Do you trust yourself?

For years, I was consumed by what everyone else was doing and thinking. I looked outside of myself for the answers. I constantly searched for external validation to confirm that my thoughts, decisions, and actions were ok.

It was exhausting. I hadn’t learned to trust myself yet.

Does this sound familiar? I can’t emphasize enough how important it has been for me to learn to trust myself. It hasn’t been easy, and I definitely still fail, but my default settings and behavior have changed for the better.

So, how DO we learn to trust ourselves more? Here are 3 strategies that have helped me do so. Maybe they’ll help you too.

1. Challenge your current set of beliefs
Most of us have a pretty rigid set of beliefs (due to conditioning, cultural influences, family, friends, our own experiences etc.) and our brains are constantly looking for evidence to support those beliefs.

Guess what? Many of those beliefs you have are total bullshit! They do not represent your actual reality or some sort of absolute truth. Rather, they are simply the stories you tell yourself. Sometimes they’re not even your stories. You may not agree with them at all. You may have just inherited them from someone else and not thought to question them.

If your current set of beliefs don’t resonate with you, challenge them! Ask yourself what stories are more aligned with who you really are and what you really think. The more your thoughts and actions are aligned with what you truly believe deep down, the more you’ll be able to trust yourself to make decisions according to those deeper beliefs.

2. Get out of your head
Do you think with just your mind? Or do you tap into something more? Unfortunately, our western culture doesn’t do a whole lot to teach us how to think in a more integrated way. Unless you’ve got some eastern influences, practice meditation, do yoga, etc. you might not be in the practice of getting out of your head.

One way to do that is to get out of your head and into your heart. Learning to pause, breathe, and check in with yourself on a deeper level can be a great start to trusting your inner wisdom and intuition. Your heart/soul/spirit has access to a lot of information and quiet knowledge that your mind does not. Plus, your mind is usually too busy squawking loudly about anything and everything to allow you to hear that deeper wisdom. To access it, you must learn to quiet your mind and listen from a different place.

3. Listen with your whole being
As long as you’re getting out of your head, you may as well start to tap into the wisdom of your body. Your physical intelligence. Practice noticing what kinds of information each of your senses is taking in. Here are some examples of questions you might ask.

What do you see around you when you really pay attention? What other smells can you detect beneath the most obvious ones around you? What can you hear beyond the chatter in your own mind, traffic, your colleagues, or the tv… wind blowing, birds chirping? When you savor the taste of a favorite food, what are the emotions it brings up? Can you read between the lines of the words your friend is actually saying? What is your skin letting you know about the situation you’re in? Are you having a physical reaction that might shed some light on what’s happening for you emotionally? Can you pick up on the energies around you? Those coming from other individuals, groups, or places? Get curious. See what you can tap into.

I like to think of our bodies as these incredibly sensitive balls of energy that are constantly taking in and processing valuable information. Why the hell would we not listen to them?! They are giving us clues all day long!

Your body is a compass. If you learn to honor its wisdom and truly listen to it, it will let you in on all sorts of delightful magic.

Your whole being, actually, is the compass. Work on sharpening the listening skills of the different individual aspects of it, as well as integrating it all and listening with your whole damn self. You might just find yourself being pleasantly surprised with the secrets it shares.

 

Fearlessly Authentic

Who would you be if you weren’t afraid of being judged? I love that question. It points to what is a very real struggle for many of us who, over the years, have developed different parts of ourselves to fit into different parts of our lives.

Recently I was listening to a call where a coach I don’t know was talking about her deep desire to integrate her two identities. Her one identity is the professional coach who helps Silicon Valley execs grow their teams and develop their leadership skills. Her other identity is a highly creative free-spirited woman who runs around at Burning Man in a corset and tutu, pole dances, and gives talks on the law of attraction.

She was struggling with her fears about people from either world finding out about her other identity and judging her for it. The business world wouldn’t take her seriously if they knew what she does in her free time. And her alternative friends would think she was crazy for working in Silicon Valley.

[Side note: some of you who are familiar with bay area culture are probably wondering what the problem is there, because you know there are actually a ton of people from Silicon Valley who go to Burning Man. And just as many Burning Man regulars who have “normal” corporate jobs. But that’s not the point, of course. Regardless of what the reality of any situation is, the stories we create in our minds are the powerful ones that can really hold us back. THOSE stories are the ones I want to encourage all of us to move past.]

