Tuesday, 21 January 2014

It's Scary Stuff

There are two kinds of fear.  Fears that are rational and that are there to keep us safe, and those that are irrational and hold us back in life. 

Rational fears can be healthy. They are the ones that keep you from wandering too close to the edge of a the roof, or from jumping into Niagara Falls.  They are the instinctual auto responses that your body provides to help keep you alive. I vote, listen to them. 

But then there are those other fears. The slightly irrational ones that keep us from experiencing and from growing beyond that which we already know. These are the stage fright fears that makes public speaking terrifying. The nervous stomach that keeps you from letting loose on the dance floor. The shy side that keeps you in your seat instead of approaching that handsome man across the room. The unsettled worry that creeps in when you think about quitting your job and pursuing something new and different. 

When a fear presents itself we can find ourselves quite quickly at a fork in our road. A point where a decision of some magnitude is required in order to move on.  So what should you do when you find yourself at this point in your path?? 

First, a quick assessment of the situation.  Ask yourself, 'What is it that is happening right now and are there risks to my well-being involved??' If you find yourself at the edge of the roof of a 10 story building, might I suggest that yes, there is risk to your well-being and that it is a healthy and rational fear that is telling you to back away from danger.  But, if you find yourself in a situation where, although scary in the moment, there are certain precautions or behaviours that you can adopt to keep yourself safe while engaging in what will ultimately prove to move you beyond where you currently find yourself to be feeling stuck..... I say go for it!! Take the new job even though public speaking may be something scary that you will have to learn to do. There are meditations to help calm your nerves, or practice classes that you can take to train yourself in a new skill. Go ahead, get up in front of a crowd of strangers and dance. Let the music move you because the free feeling of fun will be well worth it. Approach that handsome man and risk opening your still healing heart to a new relationship. (On a personal note, that last one took me giving myself more than one real pep talk, but it has been the most rewarding risk I have ever taken. A longer story for another day) 

There are MANY stories about successful people who seem to have appeared from thin air.  So many household names of the now famous and successful who really were anything but magical in the achieving their goals. Household Diva Martha Stewart was a stock broker before she became the authority on anything creative, but she could fold a fitted sheet even then. College drop out George Clooney picked tobacco and worked as a shoe salesman in Cincinnati while being passed on for stage roles, but he kept practicing and auditioning.  Authour J.K. Rowling was fired from her secretarial job for daydreaming too much while at work, but she went on to write down her day dreamy thoughts. Though I haven't spoken to any of these three personally I would wager that there was a certain amount of fear that they had to assess and then decide to move beyond before they began to live the experiences that we now know them for. 

What I want to share with you this week, is that fear is a natural state. And yes some fears are for real reasons. But then there are those sneaky other ones. The ones that if we really want to move beyond, we can. With a little planning, some creative out of the box thinking, and a certain amount of patience and practice, we CAN move beyond.  Trying and failing does not mean it was not  meant to be. It means that it was not meant to be right now. It means that there was something to be learned and practiced first. 

Remember the exhilarating rush of pride in yourself that you felt after you completed your first piano recital or your first karate exam?? THAT is the feeling of moving beyond irrational fear. THAT is expansion. 

You came to this world to live and live you shall. 

May you let only the most rational fears be the ones to hold you back. 

What is something that you have pursued, failed at and tried again?? How did it feel when you failed and how did it feel when you finally succeeded??  When have you moved beyond a fear that felt irrational to find success?? Was it worth the effort??

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Perfect Peace in Imperfection

Hi everyone.  My name is Kate Elizabeth Lindsay and I am a recovering perfectionist.

I am not exactly sure where it came from or when it came but it is here.  I could have won a prize for the messiest room when I was a teenager.  Clean and dirty laundry shared the floor. Dresser drawers were usually open and clothes were often decorating the edges. At times my room looked like one you would see on a TV sitcom. No joke.  I have no idea who that girl was. I can't find many traces of her today for sure. Now I make the bed every morning. I adjust the towels to hang in the way I like, and I passionately dislike going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Clean dishes in the drying rack.... OK, though put away is better.

