Monthly Archives: November 2015

Anybody Else Need Help Asking For Help?

Apparently, I need help asking for help. I’m going to share some obstacles to growing this skill for me in hopes they may serve you as well, as this is an important skill for taking care of ourselves AND living lives that still have the meaning and value we want.

One obstacle I’ve uncovered is stories/judgments I tell myself about people who ask for help. I was taught that you need to take care of yourself and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. So one hurdle is overcoming my own self-judgment of being “weak” if I ask for help (among others – like being “needy”).

Repeat to myself... "I don't have to be drowning to ask for help. I don't have to be..."
Repeat to myself… “I don’t have to be drowning to ask for help. I don’t have to be…”

Another impediment is that, since I’ve mostly excluded this as a viable option, I’m not very skilled at doing it well and I’m uncomfortable doing things I’m not good at. A goal is about asking for help from a place of power and empowerment versus from a victim or “needy” place. I don’t always trust myself to skillfully ask powerfully.

And then there’s being unattached to the outcome. I have practiced doing this and do it well in many areas of my life. Oddly, that ability doesn’t seem to transfer as well over to asking for a favor or for help doing “ordinary” things.

Not to mention the fear of rejection and the stories we can so easily make up about our worth or loveableness (none of them good) if someone says “nope” or even “not now”.

It also appears to be ingrained in me that give and take must be equal – I don’t want to feel like I owe anybody anything. Again, not helpful when stacked with the other issues.

So, no answers for you today. But I think I’m asking some good questions for me. You?         ~Z

Does Your Voice of Fear Camouflage Itself As Intuition?

“Trust your gut” they say.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my gut seems to be shouting at me to avoid things at all costs, or to run like hell!

Or is that really my gut?

The voice of fear does an excellent job of impersonating the voice of intuition. So how to tell the difference?

Some threats are more real than others...
Some threats are more real than others…

To be clear, the voice of fear is not necessarily bad or to be ignored. The opportunity is in knowing who’s talking (or demanding) and to get specific on what’s being said.

I believe fear is a basic physical and emotional response to threats to either our survival or our identity.

So the first step of discernment is learning what YOUR body feels like when you’re feeling afraid. When that buzz is going on, be wary of the “advice” you’re getting.

Then ask yourself, “What part of me is being threatened?”. What is really at risk of being annihilated? Usually, that allows some perspective (assuming you answer yourself truthfully ;-), and permits a detachment and reduction of the cold buzz of the fear. It allows the “smarter” parts of your brain to start functioning again.

Then ask “What is threatening me?”. This further empowers you to stand into your “detached observer” role, letting your wisdom and reason come more fully online. Once you’ve gotten this birds-eye view (feeling, caution, what’s at risk, the actual threat), and have slowed down your reactions, you can query your wiser self about the next best step. That first step – close in…

Because now you’re waking up and not running on autopilot. Which is exactly what fear is so damn talented at doing. That’s not a bad thing. Just not needed in most situations for most of us…   ~Z

Some ideas about making the hard tasks easier…

Stuff’s gotta get done. Some stuff is less important and hopefully you’re constantly discerning what’s necessary and what you can let go of. But there are still crucial things you need to do in your life, and some of those things aren’t pleasant. Maybe it’s cooking. Or organizing. Or paying bills. Maybe it’s your rehab exercises or perhaps just bathing that you want to avoid because it hurts. Or maybe some essential tasks that you might otherwise enjoy or at least tolerate become seemingly intolerable on those days when you’re having a relapse or a flare-up. Yet not doing them is going to cost you.

Gotta be a better way, yes?
Gotta be a better way, yes?

Fill in the blank (as many times as you like): I really don’t like _________.

A question to ask yourself is; “How can I attenuate or lessen the unpleasantness of this essential activity?”.

I bet you already do this in some areas of your life unconsciously – maybe play music when you’re cleaning or listen to audio books on long trips. Pills in applesauce anyone?

I’m challenging you to consider attenuation for the most important activities that you resist the most. Maybe rock out to your favorite musical soundtrack when you’re exercising. Or cook when you’re not hungry (yes, I eat before I cook big batches of healthy food to freeze) – or have a stool to sit on in the kitchen. Maybe fold laundry when you’re talking to a friend or watching a comedy.

Taking lots of breaks or breaking tasks up into small chunks and quitting before you get exhausted works for me. Turn things into a game or take a playful approach, or keep score. Just having company during some things can be a big assist.

