Getting Comfortable in Your Skin: Action Steps to Take Now

 

1. Respect your body, even if you do not like it.  You have people in your life that you don’t like but you still treat with respect.  Give your body the same respect even if you are not a fan of it at the moment.  Everyone has a bad body image day (week, month…); it is normal.  Your body can serve you better when you treat it with respect instead of constantly trash talking it.

2. Shift to saying “I feel…” vs “I am…”  The difference between saying “I am…”  vs “I feel…” has a ginormous impact on how our brain fires.  Saying “I feel” is respectful honesty so you can assess how to care for yourself.  Saying “I am…” is a judgement, shaming and disrespectful.

3. Stop the compare game.  Nobody wins.  This is tricky as our brains like to assess threats, and these days the threat is not just looking for life + death dangers but also assessing who is prettier, stronger, thinner, smarter, funnier, etc. Doing your work to bench negative emotion helps you manage vulnerability and keep the compare game from wreaking havoc on your self-worth while staying connected.

4. Take a break from the scale.  If your mood + self worth are negatively impacted after you weigh yourself, take a break from the scale.  I dare you.

5. Stop the negative body talk.  Similar to #1 but a slightly different take.. Talking negatively about your own body and the bodies of others can add to the toxic noise in between your ears and in your community.  Negative body talk increases anxiety, depression, and disconnection.  Let words that are life-giving and that build up be a priority in your discourse.  This is a quick way to turn down the volume on your inner drill sergeant.  You have a powerful voice, whether you believe it or not, so use it with caution+respect.

6. (re) define how you give compliments.  Instead of telling someone she looks amazing after she lost weight or how good she looks in her jeans, talk about her smile, the color of her shirt, her generous spirit, her faithfulness.  Do not underestimate the negative effect a well-intentioned compliment about looks, food, etc. can have on those around you.  You just do not know how it will be taken, so why risk hurting someone?  Start a compliment revolution and notice the awesome ripple effect.

7.  Wear clothes that fit YOUR body and that you love wearing.  Feeling comfortable in your skin requires wearing clothes that fit you well and you enjoy wearing. Note: You have just been encouraged to shop.  Go! (But stay within your budget+do not let this be an excuse to spend money you do not have in your account.)

8.  Move.  Mild to moderate activity five days a week can have a marked impact on your mood, wellness, and sense of worth.  Be safe.  Check with your MD before starting anything new.  Stretch. Walk. Skip. Sweat.  Just move.

9.  Re-evaluate your social support.  Spend your time with safe people who build you up, support you, and bring out the best in you.  Connection with safe people is medicine for the soul.  The act of being seen and understood is a love bomb that quickly shifts your focus from your perceived body flaws to positive engagement.

10. Take a media fast.  See #3. Try it for a week.  I double dare you.

11.  Start a gratitude practice.  I have to confess, I was very cynical about this whole  gratitude practice thing and thought it was trendy, surface, and not effective.  Then I read the research, felt the call on my heart, and started my own gratitude practice. I was completely convicted + convinced.  My faith + my mentors challenged me in my practice and now I am challenging you.  When you are intentional about what you are grateful for, your brain fires differently, your mood lifts, your priorities + purpose stay clear, and you are able to bench joy without waiting for the other shoe to drop. A gratitude practice is a flu shot for shame storms.

12. Fill your awake time with play + creativity.  Your soul is dulled by monotony, fear, shoulds, and have tos. Push back at unhealthy perfectionism which is a buzz-kill on your desire to play and create.  Start without worrying about finishing or how you look. Get silly.  Paint. Draw. Craft. Write. Play catch. Swing. Your soul craves it and your well-being needs it.

13. Rest.  We are one tired nation with pretty crappy sleep hygiene.  When your brain is robbed of rest, you compromise all aspects of your well-being.  Set a regular bed time + wind down ritual and stop drinking caffeine after noon.  Activity, nourishment, and social support all play a role in your quality of sleep, so take an inventory of these areas if you are struggling with getting the quality sleep you need.  If you have sleep issues, get a physical and assess how your body is functioning.  Yoga, massage, acupuncture, and prayer are important calming skills to help your nervous system recalibrate.

What action step are you going to take to help you feel more comfortable in your skin?

What would you add to this list?

Cheering you on –

Rebecca

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New Year’s Eve Soap Box (and good tidings, too)

 

I am a big fan of this time of year.  There is something about the beginning of a new year that brings with it rejuvenated hope, a fresh start, space to dream.

