Angela inspires me. Although she is afraid of heights, she bravely brought herself and her staff to the Wholistic Woman zip line retreat; knowing full well it would take her out of her comfort zone.
With a secure harness around her waist and a helmet on her head, she anxiously watched other women walk to the platform and be linked to the overhead cable by the facility expert. With cheers of encouragement, each woman then walked to the edge of the platform and, when they were ready, stepped off into thin air for the 600 foot zip line ride through the forest.
Tension grew in Angie’s face as she watched the women go before her and imagined taking the steps herself. Her 3 employees stood nearby and chatted excitedly about the opportunity to participate in this team building exercise and to support each other in being brave. First one, then another, went and soon it was Angie’s turn. She quietly said to me, “Well, there’s no turning back now. Here I go.” Even though no one was forcing her to do this she seemed to tap into an inner source of strength and bravely stepped to the platform and allowed herself to be linked to the zip line. She hesitantly approached the edge of the platform and fearfully looked down. Encouraging words from the watching women reminded her to look forward towards her goal…the end of the line and not at the ground below her. Taking a deep breath, and whispering a soft prayer, she stepped off the platform and was soon flying through the air. Clinging to the cable before her and feeling the rush of wind against her face, Angie’s look of fear soon spread into a smile of pure joy. The exhilaration of the ride overtook all her worries in the minutes that she zipped through the air. As she landed safely at the end of the line her joyful smile grew even bigger as she realized that she “did it”! The thrill of the ride was only surpassed by the exhilaration she felt inside for stepping beyond her fears. Receiving hugs and claps on the back from her employees and other surrounding women, Angie was practically floating as she walked through the woods back to the starting point.
I asked her how it felt and she radiated pure enthusiasm as she told me that is wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be…in fact it was really fun. We chatted as we moved to the next activity, a free-fall swing. Riding on her sense of accomplishment from having done the zip line, Angie looked at this next challenge and discovered her anxiety was again returning. Harnessed to a Y cable, women were being hoisted into the air by their teammates. When they were ready, each woman pulled the trigger to release themselves into a free-fall swing through the tree tops. Screams of excitement, delight, and also some fear resonated around Angie as she watched from a distance. “I’m not so sure about this one,” was her comment to me as we moved to pull the next woman into position. “Do what feels right for you,” was my advice to her, “we will support you in stretching as far as you want to go today.”
After watching each woman in our group do the free-fall swing from a variety of heights, Angie bravely stepped forward and said, “This scares me but I want to do it. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and regret that I didn’t do this.” With that she was attached to the Y cable and we slowly raised her into the air. Within a few feet she said loudly, “That’s enough…stop right there.” And we did. Respecting her wishes and the courage that she was tapping into to be in this position, we waited until she was ready to pull the trigger and release herself into a free-fall. Cheers surrounded her once more as she swung back and forth and then gently slowed to a stop. The smile that lit her face made my day. This 62 year- old woman epitomized for me what it means to me to be brave.
She felt her fear, yet she set herself up for success in several key ways which she explained to me afterwards.
She surrounded herself with people who encouraged her and supported her intention to overcome her fears.
She educated herself about the risks and made sure that she was working with experts who ensured a safe approach to those risks.
She brought a team to experience it with her and to remind her who she wants to be.
And last, but not least, she tapped into her own inner source of courage and strength. Believing in herself, and the God that she leans on, she took the leap to be all that she wants to be.
Almost a year later, I checked in with Angie to see how her courage has developed and the impact the retreat had on her business and her life. She said, “I’ve always been a cautious person, but I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my life to be controlled by fear. Stepping out and trying something that terrified me was exhilarating. Now when faced with a challenge, whether in business or in life, my new mantra is “I can do this!”
What does it take for you to be brave and overcome your fears?
Do you need information? Do you need support and encouragement from others? Does it help to see someone else go first before you take a leap?
Whether you need people, information, perspective, prayer or a combination of all four, it’s wise to know how to tap into your courage. Most of us face fear on a daily basis and we learn ways to overcome the mild nervousness we experience in order to do what we need to do each day.
But how do we manage the big things that scare us? Financial, medical, and relationship issues are just some of life’s challenges that can cause great anxiety within us.
How do we find the courage to face challenges?
