Category: Courage

How to Get Comfortable Taking Risks

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about taking risks. She said she wasn’t a big risk taker. She also said it seemed to her like I don’t have a lot of fear. I was a little stunned by her observation. I remember saying, “Well, I feel fear. I feel fear all the time. I guess I just don’t attach to it.”

I thought about our conversation for weeks. I wondered how I learned to feel fear, but not attach to it. I thought back to my childhood and what it was like growing up with four brothers and a neighborhood full of boys. The boys were always on the go doing something “scary”. They would roam the neighborhood at night, play rough games or meet up with other kids I didn’t know. As a little girl, those things were quite scary.

Oftentimes they would offer me to come and I wouldn’t respond right away. I’d have to think about it. But during my thinking time, they’d leave, and I’d spend the next couple hours wishing I was with them. Each time the boys returned from their adventures, I would feel regret for allowing my fear to rule me. I would always wish I wasn’t so afraid and had said yes!

Growing up with boys taught me that I didn’t have the luxury to feel fear for long. My young mind learned that even if I feel fear, I must act, or I will miss an opportunity.

I learned to feel the fear and do it anyway.

So, when they asked me to partake in a “scary” activity, I started answering without hesitation. I would say yes! And the super cool part was, the event was never near as scary as my mind had conjured up. I learned my mind had built things up to be so engulfing and overpowering, I was sure I would get hurt or worse die!

I learned to get what we want out of life, to move forward, to experience big stuff, we are going to feel afraid. And our only two choices are to freeze and stop or to grab the opportunity and go.

I will disclaim if there was something I didn’t want to do (like ride my bicycle into the pool!) I didn’t do it. I’m not saying to take physical or emotional risks that can harm you. Risks that you are not equipped to handle, or your intuition is telling you is not a good idea.

What I am telling you is fear is an illusion. It’s a thought we make up in our heads designed to keep us comfortable and to keep us small.

So, when my girlfriend said I don’t look afraid, I am afraid.

I feel fear all the time, but I have learned to push through it because it’s exciting and inspiring!

It feels like I am living to full capacity!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the market to play small anymore.

Some of you might know that public speaking was my worst fear. So much so that I’d rather take an “F” for a project in school than to speak in front of people. I would even turn beet red when speaking in front of as little as three friends.

In June 2010, I was in my first month of coaching school. I got invited to be a guest speaker on a local morning television show. Without thinking I said yes, then I completely freaked out. No joke. The gig was weeks away and my heart was already pounding in my chest.

The day arrived, and I sat in the “green room” waiting for my segment. I watched as guest after guest shared their knowledge without skipping a beat.

The fearful thoughts rose up again.

Who I am to be here? Why is this happening? Why did I say yes?! I’m going to get this over with and hightail it out of here. No one will even know I was on the show, so they won’t have to feel embarrassed for me.

Then something magical happened. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it myself.

I loved being on that stage!

I loved it so much I skipped out of studio and raced home to watch the recording. My desire to reach and teach large audiences hit me full force! This is what I want to do! Not only did I do okay, they invited me back three more times and referred me to another local show as well!

And even though I felt the same horrific fear each time, I did it anyway!

Recently, I’ve been thinking about measures I need to take to expand my business. I was thinking about how the change required is going to take some risk. This change felt extra risky to me because I had made this same change years ago and it backfired in a big way.

But somewhere deep inside I knew this was the next best step. I also knew the thought, “this is risky” is a thought, nothing more. It is no sign of how my future will play out. It has no power over me. I also know, when I align myself with my intuition, my center and my truth everything always works out.

I also reminded myself my situation is not the same as it was the first time. The circumstances are completely different.

For example, let’s say you were cheated on in a past relationship. You were devastated and heartbroken. Then a new relationship opportunity comes along and you think, “Oh, heck no! I will never do that again because I don’t want to get cheated on again.”

My questions to you would be:

Do you know that thought is true?

Can you absolutely know it is true?

Because it happened in your history does that mean it’s going to happen in your future?

Are you closing off your life?

Are you shutting down because of a thought?

Would you be willing to take a chance if you didn’t believe that thought?

