I take it for granted now that there is often a theme that arises from my coaching clients. Somehow, they come to their sessions with common issues and I have stopped wondering why and just accept that this is part of how the Universe works. This past week’s theme though is a theme that hit me personally.
Men just aren’t listening! It’s time to speak up, ladies.
My first client is working on healthier boundaries with an ex-husband who was financially abusive. She is frustrated at the litany of topics she can’t bring up with him when they discuss co-parenting because he gets defensive, argues, and turns the tables on her. My second client is a CFO at a very successful company and is working on her leadership style. She is frustrated with a partner in the company who refuses to take responsibility for any challenges but wants all the credit for the triumphs. Both said to me on their coaching call: “I can’t say anything to him because I don’t want to deal with the fallout.”
Are you not speaking up because you don’t want to have to deal with the listener not liking what you have to say?
And then, just to drive the lesson home, the Universe sends me several messages to watch the Super Soul Sunday episode with Glennon Doyle Melton where I received the clear message: “There is a system to telling the truth that splits women in two. It’s very hard for the world to hear the truth from a woman. Since negative emotions are less acceptable from a woman, we sometimes end up telling our truth in different ways than words. We tell the truth in harmful ways: they say I’m not fine with a credit card, or they say I’m not fine with overeating, they say I’m not fine with booze, or sex, or unkindness. That why it’s so powerful to integrate those two selves and tell the story of what’s going on on the inside with your words,” shared Glennon.
Deal with the fallout now or later
When are we women going to embody the full expression of ourselves? When are we going to allow ourselves to take up all the room we are meant to occupy? When are we going to be more concerned about our own feelings and break out of the prison of tiptoeing around others’ feelings?
“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace you start a war inside yourself.” – Cheryl Richardson
The thing is, human beings tend to avoid pain on a whole. We all like to avoid the unpleasant things in life. What we don’t realize is that sometimes we are turning down one road to avoid the skunk up ahead only to walk into a grizzly bear instead. What happens if my first client’s ex-husband is abusing his daughter but she doesn’t want to make waves? What happens if my second client gets scapegoated for the partner’s major spending spree? Dealing with the fallout of an uncomfortable conversation, while slightly painful, could be much less dramatic.
And what is my unspoken truth?
I don’t want to be mommy first and get to my career when it’s convenient to everyone else, not anymore. I have sacrificed my body to gestate, deliver, and feed four children. I have devoted over twenty years to their education, their emotional intelligence, their values, their mental and physical health. I have dried tears, shared belly laughs, survived road trips, attended plays and concerts, and graciously accepted macaroni art and bouquets of dandelions. I have been an excellent mother. I love them beyond words. My unspoken truth is that for me it’s not enough.
I will always be a mom and have another ten years before my nest is empty, but right now I also want to be Tammy the author, Tammy the speaker, Tammy the coach who is empowering women to speak their truth and live a full, authentic life. I am claiming my truth and standing in my full power to be my full self.
That’s my unspoken truth, what’s yours? Where in your life are you keeping silent to make others feel comfortable, and what is it costing you to keep it bottled up? Is today the day that you choose to stand in your power?
Speak up, ladies, speak up!
“Into each life some rain must fall.” -Ella Fitzgerald
As much as I am completely on board with positive psychology and the spiritual concept that the positive vibes you put out in the world return to you, there come times when life hands you a shitty situation and you’re going to feel shitty about it. This is a blog about shitty feelings.
I went to an excellent talk last week given by two child psychologists from Anchor Psychological Services on Emotion Coaching with our kids. Boiling a three hour talk down to a paragraph, in essence, they said that we as humans need emotions or we would have evolved out of them by now. Each emotion shows a need: sadness for comfort, fear for safety, anger for a boundary or to be heard, and shame has a need for reassurance of self. They also said that by avoiding our negative emotions there is a risk of maladaptive coping strategies like emotional eating, self-harm, substance abuse, depression, or anxiety.
Today, I am angry because of an injustice towards my daughter at school yesterday. I also have some sadness for her pain, and some shame around how she chose to react. If I listen to what society says is proper for a lady… I don’t get to puff up and yell and demand justice. At best, women are allowed to cry about it—that’s much more socially acceptable. But in all reality, in proper society, people would rather I just bury the shitty feelings, slap a smile on my face, and let it fester inside of me clogging up my arteries.
When I briefly asked about anger on my Facebook profile, most women said they do something physical like run or clean the house, many of them journal about their feelings and some of them vent it out with a friend. I also received some well-meaning advice through private messages to question if I should even bother being angry. Does the situation really matter? While I know these lovely ladies were trying to make things better by looking for the silver lining, it was still asking me to dismiss my feelings… and I kinda like my arteries to stay clear, thank you very much.
