Posts by Liz:
I used to think relationships had to always be hard.
Full of strife, jealousy and distrust. Subject to harsh words, crossing the line, anger and resentment.
And I found myself in relationship after relationship, whether friendship or romantic, that only confirmed this.
I was convinced I would always have to either suffer in silence or fight for myself. Fight to be heard, fight to escape control, fight to be seen for who I am.
I remember being in one romantic relationship where the fighting seemed endless. It reflected everything I didn’t want in my life, but it also reflected my subconscious beliefs. Beliefs that relationships can’t ever feel easy, that they had to hurt, that they had to weaken us. Beliefs that I wasn’t good enough to expect something better. I knew it was those beliefs that brought that relationship into my life. Eventually, I just couldn’t take it anymore…
I wanted peace. I wanted understanding. I wanted my relationships to feel calm, nurturing and, most of all, respectful.
I wanted relationships that brought the best out of me, not the worst.
I wanted relationships that I knew I could count on, even when I was at my worst.
I wanted relationships that I could nurture whole heartedly, without worrying about the repercussions of exposing my vulnerability.
And so I began to make changes that would ultimately fill my life up with these relationships.
I nurtured the friendships that gave me the feelings I longed for, and set boundaries with those that didn’t. And I fell in love with a calm, peaceful partner to share my life and home with.
These relationships aren’t perfect, nor am I perfect within them. They require work, commitment and dedication. They include bickering and frustration. And within them I sometimes lose my patience, get grumpy or don’t give my best.
But they are always respectful. They never cross the line. They don’t hold grudges. And they feel like a gift to my life every single day. And when things get thrown off course, both parties are always willing to try harder, to communicate more openly and to love more generously. It’s never about proving who’s right or wrong, it’s about working together towards solutions.
If you’re struggling to attract relationships that feel peaceful, whether friendships or romantic, here are a few things that helped me along the way…
Recognize the subconscious beliefs that sabotage you
It’s often said that our outer life is a reflection of our inner life. I believe this to be true.
I knew I held beliefs that were causing me to attract the types of relationships I didn’t want. And until I got really clear on those beliefs, and chipped away at them, I would always relive them.
If you constantly find yourself in relationships full of emotional chaos, you likely have subconscious beliefs that are playing a role.
Those beliefs can’t be ignored, or they will fester and continuously sabotage you.
Face those beliefs. Get clear on what they are and where they came from. Figure out how they’re leading your life without you even realizing it.
If you don’t want your subconscious beliefs to continue to sabotage you, you must become very clear on all the ways they permeate your thoughts and actions.
Believe that peaceful relationships are possible
Despite living through one rocky relationship after another, I choose to believe that longterm peaceful relationships were possible. And I held tight to that belief.
I looked for evidence of this belief wherever I could find it. I found role models to admire and created standards for myself to live by. I held tight to the friendships that made me feel the peace and security I longed for. I let go of relationships that felt too hurtful.
Slowly but surely, my belief in what was possible, changed my actions. And changed who I attracted into my life, and who I was attracted to.
In the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest study on adult development ever conducted, Robert Waldinger, a Clinical Psychiatry Professor at Harvard Medical School, determined that the key to staying happy and healthy as we go through life, isn’t money or fame (as most people assume), it’s healthy longterm relationships. It’s not about the number of people in your life, it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. Staying in high conflict relationships is even more harmful to our health and happiness than going through a divorce.
That knowledge alone, is worth changing your beliefs for.
Determine exactly how you want to feel
If there’s one thing that changed things for me the most profoundly, it’s being extremely clear on how I wanted to feel every day. I had no ambiguity, I knew exactly what I didn’t want, and exactly what I did want. And so I knew what to run away from, and what to run towards.
So often we get so used to something that we don’t think of there being a different way. If we’re used to being treated a certain way, we end up in relationships that mirror that. It’s what we’re used to, it’s habitual, it’s a pattern we recognize, it’s life. And so we stay stuck, feeling crappy and wounded everyday. Feeling like everything has to be so hard.
But if you believe that there’s a better way, and determine exactly how life will feel like once you achieve it, you can slowly start to live your way towards it.
All you have to do is envision it, in as much detail as you can. Make your vision come alive, expect it to enter your life, and then settle for nothing less.
Know that you’re worth it
When we don’t believe in ourselves, we stay stuck in relationship that hurt us. We don’t believe we have a voice. We don’t believe we can do better. We don’t believe we have other options.
To change things, you have to know your value. You have to love yourself as generously as you want others to love you. You have to hold your life to higher standards.
If you struggle with self-confidence, this isn’t always easy to do. I know.
But you have to make the choice. The choice of knowing that you’re worth it. Because trust me, you are.
Life can feel so overwhelming at times.
Family obligations. Work requirements. Life goals.
Never ending to-do lists reminding us of what we’ve yet to achieve. Emails flooding our inboxes. Requests for our limited time pouring in endlessly.
If you’re sensitive by nature, overwhelm is likely something you struggle with. You want to do everything to the best of your ability. Please everyone who’s counting on you. Give your all.
But before you know it, you’re wiped out and can’t seem to get a thing done.
Life shouldn’t feel so draining. We have such a limited amount of minutes on this earth. A limited amount of time to feel joy, love deeply and cherish tiny moments. The everyday moments that matter the most.
If you need a little less overwhelm in your life, and more gentle moments, here are 16 practices to help you thrive in 2016:
1. Prioritize your needs.
It’s so easy to put everyone else’s needs before your own. You want those closest to you to be happy. You want to give your all. But in the process, your needs can get left behind.
I often struggle with this. Whether it’s giving my all to my work or to my children, I often let my needs take a backseat. I get fulfillment from making others feel happy and supported, but a part of me is left empty, and unsettled.
For 2016, my promise to myself is to prioritize my needs so that my health, desires and dreams don’t get lost in the shuffle of life.