This time of year is also when everything media is saturated with promises to help you with your resolutions about exercise, weight loss, nutrition + wellness, relationships and more.

In particular, the diet industry along with fitness, health and personal improvement gurus are promoting the heck out of their various programs to help you make 2013 your best. year. ever.

So much of this hype genuinely speaks to many of you who are uncomfortable in your skin.  Food, family, fat, and other f-bombs get thrown around out of frustration a lot at this time of year.

And for those of you who have be on the diet, weight cycling, body hatred, I am not enough, scale-obsessed train for some time now, promises of quick relief to real pain are seductive and haunting.

Clicking “buy now” brings promise of solutions to real concerns and serious pain points in your life.

But this incessant talk about weight, body and food is like adding fuel to a dangerous fire burning in the hearts and minds of many who are crushing against the emotional pain of serious food+body issues, anxiety, depression, unhealthy perfectionism, loneliness+disconnection.

To be honest, there are some quality people and quality programs out there that can help you on your way to true health. And then here are some that frustrate the heck out of me as they exploit, are unsafe and make promises that are not based on sound research or true health.

While I believe there is room for a variety of definitions of health, I am fed up with definitions of health being reduced to the number on the scale and the fear of everything fat. Good intentions to help improve wellness are creating more anxiety+depression around food+body issues.  This deeply concerns me.

Restricting, denying, punishing, shaming are not sustaining change agents.

There is a whole host of struggles we have to tackle as we seek to improve the quality of life for all. We do need to move more and strive to make whole, fresh, organic food affordable + accessible to all.  We need to play more, laugh more, rest more. And improving our support of those with mental illness is a non-negotiable.

Seeking change is important.  It is a natural part of growth.  But when desired change is motivated by a numbers on scales, fear, people pleasing or performance – it will wreak havoc on your mind and soul.

Change is hard, change is messy; change is an ebb and flow.
Change is often needed, demanded.
Change is uncomfortable; change is frustrating; change is important.
Change is about showing up, fighting through fear and shame.
Change involves trusting like you have never trusted before.  Once step at a time.

Never forgot, homeostasis will fight to the death to maintain status quo.  That is why change is so difficult.  Especially when we avoid doing our own deep soul work.

I love Donald Miller’s recent post on resolutions.  He states they do not work when:

  • Our resolutions are not meaningful
  • We failed to make a plan
  • We forget our resolutions.
  • They just were not for us.

Donald Miller went on to say when resolutions do end up working is when we:

  • Choose a meaningful ambition
  • Create a plan for our meaningful ambition
  • Engage in conflict
  • Share our story with the world

If we are seeking changes that fuel deep soul meaning in our lives; if we have the emotional muscle to handle conflict internally and externally and own our story instead of shrink from it, well, look out 2013.

Suddenly obsessing about numbers+other people’s opinions do not have as much power with this new lens.

What do you desire to change this year?  How are you going to go about making these changes?

Are you trying to do it all at once or can you tolerate a step, a shift in direction, a phone call or email to start the process?

Are in this alone?  You may feel that way but my faith informs me differently.

Get clear on the changes you are seeking. Be specific.

  • Check your motivations for change. Are your desired changes life-giving or fear-based?
  • Check your expectations and desired results. Are they realistic for you, your body, your current life situation?
  • Check your beliefs about change. Do you have hope you can change?
  • Check the source of doubt, fear and shame against your faith.

And then turn towards lasting change and away from diets + shame-based expectations.

Happy 2013!

Rebecca

PS – And for those of you in the San Diego area who want to work on creating sustaining change in your life, check out our Cultivating Courage Workshop series launching in a few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Because I Can.

 

I will

  • crawl into my daughter’s bed in the middle of the night and not worry about waking her up from her slumber;
  • tuck and re-tuck the covers over my son’s sleeping body while watching his chest rise + fall;
  • never cease to be grateful for my amazing teacher+lifeguard husband who rescued my heart the day we met;
  • not push aside the quiet nudges to reach out to someone when I am thinking about him/her;
  • allow myself to sink into the pain of grief+loss+horror of those I do not know but with whom I still feel connected;
  • cling to the promises of my faith to guide my way during the unfathomable;
  • stop taking so much for granted only to be woken up by senseless tragedy;
  • fight to keep blame+bitterness+fear from consuming my thought life by limiting my intake of news and social media;
  • live a life that would honor the innocent souls whose lives ended way to early;
  • live a life of courage reflected by those who put others’ lives before their own in the face of danger;
  • continue to advocate for + treat those who seek healing from traumatic/distressing life events;
  • respect the different ways people grieve and hold that space with tenderness;
  • remind myself the only person I can change is myself knowing changes I make start the domino effect of change on a grander scale;
  • pray without ceasing for the Sandy Hook Elementary Community;

because I can. 