I am not suggesting we all be in a rage for months on end or fall into the depths of despair, but I am suggesting that we give ourselves permission to feel our feelings, to deal with our feelings, and to move on. Because, I can assure you that, at some point, another situation and another feeling will show up. I do wish all of us the more positive emotions more often, but this is life, and we are here to discern the difference between light and dark and joy and pain. One doesn’t exist without the other.
Thanks to having taken the class last week, I emotion coached my daughter (though I have a feeling I have more work to do there). Then for my own self-care, I voiced my boundary to the school, I had a good ranting session with my friends, I had some comforting hugs from my husband, and I let myself be vulnerable and have my oldest daughter reassure me that I am a good mother.
I can’t fix the injustice but at least I’m not burying mine or my daughter’s feelings. This is self-care my friends: Emotions need to be in motion.
Leave me a comment about what you think of the need for all emotions, good and bad.
Are you afraid to draw the line with that one toxic friend? Do you wonder what will happen if you speak your truth? Or what will happen if you don’t even have a huge falling out, but you just make a conscious choice to not hang-out with certain people?
I don’t go around calling myself the Healthy Boundaries Expert without having the life experience to back up my claims. I practiced what I preach quite a bit this year and chose to eliminate the co-dependent relationships (in which I was an equal player) and then downsized my social circle to a very select few. Considering how much human beings are social animals and how much we yearn to belong to a tribe, I would be lying if at some point I didn’t feel a little lonely and doubt my decisions. But as I look back now on how my 2013 played out I have noticed some big advantages.
- A smaller circle means a better connection to your spouse. All of those things I was running to tell my BFF, I now talk to my husband about. I think I know more about him, and he really “gets” me more now than in the last 10 years.
- A smaller circle means a better connection to your kids. Having fewer balls in the air with fewer social engagements has allowed me the downtime to be present for my kids in a much more mindful way. My batteries are not totally depleted when they want a little extra piece of my time. I feel less of the “pulled in a million directions” I used to get with an over booked dance card .
- Depth Friendships vs. Breadth Friendships. The friends that I do continue to have a great relationship with I connect to on a much deeper level. I think of myself before as one of those girls balancing 17 spinning plates on sticks trying to keep it all together and with a smile on my face to boot. Now I hold one plate at a time in a firm two handed grip knowing I won’t drop it. I think my friends also know that when they are with me they have all of me now.
If I were to name a common thread it would be mindful friendship. I am more present with my husband, more present with my children, and more present with my friends. And I don’t ever feel lonely anymore. It took me a little time to get used to the peace and quiet, but let me tell you, I wouldn’t go back to the stress of approval seeking and walking on eggshells around certain toxic people.
Are you ready to downsize your social circle? Do you need to figure out how to put up healthy boundaries with someone close to you, without causing drama or burning bridges? I can help. Go here to reserve a free one hour call.
This time of year can be really difficult for some of us. The music, the cheer, the food and traditions can all act as triggers. For many of us who are keeping up the smiling façade for the rest of our friends, but mostly for our children, the holidays can be very painful under that smiling mask.
6 Reasons You Might be a Closet Grinch
- As a child, you came from a divorced family and the holidays brought a lot of disruption in your routine with lots of bouncing around between families in order to make everyone else happy having “a piece of you”
- You currently share custody of your kids and the holiday spent without them is heart wrenching
- As a child, you dreaded when mom and dad got drunk and started beating on each other, or you and your siblings
- You currently work a job that requires shiftwork and you will spend at least one of the holidays changing bedpans or responding to a three-car pile-up
- As a child, while you were eternally grateful for the turkey from the food bank, you dreaded the thought of going to school with your new socks and hearing about all the cool toys everyone else got
- You currently deal with a monster-in-law from hell, and would rather stick needles in your eyes than sit across from them at the dinner table… or for some reason they feel that way about you and you don’t get invited to the holiday celebration
First, remember that you are no longer a child and you get to create your reality as an adult. No, you cannot control whether you have to work, or have custody, or have a dysfunctional family. However, you can choose how to orchestrate your season’s activities, if and how to react to the other players, to not take things so personally and be the bigger person, and to set healthy boundaries and expect them to be respected.
If you don’t have invitations pouring in, or you can’t stand the thought of being without your child, volunteer to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Or, work with any number of volunteer groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children during the holidays. There are many, many opportunities to provide community service. You won’t be depressed when helping others.
In the end, if it gets to the point where the mere mention of Christmas makes you twitch and you find yourself turning green and chanting: “I must stop this whole thing! Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I must stop Christmas from coming, but how!” consider booking yourself a week or two away to avoid the whole thing. If you can’t afford a vacation this year, use your holiday time to budget and make plans to take-off next year.
In all seriousness, this is a very difficult time of year for many of us, including me—at some point in my life I fit at least one, if not all six, of the descriptions above. Be compassionate with your friends and family who are not spreading holiday cheer, and adjust your expectations for that picture perfect holiday season. In the end we are all human, and “we’re all just waling each other home”.