Friends, I’ve been scared. I’ve been petrified. I’ve been anxious, depressed and frozen. I believed things would never get better – that this is what life dealt me and I am basically screwed. My fearful thoughts begot more fearful thoughts creating a dreadful cycle of doom.

But I found a way out. I transcended the doom by realizing those fearful thoughts were not true. Yes, I was dealt a dreadful situation, but it did not dictate my future. I realized that I have the power (as do you) to respond to any situation from a place of fear or a place of inspiration. The choice is mine and the choice yours.

To achieve the life of our dreams, to reach those places we’re craving to reach, we must be willing to transcend our fear. We must be willing to question our fearful thoughts, reveal the truth and be willing to move through them.

Here are four powerful questions to ask yourself:

Am I allowing fear to guide me?

Am I missing out of a great opportunity because I’m afraid?

Do I want to stay imprisoned by my fearful thoughts?

The reason we are not getting what we want out of life is we believe the fearful thoughts standing in our way. We are sabotaging our own greatness, our own fun, our own passions. It’s up to us to ask ourselves: Do I want this or am I going to let another opportunity pass me by?

No person is any greater or more deserving than anyone else. We all have the same capacity for greatness. We are all divinely wired and inspired to live a full life! The difference between us is some people are willing to transcend fear and act while others are not.

Can you guys feel how much I want you to get this message?!

I know you can achieve anything you want!

I invite you today to think about a place in your life where you are holding back out of fear. Whatever the fear may be. The fear of failure? The fear of disapproval? The fear of being disliked?

Whatever fear you come up with, question it.

Question it!

Is it worth giving up the things you crave because of a thought?

Let’s live a no regrets life, friends. Let’s live knowing we ran a good race. We gave it our all. And we did not let fear stand in our way.

Here’s to feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

Check out my podcast episode On Taking Risks (iTunes Link) Don’t forget to leave an iTunes Review!

Taking Radical Responsibility for Our Lives

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If we don’t own our stuff, we will never see our disempowered pattern nor will we grow and experience a better future.  As Buddha says, “Enlightenment comes from awareness.” In order for us to grow, we must first become aware.

I remember clearly the day I took radical personal responsibility for my life. It was about 7 years ago. I stopped dead in my tracks at the foot of my bed and looked back over my entire life. I steeled myself for what I was sure was going to be an onslaught of shame and regret. I remember cringing inside afraid of what I might see, but I went for it anyway.

I faced every disempowered behavior I could remember: bending and stretching to fit others’ ideas of who I should be, doing things I hated to please another, failing to hold much needed boundaries and playing small to be liked.

I kept going: one night stands, drinking alcohol or smoking weed to fit in, staying with partners who hit me, drove intoxicated or emotionally abused me and allowing disrespect from friends, family and partners. The list went on and on.

When I was finished, I just stood there unsure what was next. What I did know was the world did not end, I did not lose a limb, my children were still alive and…

I felt… free?

Holy Mother Earth, I felt FREE! I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. Everything that I had kept hidden, all the secrets, all the shame, was out in the open. I was free!

Yes, I did that. All of it. It was me. I am the one who is responsible for my choices and my life.

I understood for the first time how the unworthiness hidden inside of me manifested dangerous, reckless and unkind behaviors to myself.

I gave myself a big hug and said, “I am so sorry I did this to you. You deserve so much better! I will do better by you in the future. I promise.”

And I forgave myself.

Something radically shifted that day for me. I was reborn. My path to worthiness and empowerment had begun. I now always seek to recognize when I am acting out of shame or unworthiness instead of love. I catch myself sooner and I make choices that will lift my heart and life rather than perpetuate a defeating cycle.

And you can do the same.

Ownership Practice:

Pick a date and time to be alone with yourself where you will have no interruptions. Open your mind and heart. Allow yourself to remember and replay all the times you did not love yourself or protect your well-being. Recognize each one with neutrality and non-judgment. Allow the memories to come forward one at a time. No judgment, no condemnation. Just recognition. Own it all.

When you are finished, wrap your arms around yourself and say out loud: These were my behaviors driven by low self-worth. I recognize my old pattern. I did the best I could at the time. I’m sorry for putting you through that. I will do my best to love and protect you in the future.