I have found these three steps helpful when facing fear:
- Identify the fear. This can be hard to do because it feels vulnerable to admit that we are afraid. Yet, when we name our fear we begin to see how to manage it. Choices emerge about how to overcome fear once we see it and name it.
- Have a support team. Surround yourself with people who you trust and who inspire you to be brave. They will model courage for you and will cheer you on when you achieve both major and minor accomplishments.
- Take small steps. Courage grows every time you do something that scares you. For some of us it may be speaking in public, running a business, or learning a new skill…our fears vary and are as unique as we are. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you” which reminds us that courage takes practice. With every small step forward through our fears we develop our inner strength and courage.
What steps are you taking to be braver?
Grow more courageous at our 2016 Physical Adventure Retreat on June 29th from 3-8 pm.
This year we will be offering 3 exciting activities where you can Climb, Zip, and Leap out of your comfort zone.
Do 1, 2, or all 3 at the level that feels right to you.
Stretch and grow more courageous with us!
Click here for more details and registration information.
Questions can be sent to email@example.com.
*Thank you to Angela Martin, owner of Shepherd’s Staff In-Home Care, and Wholistic Woman Member, for sharing her inspiring story with us.
* Click here to see photos from the 2015 Be Courageous Physical Adventure Retreat
This article was written by Carol deLaski, a professional certified coach, speaker, author, and Founder of Wholistic Woman Retreats. She specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. To learn more about her services, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email Carol@caroldelaski.com.
Which words in this quote stand out to you?
The word confidently resonates the most to me. As I read it, I imagine myself striding purposefully towards my personal and professional dreams. I am not lackadaisical or distracted, but rather I envision my head held high, arms swinging beside my body, and eyes focused ahead of me as I steadily move forward. I like this image!
To be honest, though, the poise and assurance of self-confidence can be elusive; sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t.
Research shows that when we feel confident we are likely to exhibit some of these behaviors:
- We do what we believe is right, even if others mock or criticize us for it.
- We are willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve our goals.
- We admit our mistakes, and learn from them.
- We wait for others to congratulate us on our accomplishments.
- We accept compliments graciously, “Thanks, I really worked hard on that project. I’m pleased that you recognize my efforts.”
By contrast, when we lack confidence we frequently demonstrate these behaviors
- We choose our actions based on what other people think.
- We stay in our comfort zone, fear failure, and avoid taking risks.
- We work hard to cover up mistakes and hope that we can fix a problem before anyone notices it.
- We promote our own virtues as often as possible, to as many people as possible.
- We dismiss compliments offhandedly, “Oh that project was nothing, really, anyone could have done it.”
I’ve come to learn that self-confidence is really a balancing act.
There are 4 steps that each of us can adopt to be more confident.
Step 1: Know who you are. A healthy appreciation of what makes you unique is the foundation for self-confidence. It is important to know your strengths and values, and to be grounded in that which you have control over…namely, yourself.
Step 2: Manage your mental chatter. It is hard to know, love, and accept yourself in a world that encourages us to compare ourselves to others. Marketing companies want us to yearn for the product or service they’re selling; they intend for us to feel incomplete without it. We must guard against the onslaught of messages that imply we are not enough.
In addition, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. It is easy to take a spectator seat, watching other people’s lives via social media and to compare ourselves to them. We can be drawn into thinking they are more attractive, smarter, luckier, and happier than we are. The truth is that we only see a small slice of the lives of others, and no one really knows another person’s reality. Comparing yourself to others and judging yourself as ‘less than’ is detrimental to knowing and accepting the unique individual that you are.
A sidekick to comparison is negative self-talk. The inner critic can run rampant in most of our minds and we must be intentional not to let it drag us down. Like tuning into a radio station, dial past the static of self-critical thoughts that deflate you, and tune into positive thinking. Managing your mental chatter will free up space, and energy, for step 3.
Step 3: Decide who you want to be. As you practice the first 2 steps of accepting yourself and focusing on the positive, you will be ready to decide how you want to be and what you want to do. What is your vision and dream for your work…and for your life overall? Once you have the vision, create small action steps to move you in the direction of your dream. We are meant to be a work-in-progress, so celebrate each step that you make and use it as a launch pad for the next step on your journey. Evolve into who you are called to be.
