of situations and emotions that bring you running to food. Then pick one of them that you think you can shift into a new habit that doesn’t involve food. Don’t try to change chocolate cake to carrot sticks. Remember you still need to be comforted. What are things that are comforting to you? A warm bath? A friendly chat with a trusted friend? Sitting on a sunny bench at a nearby park? Some physical activity, like yoga? Listening to some soothing music? Make a list. Find one or more activities that you will substitute for one specific emotional pattern. Plan ahead what you will do the next time that trigger situation occurs. Congratulate yourself every time you succeed and be gentle with yourself if you slip into old patterns. Just recommit to do better next time. I recommend that you go easy on yourself. Focus on changing one pattern every 3 months.

Taking it Farther:

Start to notice why you respond to certain situations as you do. I’ve heard that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is how you respond to what happens. If a situation is not stressful to you, you won’t need comforting. But that is a topic for another article.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

I’ve heard a lot about the importance of forgiveness. You probably have too. But what I heard this past week about a benefit of forgiveness, I had never heard before. And it might change – well – everything.

Story: The effect of forgiving your bullies

A friend shared with me his experience of breaking through and being able to forgive some bullies who had given him a very hard time in middle school. He said he found the experience of forgiving them freeing and comforting. I said I could understand the freeing part, but could he tell me more about how it was comforting to him.

To me his insight was nothing short of remarkable. He said that after being able to truly forgive the cruelties he had endured, he felt that life has opened up to him in a whole new way. If he could forgive that, something he thought he might never be able to forgive, then what else could he do that he thought he couldn’t do. — This one experience may make a huge difference on how he lives the rest of his life and what he believes is possible for him.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Think of every grudge and negativity you hold onto, every injury you haven’t been able to get over, every injustice you have endured, and situations that make you angry or exhausted – as pebbles in your backpack. And that backpack is on your back all the time. —- How fast can you run? How fast can you move forward? How agile are you? How well do you sleep at night? How quickly can you adjust to changes in your life’s direction – all while carrying that heavy backpack?

Isn’t it time to lighten your load – at least a little?

1. Free yourself from some of the pebbles in your backpack. There are probably some easy ones you can do on your own – starting now. Here is one suggestion on how to get started.

  • Choose a time and place where you can be uninterrupted and at peace: a beautiful setting in nature or a quiet nook in your home, or ….
  • If you like, add some pleasing and calming music.
  • Sit down with a pad of paper or just your thoughts. Imagine putting down the backpack next to you and opening it up.
  • Pick out a small pebble and examine it. Feel it and experience what old hurt it might represent. Writing may help this process.
  • Decide whether to hang onto it or to let it go.
  • If you decide that you are done with that old hurt, drop the pebble or throw it far away.
  • If you decide you are not done with it, that you might still need it to keep distance between you and the other person whom it involves, then put it back in your backpack. You can always take it out again later.
  • Look for other pebbles that you might be done with.
  • Rest and be grateful for your accomplishments. Every pebble you remove is one less you have to carry – for the rest of your life.
  • Each time you let go of a pebble, you strengthen your forgiveness muscle. It’ll allow you to do bigger pebbles and rocks over time. My friend had been working on his forgiveness muscle for a long time before he was able to let go and forgive those bullies, and he didn’t do it alone. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

2. Know that there is also another backpack of pebbles that you carry. It contains all the pebbles of the times when you have been hurtful to others. The process of acknowledging your wrongdoing and forgiving yourself is similar. In addition you may need to make amends, ask for forgiveness, and find a better way to interact with that person if they are still in your life. You may need to set boundaries. Whether or not the other person forgives you does not matter. All you can do is your part. They have to deal with their own backpacks.

3. Find comfort in your growth and your ability to do things – things, which you couldn’t do before. Know that each time you do something you couldn’t do before, it may carry over into other aspects of your life. Now other things may become easier as well. Think of it as training to lead the full life of your dreams.

Taking it Farther:

In my experience you will get to a point where the pebbles and rocks are just too big to handle without the expertise and tools of a trained person: a coach, a therapist, a counselor, an energy healer. I regularly work with people who help me empty my backpack. Whatever modalities you choose, find those that work for the problem you are trying to heal. Sometimes a combination works best. A hammer works best with a nail, a saw solves a different problem, but you cannot build a house with only one tool. – Now, forward this to your friends.