And so it is. Amen.

The First Step is Always the Hardest

The first step to healing is the hardest one. It is the time we feel the most afraid.

It’s the time we have decided that we don’t want to live as we have been living, but are unsure what to do.  We feel confused because we thought we knew what we were doing, but entertain the notion that maybe we don’t.

We frighten ourselves by thinking we’ve done it all wrong and furthermore, what if there is something critically wrong with us?! We might muster up a tidbit of courage and begin to see our defeating patterns and bad choices, but it is likely followed by a Mach 2 shame-filled shudder which tempts us to retreat once again.

It is here in this dark cave of the soul that we quite possibly make the most essential decision of our lives…

Do I withdraw back into my cave of self-doubt, shame and denial or do I take one more tiny step forward?

For some, the pain of staying the same begins to outweigh the fear of change and we start leaning in a direction we’ve never leaned into before. We feel a glimmer of hope and see a speck of light in the distance.

Our interest is piqued.

Our curiosity starts to expand and we tentatively move forward.

Then out of nowhere like a whispery, gentle breeze blowing across our cheeks, we notice something has changed…

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I was in the dark cave.

I didn’t know my life was a manifestation of a hidden trunk full of self-lies, unworthy notions and false perceptions I had gained throughout my life. I didn’t know that I had taken information coming my way and spun it into a web of “Kristen sucks”.  I didn’t know I had been flying under the radar my entire life hoping someone would “see” who I truly am and give me permission to rise higher.

I was afraid to admit my mistakes and downfalls to anyone for fear they would be exploited as they had been in the past. I was already ashamed of who I was and certainly didn’t need someone else adding fuel to fire.

But the one thing I knew for sure was I couldn’t keep doing what I had always done.

It wasn’t working.

I looked high and low among my family and friends, but could not find someone to hold neutral, non-judgmental space for me through this most vulnerable time. I desperately wanted someone to guide me and encourage me while I waded through the swampy wasteland of my bad decisions and embarrassing moments.

It was difficult to take brave steps forward without someone holding my hand. I still craved approval and permission from those around me. I wanted to be a follower. I wanted desperately for someone to say, “Oh, yes! I know where you want to go. I’ve been there! Follow me!”

It didn’t happen, but the most fascinating part is…

I didn’t let it stop me.

I had determined if I wanted healing and peace bad enough, I’d have to do it alone. If I waited for someone to ride the train with me, I’d most likely still be waiting.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, I realized something else.

I really wasn’t alone – I had never been alone. I had God.

The same God I talked to as a child while riding my bike, walking to a friend’s house or belly down on my bedroom floor writing poems. The same God I turned to when I had no one else to talk to- my companion, my mentor. The same God who always has my best interest at heart and who speaks to me through intuitive whispers that never lead me astray.

And so my journey began.

I didn’t know what it would look like or how it would go. I just knew it was time to take the first, most difficult step.

As my beloved friend and soul sister, Sue Markovitch, often says, “Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.”

It’s important to remember we won’t heal our worth or attract our best life in one day.

It will take putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about viewing each new day as a brand new learning opportunity which will later morph into a brand new you.

We are not alone and we are not without guidance. The light we need to find our way is already here. It has always been here. All we have to do is invite It in and take the first step.

Dear God/Source/Universe: I am open to healing. I am open to a greater awareness and understanding of life. I am open to healing my false perceptions and disempowering ways. Please come. Please make your presence known in my life. I know you will not interfere for the law of free will, so I give you free entrance into my heart and mind. I know you know best and I’m fully open to your lead. Amen.

You have everything you need, my friend.

Let me be the one to say:

“Oh, yes! I know where you want to go. I’ve been there! Follow me!”

I believe in you.

~ Kristen

The Importance of Recognizing “Blue Sky” Moments During Your Storm

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“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Last week I began to share a story with a client I’ll call Sally. Just a few short words in, I found myself welling up with tears. My reaction shocked me a bit because the story I was telling is years old and seemingly a non-emotional one.

I quickly realized the rise of emotion was a clear indication how truly profound the experience I was about to share was for me. By putting myself back in that space, I was once again overcome by the magnitude of what had transpired.