Step 4: Know your Team. While you pursue your work and life vision, know that you are not alone. There will be days when lack of confidence will rear its ugly head and you may experience some of the anxious behaviors listed above. Who can you count on to support you when you are fearful? Who will stand with you in the gap formed by self-doubt and remind you that you are still special and loved? Who believes in you even when you struggle to believe in yourself? Perhaps that person will remind you to circle around and begin steps 1 through 4 all over again. By practicing them faithfully and intentionally, you will notice how your confidence flourishes.
Let me know your thoughts on these steps to greater self-confidence by leaving a comment here or emailing me directly.
An invitation for women who want more information on this topic:
You’re invited to join me for the Wholistic Woman ‘Be Confident’ Evening Retreat on March 30th from 5:30-7:30 pm. These evening retreats are open to women in the Frederick area who are interested in personal and professional development in a supportive, fun, and friendly environment. Click here for the workshop description and/or to register.
Today’s author: Carol deLaski (PCC) is a professional certified coach, speaker, and author who specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. Her coaching book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith is a springboard to develop inner wisdom and resilience. Visit her website or send an email with your comments or to arrange for a free consultation.
www.Caroldelaski.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” ~ Dr. Seuss
These words, by one of my favorite authors, reminds us of our uniqueness. My wish for you this year is to become more fully your Self. May you blend your special gifts, strengths, and experiences, to continue being a ‘one-of-a-kind’ person.
Who do you want to be this year?
What will it take to get there?
What will you need to include, or exclude, to help you move towards that vision?
I have found that using a theme word for the year is a helpful tool to guide my growth. I highly recommend it if you are seeking new perspectives and direction in your work, or life overall.
The three step process outlined in the book One Word to Change Your Life tells us how to receive a word that God, the Universe…or whatever you call that which is bigger than us…intends for our growth. The process is simple, yet important to follow because this is not about picking a good word. It’s about receiving the word uniquely intended for you. The three step process looks like this:
1. Look within. Set aside time to be quiet and ask yourself these questions:
- What do I need? Not what do I want, but what do I truly need?
- What’s in my way? In other words, what’s blocking me?
- What needs to go? What do I need to release in order to move forward?
2. Look up. Prayerfully ask, “What do you (God or the Universe) want to do in me and through me?” Be open and pay attention for the answer. The word that surfaces may not be what you expected. In fact, your mind may reject it but if your heart and soul knows that it is your word, then go with it, even if it doesn’t make sense initially. Try to have an attitude of curiosity about the word you receive.
3. Look out. Live with your word for the entire year. It’s important to stick with it because there will be lessons that will be learned by living with it through easy, as well as challenging times.
My first word was BELIEVE and I found it very easy to identify all that I believed in…faith, love, honesty, kindness…the list went on and on. Midway through the year, however, I started to see my unbelief, those times when I felt weak, vulnerable, and insecure. It was uncomfortable to realize the person I didn’t fully believe in was me. My word helped me recognize how self-doubt limits me at times and I found the antidote in faith. When I feel weak and unable to go on, God provides the people and resources that I need. I learned that the more I look for that provision the more I see it, again and again.
The next year my word was FOUND. This word helped me identify the actions, solutions, thoughts, and approaches that serve me best, and to release those that do not. I learned how to more consistently rely on what I have found to be true. I trust my intuition more, spend less time comparing myself to others and feeling lost. I know where the source of my inner strength lies and encourage others to find their own resilience through strengths coaching and my book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. FOUND was a very relevant word for me in 2014.
In 2015 my word was HEAR. Initially I thought this word was unusual. Nonetheless, I went with it and learned to pay attention to the messages that I allow myself to hear from others…and from my own self-talk. I started to consciously block harmful or negative messages and tried to open my ears to listen for positive, divine, messages. Interestingly, I heard many of those messages from family, friends, clients, and other people who may or may not have known they were a conduit…giving me exactly what I needed to hear on any given day.
After spending a year with each of my words I realize that they become a part of me. I’ve developed a habit of using them to gain perspective and a sense of direction which continues long after the year is over. Each word has been a blessing.
As 2016 begins, I am again going through the process to discover a new theme word. I invite you to join me.