If you feel ready, share this tip with the people in your life with whom you are ready to throw away the pebbles between you.

Contact me:

Want help? I’m here for you. Tired of struggling? Get relief! Get coached to help you get unstuck and take your life to the next level – starting now! Ready to get started? Call Edith at 847.913.3900

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Are you a perfectionist? Does everything have to be “just so”? Are you afraid of making mistakes, of being wrong, of being blamed? Are you your own harshest critic?

One of Webster’s definitions for perfectionism is: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable”.

If this feels like you, then you might feel
• fear of making a mistake
• fear of making decisions
• prefer procrastination and inaction to “wrong” action
• fear of being wrong
• fear of being found out or admitting a mistake
• fear of being punished for making a mistake
• fear of self judgment and harsh self criticism
• fear of seeing mistakes in others, especially people you care about
• condemnation of others’ mistakes and a sense of self righteousness

What’s the source of that? Let’s look into where we learned criticism, judgment and to condemn —- and how much it hurt. Maybe as children we just wanted to be loved. So we had to be perfect – as often as possible – or so we thought.

Do you feel guilty; that “it” is your fault? IF you had just been more perfect, then things would be different? Children often blame themselves for something they had no influence or responsibility for. Have you?

Story – My uncle died. I was sure it was my fault

When I was young – may be in first or second grade, my uncle died in a car crash. Technically he was my Mom’s uncle. He was one of the most important people in my young life. I loved him and felt loved and cared about by him. So how was his death my fault? It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that.

See – he had a laundry business and he picked up dirty laundry and delivered clean laundry in our little village. Sometimes he happened to catch me walking to my Mom’s work after school and gave me a ride up that steep hill to where she worked. That was really special. It didn’t matter that it was only a few minutes walk. He cared about me and showed it. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that from anyone else. So it mattered even more. When he died, I was sure it was my fault.

It was winter and he died in a car crash on that icy slope – I believe. And I believed that if he hadn’t driven there at that time, then of course he’d still be safe. And he must have been on that road because he was looking to give me a ride. It was the main road through town and I suspect now that he drove it often.

Then for a while I had the fantasy, that if I had just been there the way he was there for me, then he’d still be alive. I had heard that people get incredibly strong when there is an emergency like that. So I fantasized, that if I had been there, then I could have lifted the big delivery van off him and saved him. I was probably six or seven years old when it happened. It’s unlikely that he was under the car since he was the driver. But I didn’t think about that – until just now while writing this down.

How did I first realize that maybe it wasn’t my fault that he died? I was visiting my mother about 30 years after the accident and somehow the topic veered to our uncle. Well, she talked about how it was her fault that he died. I was incredulous! We both had the same idea and when we explored it, neither one of us realistically could have had any blame for his death.

Ask yourself: Do you have something in your life that you have blamed yourself for or been blamed for? Was it really your fault?

Call to Action and Why This Matters

If you are a perfectionist, you might have a HABIT of accepting blame – whether it is your fault or not. People around you will blame you. Or you will feel blamed. You may believe it, you expect it and accept it. So the cycle continues.
As a result you may avoid making decisions and procrastinate about taking action. You may avoid trying anything new. You may shy away from things like public speaking or anything else where people might be watching “for your next mistake”. You avoid and fear change. And because it feels terrible enough to make a mistake and blame yourself, it might be almost impossible to admit one when you really should say, “I am sorry. I made a mistake.”

This week, I encourage you to observe your patterns of behavior:
• why and when you procrastinate
• your willingness to try new things
• your ability to make decisions easily and decisively
• your ability to take reasonable risks

Taking it Farther

If perfectionism stalls your ability to move forward, you may want to look deeper. In what area of your life do you get stalled? Is there a clue in your past? Was there a traumatic event that caused you to become that way, or did you have an important person in your life early on whose lack of approval and constant criticism caused you to become shy and reticent to take any risks or make any mistakes?

Some people can heal this through journal writing or other self-help techniques; others may choose a trusted friend, a support group, therapist or coach to release this pattern over time. Others can change their HABIT of perfectionism with sheer effort of will. Whatever works for you – do it. I’m not saying to get sloppy, just to ease any stranglehold that perfectionism may hold over you.

You deserve to be free from constant self-doubt and harsh criticism by yourself or others. You deserve to be free to try new things, learn from your mistakes and “get messy”. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a “life sentence”.

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to schedule some coaching sessions. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900


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