Rebecca

PS: Here are some excellent resources for talking with the young people in your life about tragedies put together by high school teacher, Larry Ferlazzo (hat tip Joanna Poppnick), and Brene Brown.  I also love this post on what to say and what NOT to say to someone who is grieving.  Brilliant!

 

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Choices

 

Make healthier choices.

Make safer choices.

Make wiser choices.

Make the right choice.

Make. a. choice.

Everyone has an opinion on how you should best live your life, what is healthy, what is holy, what is true.

Yet, if you delegate your life-compass to the opinions of the collective other, you will flounder.  This delegating of our power of choice takes many forms:

If you use a diet as the foundation of your choices, you will be on a path to crazy-making.
If you let shame inform your choices, you will live a life of disconnection.
If you are a slave to chronic people-pleasing, you will be in constant despair.
If you are surrounded by unsafe people, you will be robbed of your dignity + your voice.
If you struggle with perfection, indecisiveness will emotionally paralyze you.

What is the basis by which you make your choices?

If your foundation for making choices is not clear and life-giving, then life may end up being quite difficult.

Do you make choices to get the approval of others?  To get relief from pain? To get the best results? To simply just move on?

Choices bring up the fear of making the “wrong” decision.  Sometimes the best choice is so, so clear.  And often, choices can feel murky and overwhelming.

You can choose to do more of the same or something different.  More of the same is often easier – for a while.

No matter what your circumstances, you always have a choice (though the choices before you may all be less-than desirable.)

Can you choose to tolerate disappointing others, the pressure of expectations, the fear of failure?

I do not know about you, but disappointing others, failing, unmet expectations have crushed me + leveled my sense of worth + left me doubting my ability to make the “right” choice.

My lack of trust in God and my inability to bench negative emotion left me wrestling for years with all the choices in front of me subsequently draining my peace + sense of purpose.

And then something changed.  I did my own deep soul work.  Deep. Soul. Work.

Because of this work, I am able to bench the fear of the unknown.  This new super power strength led to my ability to manage a career change in my 30’s. It also helped me choose to be vulnerable and to fall in love + become a mom (which brought in a whole new slew of choices to stretch my new super powers.)

I started listening instead of reacting.  Resting instead of fighting.  Praying instead of always asking others for advice.  I started to trust God and myself like never before.

It has been liberating finding my voice and choosing not to put my worth on the table for debate. It has been healing not to feel consumed by fear of losing control but instead grounded by the compass of Truth+Peace.

But it still gets gnarly at times.  Heck, this whole growing and healing thing is a process that never ends – which is extremely annoying at times.

But the men and women I work with on a daily basis inspire me to press on and do the work I am challenging them to do.  Not a day goes by without witnessing a client wrestling with the choice to turn away from harmful thoughts, actions, relationships.

Now:

I choose to try instead of striving for perfection.
I choose to risk failure instead of never taking a risk.
I choose to slow down and be proactive instead of reactive.
I choose to not hate myself and instead strive for self-grace.

I see my choices differently now.

Choices are Power.  Clarity.  Opportunity.  Experience.

Can you choose to trust the small, healthy voice in you that encourages you to take a leap of faith; to take action; to choose to do something different?

Go… Stop… Say No… Say Yes…

Start… Finish… Create…

Rest… Nourish… Leave… Love.

What choices are you struggling with today?  What one simple action can you take to today to tackle your challenging choices and turn the struggle into your super powers of clarity and power?

Choosing to live in faith instead of fear –

Rebecca

 

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The Spacious Place

 

This is the inaugural post launching our “Friends of Potentia: Words of Wisdom” guest post series.  We are thrilled to have Leeana Tankersley of www.gypsyink.com share her heart and wise words in this tender post.  Thank you, Leeana, for your vulnerability and for modeling true beauty.

***

Over the last three years—since becoming a mother—I have looked in the mirror, and more times than not, resembled Charlize Theron from “Monster” in most every way.

Dark roots. Bad skin. Scowling.  Just generally the most unattractive version of yourself you could imagine.

This has been a grief for me, as I would like things to feel much more like the Anthropologie catalogue then they have ever turned out to feel.