If you’d like to learn more about the One Word Process you can find it in the book One Word to Change Your Life by Gordon, Britton, and Page. Once you’ve received your Word, be sure to share it with others to form a Stretch Team that will help you stay on track throughout the year.
Would you like to be part of our Stretch Team?
If so, I warmly invite you to join the Wholistic Woman ‘Be You’ Evening Retreat on January 27th from 5:30-7:30 pm. This will be the kickoff for a series of ‘Be You’ Evening Retreats in 2016. During this Launch Party you will learn about the One Word process and hear stories of it’s positive impact on other individuals. If you already have a Word for 2016 be sure to bring it with you…or bring whatever words you may be considering…or just come and learn more about it.
At the Launch Party you will also learn about the evening retreat line-up for 2016. You’re invited to join us for all 8 of these evening retreats to learn, grow, and stay connected with your One Word Stretch Team.
Now is the time to become a member of the Wholistic Woman Community to receive discounts on all our events. Click here to see details about the ‘Be You’ Evening Retreat Package or register for just the Launch Party. Come to one…or all eight! When you register for the entire series you will receive a $40 savings (events are transferable…so you can give them away if you find that you can’t make some dates)! Join us in the way that feels right to you.
Remember, in this community of women-on-the-grow you are accepted for who you are while at the same time provided with tools and strategies to be more fully you!
Each of us is a work-in-progress. The Wholistic Coaches and I are honored to support you in becoming your best in this fresh new year full of limitless possibilities.
In closing, I share the quote by Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.”
May this be a great year to Be You!
Carol deLaski, PCC, is an author and strengths-based coach who guides individuals and businesses to be their best. For more information about her coaching services, and her book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email her at email@example.com.
Are you being all that you were created to be?
Sometimes I answer this question with a resounding YES! It’s usually when I feel that I’m having a positive impact on my world and others….when I’m using my God-given talents to be and do my best.
All too often, though, the answer to the question is a definite NO. Admittedly, in my humanity, I fall short of being my best on a regular basis. An inner, self-critical voice frequently tells me how I am not measuring up and never will. If I listen to the voice too closely I begin to believe that I shouldn’t even try. It tells me to play safe and small, not to speak up, and not to take risks.
Fortunately, I have learned how to manage my inner critic. I listen to it only to the extent of admitting that I didn’t do my best and that I could do better….and then I turn to curiosity and ask myself how I could improve next time. I maintain an open mind and consciously let go of self-judgment to try to learn from my shortfalls.
With this mindset, my life is a series of ups and downs that provide me with joy when things are going well, and life lessons when things are disappointing and hard. Perhaps the same is true for you.
At the heart of my growth process is self-awareness, or consciousness. I believe that the best way to navigate the highs and lows of life is by knowing, loving, and accepting ourselves….and when our ability to do that falls short, to trust that there is a Higher Power/God, who knows, loves and accepts us.
An important perspective is acknowledging that I am a work-in-progress. Rather than harshly berating myself when I make mistakes, I have learned to treat myself like I would a good friend. I can change the channel of that voice in my head to a station that speaks loving-kindness and affirmations that encourage rather than discourage me. Listening to that channel doesn’t remove the disappointment that I feel with myself, but it motivates me to learn and grow from a source of compassion and helps me release criticism.
As a professional coach I teach, and use many tools to develop self-awareness. One of the best tools I’ve found is Gallup’s Strengths Finder assessment, which provides individuals information about their top 5 talents. When we make an effort to learn about our talents, and practice using them effectively, they become strengths – characteristics that we can consistently use to produce positive outcomes at work and in life overall.
Each of our strengths has a light and dark side. The light side refers to those times when our strengths are serving us well and bringing about those positive outcomes I referred to above. The dark side, by contrast, is when our strengths do not serve us well. It’s important to know the warning signs when we are starting to drift into the shadow side of our strengths so that we can self-correct and return to the light side.
I will give you a couple of examples:
My top strength is Empathy. Gallup defines this strength as an ability to sense other’s emotions. I define it as being highly sensitive and tuned-in on an emotional level. Some might call it emotional intelligence. When my strength is serving me well, I am able to meet others where they are and connect with them on an emotional level to support them in the way that is best for them at that moment. This sixth sense helps me understand the emotional climate of an individual or a group, sometimes with a deeper awareness than they themselves may have. I drift into the shadows when I lose sight of the healthy boundaries between me and someone else and I actually take on their feelings. I can lose myself in another person’s emotional landscape by caring too much. This isn’t beneficial for me or the other person, so I have learned how to create boundaries that help me to be a successful coach to others and fully present and well-balanced in my own life.