If you struggle with this as well, I challenge you to find a way to add your needs to the top of your to-do list.
2. Honor your emotions.
We are emotional beings, but we’re often told to bury our emotions, which is such a shame.
Our emotions are powerful. They are mighty and abundant. They are full of love and equally as vicious. They are our happiest moments and our deepest agonies. They are everything.
We are our emotions. And our emotions are us. And yet we shame them.
We tell ourselves what we “should” and “should not” feel. We try to bury them, so that they don’t rise to the surface. We hide them so we can keep the peace. But they’re still there, living deep within us.
Honor your emotions. Feel them. Understand them. Let them guide you. What do they long for? Where do they want to lead you? What do they want you to stay away from?
Use your emotions to create the roadmaps for your year, and for your life. Let them determine your daily actions, so that you can feel the way you want to feel, every single day.
3. Find what’s easy.
I used to feel like life had to be hard. If you weren’t struggling through something, you weren’t challenging yourself enough. But the truth is, I had it all wrong.
It’s great to challenge yourself, but life shouldn’t feel unpleasant.
When I was working as a corporate attorney, everyday felt like a distasteful challenge. So many aspects of that career pushed against my grain.
Now that I’m working as an editor, my work flows easily. I’m still challenged everyday, to bring my best and to learn more, but the nature of the work suits me perfectly. I can relax into the challenge, instead of wanting to hurl with anxiety.
Find what’s easy for you, work that suites and honors your soul.
4. Nurture your confidence.
Life is so drastically short. Don’t waste time hating yourself and beating yourself up for every little thing.
Accept who you are. Push yourself to grow, but do it because you love yourself and you want to live the best life imaginable, not because you wish you were someone you’re not.
So many of us spend so much of our lives drowning in self-loathing. It’s such a shame.
Choose to honor the sacred minutes of your life by loving who you are and all that you have to offer the world.
5. Ask for what you want.
Sensitive souls are people pleasers until the end. Asking for what we want does not always come naturally. But doing so is essential for a peaceful life.
Countless times throughout my life I’ve allowed others to dictate my actions. Letting those who are more vocal and dominant in their personalities lead the course. And each time, it caused endless angst and anxiety within me.
Awhile back I decided that I couldn’t live with that type of anxiety any more. I deserved to have a voice.
Asking for what you want isn’t always comfortable. It requires confidence, presence and resilience. But with the right words, it can be done elegantly and gently and prove to be win-win for all.
6. Make peace with fear.
We all have fears. They can be overwhelming and scary. But the truth is, we need them.
Fears protect us, guide us and keep us alive. Fears don’t have to be viewed as such an enemy. Without them, we’d unlikely be here today.
So make peace with your fears. Work with them instead of against them. Instead of allowing them to block your goals, learn from them. Figure out what they’re trying to protect you from, and find peaceful solutions.
You’ll never get rid of all our your fears, it’s impossible, so don’t wait for that day. Instead, learn to move forward with them, right there, by your side.
7. Make changes slowly.
We all have changes we long to make. But drowning ourselves in monstrous goals leads to nothing but mind numbing overwhelm.
For every change you want to make, ask yourself, what’s the easiest way I can accomplish this?
Monstrous changes don’t get made, they simply haunt you. Slow and steady changes can alter your entire life.
Take it slow. Make it easy.
8. Accept what is.
There are certain things in life we simply cannot change, no matter how hard we try.
The way someone behaves around you. The health conditions you or your loved ones are inflicted with. The obligations you have.
Trying to force change where it’s simply impossible is an energy draining unachievable task.
We each get dealt certain cards in life. Cards we wish we could swap out, but we can’t. So it’s up to us to find other ways to make peace with those cards.
Surrender to what is, but make adjustments that support your wellbeing.
9. Focus on what’s most important.
We have such a limited amount of time each day.
For me, this has never felt more true than since I become a mama of two. Time seems to elude me, sucked away by diaper changes, endless chores and more laughter, joy and tantrums that I thought possible for one life time.
When I look back on how I used to spend my days before motherhood, I almost can’t believe how much time I used to waste. Time pouring through social media, time agonizing over trivialities, time letting others direct my choices.
Time is fleeting. Time is precious. Time is irreplaceable.
Focus what’s most important to you, and let go of the rest.
10. Stop repeating the same mistakes.
We all repeat mistakes. Patterns engraved in our behavior that seem almost impossible to end. And so they show up time and time again, sabotaging the lives we truly want.
Identify those mistakes. Write them down. Flesh them out in meticulous detail. Move them from your subconscious to your conscious so that they stop sneaking up on you.
And make peace with them. Understand why they keep showing up in your life, what they’re trying to make you avoid or lead you to, and why they always end up hurting you. Then find a better way.
Ignoring mistakes only allows them to keep occurring. Get to know those little suckers intimately, and you’ll find ways to create new patterns.
11. Forget about the race.
Sometimes it feels like we’re all in a race. A race of our own making.
A race to find success. To make the most money. To have the most stuff. To be the happiest.
Social media encourages us to publicly live out this quest for success and happiness. Jealousy seduces us to long for goals that aren’t even ours.
We get caught in the race, a race of comparison. A race that no one actually wants to participate in. A race that no one can ever win.
Leave the race. Figure out what you want out of life and honor it. That’s it.
12. Forgive yourself.
We all carry the burdens of our screw ups, our human-ness, our regrets.
They keep us stuck in the past. They torture us with reminders of our inadequacies. They pester us with shame.
It’s so easy to say let them go, but it’s not so easy to do. But what you can do is find the lessons in them. What did those mistakes teach you? How can you learn from them? How can you adapt your behavior going forward? How can you grow?
If you can grow from each and every mistake, then they weren’t wasted. In fact, they may have been necessary for creating type of life you deserve and long for.