To rewind a bit, Sally has been struggling with a serious autoimmune health issue. Her issue is one that will resolve over time, but having dealt with substantial amounts of drug side-effects, falls, hospital stays, ER visits, body trauma, massive hair loss and a vast amounts of doctors, referrals and information, it’s safe to say she is tired.

Our conversation started with Sally sharing something her husband stated a few nights ago. He said, “I am convinced we will see blue sky again”. Sally’s recall of that statement catapulted me back to the very moment I began to see the blue sky in the midst of my own storm and I shared my story.

Several years back, I went through a horrifically painful situation I refer to as “my tsunami”. It knocked me flat on my ass and left me crawling through life a shell of the person I had once been. I was petrified, hopeless, frozen and anxiety-ridden. I had set course to heal and regain my life, but the shift seemed far out of reach.

I just wanted to feel normal again. I wanted my life back.

I was desperate for a quick fix, a magic pill, an easy answer – but nothing came. I continued to trudge blindly through my storm praying for it to be over and for my life to return to status quo.

The wait seemed like forever.

Until one day…

I sang.

Yes, I sang.

I’ve always been a singer. By no means do I sound good or would I ever even attempt karaoke, but I looooove to sing. I sing everywhere, all day long no matter who is listening, what I sound like or who it embarrasses (i.e. my children).

I sing when I’m content.

During my tsunami I hadn’t uttered a note or even hummed a tune.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Until one wondrous day a small phrase escaped as barely a whisper through my lips. It was so foreign to my current disposition it actually startled me.

However, something about that moment woke me up.

For mere seconds I had caught a glimpse of my old self. The woman I thought I’d never see again. In that tiny moment my fear was gone and my heart was open.

I immediately recognized something was different, something was changing. The weight of my burden was ever so slightly beginning to lift. I was healing.

Wait a minute.

I was healing!

That moment of song was a speck of blue sky shining through my storm. It was a glimmer of hope, a clearing, a promise of something better to come.

With tears rolling down both our cheeks, Sally smiled and nodded in agreement. She understood completely.

Sally’s glimpse came in the form of Abbey Lea tomatoes.

A week prior, Sally was food shopping at the grocery store when she spotted her favorite Abbey Lea tomatoes. She was so delighted to see her beloved Abbey Lea’s back in season! As insignificant as it may sound, for a moment she felt restored to the joyful Sally she was prior to becoming sick.

For a moment the world felt right again.

If Sally had been in the physical and emotional shape she was in a short month ago, she wouldn’t have noticed the Abbey Lea’s or even cared. Truthfully, she probably wouldn’t have been well enough for a trip to the grocery store.

The sheer fact that she was at the store and able to notice, care and feel restored in that moment was a clear indication something was different, something was changing.

Slowly, but surely, Sally is healing!

It was a beautiful speck of blue sky shining through her storm. It was a glimmer of hope, a clearing, a promise of something better to come.

It’s so incredibly important to notice and celebrate the little moments when the weight of our burdens feel lifted and we return to the self we once knew so well. They may only be miniscule moments with intervals in between, but they serve a much higher purpose and deserve the recognition of hope they bring.

Our moments of blue sky are precursors for what is soon to come.

Unfortunately, they don’t mean we are completely free yet… We might still experience ups and downs on our path to recovery.

However, blue sky moments serve a very powerful purpose: Awareness – an awareness that change and healing are headed our way.

As Thich Nhat Hanh states in the quote above it is much easier to bear hardship when we believe in a better tomorrow.

When we are given a ray of hope, we must seize it, grasp it in our hands, recognize the value it holds, put it on the altar and believe in it every day!

This is the value of our blue sky moments.

You Only Need Your Own Approval

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The world can be a cruel and painful place to exist. But…only if we believe what others are saying about us.

Someone is always going to have an opinion about what we are doing or saying. We can’t stop it. We also have to know that every single person on this planet is going to see life and other people through their own lenses – lenses that were created by their upbringings, experiences and egoic illusions. Some people have not questioned or undone the rules, dogma or beliefs imposed on them from others and are still living with the confines of an imposed way of thinking. Hence, their automatic response is judgment.

