Apr 192016
 

 

Picture this. Your boss asks you to work late but you promised your son you’d be at his soccer game that evening.  You say yes to your boss and walk away with a pit in your stomach.   As you walk back to your office thoughts like ”why didn’t I just say no…what’s my son going to think…why is it so hard for me to honor my boundaries?” stream through your head.

This is never an easy situation.

Saying NO to someone (no matter who it is) is never easy.  But it is “easier” when you have clear, healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are like an invisible fence.  This invisible fence keeps in what you do want in your life — things like hard work, family, health, trust, happiness, commitment.   At the same time, this special fence keeps outthose things you don’t want in your life – things like stress, disappointment, overwhelm, struggle, heaviness.

The problem is that most of us don’t have this fence because we haven’t established strong, clear, healthy boundaries.

In my experience clients start out in one of three boundary categories: No Boundaries, Squishy Boundaries or Rigid Boundaries.

No Boundaries.  This category somewhat speaks for itself.  But it’s safe to say that people who fall into this category suffer greatly because they don’t know how to say NO and their focus is typically on pleasing other people at the expense of their own peace of mind.  People with no boundaries often feel and appear like the victim.

Squishy Boundaries. People with Squishy boundaries are inconsistent with maintaining their boundaries.  Whether or not they enforce a particular boundary depends on their mood, the situation, or the person challenging their boundary. People with Squishy boundaries often merge with other people’s boundaries and because of this they are easily manipulated.

Common statements from clients with squishy boundaries sound like:

** I feel like people take advantage of me,

** I feel guilty for saying “NO”,

** My time is often highjacked by other people,

** My choices are often dictated by what others want,

** I often feel like the victim,

** I often feel anxious or afraid.

Rigid Boundaries.  With rigid boundaries there is no grey area.  There is only black and white.  I like to think of rigid boundaries as barriers because they don’t allow for connection — they keep people out, and prevent closeness and developing relationships.  Rigid boundaries are created from a place of fear and/or control.

Comments from clients with rigid boundaries sound like:

** I feel confined,

** I am unclear about why they are setting a boundary in the first place,

** I feel in “control” but not in a healthy way,

** I feel isolated,

** I feel angry (again, because they’re not sure why they are sticking to a particular rigid boundary).

The goal when I’m working with clients one on one or presenting a workshop on boundaries is to move clients away from boundaries that keep them stuck to more flexible boundaries that allow them freedom and choice.

Flexible Boundaries When a person has flexible boundaries it doesn’t mean that they change with the wind.  It simply means they are set with love, intention and self awareness, and that they get to choose what to let in or what to block out.  They are at choice.   These are the strongest healthiest boundaries.

Now, listen to what clients with clear, well-thought-out, flexible boundaries often say:

**I live with intention,

**People respect me more (ironically),

**I know what’s important to me and I honor that,

**People know they can count on me,

**I feel at peace,

**I feel comfortable with myself and my choices.

What a difference!

So what do you choose?  Do you choose the struggle of living without boundaries?  Or do you choose the power of taking control of your choices and of yourself?

And, remember, the strongest and healthiest boundaries are set from love not fear.

Stay tuned for my next newsletter where we’ll explore boundary types and areas to look at when setting your boundaries.

And, check out this free download of questions to help you determine where you might need stronger, healthier boundaries in your life.   You can access it here:  http://www.encompass-coaching.com/OrderCreatingBoundaries

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.

Erin

Hey, don’t keep this information to yourself! If you like what you read here, pass it along! Just share this article using the links below!

Apr 162016
 

 

Are you living your passion or just going thru the motions?

Going through the motions looks like being frantically busy but feeling like you’re not accomplishing much.  It looks like struggle, anxiety, overwhelm, indecision, static, limited, heaviness.  Picture paddling up stream with only one paddle.  It looks like following other people’s rules, ignoring your inner-voice.