13. Breathe deeply.
When life feels brutal. When relationships feel painful. When work feels impossible. Pause and breathe.
Breathe deeply, eyes closed, filling up your lungs and gut with oxygen. Feel your stomach rise.
Keep breathing until you feel at ease. Until the answers come. Until you can move forward. Just breathe.
It’s the simplest and most effective way to dissipate overwhelm. Just breathe.
14. Create rituals.
Our rituals guide our lives, and our relationships.
Create rituals that honor your goals, and your feelings.
Make them simple and easy to maintain. A glass of tea. A morning hug. Five minutes of exercise or two minutes of meditation, are better than none at all.
A ritual can be as simple as the way you say I love you. I want my daughters to always know how much I love them. Every night at bed time, before I leave my older daughter’s room, I ask her “How much do I love you?” And every night, she answers “So much.” It’s our little ritual, among many, that helps to ground us.
Find the simple rituals that fill each day with the gentleness and simplicity you long for.
15. Draft life rules.
Just as we create rituals for our life, we can create rules for our life too. Rules that we honor, to help life feel the way we want it to.
Things we don’t do. People we set boundaries with. Time we protect.
Create rules that protect the way you want to feel everyday. Write them down. Read them over constantly. If you break them and feel the consequences, resolve to try harder next time.
Honor the rules you create, because they honor you.
16. Ease into joy.
Make joy a priority. Joy shouldn’t wait for “one day.” Joy should be everyday.
You may not have all the money you wished for. You may not have the partner you’ve been longing for. You may not have the prestige you had expected. But joy exists independently of those things. If you can’t find joy without them, you’ll unlikely find joy with them.
Find your joy today. Joy in the small moments. Joy in the pauses between breathes. Joy in the silence. Joy in the noise. Joy in the everyday.
And protect the simplicity of that joy. Eliminate all that depletes you. Set boundaries with those who drain you. Relish in the people and things that nurture your soul.
Joy doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be simple, even ordinary, everyday moments. So don’t wait for joy to come into your life, joy is already there, waiting for you.
To the best year of your life…
Life doesn’t always have to feel so overwhelming. It can be filled with simple, gentle moments.
It takes work and mindfulness, all the best things in life do, but it’s worth it.
Go slowly. Breathe deeply. Ease in.
Honor yourself and your emotions. Protect your precious life minutes. Infuse them with simple joys.
Create the rules and rituals that will guide your year. And have a very happy 2016.
I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on December 16, 2014. We named her, Havyn.
Her and her two year old sister, Rayne, have been quite the hand full I’ve been relishing both the bliss and utter chaos of it all.
I hope 2015 has been off to a magical start for everyone. I’ll be back blogging here soon!
Lots of love!
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up as an introvert in this overly connected world.
Between work, kids, family, friends, pets, errands, social media, etc., life has a way of sweeping you up.
Even the weekends, your “free time”, can start to feel like hectic energy depleting overly scheduled days.
The world often demands so much. And the more you give, the more it takes.
Before you know it, you’re living in reaction mode instead of in control of your life and your energy.
If you’re an introvert, protecting and restoring your energy is vital.
For much of my life I didn’t understand this and so I wondered why I was chronically tired, overwhelmed and depleted.
It took me a long time to realize where I was going wrong…
The Wrong Way to Fill an Introverted Schedule
I used to fill up days based on chunks of time. Weekends included.
And so if my husband said to me, can we do X, Y, and Z on Saturday, I’d look at my calendar, see that the time was free, and say sure. And then when the day came, I carried through with all the obligations I had agreed to and wondered why I was depleted for the next three days.
While I love being social, I am truly introverted (and sensitive). My cells require a lot to recharge.
Free chunks of time on the calendar can become a deceiving trap. Before you know it you’ll fill up your schedule and then wonder why your health is suffering, your energy is non-existent and you can barely pull yourself up from the couch.
If you also have energy that drains quickly, you need to protect it. You can do so by changing your mindset from time management to energy management.
Here are 5 energy management tips for introverts:
1. Limit To-Dos to Top Priority Items.
If you have limited energy, there are only so many to-do’s you can get through in one day.
My ambitions used to cause me to try to schedule an insane amount of “productivity” into my days. That meant scheduling ten or more tasks, depleting myself completely and negatively impacting my health.
To protect a limited supply of energy, it’s best to live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of what we do is complete crap, only 20% matters. Only do the 20% the matters and forget the rest.
Life will not fall apart but you will if you don’t abide.
2. Block Out Time for Recharging Your Energy.
Every day in your calendar should account for down time.
Whether that’s reading a book, taking a long bath, watching your favorite show or just relaxing and talking with your loved one, it’s schedule worthy.
I personally need an hour of down time before I go to bed. Time where I do nothing. Where the computer stays closed, the work stops, the emails don’t get looked at, I don’t answer the phone, and I can just do whatever I want. I can feel my cells finally relaxing, opening up and refueling themselves.
Without this, my sleep is restless, my next morning is cranky and the whole tone of the day gets thrown off.
Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed, schedule it in. Let your cells replenish.
3. Never Schedule Social Activities Based on Time Availability.
This is where introverts need to be somewhat selfish. To me this doesn’t come naturally, it took me years to really understand and respect my boundaries enough to protect them.
Before becoming a mom I’d often agree to social obligations simply because the time was free on my calendar.
Time and time again I’d find myself trapped in an overly scheduled week that wore me down to my core.
I no longer look at my calendar based on its day to day availabilities. When asked to participate in social activities, even when it’s weeks in advance, I look to see how many other activities are already scheduled for that week. Just because the time is free does not mean that I am fee.
My personal limit is one social activity per week. More than that and I am wiped out. I make exceptions here and there but I know that to thrive, I can really only handle one big outing.
