Speaking Your Truth

Man and woman“There’s only one thing harder than speaking your truth and that’s not speaking it.”
—Naomi Wolf

Heather, a baker for a catering company, began having issues with one of her co-workers after he bulldozed over her experience and capability in the kitchen. After her resentment had built up to a nearly unmanageable level, she called for a meeting, during which she explained to him how she was feeling.

“I made sure to speak my truth,” says Heather. “By that I mean that I spoke with him in a completely honest way about my discomfort, without trying to minimize or play down the fact that I felt disrespected. I used “I” statements, but was also clear about why the work environment had become unbearable.”

Although the lead up to the talk was terrifying—Heather cried in her car on the way to work and nearly turned around—since the meeting, things have been much better at work. The caterer was able to listen to Heather’s statements without attacking her and, on the whole, her work environment has become significantly more pleasant.

Heather’s experience is perfectly normal, especially in regards to the fear she felt before expressing her dissatisfaction. Most people have a difficult time saying what’s true for them when issues come up in family and work life.

They fear the pain of being rejected, writes Mike Robbins in Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken, so they alter their words and actions and may even manipulate situations and people to get what they want without having to speak honestly. In a recent article, Kimberly Key, author of Ten Keys to Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle, quoted the familiar verse from the bible “The truth shall set you free” (John 38:2). She believed that this particular verse captures the power that freedom of speech can have from a spiritual perspective. Key also, suggested that when we get to freely speak our truth, we are able to grow in emotional intelligence and improve our physiological health.

However, speaking your truth is not only beneficial psychologically, it can be beneficial to your physical health. “When we let our true self be seen, when we let our inner pilot light radiate, we heal,” says Rankin, the author of the book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself. Holding in emotions and resentments can lead to stress, which can be taxing on the body. Releasing stressful tension is just one of the benefits of speaking truthfully.

But how does one actually do this without alienating others?

  1. Aim for being real, not right. Speak from the heart, and focus on expressing your thoughts without attacking the other person.
  2. Get to know your own truth through introspective exercises. Think about what you value, what inspires you, what makes you feel grounded, what gives you purpose in life.
  3. Practice. Speaking your truth becomes easier with time and repetition. Always pay attention to that inner pilot light. And when something seems off in your outer world, don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard.

As difficult as it may feel to start speaking up, ultimately it’s easier to be truthful than it is to evade the issue. It takes courage to speak up, to risk another’s displeasure, but in the end the physical and mental rewards of doing so are endless.

 

Author’s content used under license, © 2013 Claire Communications

 

When Bad Is Good: Finding Meaning in “Negative” Events

There’s a Taoist story of an old farmer whose horse inexplicably ran away. Woman looking through tube His neighbors said, “What bad luck!” to which he replied, “Perhaps.”

The next day, the horse returned, bringing with it a wild horse. The farmer’s son tried to ride it, fell, and broke his leg. Once again, the neighbors sent their sympathy: “How terrible this is.” “Perhaps,” the farmer said.

The following day, military officials came to the village to draft every young man into the army. With his leg broken, the farmer’s son was spared from service.

There’s always more than one way to look at what life brings you, and for every event that seems negative there is a way to reframe it so that you can see the positive. And that can be a very good thing: your experiences become more meaningful, purposeful and valuable when you are able to recognize the gift contained in adversity.

The trouble is that, during the time you are experiencing adversity it’s often challenging, if not impossible, to see the proverbial silver lining.

So, how do you find the silver lining when troubles arrive at your doorstep?”

See the opposite.

Every day may not be good, but there is good to be found in every day—and a hidden gift in all our experiences. Search for the positive interpretation of the event.

Doing this might seem, at first, alien to you, but thinking outside of your initial interpretation of the event, and learning to be proficient at finding meaning in the challenges that come your way, is an excellent exercise in expanding your view of what’s possible.

Ask yourself lots of questions.

Adversity can serve you in positive ways, and one of the best ways to open yourself up and leverage negative experiences is by asking questions like:

  • How can I use this experience to learn (and change) something about myself? Positive or negative, our experiences are our guides and teachers, and can help us, if we pay attention to the lessons, to improve the quality of our lives.
  • How could this negative experience affect me in a positive way? This can be a challenging question to ask when you feel stuck in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. But being a partner with your pain allows you to open up to the beneficent possibilities instead of merely wallowing in the negativity.
  • How will this make me a stronger person? It’s not about handling difficult circumstances better than others (a mere ego boost), but how an expanded perspective empowers you to be a more capable and resilient spouse, parent, employee, entrepreneur, etc.
  • How does this negative event (and your reaction to it) reflect your life purpose? Sometimes, what we initially perceive as being an obstacle is actually a guide changing our course and steering us to our true path.
  • What’s the opportunity in the negative experience? Personal/professional growth? Developing a thicker skin? Service to others? Connection? A call to adventure? A mindset shift? Reassessing negative situations means converting them into something productive.