On the other hand, living with passion looks like living with a sense of excitement, possibility, creative energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and a focus and drive that are hard to derail.

When you live with passion life flows; it has meaning and purpose.  When you ignore your passion life is complicated, full of roadblocks (perhaps the Universe trying to tell us something?).

Going through the motions feels like the Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore. Although a loveable character, he seems to be followed by misfortune and a dark gray cloud overhead.

Living your passion feels like Woohoo!  It’s one heck of a roller-coaster ride.

Realizing and living your passion, though, takes dedication, courage and commitment. It’s not always easy.

With so many competing ideas, opinions and options available to us, it’s difficult to stay the course.  Following your passion means saying no to the nay-sayers and yes to yourself and what you want for your life.

Living your passion means you might even disappoint people in your life – your family, friends, co-workers, boss. You might even anger some people who are resistant to your change.

This is where the commitment to yourself comes in; continuing to honor and work towards fulfilling your dreams and your passion even though not everyone agrees with you.

So by this time your probably saying to yourself, “Sounds great, Erin, but how exactly do I find my passion?”

Here are some ideas.

ONE

Slow down.  In this increasingly busy world, taking time to sit quietly and breathe sounds like fantasy.  The thing is, it’s really difficult to connect with your passion when you’re mind and body are in constant motion. So, give yourself a break (literally). Take time to breathe deeply, slow your mind and reflect.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do you dream about that is so audacious you dare not tell anyone?

What are you longing to do?

TWO

Think big. You are more than your job or your title. You are more than your familial or your financial status.  You are so much more!  So think beyond just you and your sphere. Think about the city or state in which you live.  Or, really challenge yourself and think globally.  The idea is to think outside yourself and ask yourself what’s important.  Here are some prompts:

What causes are important to you?

Where do you volunteer your time and resources?

What about these causes is important to you?

THREE

Embrace your strengths.  We all have strengths; those things we do particularly well, often without much thought.  Do you know what they are?  If yes, that’s great!  If not, get to know them.  Your strengths can point you in the direction of your passion.

What specific talents do you have?

What do you get lost in doing?

What activities are you passionate about?

FOUR

Have fun. Although finding your passion is serious business, it’s important to tap into the lighter side. 

What activities bring great joy, laughter and inspiration to your life?

What do you want more of in you life?

FIVE

Embrace Fear. Yep, I said it.  Embrace fear.  Fear is crucial to finding your passion for two reasons.  One, it lets you know you may be onto something. And, two, it inspires action.  If you face your fear, if you’re curious about what it’s telling you, you’ll have the chance to move beyond it to what’s waiting for you on the other side…passion.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What is your fear telling you?

What is your authentic self telling you? (at this point the Gremlin usually appears with a whole list of why and how it won’t work. This is great and generally means you are on to something!)

It’s never too late to pursue your passion! Don’t let fear, negativity or other people stand in the way of you fulfilling your dreams!  The cost is too high!

However, the payoff of living a purposeful and passion-filled life, one filled with commitment, inspiration and motivation is priceless and well worth the effort!  Dream big!  Live large!

And remember…The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Enjoy your learnings.

Erin

Hey, don’t keep this information to yourself! If you like what you read here, pass it along! Just share this article using the links below!

Apr 152016
 

 

We all mess up.

It’s part and parcel of being a human being.

You miss a deadline;

You flub a speech;

You hurt feelings;

You fail a test;

You forget important dates or events;

You blow an important job interview;

You send a nasty email out of anger;

It happens.

How you handle mistakes or failures makes a big difference.

When you beat yourself up, rehashing the situation, over and over, like a movie reel playing the same old scene in your head, you tend to stay stuck.  And although it’s healthy to acknowledge mistakes, when you stay in that space, it can quickly become toxic.

Choosing to find the opportunity in the failure, on the other hand, empowers you, enhances your resilience and creativity, and allows you to learn, grow and make better or different choices in the future.