Know what your limits are and say no to requests that push those limits too far.
4. Plan to Sleep Abundantly.
Skimping on sleep backfires every single time.
You may convince yourself that you can get by without enough. You may tell yourself ‘just this one night I’ll stay up crazy late to get everything done’, it’s fine.
But sadly it takes you two days to recover from that decision. So ultimately you lose more than you gained.
The more well rested you are, the more efficiently you can get through your days.
Scheduling in adequate sleep may be the most important time management trick in your arsenal.
5. Schedule Complete Solitude.
I love being a mom. It’s the greatest gift life has ever given me. And I give 100% of myself to my daughter when I’m with her. But in doing so, I also deplete myself.
I’ve realized that I don’t fully recharge unless I get time completely alone all to myself. So once a week on the weekends I send my husband off for a little quality time with our peanut and I stay home, alone.
As long as I am completely alone (other than our dog of course), I can feel my energy regenerating.
If you’re a social introvert like myself, making sure to schedule in complete solitude can save you from a massive burn out.
The Truth About an Introvert’s Schedule…
As introverts we need to protect our energy, but we are not weak.
We give intensely, whether it’s at work or with family or friends.
We give deep thought and concentrated effort to our tasks.
Our friends may not see us quite as often, but the time we do give them is concentrated, not a moment wasted, not a word unheard.
Our introspective souls may deplete easily but it’s only because of the soulful intensity we bring forth in every interaction.
To protect that intensity we must accept and honor our unique needs.
We must manage our energy instead of our time.
Being sensitive can be hard.
I know so many people who describe themselves as having a sensitive soul. Most of them have spent the majority of their lives resenting this part of themselves.
They feel weak. Fragile. Misunderstood.
They often wish they could “be stronger.”
They don’t realize how much strength they already have…
The Power of Sensitivity
Being sensitive is full of strengths. And not just any strengths…
The type of strengths that have the power to change the world.
The more you recognize and embrace these strengths, the more you’ll view your sensitivity as one of your favorite parts of yourself.
Here are 12 strengths you likely possess that you should never underestimate…
Sensitivity gives you a heightened intuition. Your acutely alert cells are deeply in tune with the world around you.
You notice everything. You see the world in colors of emotion.
What your brain is unable to decide, your soul is able to feel.
Use that intuition. Let it guide every step of your life.
Don’t allow fears or insecurities to block its wisdom.
Honor it. It is one of the greatest strengths of being a sensitive soul.
When others talk, you listen.
When loved ones simply need silence, you’re there, quietly.
When they need words of comfort, you have them.
Your sensitivity leads you to give people your full presence.
You don’t check your phone, you don’t dismiss, you don’t ignore.
You’re there, fully, respectfully, generously and lovingly. Looking them in the eye.
Your presence is a gift. And it’s priceless.
Your soul runs deep.
You feel levels of emotions most run from.
You don’t cower away from pain, you couldn’t even if you tried.
You embody it. You let it run through you.
Its sharp edges, its overwhelming torrent, carving depths of wisdom within you most can’t understand.
Those depths help you see the truths of the world, the truths within people that go unnoticed by most.
You detract the meaningless and extract the profound. You find the life lessons and you live by them.
Your depth is an invaluable treasure.
Emotions transfer to you. You take them as your own.
The pain of others. The unfairness of the world. It enters and flows through you.
You don’t need to experience it directly, you just need to witness it to make it yours.
This can be hard. But it’s also empowering.
You’ll walk through fire to protect those who need it, because you know just how real their pain is.
You’ll fight for what’s right, because living with what’s wrong hurts your soul.
You’ll protect and defend with surprising fearlessness, when others who seemed so strong cower away.
And you have an understanding of fairness that most seem blind to.
Without your empathic soul, the world would suffer.
Your empathetic soul breeds compassion.
You treat others as you would like to be treated, because you know so well how it feels to experience the opposite.
You protect those who are weaker than you, because your sense of justice overrides any insecurities you may have.
Animals flock to you, because their wise sixth sense knows they can trust you.
You honor nature, because you know it’s healing powers.
It is compassion that changes the world. A heavy burden only the strongest souls can carry.
Many believe it’s a weakness to feel so much. They’re wrong.
The more emotions you feel, the stronger you become.
Those who shove their emotions aside, create a weak foundation.
Because you feel so deeply, and process so thoroughly, you have a surprising solidity.
You can handle more than most because you are used to feeling more.
Your soft exterior is an elegant touch to a fortified interior.
Your beautiful softness layered with strength creates nothing short of a masterpiece.
Your very comfort zone – a state of peace.
Where others inject chaos, turmoil, disrespect and general mayhem, you bring the peace.
Your enlightened soul demands it. When it’s not available, you suffer, because your soul knows better.
This yearning guides you. It tells you who and what to avoid. And who and what to embrace.
It tells you what you can put up with and what is intolerable.
It leads you and sets your standards.
Listen to your cravings for peace, they are the wise yearnings of an otherwise selfless soul.
You don’t give your emotions away freely. You know the consequences of that.
And so you conserve them for those you can trust. Those who can stand the test of time.
And when you find those people, you treasure them.
You stand by them, you honor them, you’re there for them when they need you.
You see the sacred union in your relationships, and so you may have fewer of them, but they run deeper than most.
Your love and friendship are a blessing.
Your body feels everything. It tells you what’s good for you and what’s not.
While others can trash their bodies and keep on moving, your body is too wise for that. It doesn’t want you to reach the point of no return.
If you listen to it, you thrive. If you ignore it, you suffer.
You can’t get away with some of the indulgences others can. Too much coffee, alcohol, etc. It breaks you down.
Listen to your body, honor its sensitive wisdom, and you will thrive.
10. Work Ethic
Your sensitive soul has fears, but hard work isn’t one of them.