How many identities do you have? Do you hide parts of yourself for fear of being judged? Have you created elaborate facades that you put up while interacting with certain groups? We all do it to an extent I think. While I’d love it if we could all be 100% ourselves all the time, I believe that sometimes it IS actually helpful to be able to tone things up or down, given the situation.

At the end of the day, I’m not arguing that being a slightly different version of yourself in certain situations is inherently bad or good. Things are rarely inherently good or bad. They just.. are. We are the ones who assign a value to them in our minds, usually due to our conditioning and deeply ingrained beliefs.

Really, the question is whether it’s helpful, effective, or healthy in any given circumstance. Should that coach show up to work at a big corporate gig wearing her Burning Man gear? Probably not. But should she have to hide either or both of her identities and live in fear of judgment? I say no.

I think it’s more a matter of learning how to honor the different, beautiful, unique parts of ourselves fully, to mindfully choose how to show up when, and to take full responsibility for our impact every time.

I often wonder who the fullest expression of me is. She’s constantly evolving of course, but as of right now, here is who I am when I’m completely owning my true self, and not worried what anyone will think:
– I dare to speak up, have strong opinions, and stand my ground
– I am brave, vulnerable, and courageously show all of my real raw self to the people I trust
– I don’t ask for or seek permission from others, I simply trust my own judgment
– I freely show my quirky, goofy side, laugh easily, hug everyone, and smile often
– I approach strangers easily, embrace awkwardness, and create warm connections
– I embrace my woo woo spiritual side in my business just as much as my practical side

What about you? Who would you be if you were fearlessly authentic? If you were sure you would not be judged, OR were sure you wouldn’t care? What is the fullest expression of you?

From awareness to awesomeness

How well do you know yourself? Do you accept and acknowledge your own strengths and accomplishments? Do you recognize your bad habits?

When you’re thinking or doing something that holds you back or stops you from moving forward, are you conscious of it in the moment?

Awareness is the first step. 

If you’re not aware of the behavior that isn’t serving you in the first place, how could you possibly work on changing it?

But, let’s assume you are aware. Let’s assume you’re painfully aware of your thoughts and behaviors, and you recognize that some of them are NOT helpful. You’re being honest with yourself and can admit that certain tendencies you have are actually sabotaging you in a big way.

What do you do with that awareness, then? How do you use it in a productive way? Here’s a strategy I like.

Name it
As you become more conscious of your default behavior (the conditioning and programming you grew up with or have internalized over the years), get in the habit of acknowledging it. Tell a friend or coach, write it in a journal, or say it out loud. Naming it brings it into the light and lets you take a closer look.

Own it
Instead of blaming something or someone external (your family! the church! the media!), simply accept that it’s there. Bemoaning a past you can’t change isn’t helpful. Whining about its existence isn’t helpful. Taking responsibility for it IS. Regardless of where it came from, it’s showing up. Just accept that it’s here now.

Evaluate it
Next, instead of judging it (which is not helpful), get curious. Is this belief or behavior productive? Is it limiting you? Be honest. If it’s not helpful, why keep it around? Consider that it might be time to let it go.

Commit
Once you’ve determined that a behavior is not serving you, make a powerful decision. Take a stand. Declare to yourself (and someone else if you want the accountability) that you are going to start undoing that particular bit of programming.

Practice
After that, it’s straight forward. Practice. As soon as you catch yourself falling into old patterns, pause and deliberately choose something else. You are rewiring your brain and it takes time. You’ll most likely fail, repeatedly. Don’t beat yourself up for it though, just get back on your horse and keep going.

As you learn to harness your awareness, and get better at choosing powerfully, you’ll start to show up in a different way. That’s where things get really fun. That’s where you get to start creating your own reality.

You go from awareness to awesomeness when you realize that you get to sit in the driver’s seat of your own journey and you can quite literally create your own reality, by intentionally choosing how to be and what to do, rather than simply reacting to external stimuli according to whatever your default programming is. In every moment, you have a choice.

Cultivating a sense of self awareness and harnessing it to mindfully create your life is an integral part of experiencing real freedom, of living your truth, and of connecting to your most authentic and powerful self.