Three babies in three years has put me face-to-face with myself in such an intense way, that I have had to do some reckoning.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to feel a sense of spaciousness within myself.  Instead, I have spent time feeling ill-at-ease in my own skin, squeezed from self-contempt.

Motherhood intensified all of this immeasurably, and I was confronted with the following question: was I going to be a constant critic of myself or was I going to learn to be a companion to myself?

I saw these little creatures at my feet. Gorgeous, wide-eyed tinies.  And I knew I needed to find a new way of thinking, of being.

After all, how could I really be there for them if I had no idea how to be there for myself?

Practically speaking, one of the things that has most helped is better understanding the concepts and practices behind 12-step recovery.

I had this swirling mess of voices and anxiety in my head, and so I looked into how a person might break down such a big problem, how a person might begin to think (and then act) differently, how a person might stop certain habits and begin new ones.

That’s what 12-step offers us. In my opinion, the single greatest truth from 12-step is the idea that we must approach each day anew.

We don’t graduate from our struggles.

We don’t arrive.

Things aren’t ever solved, once and for all. We wake up each day and we begin again. We put into practice those truths that have become part of our health.

And then we do it again tomorrow.

I’ve become really attached to a Scripture passage from Psalm 18:

“But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out 
of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
 the void in which I was drowning. 
They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.
 He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (Psalm 18:16-19, The Message)”

Instead of “wide-open field,” other translations use the phrase “spacious place” or “broad expanse.”

YES.

That’s the kind of living I want to do. How about you? Don’t you long to live from the spacious place instead of the squeeze? Don’t you long to offer yourself breathing room instead of badgering?

I really believe that we can live our lives drowning in the void, or we can live our lives in the spacious place. I have floundered in the void, as some of you have or maybe still are.

There is so much more life in the spacious place.

There is so very little in life that we can actually control.  Almost nothing.  Three little babies will teach you that quickly.

But one thing we CAN control is this: How we treat ourselves.

The truth is, I still look like Charlize Theron from “Monster” most every day. And, the truth is, that’s still hard for me.

BUT . . . somehow I can forgive myself now, I can care for myself, I can see that things will go so much better if I will simply stop believing that I am the sum total of my perceived inadequacies.

God has offered us a very broad grace. Can we offer that same grace to ourselves and, what’s more, wake up tomorrow morning and choose it all over again?

Believing in you,

Leeana

***
Leeana Tankersley is the author of Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places (Zondervan 2009), a memoir inspired by her time in the Middle East. She currently lives in Bahrain with her husband, Steve, and their three kids: Luke (3), Lane (3), and Elle (8 months). Leeana blogs at www.GypsyInk.com.

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Dividing the Pain

Source: bdbhbe.blogspot.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

I received an email last week from a dear high school friend detailing the failing health of her mother.  I immediately picked up the phone and called her.  My plan was to let her know she is in my thoughts and prayers + how much I love her and her family.

But as soon as I started to speak, my words turned into a hot mess of jumbled words and tears.  I choked up as I realized the depth of my love for my friend, her family and the role they all played during such an important season of my life.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself for my ramble as I had wanted to be “strong” and a rock for her during this tough time. I felt a bit like my message was a burden and that did not sit well with me.  A few days later, I wrote my friend and apologized for my hot mess of a voice mail message and more coherently articulated my sentiments.

Minutes after I fired off my apologetic email, I received a voice mail message from my friend.  She was so gracious and noted how touched she was by my expression of emotion in addition to being encouraged knowing how her mom had impacted me.

(Note to self: authentic and sincerely expressed sentiments are ok.  Lighten up on yourself for not being “perfect”.  Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist.)

And then my friend said something so beautiful and brilliant.

“When you have things like this happen, you just want to divide the pain.  When I sent the email message to those I love sharing the bad news, there is some comfort I received in dividing that pain and having others hold it with me.  So, thank you.”

My friend shared more about the path that was ahead of her and her family as they seek to make her mom comfortable while her body slowly shuts down.  This led my mind to race with memories of how our lives and families intersected over the years:

  • time at her childhood house;
  • getting ready for homecoming;
  • sleep overs;
  • sneaking out and skipping school during state tournament season;
  • late-night swims;
  • eating at their kitchen counter;
  • getting in trouble at their kitchen counter;
  • practicing our cheer routines;
  • going to her cabin;
  • flying to California for my sweet sixteen/golden birthday birthday;
  • double dates;
  • mean girl drama;
  • jerky boy drama;
  • family weddings;
  • and few other memories that are best to remain private. 🙂

I love my friend’s statement about dividing our pain and am very aware of how so many people I know personally and professionally keep their pain silent within themselves, often for fear of being rejected or a ridiculed.  And some do not feel like they can manage the vulnerability of being seen in their pain.  Then there are those who do not have safe community they can reach out to and trust when they are struggling.