You’re an asset in any task, because you do whatever it takes to hold up your end of the bargain.
You hate to disappoint and so you constantly over deliver.
You must protect yourself and not ware yourself down but you should also take pride in your dedication.
Know the value you bring. Respect your time and all that it’s worth.
You’re kind. You’re conscientious. You’re respectful.
You say “please” and “thank you.” And you mean it.
You’re not rude. You don’t degrade. You don’t belittle.
You give people the respect they need to be themselves. You bring out their authenticity.
You have a humble softness that puts people at ease. That lets them breathe.
The qualities you seek in nature – the peace, the beauty, the serenity, the respect for life – you embody.
Cherish your grace, as others undoubtedly already cherish you for it.
Sensitivity is love.
When you’re hurt emotionally, it’s because there’s been a deviation from that love.
There’s no shame in the feelings you experience because of that.
Your sensitivity is your moral compass. It breeds love and protection in the world.
Without sensitivity, what would our world look like? How harsh would it be? How empty?
Sometimes the world just gets things wrong…
Sensitivity, like vulnerability, is mislabeled by those who don’t know better as a weakness. In reality, it’s the opposite – it’s a strength the world needs more of.
Just because you are deeply in tune with your emotions does not make you weak. It makes you fully alive.
Just because you experience feelings more intensely than others does not mean you’re broken. It means you’re fully awake.
Insensitivity is a curse. Sensitivity is a blessing.
Never doubt the power you have within you. Your strengths are real and they are significant.
It’s strengths like these that can transform someone’s life. It is strengths like these that can change the world.
As a sensitive soul, you possess unique powers.
All you have to do is believe in them.
Life can feel like an endless sea of to-dos, responsibilities, chores, deadlines and appointments.
Sometimes it all just feels like too much. Like you just can’t keep up. Like the world is asking for too much.
You’re exhausted and you’re not getting the time your sensitive cells need to recharge.
I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately. I’m currently a full-time lawyer in New York City, the very capital of overwhelm. I have an hour and 15 minute commute every day that involves a bus, a train and a 20 minute walk (sometimes run…).
I’m a never-enough-time mama to the most magical 17 month old pixie in the galaxy who fights sleep with comet strength and stands firm in the belief that I should be her mattress. I spent the first 13 months of her life in utter chronic sleep deprivation and it still often takes me 2 hours to get her to sleep at night.
I have my darling hubby, our Chow/Shepherd rescue dog, and an abundance of friends and family who I want to nourish and cherish.
And then there’s all the cooking, juicing, cleaning, dishes, laundry, bottles, bills, mail, email, doctors, dentists, blogging, plans, decisions and general mayhem screaming for my attention. Oh my!
So yeah, I am very familiar with the ingredients that cook up overwhelm. And my sensitive cells need peace and relaxation, perhaps more than others.
But it’s also very important to me that I not embody overwhelm. I did for many years of my life, always feeling like life was running me over. That is no way to live.
I’ve learned that overwhelm is a choice. It’s a state of mind that can be adjusted.
1. The Zen in Overwhelm
I used to be an extremely stressed out person. I was constantly short of breath, I had anxiety attacks, and I knew nothing of living in the moment. I lived entirely in fear of the future and regret of the past.
And then something happened. I lost my best friend tragically. It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
I was in the middle of law school and her loss brought my world to a halt. Reality as I knew it changed completely.
It took me awhile to get out of the black haze that is death. But once I did, life was different. I understood its impermanence. I felt its gift. I knew there was a better way to feel everyday, no matter what reality I was living.
From then on, life stopped running me over. And I started living in the moment.
Overwhelm happens to all of us. But you can give two different people the same exact scenarios and one will rise to the occasion and handle things with joy and the other will crumble and drag everyone down with them.
So I constantly ask myself, which person do I want to be? Sometimes I fail and fall into a pit of despair and anxiety, but I work hard to find my way back. And I surround myself with people, like my loving husband, who help me get there.
It’s up to each of us to find the zen in our overwhelm.
2. The Truth About Overwhelm
The truth about overwhelm is that much of it is self-created.
With the schedule I’ve been keeping for the past year as a mama who works full time at a demanding job, I’ve often felt I’ve earned the right to declare an unfair amount of overwhelm.
So I had to take a hard look at the chaos I was facing and admit to myself that a lot of it, I was creating. On top of my job and baby I was trying to burn the midnight oil, squeezing everything I wanted out of life into the few nighttime hours I had. And I burnt out, badly.
So I looked at all I was putting on my plate and started drastically eliminating. It’s what my current situation required.
No one can do everything and when we put that kind of pressure on ourselves every day feels like a disappointment.
If we keep our goals simple and achievable everyday can feel like a win and overwhelm won’t win the battle.
3. The Importance of Honoring Your Needs
When I was burning the midnight oil and burning out I was blatantly ignoring my body and mind’s needs.
I’m a sensitive soul with a side of fire. I’m an introvert who also loves to socialize. I’m all about fairness and self-improvement while working in the ego-filled corporate law word. I need daily emotional detoxing to rejuvinate and reenergize my cells from all this back and forth. If I don’t get it, I don’t function.
No matter what your schedule, finding time for exercise, down time, reading a book, watching a movie, doing yoga, or whatever else it is that rejuvinates you, is essential.
When I wasn’t doing this for myself, I couldn’t be the employee or mother that I wanted to me. You must take care of yourself first to do the best you can for others.
4. The Strength in Asking for Help
I would be lost without the people in my life who make up my support system. I do what I can and then I ask for help with the rest.
It is not heroic to take on all burdens. It’s not empowering to be the martyr of your own life. It takes strength and a humble sense of self to know when you just have too much.
Hire out and automate all that you can. And surround yourself with the right people and you’ll find an abundance of helping hands.
