Posts by Liz:
“I trust you,” I tell my three-year-old all the time.
When she doesn’t want to clean up her mess, share her toys, take her vitamins.
“I trust you.”
No response. But I know my words are lingering. Working their way through her impressionable mind.
“I trust you.”
I walk away. I leave the mess. I leave the toys. I leave the vitamins. Yearning to parent without shame and constant punishments.
“I trust you.”
Moments later, she picks up her trash, walks it to the garbage, without a word.
“I trust you.”
She hands her toy to her little sister, as I watch from a distance.
“I trust you.”
I return. I pick up the vitamin dropper. She looks up at me, and opens her mouth.
“I trust you.”
Because there’s a little girl in front of me, and I need her to learn the feeling of trusting herself. Not the feeling of shame, just so I can get a behavior I want. Because that shame leaves a stamp, a stamp with no boundaries.
And when that little girl turns into a woman, I pray that the trust I give to her will be the voice that continues to linger in her mind, instead of the wicked one so many of us carry.
So when she needs her voice, when she’s faced with life-changing choices, when she dares to dream, she’ll be led by her trusting heart, not the voice of doubt and inadequacy.
The voice that leads us down dark alleys, that causes us to do things we regret, that silences us when we so desperately need to be heard. The voice I’ll work to defend my little girls from, every day of my life. Because once that voice creeps in, its poison knows no boundaries.
The voice I’m learning to defend myself from, more and more each day. Ever looking for the antedote. And finding that perhaps the antedote lies within that searching. In the refusal to succumb, no matter how hard the road behind us has been.
Because there is no quick fix. No pill to swallow. No magic shame eraser.
But if we continue to stamp small pieces of trust onto our hearts, over and over again, perhaps its stamp will also find that there are no boundaries. No limits to where that trust will take us. No fence around the acceptance and courage it will dissolve into our souls.
Learning to trust my heart has been leading me down new paths. I recently left a job I loved. A job where I played with words, my favorite thing. A job where I helped people every single day, people who were spreading positive messages into the world through their writing. A job that finally showed me what it’s like to work within my strengths instead of having to pretend I’m somebody I’m not.
My wicked inner voice aches to call me a fool.
But I longed to be a more balanced and less over-scheduled mama while my kids are still so little. I longed to pursue my own dreams in the spare moments motherhood leaves me, dreams that job solidified for me. And I longed to honor the next steps that were calling me forward.
So I took a leap of faith, and decided to hold trust in the uncertainty. And while I don’t know what lies at the end of this new road, I know that for the first time the voice in my head is one of comfort, trust and love, instead of wicked words of mockery.
And perhaps that’s the point. We don’t need to know the outcome of our courageous moments. We just need to place small stamps of trust onto our hearts, and let them linger. And pray that with each small stamp, our life will align more and more with our potential.
So that the words that start to linger in our heads, more than any other, become:
“I trust you.”
How can you trust in yourself more today?
If you liked this post, please “like” it, share it and leave a comment.
This post was inspired by the teachings of Janet Lansbury, whose respectful parenting wisdom I hold as sacred.
Some recent pics w/my kiddos 🙂
For almost two years, I couldn’t cry. Not one drop.
The old me would shed tears over a sad commercial. The new me? A tragedy could unfold at my feet and my eyes would be as dry as a desert.
I was sleep deprived and energetically depleted. Two emotionally tough pregnancies and child rearing two little angels so close in age (while maintaining a job) took everything out of me. I had nothing left. Not one tear to spare.
I didn’t realize it at first. For a while I just assumed I was becoming less sensitive. I was hardening, toughening up. Motherhood was making an emotional rock out of me. Nothing could shake me.
I might have thought that toughness would feel like a nice break. A break from feeling so much and being so easily affected by the world around me.
But it didn’t feel nice. It felt disconnected and empty, like I was no longer tapped into the emotional electricity that connects the world.
It was odd and barren, and far less soft and loving.
The Burden of an Emotional Soul
When I was younger, I hated feeling so emotional.
I seemed to feel so much, all of the time. The insensitivity of others baffled me. I wanted to turn off my emotions and grow numb to the world around me.
Then maybe I’d feel less hurt, less disappointment and less shame.