Be grateful.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. —William James

If not for the negative event itself, be grateful for the insight or lesson learned.

Being present in the moment and appreciating all aspects of your life can act as a calming salve when times get rough.

And remember: finding the silver lining in every cloud doesn’t mean ignoring feelings associated with the event—quite the opposite. It means acknowledging and experiencing those feelings fully AND leveraging them to your advantage.

Giving meaning to events, both positive and negative ones, is empowering. A positive life skill is gained when we realize that for every single thing that happens in our lives, we get to choose whether it’s good or bad, whether it will weaken or strengthen us.

Author’s content used under license, © 2013 Claire Communications

The Top 6 Mindset Shifts You Need for Success

Woman profileMany people believe that a winning mindset is a trait to adopt. It attracts happiness, health, fulfillment and success. But what is a mindset, really?

A mindset is a person’s established set of attitudes that are based on their assumption. These assumptions predetermine a person’s reactions to and interpretations of any event, environment or situation.

Whether positive or negative, a person’s mindset is engrained and habitual. It affects all aspects of his or her professional and personal life.

Is Your Mindset Working to Your Advantage or Holding You Back?

When facing a new challenge, do you react with confidence, knowing that with time, effort and practice you can succeed? Or do you find yourself feeling inadequate, apprehensive, or overwhelmed by fear?

Do you view failure as simply part of the process and a rich opportunity for growth? Or do you avoid challenges in order to preserve your pride and minimize risk?

When you encounter setbacks and criticism, do you reflect, review and revise your approach or do blame and avoid accountability?

How you answer those questions can give you insight into what type of mindset you have.  In her book, Mindset, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck identifies two general mindsets: fixed and growth.

Fixed Mindset
 – If you have a fixed mindset, you might:

  • Experience static talent and intelligence
  • Believe that it is better to avoid challenges
  • Prefer quitting before you experience a failure
  • Believe effort is pointless
  • Ignore or downplay constructive criticism and feedback
  • View the success of others as a threat

Growth Mindset
- If you have a growth mindset, you might:

  • Believe that talent and intelligence can be developed
  • Embrace challenges to grow
  • See failure as an opportunity for learning
  • Believe that effort leads to mastery and success
  • Use criticism and feedback to improve
  • Find inspiration and learning from the success of others

It is easy to tell someone to develop a growth mindset, but, if mindset is so deeply engrained, how do you change it? Here are six ways to begin:

Six Simple Mindset Shifts to Improve Success

Woman w-arms folded1.  Embrace failure instead of avoiding it. The faster the failure, the quicker the learning. Before starting his auto manufacturing company, Henry Ford failed at his first several businesses. What would the industrial landscape look like had he given up after his first try? Remember, when failure closes a door, it opens up the door for more opportunities.

2.  Think abundance instead of scarcity. When it comes to spending money on self-improvement, many people resist due to cost. But clients and customers are attracted to people who believe in and value themselves. Instead of thinking of personal growth as an expense, think of it as an investment in your future. 
When you come from a place of lack, you will attract people and circumstances that bring more scarcity. When you believe that your needs will be supplied and come from a place of abundance, that is what you will attract.

3.  Embrace challenges. People who have a mindset of “growth” realize that challenges are just opportunities in disguise, and they choose to actively seek them out. 
Everyone looks good when things are going well. A true test of character and leadership is when there is a challenge or obstacle to overcome.

4.  Use setbacks as learning opportunities. No matter how thorough the plan, no matter how well you executed the details, obstacles will surface. Do you have the ability to predict with any real certainty what setbacks will occur? Instead of wasting energy trying to prevent the unknown, why not just face obstacles as they come?

5.  Don’t take it personally. Sometimes the best opportunities for personal and professional growth come from leveraging constructive criticism and negative feedback. How well do you listen to your customers’ and clients’ complaints? 
Do you fully embrace feedback? Consider feedback as a gift and a tool for your development.

6.  Change your attitude. Instead of resenting successful people for what they have accomplished, look to them to learn how they did it and turn that to your advantage.