5. The Force Created by Envisioning Your Future
Doing your best to handle the overwhelm you’re facing does not mean you have to accept it forever. If things aren’t working in your current situation, change them.
Sometimes that takes patience. Sometimes it takes work. And it definitely takes a lot of vision.
Imagine your future reality. Play it out. Go deep into the specifics of it. What conversations will take place to make it happen? What are the exact words that will be spoken? What life decisions will need to be made? When will they need to be made by? What will need to be cut out of your life? What can you do right now to start down this path?
The more you envision it, the more you make it part of your reality. And so you slowly creep towards it until suddenly you’re walking in the version of reality you had been imagining.
6. The Never Ending Power of Breath
Your to-do list is overflowing. Breathe.
You’re late to pay those bills. Breathe.
Someone else wants something else from your, ASAP. Breathe.
What absolutely needs to get done, will get done. What can wait, will wait. And it will all be okay.
Breathe to remind yourself of the abundance within you. Breathe to remind yourself that you are in control. Breathe to remind yourself that you deserve to be prioritized.
7. The Lessons in Overwhelm
Overwhelm is a teacher. It shows us what we want and what we need out of life. And it shows us all the many things we can do without.
Find the lesson in everything. Learn from it. And let that lesson guide you down the right path.
It’s the people who drown in their own misery who don’t grow. Those who fight through and find the light at the end of the overwhelming tunnel are the ones who win at life.
8. The Joy in Living Fully
Life may sometimes seem like a ball of chaos, but that means you’re living it.
Life may seem like it’s getting the best of you, but know that you’re giving it your best.
Overwhelm may feel exhausting, but it is far better than idleness.
You are living. You are experiencing. You are gathering information and making powerful choices everyday about what you want for your life.
You are not sitting around doing nothing. The word “bored” isn’t even a part of your vocabulary.
You’re living, actively. You’re engaging, constantly. And you’re growing, spiritually. Every step of the overwhelming way.
9. The Power of You
No matter what overwhelm you’re facing, it is not greater than you.
You bring a life time of experiences and wisdom to everything you face. Use that experience to rise to the occasion. Challenge yourself to find the joy. Find ways to constantly nourish yourself.
If things aren’t working, envision the change. Let the lessons you’ve learned guide you to greater paths.
You are greater, stronger and more powerful than any situation you might face. But you have to believe that for it to be true.
Believe in the power of you and overwhelm will have no power over you.
I was deeply disappointed by a loved one recently. I expected them to respond to something a certain way but they had the opposite reaction. Their reaction stopped me in my tracts slapping me out of the emotional tunnel vision I had created for the situation.
I didn’t know how to respond when the words they mouthed counteracted so exactly with the words I had created for them in my anticipating mind.
And so I quickly switched topics and carried the emotional weight of my disappointment with me for the rest of the day.
I took their reaction personally. I saw it as a reflection of their love, or lack thereof, for me. I began closing doors in my mind that I had enjoyed leaving wide open.
It took me some time to uncover the truths in the situation. Not my reactive ego based truths (i.e., they don’t love me, they’re selfish, I don’t need them), the deeper ever present truths. The truths that exist in most disappointments of this nature.
Here are my findings, I hope they help you heal stronger and faster the next time you’re disappointed in such a way.
1. Each person’s individual reality crafts their words and choices, it’s not personal.
I took the words I received personally because they didn’t fit into my version of reality. My self-centric thinking blinded me from seeing all the cards on the table. I was only seeing things from my perspective, with my history, my memories, my sensitivities, my vulnerabilities, my hopes and my desires.
By expecting someone else’s response to line up with all that encompasses me, I was turning a blind eye to all that creates them. Their history, their defenses, their sensitivities, their desires. Those were the things that formed their words.
Understanding this allowed me to shift to a fuller perspective, instead of drowning in self-sorrow.
Being disappointed by others teaches valuable lessons in how to observe and respect people’s limitations, without feeling like it’s all personal.
2. People often say things they don’t mean.
With some distance, I could see that the person’s reaction I experienced was not their truth. They were simply giving a knee jerk reaction based on defenses they’ve built over time.
Defenses are walls built up to protect the vulnerabilities lying within us. Only with patience and perspective can you see beyond someone’s defenses to their truth.
Sometimes we present things in ways that hit people’s triggers. Sometimes their disappointing responses have more to do with their own internal battles than the battles we are imagining between them and us.
And sometimes people aren’t their best self, just as we aren’t always our best selves. And so instead of taking things so personally, we should be extending loving energy to them and praying for their healing, as we seek to heal ourselves.
If I had quickly written that person off due to their disappointing reaction I would have not only disrespected the history we have between us, I would have lost out on the joy they bring to my life.
Sometimes it’s not the words that are spoken, but the truths we hear with our hearts that should guide us.
3. Taking things too personally does not serve you.
As I was experiencing the hurt, I started to ask myself, how is this helping me? How is taking this so personally affecting me and is it worth it? How can I turn the tables on this to claim my power over my emotions back?
I claimed it back by forgiving them and choosing to honor their reality.
If we take one person’s words too personally, that hurt seeps into all aspects of our lives. And that one person suddenly becomes infinitely powerful, with words they probably weren’t even putting too much thought in.
If you want to take words personally, chose the words that elevate you, the compliments you’ve received, the thanks, the love. Take those words very personally.
You get to choose how much things affect you. Only you can give weight to the power of the words you hear or read. Choose those words wisely.
4. You are Whole.
There are no words on this planet that can rob your self-worth, if you truly believe yourself to be worthy.
There is no one who can dim your light, if your flame ignites from deep within.
There is no situation that can erase your loveliness, because that beauty was drawn in permanent marker, by a power much greater than ourselves.
Believe these words and you won’t lose yourself to any disappointment.