So, tune in. Observe yourself and your own behaviors with curiosity. Then use that awareness, as the powerful tool that it can be, and go create the life you want.

That is awesomeness.

How to (Finally) Stop Beating Yourself Up

Do you find yourself beating yourself up when you fail? When you were good, but not great? When you are progressing, but not fast enough?

This is a recurring theme among some of my clients – those with perfectionist tendencies in particular. If you are someone with big dreams and high expectations for yourself, I bet you know what I’m talking about. Beating yourself up is challenging habit to let go of, to say the least.

Some of us hold ourselves to impossible standards and then tear ourselves apart when we fail. This focus on our inadequacies also prevents us from celebrating our strengths and accomplishments. Maybe we understand, at least intellectually, that it’s not serving us. But how do we actually break the cycle?

Edward Norton punching himself in the face

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years. This is not a specific 10-step process, per se. It’s more of a collection of strategies in the approximate order I would use them. Feel free to use any or all of them in whatever order works for you.

HOW TO (FINALLY) STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP

1. Take responsibility
If you made a mistake, admit it. If you made a mess, clean it up. Whatever the problem is, own up to it. It feels great and it’s the right thing to do. Once you’ve taken responsibility, there is no need to dwell on it.

2. Let it go
Admit that, quite frankly, beating yourself up is a huge waste of time. It doesn’t actually accomplish anything for anyone. Kind of like holding a grudge against someone else. Remember that you always have a choice and decide to let it go and move on.

3. Feel your emotions
In order to move on, I believe we must go through our emotions, as opposed going around them (by ignoring or denying them), which may lead to dealing with the uncomfortable emotion in an unhealthy or unnecessary way. Find a healthy way to express your frustration / anger / disappointment to get it out of your system.

4. Forgive yourself
There is incredible power in forgiveness. There is also plenty of research that backs up the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of forgiveness. Make a conscious choice to forgive yourself (and others). It’s good for you.

5. Choose self-love and self-acceptance
Know that you are intrinsically valuable. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone to be worthy. You simply are. So, decide to love and accept yourself in spite of your failures and imperfections. Or, take it a step further and decide to love and accept yourself because of your failures and imperfections. They are part of what make you unique.

6. Practice self-compassion
Many of us are capable of showing incredible compassion for others, yet struggle to show that same compassion for ourselves. Try this. Remember a time that you felt compassion for someone else. Recreate the emotional state you were in. Imagine it vividly. While feeling this way, you certainly wouldn’t beat them up, would you? No. You would treat them with the love and respect they deserve. You’d be warm, gentle, and understanding. Now, take those same emotions and direct them at yourself.

7. Shift your perspective
Realize that every “failure” is actually an opportunity. Every time you fall, get back up, and dust yourself off, you gain something – like strength, experience, or wisdom. As they often say in yoga, “every time you fall you’re simply learning how not to fall.”

8. Embrace failure
Once you’ve shifted your perspective, you can go one step further and actually embrace failure. Celebrate the chance to grow! If you’ve ever taken an improv class, you may have learned the technique of following up a failure by throwing your arms in the air and yelling “TADA!” (If you’ve never taken an improv class, I highly recommend it.)

9. Have a sense of humor
Take your dreams seriously, by all means, but know that it’s really about the journey. The journey will always be full of surprises, challenges, and “learning opportunities”. Cultivate the ability to laugh at yourself so that you can recover quickly from those hiccups and bounce back with enthusiasm. Plus, you’ll be a lot more fun to be around.

10. Be patient
Changing old patterns takes time. It’s not a light switch that you can switch on and off. It’s more like a dimmer switch. Every time you bring your awareness to the old unconscious behavior (beating yourself up) and decide to replace it with something else (self-compassion) you are rewiring your brain. It takes time.

10 Things I Used to Hate About Me

I am celebrating imperfection today. And so should you. “Perfect” is a rather outdated (and boring) concept, don’t you think? Not to mention nonexistent.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” – Stephen Hawking

And yet here we are, chasing the unattainable. We are buying into the media’s idea of what perfection looks like, smells like, talks like, walks like, dresses like, and acts like. We know it’s unreasonable, but we run after it slobbering like a bunch of idiots, staring glassy-eyed at the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines, fantasizing about what it would be like to look like them, be them, or be with them. On some level we know that they’re not real people, we know they’re edited versions of real people, and still we compare ourselves to them. We hungrily flip to the section about that latest diet craze, glancing furtively around us to make sure no one saw that we’re buying into what is obviously pure bullshit thrown together to sell copies.