Here are a few tips to help you process failures and move forward:

ONE

Ask, what’s the learning for me here?   What can I take away from this and do differently next time?

There is always learning in every failure, every mistake.  Isn’t that magnificent?!

Take time to discover the learning, and then use that learning as you continue to move forward.  Maybe you need to tighten your schedule, or say NO more often, or maybe you need to hire an assistant (or delegate) to relieve some of your workload.  The learning is yours, and it’s there for you if only you take the time to seek it.

TWO

Own it.  Some failure is due to others’ actions and some is due to our own.  Acknowledge your role in the failure. No one likes an excuse-maker, or a blamer, so own your role, make amends, if necessary.

Then, give yourself the space and time to pick apart what went wrong; take an honest account of the situation.  This isn’t a license to dwell and brood.  This is time to really, honestly, authentically reflect on what went wrong so that you can keep from making the same mistake next time.

THREE

Shift your perspective. Most of us look at failure as the worst thing that can possibly happen.  Not so (from my perspective).  Failure is evidence that you are moving forward, taking risks, and stretching yourself.  Growing.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Lighten up on yourself (and others!).  The key is the learning you take away and then moving forward and using that learning to take better action.

FOUR

Acknowledge your progress.  Too often we are so focused on our lack of progress that we fail to acknowledge how far we’ve come, all that we’ve accomplished.  Take the opportunity to write down all of your accomplishments, all of your strengths, all of your learning’s and discoveries.  You might just be amazed at all the great stuff you’ve learned and accomplished, despite a failure or two!

FIVE

Be easy on yourself.  I’m going to say it again (in case you didn’t hear me the first time); we all make mistakes.  Are you going to continue to grow, try, learn and expand by being hard on yourself?  Probably not.  Well at least not with ease and grace.  So go easy on yourself; pat yourself on the back for trying something new, stretching beyond your comfort zone, being honest.

And remember, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  Henry Ford

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.

Erin

And, hey, don’t keep this information to yourself! If you like what you read here, pass it along! Just share this article using the links below!

Oct 062015
 

This past weekend my family and I spent our last weekend of the season at our place in the mountains. It’s always bittersweet as I close the chapter on summer fun and turn my attention to the craziness to come in the winter holiday season (I’ll write about that in another article).

I love the mountains. I love the quiet and the solitude. The best part, for me, of being there is that I’m forced to checkout from technology and take a well-needed break from the busyness of life because there doesn’t happen to be service available.

The worst part, if you’re my children, is that they don’t have access to technology. If you’re a parent you’ve undoubtedly heard the cry of modern childhood – “Mom, I’m bored!” Whenever one of my daughters complains she is bored, my response is always the same. “Great! What can you do with that boredom? Read a book, write in your journal, sit quietly?” You can probably picture, without too much detailed description from me, the kind of look I get from my heart-felt suggestions.

Boredom is the path to creativity.

We live in a really busy world. And it’s getting busier and busier all the time. We have access to technology 24-hours a day, we’re expected to be available at all times (or at least we perceive that to be true), we move from meeting to meeting at the speed of light, bounce from task to task. It’s never ending

We’re so busy that when we do get bored it scares us. We scurry around trying to fill the void left by boredom. We fill it with “stuff” – more work, non-essential tasks, computer games, surfing the web, television, social media, mindless eating.

What if you just sat with your boredom? What if you didn’t try to fill the hollow space it provides? What gifts might you receive?

The thing is, boredom really can provide you with many gifts – if only you slow down long enough to experience them.

ONE

The Gift of Creativity. Allowing your mind to slow down, to be bored, gives it the space to receive creative visions. When you are constantly moving, going, doing, you don’t always notice the creative inspirations that come to you. Slowing down allows you to see things differently, to challenge assumptions, look at things from different angles. Be creative.

TWO

The Gift of Mindfulness. When you are constantly in motion, you make decisions from a place of reaction. Slowing down lets you make proactive decisions. It gives you the opportunity to ask yourself whether this is the best decision for you, or “Is this the right path I’ve chosen?”