When we work really hard to please everyone around us, we only end up hurting ourselves and playing small in order for others to be comfortable. By doing this, we actually teach them that what they think or say matters more to us than what we think about ourselves.

The problem is we cannot ever please others to the extent we want to and we end up a shriveled up portion of what are truly meant to be. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to bob and weave through our perceptions of what another person wants from us.

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We spend so much time trying to be what we think they want us to be that we forget who we are and what we want in this life.

We are afraid of losing their love so we falsify ourselves or wear masks that inappropriately fit our souls. We get comfortable being uncomfortable then question why we are not truly happy.

How can we be happy when wearing something that does not fit us correctly? It eventually chafes and rubs and wears away at our essence thus creating unhappiness and dis-ease.

When we give energy to any thought or issue that is not ours to own and work on, we burn away our precious light. We end up spending time where we have no business being.

The amazing teacher of “The Work”, Byron Katie states, “Whose business are in you? Yours? Your neighbor’s? Or God’s? If you are in any business that is not your own, you are wasting your energy.”

The less amount of time spent trying to bob and weave through others issues, the better. We are here to better ourselves not diminish ourselves in order to please the world.

StressMindingBusiness

Unconsciously, I used to live in a mind where I played small. I have a very large family, a lot of friends and many clients and each one is so incredibly different. In order not to create upheaval, lose love or make someone uncomfortable (myself included), I would withhold saying or doing things that would demonstrate my authentic nature or bring me joy. That included speaking light-filled new perceptions that could actually help another person.

The truth is not all people are ready and willing to hear what we have to say. Even if we say the words dripping with chocolate syrup and topped with a plump cherry, they may still grimace, change the subject or create distance. Which often leaves us feeling disapproved of, abandoned, stupid and/or unworthy. Hence, we dim our light, keep a low profile, shut the hell up and play small.

Others reactions used to hurt me a lot until I learned that what others do or say (how they process) has nothing to do with me. As long as I am being respectful, kind and speaking words rooted in love, I have nothing to fear. Additionally, I learned that by playing small I was constricting my own growth and the potential growth of others.

Your Authenticity Can Help Others

Since the playing small version of ourselves never benefits anyone, what does the playing big version do?

When we do the work to heal own our self-worth – knowing in our soul that all that we are is not only enough but brilliant in its own right – we actually bring light to the world! We actually contribute to global healing by simply demonstrating our authentic essence. Sound a little fantastical? Well, it’s not.

Our “essence” is the God Source inside us all. It is core of our being – the good, the beautiful, the compassionate, the creative and the joyful place.

By being courageous enough to be 100% genuine we are giving others permission to be 100% genuine. We are giving others permission to tap into their essence as well.

Vulnerability begets vulnerability. It may not happen in a nanosecond, but over time your openness may lead another to living an authentic life too.

Furthermore, two authentic people build solid foundations of friendships and intimacy rather than two pleasers dancing around one another’s idea of what their person wants from them.

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When deep connections of love, trust and companionship take root, it begins to reach further out into each person’s intimate circle and the pattern continues on and on. We may think we are a tiny speck on a planet in our world and we cannot possibly make a difference, but our thinking is wrong.

We make a difference:

Every time we choose love

Every time we choose kindness

Every time we choose authenticity

Every time we speak love-rooted truth

Every time we respect ourselves

And

Every time we open our hearts.

However, we are not always going to witness what our authentic nature is creating. We don’t always get the immediate pat on the back or confirmation statements from others and our ego may try to trick us into thinking we are wrong in our authentic nature.

Sometimes we must blindly trust that which is ringing in our souls. We must learn to listen to ourselves and go where our heart and soul leads us without the “ok” from the rest of the world. We already know the Right things to do; we just need to cultivate the courage to do it.

We must learn to surrender to when and where shift happens and know that everything rooted Love serves. Period.

Each one of us comes here with a purpose – a divine purpose to shine our light in the world. To be all that we are meant to be and live a purpose driven, love-centered life. It starts with accepting and loving all that you innately are by sharing your genuine self with the world no matter what others think.

Namaste’