I’ve spoken to many clients who have the strengths of Achiever and Responsibility. These people know how to get things done and they do it with a great attitude. They enjoy checking things off a mental or physical list and get great satisfaction from tasks being completed. They are ‘can-do’ people and are crucial to have on your team because they will ‘get it done’. That’s the good side. The dark side is that they can overwhelm themselves with how much there is to do and get stuck there; they can risk burning out by trying to do it all; or they can overstep boundaries and do things that other people need to do. A perfect example is a parent who needs to refrain from picking up after a child in order to teach her how to do it herself. We know that if we always do tasks for our children they won’t learn to become responsible adults and the same is true in other areas of our lives.
Another strength of mine is called Developer, which Gallup defines as having the desire and ability to help others reach their full potential. In my life, I’ve been able to express this strength in a variety of ways…as a teacher, a parent, and a professional coach. I feel deep satisfaction when I can support a client, friend, or loved one in being brave and taking the next step in their personal growth…in their lifelong journey to wholeness. The dark side of this strength is when I can see what’s possible (and my Strategic strength can see how to get there), but I’m way ahead of the other person. I need to remind myself that we each grow at our own pace, and wake up to consciousness when we are ready. I can provide fertile soil for growth but each seedling sprouts and grows in its own time. I must remember to respect each person’s pace, whether it is swift or, to me, excruciatingly slow.
I was inspired recently by an article written by Sandie Lynch, a friend and coach colleague. She shared 6 steps to develop self-worth and feel complete (or whole). They were all helpful, yet one especially resonated with me. It was the reminder to embrace our uniqueness.
Sandie states: “There are no two people who are the same. Each of us has unique gifts and talents which we possess when we are born. Our experiences develop our talents into strengths that when applied makes our part of the world a better place. Trust that you make a difference!”
I believe that knowing and developing your talents into strengths which you can consistently use for the benefit of yourself and others is pivotal to realizing your full potential and being your best.
How will you know, like, and trust your strengths more?
Here are two suggestions to start (or continue) you on that lifelong journey.
1) Change your inner critic to an inner coach. Cultivate core honesty with yourself, which is grounded in love and self-acceptance. Encourage yourself instead of discouraging yourself by treating yourself as you would a dear friend.
2) Learn about your strengths…both the light and dark sides… and practice ways to self-correct when you drift into the shadows. Draw healthy boundaries around them so that they make positive contributions and don’t overwhelm yourself or others.
I deeply believe that you are designed by God to be uniquely special. It is my hope that you will develop your inner strengths to be your best in all areas of your life.
An invitation: If you would like to learn more about being whole and living into your best self please join us for a Wholistic Woman Evening Retreat, Be Complete, led by Coach Sandie Lynch on 8/26 from 5:30-7 pm. Click here for details and to register.
Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC is a speaker, author, and coach who specializes in strengths development for individuals, businesses, and teams. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary call to see how strengths training can help you or your organization.
I’m happy to say that Wholistic Woman Retreats (WWR) is celebrating its 5th year of hosting quality retreats and events for busy ‘women-on-the-grow’.
Recently I was asked to write a feature article about WWR for the first issue of Sass Magazine. Created as a collaborative effort by a team of talented Frederick women, Sass Magazine will premier in September 2015. WWR is honored to be one of the featured articles for their launch issue.
As I prepared the article I reflected on who we are, where we came from, and why we do what we do. I believe that it’s good to look back periodically to understand our roots and history. Hindsight offers a new perspective and wisdom can frequently be gleaned from such contemplation.
Wholisitc Woman Retreats was an idea that had been swirling in my mind for over a decade. The idea took root and began to flourish when a fellow coach and friend, Jeanette Eleff, offered to help me put together a retreat designed to both nurture and stretch women to grow. Within a few months we invited 4 other coaches to help us and the Wholistic Coaching Coalition was formed. Kelye Rouse Brown, Lisa DiScuillo, Laura Hall, Sandie Lynch, Jeanette and I formed the original team.
