Monthly Archives: July 2012

Giving Yourself Permission to be Where You Are

Let me just for a moment, hypothesize that maybe there’s some area of your life you’re not happy with. Maybe it’s just a couple areas of dissatisfaction. Maybe it’s life in general. Maybe you’ve struggled with it for years, and things aren’t what you want or where you think they should be by now.coaching blog, life coach, life coaching

Either way, I’d like to suggest something that may seem like a radical departure: Try giving yourself permission to be where you are.

I’m not saying you have to LIKE where you are right now. I’m not saying you should want to stay there, or to build a summer home there.

But here’s the thing–either way, you’re there. You can be there and fight with it, beat yourself up, and feel bad about it. Or, you can be there and just be present. Curious. Less stressed out. When you stop fighting with reality, that frees up a ton of energy that can be channeled towards something more positive.

I know this is 180 degrees away from alot of contemporary thinking, but here are two reasons why I believe it’s true.

First of all, please consider that you don’t have the whole picture yet. As human beings we all have a limited context and understanding of our own lives. This is why we think we are mature at 16, or will never love again after getting our heart broken at 20. Can you really say that in the greater scheme of things, this struggle won’t feed into your future brilliance in some rich and beautiful way? Can you really know that this is not exactly where you are supposed to be?

Second of all, God can use anything. Anything. In the miraculous hands of the higher loving power of the universe (however we understand it), anything can be used as a springboard to bring more peace, more love, more healing to the world. I see this play itself out on the news all the time: the school bus monitor who received more than a half million dollars in donations after a video of her being bullied went viral. The abused dog in Texas that prompted an outpouring of love, support and donations. As my mentor Martha Beck has said, life is a benevolent process where bad things are meant to create good things.

So please, I invite you to try this out, and see how it feels: Wherever I am with my finances is okay for right now. Or my job. Or my body. Or my marriage. Maybe it’s all of the above. If this thinking feels like a relief, please try being kind to yourself and accepting reality.

On the other hand, if beating yourself up, feeling ashamed or guilty has helped you to affect positive and lasting change, then by all means keep doing it.

As the poet Hafiz beautifully said:

This place where you are right now, 
God circled on a map for you.


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Brené Brown TED Talk: Listening to Shame

I just wanted to share this wonderful Brene Brown video. It’s a follow-up to her much-loved TED talk on vulnerability.

The whole video is about 20 minutes and well worth listening to, but here is what I found most essential:

Shame as she refers to it is the feeling that tells a person they are bad. This is different than guilt, which says they’ve done something bad but can do better.

And there is a HUGE correlation between shame and addiction, depression, violence, bullying, eating disorders and I would imagine most types of self-abusive behavior.

Also, I love the way she refers to her midlife nervous breakdown as a “spiritual awakening”.

For anyone interested in hearing more, I’ve heard from several friends her book is wonderful.

With much love,


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The Thing About Assumptions…

So something funny happened to me a day or two ago. It’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s a great example, so I thought I would share.

While driving to work I was approaching a busy intersection where panhandlers typically stand with cardboard signs.

On the corner waiting for the crosswalk, there was a 20-ish guy with faded clothes and a backpack. He had wild, shaggy hair and was badly in need of a haircut. I’m not proud of this but my first thought was “oh there goes another pandhandler”.

As I got closer I then noticed he was holding a skateboard, and his clothes were not truly shabby but rather intentionally shabby. Shabby chic. The kind where you expend some effort to send a clear signal that you don’t care about appearances. The next thought that ran through my head was something like “skateboard, slacker, probably doper”.

And THEN, as I got even closer, I recognized him. It was someone I KNEW.

He is not a  panhandler, and he’s certainly not a slacker. He is a post-doctoral student from France, here specifically to study at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He is devoting his very considerable talents to studying neural coupling in the brain, attempting to create a mathematical model for understanding schizophrenia. He is sweet, tidy, considerate, and his mathematical talent is dazzling. I know all this because he and his girlfriend stayed in my home for two weeks when she first arrived from France. His girlfriend who is a physician in France, I might add.

At this point I felt like a first-class heel, and was reminded of a bad cliche I’ve heard many times: when you make assumptions, you make an Ass of U and Me. But in this case mostly me.

Had I not known him, I would have continued on with my day & never given it a second thought, never knowing how wrong I had been.

And it made me wonder–where else in my life may I have jumped to the wrong conclusion? What other assumptions have I never questioned?

Something to think about.



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