I wanted to bottle up my overpowering emotions and seal them closed forever, never to feel pain again.
A lot of us feel that way. Like we’re too vulnerable. Too easily wounded. Too sensitive. Our emotions can feel like too much to bear.
We need to toughen up. Feel less. Soldier on.
If only we could turn off our nagging emotions, we’d thrive. We’d laugh in the face of fear!
But it’s not true. Turn off your emotions and you lose everything. All of who you are. The comforting way you give love and nurture others. The depth of your empathy. The generosity of your spirit. The beautiful light that sparks inside of you.
Letting Your Light Burn
My three-year-old daughter has never been a good sleeper. I was constantly sleep deprived during the first two years of her life. When her younger sister came along, between the two of them there were nights where I was up almost every single hour. Night after night after night. Month after month.
Sleep deprivation took on a whole new meaning.
It felt impossible. Inhumane. Painful.
And while I love every minute of being their mama, the year that followed my second daughter’s birth was the hardest year of my life. Because quite frankly, sleep deprivation is a bitch.
And to my surprise, so is being emotionally detached from the world. Being too tired to feel all that you’re used to feeling. All the love, all the joy, all the connection. It’s like a light within you gets smothered. Smothered in exhaustion, longing for comfort and relief so that it can one day burn again.
Your soft spots harden. Your empathy fades. Your vulnerability vanishes.
You find yourself longing for the emotions that once felt like such a tough burden to bear. Longing to feel that powerful spark again. The spark that connects you to the world, deepens your relationships, and keeps you on a constant search for messages of healing and kindness.
You long for the softness you used to resent. The softness that guided your heart like a compass, and often came with its fair share of tears.
The softness that lit you up from within and made you the person you authentically are.
Tapping Back In
In the last couple of months, things have improved. For the first time in three years, I am getting uninterrupted sleep (a gift only those with kids can truly understand). And while early motherhood will likely always be full of both love and exhaustion, sleep deprivation is no longer a part of my daily story.
And slowly but surely, I feel my softness returning.
One night recently, after being lured into You Tube clips of the most emotional episodes of America’s Got Talent, I found myself crying for the first time… for two hours straight. I couldn’t stop. The floodgates fell open as I got looped into one emotional story after another.
Each tear was a gift. A cleansing. A rekindling of the light within me that is still slowly healing from all the months of exhaustion. The light that guides my life, my choices, and the person I hope to be. The light that connects me to my soul and the all the beauty that’s around me. The light that softens me, allowing me to love to my full capacity.
The light that lets me know I’m truly alive and awake as a sensitive emotional being.
Your Emotions Are a Gift
They may seem like a lot at times. And they may carry a lot of fear and pain. But it’s through our pain that we learn about love and life and relationships.
It’s our pain that deepens our understanding of the world and the goodness that exists within it. It’s our pain that helps us know who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. It’s our pain that fuels our creativity and helps us to craft what we hope to share with the world.
And on the other side of pain is all the love and joy, in emotional abundance.
As a sensitive soul, you do not need to “overcome” or “deal with” your heightened emotions, you need to honor them.
Learn their triggers and respect their limitations. Step away when they feel like too much.
But let them bring you back to you. Your truths. Your depth. Your kindness. Your gentleness.
Let your emotions be your guide as they lead you towards the life you were destined for. Let them guide your passions, your actions and your choices.
With each tear I shed now, my heart fills with gratitude. So thankful to finally reconnect with my emotional soul.
May you always tap into the spark that connects us all and be so fully awake to the world.
If you liked this post, please “like” it, share it & leave a comment!
The news these last few weeks has been heartbreaking. One tragedy after another.
I’ve found myself in shock, despair and often in tears. The things people are capable of are just unfathomable. As is all the suffering in this world.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in the despair of it all. To feel nothing but helpless and scared. To completely shut down.
And if you have a sensitive nature, it can lead to quite a lot of anxiety and withdrawal.
But there are things we should remember, to empower our hearts and hopefully empower our humanity.
You are not alone.
You are not alone in the shock and confusion created by one horrific world event after another. We are all feeling it. All wondering how it’s possible for there to be so much hatred. All wondering if things will ever get better.
We are all experiencing the range of emotions, from disgust to despair, and the fears the come with it.
We are all looking for answers either within ourselves or from a higher being.