Ironically, after completely this analysis, the person who disappointed me came to me with the words I had expected them to speak. Words grounded in love. I had never shot them down for their reaction. I hadn’t cut them off or engaged in a battle. I knew there were deeper truths that would be spoken and I did the healing I needed to do so that those words would feel welcome, whenever they were ready to form.
Life and people are imperfect. We’ll get disappointed and we’ll disappoint, over and over again. It’s up to you to chose your perspective and the weight you give each disappointment over you life. Practice love and forgiveness you’ll soar lightly at the heights your beautiful soul deserves.
How do you deal with disappointment like this? As always, thanks for being here!
These are the messages quiet children hear. I received them everywhere, from teachers, friends, parents of friends, acquaintances.
The emotionally hungry, eager to understand what could make someone’s voice so internal. Eager to devour those differences and make those perceived as vulnerable operate on their terms. Terms they understand, terms they’ve deemed the norm, the ideal.
Each time I heard these messages, I resented them. I didn’t want to talk. Being asked to felt like an invasion. An invasion of my space, of my internal dialogue. A dialogue I wanted to share even less when talking was being demanded of me.
I often sat and watched while outgoing children got praised and adored for their fiery attention grabbing personalities. Personalities I envied but knew I could never possess, as my cells, at the time, rejected the mere thought of it.
One of my earliest memories as a child was of my kindergarten teacher yelling at me for not responding to her questions and then making me sit in the corner. I remember staring at her and taking her in as she looked down at me with frustration. And I remember feeling like words were not an option.
I wasn’t being defiant. I wasn’t trying to cause trouble. I was simply living my truth.
My truth at the time was internal. And it was sensitive. And intimidated. And shy. Quiet.
I carried this truth into adulthood. I changed a lot, found my voice in many ways, but the quiet side of me remained, even throughout college and law school. To all but those who knew me well.
I sat in the back. I kept my hand down. I wrote things down. And I listened.
And I learned how to hear the things that words don’t say.
The whispers spoken with our eyes or the delicate movements of fingers and corners of lips. The loudness of animated looks and exaggerated gestures. The sereneness of the humble confidence. The posturing of overcompensation. The tensions of attraction. The subtleties of suppressed annoyance. The animation of pure joy. The uneasy air of the unsettled. The truth and generosity of the truly present.
Looking back on my quiet past, my only regret is the shame I inflicted upon myself for feeling like I was too quiet. For feeling like that was a flaw.
Because it is in our quietness that we can find our deepest truths.
It’s quietness that sharpened my emotional intelligence. That deepened my ability to empathize on deep cellular levels. That taught me to create safe spaces for myself and others.
And it’s from that quietness that I now challenge myself to think on a higher level, above my circumstances and insecurities, to find the real truth in any situation, to uncover life’s emotional mysteries.
And as I grew out of my shyness, through deep rooted self-love and appreciation realignments, it is my quietness that I look back on and thank for making me who I am.
Have you ever been accused of being too quiet?
She’s so much more than I expected. She’s so much wittier, more captivating, endearing, adorable and unique than I could have ever imagined. And so whenever I’m away from her and I pause to think about all her magic, I sometimes feel like she’s a dream. Like she’s not my baby. Like this is not my life I’m living.
I got used to learning lessons from struggle. In many ways I am who I am today because I like to think about prior struggles, study them, learn from them, share them.
I haven’t really understood what I’m supposed to learn from this little being that does nothing but make my heart sing. If it doesn’t feel like a tragic struggle, what lessons will I have to share?
Of course there are struggles… sleep deprivation, what seems like an endless amount of chores, and, with balancing a full time job, overall lack of any time for myself being major ones. Did I mention sleep deprivation? I now understand why that is a torture technique…
But as far as she goes, all I can see is the beauty in her little being. The blessing.
I’ve never been so deeply in love with both the perfections and imperfections of someone before. I’ve never given my deepest levels of strength and vulnerability to anyone so simultaneously. I am mercilessly wrapped around every little part of her soul and yet she is healing and strengthening every little part of mine.
So how can this be? What do you do when life gives you way more than you ever asked for, way more than you ever thought to want? What do you learn? Do you even deserve this?
I’ve believed for so many years that we’re all here to learn hard tragic lessons about life and then heal. And that it’s through the tragedy and the healing that we elevate our souls. I spent a long time believing that life is supposed to be and always will be, hard. And sad. And lonely. And a struggle.
In the past, I never stopped to think about how life has the potential to just dump love all over you. To give so abundantly and ask for nothing back.
The other night I found an old diary from high school. I bravely opened it to read a few pages. I couldn’t believe the words on the page… the sadness and anger I used to feel towards life.
I wanted to reach through the pages and give that girl a hug. And tell her, that if you work on things, if you challenge your perspectives, if you believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who lift you up, if you own who you are and honor what you need to thrive, you can fill your life with magic.
Magic of your own making. Magic of your own definitions.
In reading those pages I realized I could view my life through that old perspective now if I chose to. I could lose myself in all the things that are so very hard and overwhelming. I could even go back to allowing things into my life that do not serve me, to perpetuate problems and patterns that harm me. And I wonder what life would look like now if I did. Would I be married to such a gentle-man? Would I love my daughter in the same way?
Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is hard. Paying law school loans is hard. Living in New York can be hard. And so many other things. There are times when it all gets the best of me, of course.
But when I lose myself in those moments, I work hard to get myself back on track. Back to gratitude. Back to magic. Once I decided that that would be my track, I am always looking for it when it’s out of sight, always inching my way back towards it and moving things out of its way.
What I’ve been finding is that when you immerse yourself in gratitude, life gives back to you in unexpected ways. Life brings you the people, the rewards, the courtesies, the mentors, the gifts you never would have known to ask for.
My daughter’s not magical because she’s perfect. And I know our relationship won’t be perfect. But the one thing I’ll never demand from her, is perfection.