Don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter in the form on the right, and let me know what you think in the comments below… are you a closet Grinch or is the holiday season really your most wonderful time of the year?
Have you been hurt by someone recently, and been told that forgiveness is “the right thing to do”? Once you do forgive, then what? Is it open season on your heart again?
Some things are easier to forgive, such as my husband watching ahead on our favorite Netflix series, some things are not quite as easy, such as a husband who sleeps with his wife’s best friend, or a child abuser, or a murderer, yet people forgive these kinds of offenses every day. Does that make those who forgive superhuman? Does it make me a total jerk for not having loving thoughts about my friend’s philandering ex-husband?
The whole premise to Being Human is that as humans we have been graced with both a biological survival drive (the human part) and a higher self that is capable of creativity, ingenuity, higher thinking, complex language and the capacity for a spiritual life (the being part).
Forgiveness is the being part
Forgiveness is a gift for your soul and for your conscience. It allows you to reclaim a clear mind and soft heart, so that you can move forward without ruminating about the past. Forgiveness involves seeing the offender as a reflection of ourselves, just as frail of a human as we are. Those who deserve forgiveness are an integral part of this connected universe where in essence we are all one. Forgiveness involves dropping the ego, and the idea that you know better, do better, and are better than anyone else. Forgiveness not only frees you of negativity, it also frees the person who hurt you to make a different choice in the next moment.
Boundaries are the human part
Boundaries are for the imperfect, reactive, emotional, woundable parts of us. As wonderful as it sounds to walk around the earth in a total Zen-like Christ Consciousness, we mere humans haven’t reached that enlightenment stage yet. It is great to aspire to, but, in the meantime, we have to face the reality that we will actually have feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, and vulnerability. And That’s Okay! That is why we are having this human experience.
Boundaries are individual decisions you make every day as to what you can accept or not accept in terms of behavior from the people in your life. This is where you decide if your heart is open to certain people. Boundaries are where you decide if you want your children to be allowed to visit with your child-molesting uncle. Your spirit may have forgiven him, but your humanness may prefer to not set yourself or your kids up to the potential of being hurt. In my opinion, celebrating your vulnerability and protecting your humanness is as honorable as forgiveness.
That being said, some people will choose to allow that visit, or stay married to a man that cheated on them. Boundaries are very individualized and based on our core values, history and beliefs. Do you need help identifying your core values? Need help setting and sticking to clear boundaries? I am here to help. Book me for a free 30 minute discovery call today.
Do you have a friend that you share absolutely everything with? Do you ever feel a little smothered by a friend that you talk to several times a day, every day?
Sometimes I think that we have as much of a romantic idea of what friendship should be like as we do the ideal man. While friendship is as much a foundation to the human condition as monogamy, one can be as impermanent as the other. But for some reason, we often hold having a best friend for life in higher regard than choosing to divorce a spouse. Why is that?
My definition of true friendship (and, for that matter, of a good foundation for a romantic relationship) is shared core values and a deep sense of trust. We get together with people who believe what we believe, as Simon Sinek says. In today’s world where most of us carry a device in our purse or pocket that has us linked with people all over the globe, we have the privilege of choosing our tribe from the whole world not just our tiny village.
Friendship and Codependency
The problem sometimes arises when we are so desperate for the company of another human being that we will compromise on those core values and beliefs. Friendships then turn into a desperate attempt at filling a void instead of a purposeful coming together of conscious people.
You know that kind of friendship. The one when you are going through a rough patch and just want to be able to complain all day long and have a caring ear that says: “Yes, they done you wrong.” The friendship where you invite someone, anyone, over to avoid being alone on a Saturday night. The one where you over-give just to impress them, and then feel resentful because they don’t reciprocate. We all have those kinds of friendships every once in a while.
Not only is the key to a healthy friendship to have a clear definition of your own and of your friend’s values and beliefs in order to have a foundation of trust, but the other key is also to have healthy boundaries that come with mutual respect. All too often an unhealthy friendship born out of loneliness or desperation can turn into a codependent dance—when you need your friends to need you and vice versa. When your lack of self-worth and self-respect makes you feel that you are only worthy when you are rescuing someone else.
Embrace the Gift of Being You
When I faced life’s challenges with my children (one struggled with mental health and addiction and another later came out as transgender) I suddenly had to reevaluate all my friendships. Who could I trust? Who was there because they wanted to be my savior? Who remained because they shared my core values?
If you are reading this because you somehow feel lost inside a friendship or longing for more true friends, my best advice to you is to be sure of who you are deep down inside and embrace the gift of being you. Find someone who accepts you for who you truly are, and don’t hang on to a friendship that is not serving you out of a sense of false loyalty and codependence. You deserve to be happy and you will find the right friend.
I leave you with this clip from Oprah and Brene Brown’s Life Class where they discuss trust and when to be vulnerable with a friend.
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