I really believe lasting healing happens when we divide the pain by giving witness to our hurts and invite others into our experience to share our load, our burden.

And for many of those I work with at Potentia, I have had the honor of giving witness to their pain, struggles, shame and fears.

The power of sharing your story, receiving support + respect instead of shame + judgements is medicine for your soul.

Let’s be honest, it is risky to be open about your heart struggles. To allow yourself to be seen – with safe and boundried people –  as not strong enough, tough enough, perfect enough allows the lies of these negative beliefs to dissipate.

I really think we miss out on incredible healing opportunities when we do not divide the pain and instead put on masks telling people, “It’s all good.”  or  “It is meant to be.” or  “It could be worse.”  My friend could have minimized things but instead she leaned into her safe and loving support system.

I wonder, what are the negative beliefs that are keeping you from reaching out?

What one risk can you take today to reach out and divide the pain?

Never forget: Real+Safe relationships heal.

Having a safe and sincere relationship with God, yourself  and others is crucial to managing the curve balls of life + experiencing the blessings in life to the fullest.  Shame says, “stay hidden”.  Truth says, “You are worthy to be seen”.

Dividing+Conquering  –

Rebecca

PS – Thank you Mrs. A for raising an amazing daughter who blessed my life richly and for loving me – along with the rest of the young women in your world of influence  –  as one of your own.

 

 

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Is Authentic Going the Way of Awesome?

 

By Molly La Croix, LMFT Trauma Expert at Potentia Family Therapy

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“Keeping it Real at Facebook” 2/12/12) the author lamented the use of such phrases as authentic self.

She states, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

While she was talking about overinflated egos and verbiage resulting from stratospheric levels of success, I found myself worrying that soon the word authentic might go the way of the word awesome.

We all know awesome has become one of the most overused adjectives, losing meaning and weight in the process.  It used to be used to convey a sense of wonder and majesty, and now it just conjures up the image of a preteen boy on a skateboard with his hat on sideways.

Why do I care that authentic might go the way of awesome?

Because our fundamental challenge as human beings is to figure out who we truly are and then live out that unique self in relationships where we do not have to pose or hide or morph into someone else.

Being an authentic self is not something to be mocked, or trivialized, or derided as a fad.  It is a worthy ambition.  It is a destination on a journey that is fraught with obstacles and challenges, requiring courage and perseverance.  It is a goal demanding stamina and a supportive community.

If being authentic means being real, genuine, and true – among other things – what makes it so difficult?  As the author said, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

The difficulty lies in universal experience of shame when we venture forth as our true self and we perceive rejection of that self.  That can start as early as infancy when the baby cries and does not receive comfort.  Perhaps the self really was rejected by a harsh parent who called us stupid. Or, perhaps the child just interpreted a benign remark as a criticism of that self.

The issue is not whether the person meant to shame us.

The issue is that we all internalize a degree of shame about our core, authentic self.  That shame prompts all of us to be fake sometimes.

For some, the degree of shame is so great they live each day flooded by it.  For others, the negative beliefs associated with the feeling of shame, such as, “I’m not good enough, not loveable, not worthy…” pop up occasionally.

I don’t believe any of us entirely escape the influence of unhealthy shame, the kind that causes us to want to hide our authentic selves.

Just think about the last time you took a risk to take a stance with someone who is important to you – spouse, parent, partner, child, co-worker. Any anxiety crop up?  Any fear of rejection?

Depending on the weight of the issue, and the degree to which you internalized negative beliefs, that anxiety might have been great enough to silence your voice.

And that brings us back to the importance of being an authentic self.  It is not trite, it is essential.

Shame will silence us.  Those brave enough to be intentional about authenticity deserve praise and celebration.

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Valentine’s Day Eve Inspiration

These words are like a valentine to all who read her work.

Thank you, Brene’ Brown!

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.

It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think,

No matter what gets done and how much is left undone; I am enough.

It’s going to bed at night thinking,

Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

Choosing authenticity is an act of resistance.

Choosing to live and love with our WholeHearts is an act of defiance.”

 

(Can I get an Amen?)

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