We hosted overnight retreats in special surroundings where women could relax, have fun, listen, talk, learn, and grow together. We brought in health practitioners to teach about physical modalities that support wellness such as massage, chiropractic, reflexology, Reiki, and more. Vision boards, nature walks, campfires, and markets for shopping supported the central theme which was to practice self-care. We learned that self-care was not selfishness, and that focusing on ourselves long enough to fill our own tanks was necessary in order to give our best to our families, careers, and communities. Self-care was a foreign concept to some and difficult to grasp for many, but together we explored this concept and supported one another’s efforts to practice it.
Over the years we’ve expanded our programs to include a physical adventure retreat each summer and a Gratitude dinner each fall. Women responded so well to our variety of retreats that they began asking how they could stay connected between our events. A membership community was formed in response to that request and gatherings are now offered in Frederick on the last Wednesday of every month. Women can come to one or all of these ‘Be You Evening Retreats’ to stay connected to each other, the coaches, and to themselves as we support each other in being our best. An Affiliate Coach Membership program was launched this year to support new coaches in building their practices. This program was well received as we brought 5 new Affiliates on board. WWR continues to expand!
At times members will bring friends from outside the area to our events, and when they do it’s not uncommon for visitors to ask “Is there something like this where I live?” I respond that, at this time, WWR is a local organization. But we are poised to grow in our next 5 years and I expect to answer that question differently on our 10 year anniversary. Our dream is to take WWR to new communities and offer our special brand of energy to women everywhere.
What makes Wholistic Woman Retreats special?
- WWR is a community where women feel accepted as they are… yet encouraged to be more.
• In this community women practice non-judgment and don’t tell each other what to do. We don’t ‘should’ on each other but allow one another to process out loud (or internally) and come to the conclusions that are right for ourselves.
• We believe that each of us is a ‘work-in-progress’ and we honor the evolving edge and pace of each woman’s growth.
• We create space for self-reflection and discovery because we know that wisdom revealed is more potent than wisdom taught. We believe that people are more likely to make changes that last if the idea originates within them.
• We are experts at creating nurturing spaces for women to reflect, discover, and grow.
• And last but not least, we celebrate the accomplishments of each woman in our community.
This is especially true as we cheer the founder of Sass Magazine, Kim Dow, to be her best. Kim has been our graphic designer for many years. Her company, Kalico Designs, has provided a consistent, branded, look for WWR that reflects our momentum and energy. We wouldn’t be who we are today without our coaches and our alliance partners. Kim is in integral part of our team. We believe in her, and in her vision, just as she has believed in us and our vision. So be sure to ‘Like’ Sass Magazine on Facebook and look for the first issue in September.
If you want to learn more about Wholistic Woman Retreats be sure to also ‘Like’ our Facebook page and visit www.wholisticwomanretreats.com to join our email list and receive updates about our programs.
Carol deLaski is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Woman Retreats. She is a professional certified coach, speaker and author of Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. Carol specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. You can contact her at Carol@caroldelaski.com.
What does being brave mean to you?
Does it evoke heroic images of courageous acts done by special people?
Is it a word that you use to describe yourself at times?
At a recent Wholistic Woman Retreat, we explored the topic of bravery. We learned that it occurs in the little moments of life as well as in more pivotal moments.
Bravery occurs each time we step out of our comfort zones. When we overcome our fears enough to try a new activity or have a difficult conversation, we are being brave.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed there is a dance that we do between fear and doubt and trust and faith. Much like a dance, whether we move gracefully or awkwardly between them depends upon how much practice we’ve had. Learning how to replace my doubts with trust becomes a key factor in my ability to be brave and try new ways of being or thinking.
One arena where I have had the opportunity to practice these dance moves repeatedly was when writing my book. Like many others, I always thought I would write a book one day, but I really didn’t know how or when I would do it. Upon returning from a transformative trip to Europe, however, I suddenly knew it was time to write my book.
Uncertainty and self-doubt arose with thoughts of… I don’t know how. Who will read it? Who am I to write a book? Others are more qualified than me.
When I listened to these inner voices of doubt, I could feel my courage shrinking and a strong urge to play it safe grew within me.