Obviously that doesn’t apply to all of us… But the essence of it is alive and well in many of us on some level, isn’t it? Are we maybe buying into some of it unconsciously, even if we aren’t consciously buying into any of it?

The concept of beauty is an incredible part of the human experience, albeit one that lies in the eye of the beholder. Naturally, ideals of beauty vary greatly from culture to culture. But when society and the media constantly shove unrealistic ideals down our throats, it has an impact. The pressure to attain these ideals leads to everything from bullying and body shaming to eating disorders and suicide. Especially among youth. Especially among young women. We know this now and we still let it happen. That is NOT ok. Please let’s step up our game and make a change.

I do think that things are beginning to shift and I’m ecstatic about it. I’ve noticed a significant change in the voice and tone of cultural messages about beauty in recent years, haven’t you? Definitely in social media. Less dramatically in traditional media, but it’s happening. I’m cautiously optimistic and my heart is filled with hope every time I see an ad or video that rises up and instead promotes more useful things to strive for like self love, self acceptance, strength, self awareness, respect, and an appreciation for different body types.

marilyn monroe

There is nothing sexier than a person who is comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they look like. <<Tweet this>>

As individuals we can take responsibility for building our own inner power and confidence and letting go of comparing ourselves to other people (and photoshopped people.) We can learn to own it, whatever “it” is. In addition to the attention and intention we focus inward, however, don’t we have a responsibility to move the collective consciousness forward and past this nonsense?

I want to do my part in promoting authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. I believe that our beautifully imperfect human bodies (and minds) deserve to be acknowledged and loved as they are. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve ourselves. But, let’s make sure we understand that our worthiness as human beings doesn’t have anything to do with being any particular size, weight, race, gender, sexuality, or shape.

stevemaraboli

So, here are 10 things about me that I used to hate – 10 things I could easily continue to criticize, compare to others, hide etc. that I have instead chosen to not only love and accept, but to share and celebrate. Enjoy!

  1. Long arms. My arms are disproportionately long and I used to be super self conscious about them. Now I celebrate the awkward gracefulness of them (as well as being able to reach things in really high places.)
  2. Long fingers. I never knew what to do with my long alien fingers and used to hide my hands in pockets or behind my back. Now I let them dance and play as they wish. It doesn’t matter how they look.
  3. Small breasts. My lack of boobs used to make me feel like slightly less of a woman and, admittedly I sometimes longed for a nice C-cup that might actually fill out a top. Now I cherish my (small and perky!) girls because they make me feel and move like more of an athlete.
  4. Narrow hips. I used to hate that I couldn’t fill out a pair of shorts or jeans the way a curvy woman could. Now I embrace the fact that my curves are not in the traditional places. My curves, which I love, are my shoulders and my nice big ass!
  5. Small head. Yup, I used to bemoan the small size of my head (in comparison to the rest of my body.) Now I simply identify with my spirit animal, the giraffe. Big strong body, long graceful neck, small head, warm eyes, feet planted firmly on the ground (the part of me that is practical) and head in the clouds (the part of me that is a visionary) and I rather like it.
  6. Open bite. My malocclusion evolved as the result of a tongue thrusting tendency. It presents some functional challenges (I can’t bite through anything thin or flimsy) but mostly I was bothered by how it looks. Now I’ve let that go. There are much more important things to focus on.
  7. My lisp. Didn’t know I have a lisp? Yup, I do. It’s subtle and comes and goes. I used to try in vain to hide it (which of course made it worse.) Now I just consider it part of what makes my particular speech patterns and voice unique and recognizable.
  8. My shyness. It used to manifest itself in things like people pleasing, being quiet, avoiding conflict, and generally trying to fade into the background. It made me feel small and insignificant. Now I accept my shyness as a natural part of being an introvert and I’ve learned to work with it (e.g. by making sure I get lots of alone time to charge my batteries) instead of letting it control me. Now I know I can embrace being an introvert and still show up as the fierce, fun, loud, and powerful version of myself when I want to.
  9. Melasma. This charming form of skin discoloration basically looks like you have dirt on your face. I know because people have quite literally tried to wipe it off. I’ve had it in varying degrees on and off for 10 years and it used to be the only thing I saw when I looked in the mirror, especially during the times when I had it on my upper lip. Now I just think of it as no biggie and a great reminder to wear sunscreen and hats.
  10. My sports injuries. I used to compare myself to the runner I potentially could have been, had I never torn my ACL or developed achilles tendinitis. I’d get angry at my body for not being able to keep up with me and hampering my success. Now I do my best to accept my injuries and simply work from wherever I’m at each day. I savor the accomplishment I feel on a good day and humbly sit with the disappointment I feel on a bad day. I am grateful to be as able-bodied as I still am. If anything, my sports injuries have been a blessing in disguise. They’ve taught me to respect my limits and train smarter not just harder.