I decided that my daughter would be magical on the day she was born. And it was that decision, that commitment to that feeling, that has made every moment since feel just that way. And carrying that same sense of gratitude towards other areas of life, is creating similar results.
It’s so hard to give a gift to someone who never likes anything you get them. It’s so much more fun to buy a gift when you know it will be received with joy and appreciation and love.
I’m finding that life is just that way. When you believe in the magic of life and live in the gratitude of all the blessings around you (while also honoring and protecting your needs), life wants to give back to you, reward you with its gifts more and more.
My daughter makes every today the best day of my life.
I decided that that’s what she would do. And so it is.
What magic do you have in your life right now?
And, happy birthday, my sweet girl.
I used to get intimidated by people so easily. People I thought were bigger and better than me. I’d shake and stutter and make myself as small as possible. I’d fill my words with ‘I’m sorry’s’, having nothing in particular to apologize for. I’d hide the fierceness that has always lived within me.
Over the past few years there’s been a major shift in me. An internal shift that’s come from a ton of work on myself, from challenging the perspective I had developed over way too many years.
I’ve taken risks, I’ve taken time to be on my own and figure out who I am (and who I’m not), and I’ve challenged the rules I was taught to live my life by.
Ironically, in many ways life has come full circle. I’m back working as a lawyer and I’m living in a place I thought I had left forever, but now surprisingly enjoy.
But I’m not the same. I’ve changed. And so these old but new roles fit so differently. And I feel gratitude to the Universe for showing me this 360 degree perspective.
One major shift I’ve experienced is how I feel about the people around me. People don’t scare me anymore. People I used to view on the highest of pedestals, towering over quivering me.
I no longer quiver. They no longer tower.
If you are often intimidated by others, here are a few things I’ve learned along they way. I hope they help you see that you deserve to stand strongly amongst even your greatest idols, “superiors”, and authority figures.
1. The person you’re intimidated by is human.
Even your biggest idol, or the head of the company you answer to, or whoever it is that makes your knees shake, is still just a person. They have family issues, daddy issues, mother issues, insecurities, things they’re trying to prove, obstacles they’re trying to overcome, fears they’re dealing with, people they’re hoping to impress, bills they have to pay, and feelings their trying to protect. And they all poop in the morning, floss their teeth at night, cry when they’re alone, and do whatever else it is that makes us completely and utterly human.
They are no different from you. No better. No worse.
2. They may not be who you think they are, after all.
I had quite a few people that I idolized, that I was so intimidated to meet, and then upon meeting and interacting with them shockingly found that not only were some of them not the people I thought they were, they were sometimes even ego driven, rude and judgmental of those around them (including a famed celebrity whose name I won’t mention!). It’s all love, we all have our own demons to battle but after enough of these experiences I started to question the values I so quickly assigned to those who intimidated me.
We often idolize those in powerful positions. But power doesn’t always come with tact or with the gentleness we should all strive to treat one another with. Power is just as likely to accompany a fragile ego as is insecurity. And power fueling a fragile ego can be a particularly troublesome combination.
With enough of these experiences, I learned to change the way I judge people.
“Powerful” people are those who impact me deeply, spiritually,
lovingly, regardless of what their resumes are stacked with.
Powerful people are the people I welcome into my life, who welcome
me back, who fill me with positivity, and who teach me how to grow.
This is not to say that some of the people I idolized or admired didn’t turn out to be some of the most loving, generous and kind people I know. They absolutely did. But again, I see them now for the love they share with the world, not for merely their title or “power”.
3. Separate your own ego.
I used to think I was egoless, because I felt insecure, so where’s the ego there? But it is there. Ego is just as involved in insecurity as it is in arrogance. You’re worried about how the world is perceiving you. You’re fearing people will spot your imperfections. You’re attached to and driven by the opinions of others.
Acknowledge your ego. Know that if your response to someone is based on fear, it’s your ego talking, telling you you’re not good enough. The more aware of it you are, the more you can learn to separate from it and send it love, instead of letting it control you and your emotions.
4. Don’t posture — but do stand tall.
Never pretend to be someone you’re not in order to impress anybody. Fakeness is oddly transparent, especially on those who feel insecure to begin with.
Alway strive for authenticity.
Be who you are, the best version of who you are.
Those who don’t accept that version of you, are not meant to be in your life, no matter how special or admired they may seem to be. Wish them well and move on.
There is such beauty in the authenticity that comes from a place of humble self-love and acceptance, instead of a place of ego driven fear. Find that place and you will stand tall genuinely, instead of pretending to be someone you’re not and posturing from insecurity.
5. Understand your own worth.
To be the best version of who you are, you must first accept who you are, whole heartedly. Stop fighting against yourself. Put your inner battles to rest. Accept yourself. Accept your history. Accept the flaws you cannot change and grow in all the ways you can. Rewrite the internal story you’ve been telling about yourself into a story of triumph.
The people who intimidate you are not worth more than you. They are not better than you. They are not more deserving. They are not luckier.
We are all the same and we are all just trying to find our way
in this world and heal our souls in the process.
To do so we must look internally, with love and gratitude,
not outwardly with envy and lack.
Own who you are. Own your experiences. Own your strengths and even your weaknesses. Stand strong in all that makes you, you.
6. Approach everyone with love.
Lastly, one of the best ways I’ve learned to lose all intimidation of others is to assume that everyone I meet already loves me. And I assume that they are lovable as well. It’s amazing how quickly this technique can soften up even the harshest and scariest of people.
If you approach people assuming that they won’t like you or that they’ll hurt you in some way, chances are they won’t like you or they’ll hurt you in some way.
Our lives are the fruits of our thoughts.
Believe in the good in you. Believe that others will see it, and so they will.
Soon enough you’ll see, that there’s no reason to be so intimidated by others, you have way too much to give and you are open to all you wish to receive.