We are all praying for change. And there is power in that collective prayer.
There is far more love than evil.
With news reports today, it’s so easy to believe there is nothing but ugliness in the world. But it’s not true.
There is far more love than evil. Far more compassion than disregard. Far more acts of kindness than acts of war. But the news plays to our unfortunate hunger for negativity, so those things rarely get covered.
Years ago I had an idea that I wish were in existence today – a “Good News” channel. A channel that only focused on the positivity in the world. How would it change our inner thoughts to see stories like that? How would it change the impact we believe we’re capable of having on the world around us? How would it change the actions we take each day?
But, perhaps a more important question is, what is it about our inner makings that instead demand the negative? Why is a focus on kindness often perceived as childish, but a focus on negativity is perceived as intellectual?
Whatever the reasons may be, it’s important to remember that love is everywhere. Evil acts may get prime time coverage, but loving acts exist in abundance.
You can create change.
The tragedy in the world symbolizes an absence of love that circulates within all of us.
We cannot control the actions of others, but we can cultivate more love within and around us. The more we do so, the more power we’ll have to heal the world.
We all have hatred and biases that live within us, as President Obama himself even noted recently. We all have pain that causes us to express our worst, instead of our best. We all have limiting beliefs that cause us to shrink and withdraw, instead of standing strong to positively impact the world around us.
We should ask ourselves, how did our biases get there and how can we eliminate them? Where does our pain come from and how can we heal it? What thoughts are robbing us of our potential to give the world our best?
And in what ways do we turn a blind eye to suffering (of humans, of animals, of the world), and therefore contribute to it? In ways do we allow our thoughts to remain closed off, instead of open to new perspectives? How can we each do better?
These are not easy questions. Placing blame on others is far easier. But it’s important that we look inside ourselves for answers so that we can help to create positive change, instead of just feeding negativity by pointing fingers.
There are lessons in every tragedy. We must find the lessons both collectively and individually so that lives are not lost in vain. And so that we are empowered, instead of oppressed by hatred.
We are all one.
We may live in a divided world, but we are all one.
We are one with the goodness in this world, and we are one with the hatred. And we must accept responsibility for that unity.
We must all strive to honor the gentleness and compassion within us, so that we can help to create a world that is full of the same.
We must all work to heal our inner pains, so that we can play a role in healing the pains around us.
We must all work to reach our potential, so that the world can benefit from the gifts we possess.
The more we empower ourselves, the more power our collective prayer for change will have, and the more empowered and full of love our actions will be.
How are you coping with the all of the recent tragedies in the world?
Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it <3
We spend so much time dwelling on our past.
We analyze it. We relive the pain. We repeat the patterns.
We allow it to determine our feelings of self-worth.
Sometimes a painful past becomes so deeply imbedded within us that we live in response to it every single day. It controls our thoughts and actions, our relationships, and who we think we’re capable of becoming.
We drown ourselves in pity. Why did X, Y or Z have to happen to us? Why couldn’t our life had been like so and sos? Why weren’t we loved more fully?
We can spend years in therapy trying to understand it. Picking apart the words, actions and raw emotions we experienced until there’s no mental stone uncovered, but still never feeling quite healed.
Sadly, some people stay stuck in the framework of their past forever. Never able to break free of the mental chambers it created. Never really emotionally moving forward.
But it doesn’t have to be that way…
The Truth About Your Past
The truth is, there’s nothing you can do to change it. And there’s nothing you can do to change the actions or words of the people in it or the tragedies that came with it.
As unfair as it may have been, as brutal or depressing, it happened. And it can’t be undone.
But the other truth is, whatever harsh things you experienced, whatever ways you were victimized, you didn’t deserve. And if those harsh experiences are still robbing your present life, you don’t deserve that either.
You deserve far better. The past is always going to be part of your story. But it’s up to you to determine the role it plays in your future.
A New Perspective on the Pain You Carry
What if instead of viewing your past as a tragic story of suffering, you view it as a necessary part of your destiny.
What if your past was exactly what you needed to go through, as hard, painful or tragic as it may have been, to become the person you were meant to be.
What if instead of feeling like the victim of your past, you view your past as the story that was necessary to lead you to your triumph.