brene brown

I am walking tall and proud, owning my imperfection, and I am calling on you to join me in choosing every day to model authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. Let’s lift each other up and celebrate what’s raw and real for the sake of both our own aliveness and our connections to each other.

Charging the Batteries that Power My Dream Life

A few weeks ago, I was working with one of my coaches to design an ideal day in my dream life. As we uncovered the elements that would make up a typical day where I’m living on purpose, making choices that are aligned with my values, and being intentional about how I spend my time, I remembered how important it is to me to have energy.

To have the kind of intense and grounded energy I need to live my dream life I need to charge my batteries often. This is something I’m working on a lot right now.

Today, for example:

I charged my professional battery with an edgy coaching session outdoors, where we drew inspiration and ideas from our natural surroundings to move her forward. I feel lucky to be able to count my work as something that lights me up.

I charged my physical battery by running for 50 minutes up to Coit Tower and back, stretching and strengthening my body, filling my lungs with fresh air, enjoying the feeling of my blood pumping through my veins, and connecting to the expansiveness and limitlessness of the view from up top.

I charged my mental battery during my run by listening to a free webinar on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset while doing work you love that has a big positive impact on the world, and I walked away with a sense of calm, clarity, and fierce determination.

I charged my spiritual battery by lighting a candle, listening to a World Beat station on Pandora, and taking some time to breathe into stillness, quiet, and gratitude.

Other days I might be more focused on charging my intellectual, social, or emotional batteries. It varies from day to day.

We can charge our batteries in a number of ways, of course. Putting just a little focus or attention onto an area of my life tends to create more energy there. Taking bold inspired action creates energy. Forming habits around healthy activities and meaningful rituals can create energy. 

I charge my iPhone every night when I sleep, but also in my car while I drive, and often while working on my laptop. Why not do the same with these other batteries? What if I can build opportunities into my day to regularly be charging my batteries so that I am able to maintain a high level of energy, which not only keeps me growing and thriving, but also spreads beyond me and energizes those with whom I come into contact? 

The Possing Manifesto

I present to you: The Possing Manifesto.

You always have a choice.

Take radical responsibility for every part of your life.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Respect their journey and live yours.

Be present. Be grateful. See the beauty all around you.

Don’t fear your emotions, feel them.

You are a feisty beast. Run wild and be free.

Every day is an adventure. Play hard.

There is nothing more badass than being who you are. Own it.

Stand tall, make good eye contact, and speak up. Your voice matters.

Be courageous. Fail gloriously. Let go of looking good and getting it right.

Clarity and self-awareness are key. Know who you are and what you want.

Prioritize self-care. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Live on purpose. Seek aliveness.

Create more than you consume.

Invest in the process. Let go of the outcome.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Speak your truth.

Ask for help when you need it.

Replace judgment with curiosity. Replace jealousy with inspiration.

Respond intentionally, instead of reacting defensively.

Take bold action. Action creates energy. You can course correct later.

Never assume. Just ask. Keep it simple.

Come from a place of love, compassion, and respect. Always.

Be authentic, vulnerable, and real. Connect genuinely.

Do meaningful work. Work hard but hack life and be smart.

Be a resource. Be helpful. Be kind. Be generous.

You CAN change the world. Go do it.

I wrote this manifesto for The Twenty-One Day Momentum Challenge