That perfectionist part of me has been known, and I swallow deeply as I say this, to measure and to judge another harshly from time to time.  Even as I write that line I am uneasy about admitting that to anyone, myself included. After all I am one who spends great time and effort teaching of unconditional love and forgiveness, that can't be the same person. But it is the truth. I have been hard on others at times, as I measured them to, often unrealistic standards.

For years I competitively multi tasked as many extra work projects as I could possibly do because I could do it and would do it better than anyone else. Tackling fully everything that I knew I could be successful at while staying well clear of anything I was unsure of. I was determined to be the one with all of the answers and all of the skills while still being the most liked. I am not sure whom I felt I needed to prove myself to, other than to myself. There may never have actually been anyone other than myself whose opinion truly mattered.  It's hard to tell really because I judged myself most harshly of all.

I spent years perfecting my habits of thought, many of which were doing a bigger dis-service to me than anything else. And I realize that it will take me some time and much conscious effort to create new habits to replace some of those I had perfected and protected.  But in the short time that I have spent with that conscious effort applied, my life has dramatically changed for the better.

I have found peace in admitting that I am not perfect. There is an ease in me that I didn't realize existed. I still have some perfectionist tendencies and I have made peace now with those that I choose to hang on to.  It may mean spending a few extra minuets after dinner cleaning up properly so that I can awake to the fresh kitchen I prefer, but that one is OK with me - because I can choose it either way, and there is a real free feeling that comes as a part of that package.

My favourite part about admitting that I am not perfect is that I no longer have the same scale with which to measure myself or others.  Not automatically cataloguing who is doing what where allows me the space to think more about what actually matters. It feels good to consider the balance of skill and imperfections in us each. After all, that is what can make a great team, and though being able to do it all is great and can sometimes feel good, it is so much better to do it with others.

Your turn.  Are you someone who can identify with my perfectionist tendencies?? Is there a personality trait that you once spent time perfecting only to later spend time replacing??  How are you doing that?? What kinds of challenges and rewards have you faced along the way?? The comment section below is here for you. I'm interested in what you have to share.

If you liked what you read I invite you to use the social buttons and share. Imagine how wonderful our world will feel when more people find that they too can let go of their perfectionist sides and find the peace that comes with imperfection.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

How It Was An Attitude Change That Got Me Home Safely

It’s been a wintery winter season for sure this year.  Though I try to see every day as being full of what it’s meant to be full of no matter what the season, winter has never been my favourite.  My body doesn’t feel its best in the cold. This week has been extra cold and I am happy to report that I am feeling better than in winters past.  I can’t help but wonder how much of that change can be attributed to my head space.  I think all of it, being that is really the only thing that is perhaps different this time around.  It makes me pretty excited to realise that I can have that much control and that when I make a decision to be so…. I can!

There is a real comfort in feeling as empowered as that.  Just last night I was still out when the blizzard hit.  It was a slow and tense drive home as there were many moments where I was not able to see past the front of my car.  My first reaction was almost to curse the wind that was making it so difficult for me to see. But it wasn’t just the wind that made the drive such a challenge, there was whole lot of snow in the air doing that.  I was able to quickly switch my thoughts and became honestly and truthfully really grateful for the wind when I realised that if it had been a more still evening the falling snow would have been allowed to gather on the road, quickly covering the lines that kept me safely in my lane and guided me home.  

Almost as soon as I had decided that that thought path felt better to me I noticed my physical body change too. My shoulders dropped from where that had been pulled up to my ears.  My heart beat slowed some. My grip on the steering wheel eased and I turned on the radio. (For me, a little music always eases the atmosphere.)

Needless to say, I made it home safely where I settled in to watch the storm in comfort.  It was an interesting, though unintended, experiment in the power of positive thought.  I have written many times over about the power we each hold in our personal perception of anything. Exploring my perception of a situation has become a go to tool for me over these past few years. And now I confidently know that it can be applied everywhere, even to a crazy weather night in the middle of nowhere, to help me find a head and heart space that will work for me.

Your turn.  Has there been a situation in which you have found yourself exploring your personal perception?? Did you find that a shift in your attitude made a difference in your experience?? I’d love for you to use the comment section to share your thoughts and stories.