What if everything in your past was perfectly engineered to give you the strengths, perspectives and compassion needed to live the life you were destined for.
That’s not to excuse or condone anything that may have happened to you. But you can live stuck in feelings of past injustices, or you can empower your future by reframing the role your past plays in your life.
Reframing your story to one of empowerment can change everything.
The Power of Perspective
You can be a victim. Or you can be a survivor.
You can be full of broken pieces. Or full of wisdom and depth.
You can deem yourself forever worthless. Or you can honor your innate worth and unique strengths.
Perspective is everything.
Whatever you may have gone through in the past, you can find a way to use it to empower your future.
Our time on Earth is short. And you have a purpose to fulfill. Your past is very likely the key to that purpose.
So accept your past as part of your destiny. Use the strengths and tools it’s given you. And allow your past, however painful, to empower your future.
What strengths have the painful parts of your past given you?
Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it <3
Sometimes sensitive or introverted souls fall into a trap.
We come across as quiet, easy going, emotional or “soft.” Seemingly easy targets for those who belittle others to feel empowered.
And because we internalize negativity so strongly, those belittling comments can sink in deeply. If we’re not careful, we can turn someone’s demeaning remarks into our internalized truths.
Like most of us, I’ve been faced with belittling remarks. In the past, I allowed these remarks to infiltrate my self-worth. My intuition would tell me not to trust the words I heard, but my soul would ache with shame and insecurity. Without consciously realizing, I’d eventually accept the words I heard as true. And what you accept as true, you live out.
Eventually I realized that this was unacceptable. My self-esteem was worth fighting for and I had the power to choose the words I believe in.
If you’ve fallen prey to those who belittle and have allowed their harsh words to penetrate the vulnerable parts of your mind and heart, you know how damaging those words can be. The next time you’re on the receiving end of such words, use the following steps to help you recover:
Remember the Truth About Belittling Words
When someone belittles you, it’s a reflection of the speaker, not the recipient. Belittling or condescending people is never a necessary or productive form of dialogue.
If someone feels they need to do that to feel empowered, they have some things they need to work through. The words they expressed reflect their truth, not yours. Never allow people who use communication so irresponsibly to sabotage your self-image.
You don’t need to engage in a back and forth dialogue with someone who speaks down to you, at least not when your emotions feel overwhelming. Instead, you can quickly and politely negate their statement and walk away.
If you can’t find the right words to defend yourself or you start to feel too anxious or intimidated, you can just say something simple like “Thanks so much for that insight. Have a nice day.” The simple fact that you refuse to engage with the person hoping to minimize you, is enough to remind yourself (and them) of your worth.
Embrace the Pain
Belittling words hurt. Trying to pretend they didn’t happen is impossible. Feel the pain and process it throughly. Trying to ignore the pain will only allow it to sink deeper into your subconscious.
When you’re ready, you can work to counteract the words you heard. But first, allow yourself some time alone to simply feel. Let your feelings work through you so that you can eventually release them.
Use Your Vulnerability
If the words you heard were very painful, talk them through with someone you trust. Someone who believes in you and can give you the comfort you need. Let your guard down and reveal how the words made you feel. This vulnerability will open yourself up to receiving the love and healing you need.
Let their loving words envelop you in place of the hurtful ones. Hold on to their embrace instead of the smothering words of condescension.
Fight the Good Fight
Belittling words will fight for control of your subconscious. Don’t let them win. Once you’ve fully processed the words you heard, it’s time to counteract them. No matter what the words were, whether they diminished your intelligence, capabilities, profession, age, gender, sexual preference, etc., you can find evidence in your life that proves them wrong. Take the time to gather that evidence.
Humans are biased towards negativity. It’s so easy to believe the mean things we hear, it’s far more difficult to believe the good. So you have to fight for your thoughts. Fight for your subconscious and make losing not an option.
Release the Words
Words are powerful. They can reflect both the beauty of the world and the ugliness. When people don’t respect the power of words, they use them irresponsibly. Don’t allow this irresponsible dialogue to steal your self-worth.
Process your emotions. Ask for help if you need it. Put in the work and fight for your thoughts. Then release the words that were spoken so irresponsibly towards you. They don’t serve you and they aren’t your truth.
Always remember, the only power belittling words have over you, is the power you give them.