I knew that the way to move from fear to trust would be through loving-kindness. As Brené Brown teaches in the Daring Way™, the two most important seats in any life arena are empathy and self-compassion. When we change our inner voice from ‘the critic’ to one of a friend, we shift our energy and create forward movement.
I changed my inner tape to one of encouragement with…who am I to ignore my call to write? If I only touch one person with my book it will be worth it. Normal people like me have stories worth telling.
This new perspective released the hold fear had upon me and I began to write my story. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but trusted that if I did my part the purpose of my work would be revealed.
Doubts soon re-surfaced, however, and I began to see that this dance between fear and trust is repeated continuously when we are being brave. Moving away from fear is not a one-time activity. We have the opportunity to practice it over and over again.
While in the midst of writing my book one day my fingers raced across the keyboard and the words poured out of me. I paused to review what I had just written and was surprised to see ‘three beliefs for faith-based living’. I was so intent on letting the words flow out of me that I hadn’t consciously constructed these beliefs. They were a culmination of many thoughts within me, yet I also felt that they had come through me from a source bigger than myself. My heart resonated with these beliefs, but doubt and fear once again appeared in my mind.
The inner critic questioned the 3 beliefs with thoughts of…what will people think? I’m not an expert. Who am I to write this? It’s too simple. People will laugh…or ridicule…or judge me. Don’t be a fool and let people know what you believe.
As these thoughts swirled within me I could feel the enthusiasm for writing my story starting to shrink. The urge to play it safe returned, and I was tempted to revise the beliefs or even to take them out of the book entirely. It felt vulnerable to include them and I was frightened to voice my perspectives so boldly and risk being judged.
Feeling stuck in uncertainty, I once again knew that the way to move from self-limiting fear into action was through trust and faith. The dance move needed to replace my self-defeating thinking was self-compassion.
I began with…you can do this. You don’t have to be an expert to others; you are an expert about your own beliefs. And, if you don’t say it…who will?
This new perspective released the logjam of my self-doubt and I resumed writing.
This pattern continued to repeat itself throughout the entire project. I seemed to do a daily dance between doubt and trust and subsequently practiced overcoming limiting thoughts in many small ways. It was the large fears, however, that would stop me in my tracks and freeze my forward momentum.
Such as when I invited feedback on my manuscript from people who knew me, as well as from cold readers (people who had never met me). I bravely reviewed their comments each time in an effort to improve the book. There were times that the critical voices from others resonated with my inner critic and the two seemed to have a field day inside my head.
Such thoughts deteriorated my physical and emotional energy and I would be tempted to give up thinking…this is just too hard.
At times I couldn’t hear my own voice of self-compassion and I needed to hear words of kindness and encouragement from others. I welcomed positive feedback from loved ones, and even more so when the feedback came from strangers whose honest encouragement wasn’t driven by a concern for my feelings.
Statements such as…I can relate to your story. I couldn’t put the book down. I’ve been through similar experiences. I’m thinking about the questions you ask and have been growing because of them.
These affirmations lifted my spirit and helped me to be brave enough to take an honest look at the critical feedback, and use it to revise and improve the work overall.
Today, because I have learned this dance between fear/doubt and trust/faith, I have a finished book and its companion journal. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the courage to continually practice the dance moves of loving-kindness, compassion, and empathy rather than doubt and fear.
Fear is such an integral part of life that I know I will always be involved in this waltz. With each rendition I recognize feelings of vulnerability more readily, and the subsequent urge to shrink and play it safe, quiet, and small. I hear my inner critic and then consciously choose to counter it with self-compassionate thoughts of encouragement. And if my attempts to talk to myself like a dear friend are not enough to change my energy, then I remember that I can rely on the compassion of others, and on a loving God, to rebalance my perspective.
What arena of your life is beckoning you to be brave and to move beyond your fear?
As you seek to overcome those doubts, try being compassionate with yourself.
Won’t you join me in this dance of being brave?
Carol deLaski is an author, speaker, and professional coach. Her books, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith and the Lost and Found Companion Journal are available at www.caroldelaski.com. If you would like information on retreats, workshops, or coaching groups based on the book contact Carol via email: email@example.com
The Be Brave Retreat based on Dr. Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ program was recently presented by Wholistic Woman Retreats. If you would like information on bringing this retreat, or others, to your group or area please write to firstname.lastname@example.org