Oh, and asking for help and letting someone help you makes EVERYTHING EASIER!    ~Z

 

 

Being Entrenched – A Double-Edged Sword

Entrenched… This word was ringing in my head this morning. Not a word that I even knew was in my vocabulary. But there it was.

I was reflecting on lives of friends and clients and myself when it bubbled up. I was thinking about big life changes and how frustratingly difficult (or seemingly impossible) it can be to make big changes in our lives even when we can logically see the value of the change.

We have other words for it. Stuck. In a rut. Trapped. But there’s something about this idea of digging in and staying put (in say, a military sense) in order to defend and protect something precious that is sticking with me. It’s like some of us are willing to go to our graves stuck in habits not serving our higher or grander visions for ourselves and our world.

It’s like in our entrenchment, we have dug in and are defending something. Which is fine if you can articulate what it is you’re protecting or defending. But I think many of us have forgotten.

The flip side is this. Despite being rooted in old habits and ways of being, we can choose to become entrenched in new habits and new ways of being. I have, and I bet you have too.

So the question becomes one of asking yourself what trench you’d like to climb your way out of that is no longer serving what you know to be the highest priorities in your life. And what new trench would you like to start digging for yourself?

You might have to figure out what you’ve been protecting all these years. Or maybe just start digging?   ~Z

Did You Make Yourself Sick?

In this world of The Secret and the interconnectedness of all things… there are copious schools of thought around how our outer illness might be a manifestation of some unresolved inner trauma. Questions arise like: “Did I Make Myself Sick?”, or “Am I Keeping Myself From Getting Well?”.

Maybe not…

Here’s what I’ve learned: It probably doesn’t matter.

Building instead of digging... might have more long-lasting results?
Building instead of digging… might have more long-lasting results?

If you’ve got some inner work that needs doing to reduce your suffering and grow yourself into the person you really know you are – then do that work. Find the right therapist or coach or journaling routine and get crackin’. Getting straight and real with yourself – learning to ask yourself the hard questions and hear the truth – can’t help but support your efforts to take responsibility for your life going forward.

And in the meantime, start doing what it takes to re-claim your life so you’re reaping what you want to reap from your brief experience on this planet. There are a thousand things you can do that are probably more helpful than worrying about finding that Gordian knot in your psyche that, “If I only unraveled it all would be okay”.

I’m not saying that revealing some emotional block won’t miraculously cure you. But I wouldn’t wait to start taking good care of yourself – doing those things you know will be good for you independent of your health conditions. Eat well. Sleep well. Move well. Set some boundaries and ask for help. Frankly, if you’re blaming yourself for causing your own illness, seems to me these kinds of responsible actions would be an antidote to that lingering doubt (and shame?) as well.

My point? Even if you did get yourself into this, there’s still only you to get yourself out. What’s YOUR next step?     ~Z

 

Being Sick Without Being A Victim – Part II

In Part I, I briefly explored that how we advocate for ourselves is as important as whether or not we do.

This is yet another knot in the bundle of paradoxes of living with chronic conditions – a situation where we have special needs but still want to consider ourselves equals to those without those same needs (and be treated as such).

I know it feels like this on the inside sometimes. But if I don't want to be treated like this, I choose not to act from this place.
I know it feels like this on the inside sometimes. But if I don’t want to be treated like this, I can choose not to act from this place. And my friends will tell you I’m an excellent whiner…;-)

For most of us, there’s some inner work required – around practicing and learning how not to feel guilty or ashamed for your situation and the impacts on others. These feelings are obstacles to believing you deserve what you need. They can sometimes even be blocks to knowing what you need. So check in with yourself around this. Can you say to yourself “I’m sick/ill/in pain etc.” and not feel yourself start to shrink? If not, then neither can anyone else.

And the BIG skill is learning to ask cleanly for what you want without any attachment to or judgment of the outcome. Because even though as a human being, you are deserving of support, that’s not the same as being entitled to everything you want. When we come from a place of entitlement, we’re not coming from our most mature self, and we’re likely not making any friends either.

You’re not entitled to be pissed off at everyone who can’t anticipate your needs 100% of the time. You ARE entitled to ask for everything you deserve and need as a human being. And doing that from a place of confidence without shame or victimhood is more likely to get you the respect (and perhaps that nap) that you deserve…     ~Z