Have you ever been subjected to belittling remarks? How did you handle them?
Please share this post if you think others might benefit from it <3
It’s embarrassing to admit.
But as an adult, I developed a huge phobia of driving.
I spent most of my life riding New York City subways. Put me on the 1 train, in the worst part of the Bronx, and I’ll happily find my way home. Put me in the driver’s seat of a car on an open country road, and I’d quickly start to panic.
Sweaty palms, racing heart, clenched muscles. Panic.
My phobia was unreasonable. Inconvenient. And a constant source of frustration in my marriage.
I could never share the burden of long drives out of town. I always needed a chaperone. And I wasted way too much money on cabs.
It was a problem. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to face it. I was happy working around my phobia, except for the fact that it drove my husband crazy.
And then we had kids, and I was going to be the primary caregiver as I worked part-time. Driving them to and from school, ballet classes and friends houses would be a necessity. And so I had to figure out how to conquer my unreasonable but paralyzing fear.
We all have fears that riddle our lives. Fears that block us from moving forward. From accomplishing the things we dream about. From feeling the freedom and happiness we deserve.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to figure out how to overcome a terrifying fear. I used to be deathly afraid of speaking in class or in a meeting, topics for another day. What I realized is that the same principles apply to overcoming almost any fear.
If you have fears that are handicapping your life or your dreams, here are five simple tricks for tackling them:
1. Leave Yourself No Choice.
When my daughter was starting nursery school, I had a choice: I could either send her to the nursery school conveniently located one block away (sparing myself from ever having to get behind the wheel) or I could send her to the school we really loved, in another part of town.
Drop offs and pick ups, every single day. Baby in tow. I panicked at the mere thought of it.
At that point, I hadn’t been behind the wheel in years. To me, a car was a weapon, and I was petrified of firing one. The thought of handling this weapon with my children in the backseat paralyzed me.
But I couldn’t live with myself if I let my fears interfere with what was best for my daughter, so I told my husband:
“I’ll take care of it.”
I didn’t how I was going to do it, but I was going to give myself no choice – she was going to the school we loved. No matter what, I was getting behind that wheel.
And so from that moment on, I did whatever it took for me to get comfortable with my fears. I practiced with my husband in the car. I hired a driving instructor and unleashed my paranoia on him, taking lessons until he felt I was skilled enough to drive on my own. And I worked on calming my mind and releasing my tension as I buckled into the driver’s seat.
It’s now been over a year, and I happily drive my little girls around town every single day. Not only has my paranoia eased, but I find myself enjoying the ride, with music playing and giggles from the back seat.
When we give ourselves no other option, it’s amazing what we’re able to accomplish. If you have fears that are holding you back, find a way to give yourself no choice but to act in spite of them.
2. Take It One Block at a Time.
To get me through the early fretful days of driving with my children in the car, I constantly reminded myself of one simple truth:
“I only need to make it to the end of this block.”
This became my mantra.
I didn’t need to worry about how far our destination was, about the busy and dangerous parking lot that awaited me when I arrived, about reversing when there are little feet running nearby.
I just needed to make it to the end of each block.
One block at a time. Simple. Easy. Doable.
Whatever your fear is, you can break it down into easy doable steps. One minute at a time. One paragraph at a time. One step at a time.
The easier you make things, the faster you reach your destination. And you may even find you enjoy the ride.
3. Prove Yourself Wrong.
I made a lot of mistakes as I developed my driving legs. A lot. And I’m sure I’ll continue to make more. But something else has happened that surprised me.
As others on the road made their own mistakes – people walking into the street without looking, cars backing up when they should have waited, sudden unanticipated slamming of the brakes in front of me – I’ve found that my reflexes are far faster and far more reliable than I ever would have imagined.
I assumed I’d be careless, but I’m reactive.
I assumed I’d constantly feel like a threat to others, but I feel confidently cautious.
I assumed I’d always drown in fears about my little girls’ safety, but instead I feel empowered as their protector.
It’s amazing what happens once you move forward into your fears. We often assume the worst in ourselves, but if given the opportunity, you may find that it’s your best self that gets behind the wheel.
4. Shift Gears on Your Focus.
Sometimes, when we put all the focus on ourselves, our fears multiply in size and magnitude. They become monsters that are WAY bigger than us and we simply can’t handle them.