By incorporating these simple mindset shifts, you give yourself the opportunity to experience not only tangible results but you could increase your self-confidence, productivity and fulfillment.

Author’s content used under license, (c) Claire Communications

The Danger of Conformity

LegsConformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”   -John F. Kennedy

We tend to be like pack animals- we feel safe in our herds. We don’t like to stand out too much; at a primal level, it feels unsafe.

So we conform to generally accepted standards of behaviors, attitudes and beliefs within our herds, and we mostly expect others to as well.

A 75-year-old woman is not likely to dress like a 15-year-old, for example. She doesn’t belong to that tribe and may be alienated by her own if she were to dress like that.

Most of the time, we don’t even realize we are conforming. We do what others do because others do it, not because we have consciously and thoughtfully chosen it. It’s just “what is done.” Or we conform because of pressure and expectations.

Is conformity all bad? No, of course not. It’s not a bad thing to stop at red traffic lights or drive on the correct side of the road.

So when does conformity become dangerous? Below is a look at four ways conformity could be detrimental to living a full and meaningful life-your life.

When conforming deletes your passions… 

Everyone in your family goes to college and becomes doctors or lawyers or other professionals. You want to go to cooking school and become a baker, but you go to college instead and get on the “right track,” majoring in finance.  

When conforming negates your healthy instincts…

As a brand new mother, your instincts scream that your baby should sleep in bed with you, or at least in a crib right next to it. Yet night after night, you close the door to your baby’s room and endure 20 minutes of his crying because letting him “cry it out” is what you’re “supposed” to do.

When conforming squelches your truth…

You’ve known you were gay since childhood, but to acknowledge it would crush your family and your career. So you don’t. Your entire life feels like a lie.

When conforming harms others…

You’ve always gone along with your friends who like to harass ethnic minorities. Now they’re planning a hate crime.

Bullying, abusing, acting on dangerous ideologies and much more can bring harm to others, physically or psychologically. 

What’s missing from the equation in dangerous conformity is critical, free thinking. We so cling to our groups that we miss discovering what we, ourselves, truly think and truly want.

The good news is that our true selves never really go away. They lie in wait for the day they can be set free to live the passionate, authentic, inspired life for which they were created.

 

Author’s content used under license, (c) Claire Communications

How Emotionally Resilient Are You?

Woman with long hairEmotional resilience is the ability to successfully cope with change or misfortune. Even when afraid, resilient people respond to life’s challenges with courage and emotional stamina.

While we can’t always control what life brings, we can use adversity as an opportunity for growth. Respond True or False to the following statements to discover how well you cope with life’s many challenges.

 

Set 1
1.   When bad things happen, I think “why me?” I feel fear and self-pity; I want to find someone to blame.

2.   When I feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, I overeat or drink too much alcohol, or do other things I know aren’t good for me.

3.   I don’t trust I can handle adversity by myself, nor do I have supportive people I can truly count on in a crisis.

4.   Even when my life seems stable, I worry that some kind of misfortune is around the corner. I also have a tendency to create catastrophes out of the little things that happen.

5.   I find it hard to feel faith when bad things happen to good people. I feel despairing, hopeless and unable to move forward.

 

Set 2
1.   I handle everything better when I take good care of myself. Exercising raises my endorphins; eating right and sleeping well gives me more physical, mental and emotional stamina; and setting aside time for play and positive connections makes me feel more joyful and optimistic.

2.   I have faith in my ability to handle life’s challenges. At the same time, I know the importance of having loving, supportive people to help me face difficulties, large and small.

3.   Even when faced with misfortune, I look for the “silver lining.” I believe that ultimately there’s a positive opportunity from which I can learn and grow.

4.   I have a strong sense of meaning and purpose in my life that helps me move forward despite any obstacles.

5.   I’m very persistent. Even when I get knocked down, I trust myself to eventually get back up.

If you answered true more often in Set 1 and false more often in Set 2, you may wish to learn some effective ways to develop more emotional resilience.

You can strengthen your resilience by becoming more emotionally self-aware, improving your mood with exercise, good diet, play and laughter, building self-reliance and a strong support network, and by developing perseverance, purpose and a more positive attitude.

Would you like to become more emotionally resilient?  Are you looking for ways to better handle your professional and personal situations?  I would love to be able to help you.  Please reach out to me at angela@thewonderloft.com and let’s chat about how I can help you become more emotionally resilient! 

 

Author’s content used under license, (c) Claire Communications