THREE

The Gift of Calm. Living in our world of being constantly connected, constantly available, constantly thinking, planning, doing, causes stress. When you honor boredom and slow things down your insides and your brain start to calm down. You can feel it – it’s an instant swoosh of calmness, a big deep breath. In the calmness you’re able to breathe deeply, think clearly, see new perspectives.

FOUR

The Gift of Decision-making. When you slow down, your brain slows down and begins to open up. You begin to see things much more clearly. Have you ever noticed that? Say you’ve been struggling with a problem or decision for a while, and one day you’re out for a quiet walk. All of a sudden the solution to your problem becomes all too clear. Or you know exactly the decision you need to make.

FIVE

The Gift of Focus. When you honor boredom, slow down, sit quietly, and slow your brain down a bit, a funny thing happens. You get super focused. All of a sudden your priorities become crystal clear and you know exactly what you need to do. And, because you’ve also received the gift of decision-making, you know exactly how you’ll do it!

So do yourself a favor, and stop rushing. Don’t avoid boredom. Embrace it. You never know what insights of brilliance you may receive!

Erin

Hey, don’t keep this information to yourself! If you like what you read here, pass it along! Just share this article using the links below!

Sep 162015
 

 

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Unknown

It’s inevitable. As much as you may want to avoid it, from time to time you’re going to have to have a difficult conversation. You’re going to have to tell someone what they did bothered you; ask for what you want; give feedback that may not be received well. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary if you want to maintain healthy boundaries, healthy relationships and a healthy sense of self.

The cost of not communicating is high, and can lead to stress, resentment, depression, and anxiety. All of this has a negative impact on your relationships both personally and professionally.

How we enter into and conduct ourselves in a conversation can make a huge difference on the outcome.

ONE
Be clear about the issue. Have you ever had this happen – you’re talking about a heated topic with someone and all of a sudden the conversation is hijacked by old hurts, old stories, old failures? You wonder to yourself, “how did we get here.”

It’s so important before entering into a difficult conversation to make sure you both know exactly what the issue is. This isn’t the time or place to bring up the “old stuff”. That can keep for another conversation.

TWO
Be respectful. No one likes to be yelled at, name-called, or bullied. Yet, that’s often what happens when you are in a heated conversation with someone.

You deserve to be heard, and so does the person you’re talking to. Make a commitment to yourself before entering a conversation to be respectful, be curious, and practice the art of active listening — rather than listening just to respond or pounce. Respect keeps the lines of communication open, and shows others that you’re open to other perspectives. You never know what you might learn.

THREE
Be curious. This one is important, because often we go into conversations with our own point of view and won’t budge. This is a communication stopper. If you maintain your curiosity, you’re able to see another’s point of view, ask questions rather than make judgments, and keep the lines of communication open.

FOUR
Manage your emotions. In a heated conversation it’s easy to let your emotions get the better of you. We all have buttons and often those closest to us know exactly how to push them. It’s important to know what they are so that you can manage your reaction and emotions, stay respectful, and remain curious.

Managing your emotions allows you to stay open, available, and eager to find a resolution.

FIVE
Own your stuff. Sometimes we mess up, say the wrong thing, and hurt someone’s feelings. That’s part of life. While it may be easier to choose to stay quiet, deny, or get defensive, the best way to address our mishaps is to own them. A simple “I’m sorry” goes a long way to healing a relationship. No explanation, defense or excuses. Just a heartfelt “I’m sorry.”

There is tremendous power in having difficult conversations and many gifts to be had if you stay engaged, respectful and curios. Having conversations that stretch us, challenge us, also allow us to deepen our personal and professional relationships, honor our values and stand behind the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves.

If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself. Cheryl Richardson

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.

Erin

Hey, don’t keep this information to yourself! If you like what you read here, pass it along! Just share this article using the links below!