But when you shift your focus to someone or something else, it becomes much easier to tame those beasts.
As I look back in the rearview mirror at my two young daughters tightly buckled into their carseats, I know I have a job to do. I have to keep them safe, no matter what. They are my focus and they’re counting on me.
When my older daughter was a baby, I got in a cab with her. The driver raced down the highway at an obnoxious speed – while texting. I realized in that moment that no one would be more responsible behind the wheel when driving my kids around than me.
Every time my fears start to bubble up again, I remind myself of that. Their safety matters way more than my fears. My monsters can ride in the trunk where they won’t distract me, because I have a job to do.
Similarly, when I first started writing blog posts, I used to feel a terrifying panic every time I hit “publish.” Then I started to ask myself, “could this post help at least one person?” If the answer was yes, my fears subdued.
Shift your focus. Find a cause greater than your fears and your mighty monsters will suddenly shrink down small enough to throw in the trunk of your car where they can’t bother you.
5. Find Your Truth.
I was scared of driving because I felt like I couldn’t handle the responsibility. I assumed I’d be a bad driver and I worried endlessly about hurting someone.
Like most fears, these were lies I told myself based on faulty beliefs about my capabilities. To conquer my fears, I would need to alter my beliefs.
I happen to have quite a few friends who have the same driving phobia (not so uncommon when you grow up in New York City, I guess). One friend was able to conquer it. She said she realized that “Any fool can get a driver’s license. I know I’m more capable than most fools.”
As I thought about that foolish cab driver, who felt it was okay to text while speeding with a baby in the backseat, I realized that I’m way more capable than I give myself credit for. I was certainly far more responsible than that man.
Our fears usually surround things we long for. We wouldn’t long for these things if we weren’t capable of handling them.
For me driving represented a certain freedom and independence that I longed for but was afraid of. I feared I wasn’t capable of handling so much control.
But the truth is, I am. And so I changed my belief system, which changed everything.
Your fears are not your truth. Find your truth and you will live up to it.
Appreciate Your Fears.
Fears are valuable teachers. They show you what you’re longing for.
Follow those longings. Give yourself no choice but to tackle your monsters. And replace the lies you tell yourself about your inadequacies with the truth of your potential.
There will never come a day when all of your fears vanish. It’s impossible.
So you might as well learn how to live with them – how to shrink them down in size and shove those buggers into the trunk of your car so you can enjoy the ride.
One easy block at a time.
What fears are you struggling with? Please share this post with anyone you know who might benefit from it.
I can’t seem to find the right words…
to convince her of her perfection.
And each time I fail, the pain in my chest grows stronger.
I should have the words for her. It’s the very least I should have. After all, she’s my little girl.
My three-year old daughter has wild, magnificent, big and beautiful curly hair.
It’s hair that makes a statement. Hair that draws attention. Hair that you either own up to and rock, or you pull back and cover up.
It’s the hair of a unique, magical, multi-racial little girl.
And at such a vulnerable age, she’s already fallen prey to comparison. Already wishing her hair looked like her friends. Already trying to change who she is to fit in. Already doubting her innate perfection.
I’m amazed at all the complicated feelings she’s processing, at such a young age.
And so I search for the words. Words of praise, words of encouragement, words of love. I give it everything I’ve got, but my messages seem half heard. Through the play and words of a three-year old, her desire for something that will never be hers remains evident.
And I wonder, if I can’t convince her of her qualities now, when my role in her life is the most influential, how will I ever convince her?
But I keep trying, because giving up is not an option.
The Insecurities That Haunt Our Lives…
As a child and young adult, I struggled with so many things I wanted to change. They haunted me. And so my insecurities directed my life, far more than my strengths.
We all face struggles like this at some point. We all have things we wish we could change. Our weight, our facial features, our choices and mistakes.
We long for someone else’s beauty, charisma or success. We try desperately to hide our perceived flaws. We take the shame and hurtful comments others have placed on us and inflict them on ourselves, over and over and over again.
Learning how to navigate these feelings is part of life, for better or for worse. But we can, and we must, work through these feelings so they don’t get the best of us…
Decide Who You’ll Believe
As we stood in our building’s elevator a few weeks ago, an older woman came on. As so many do, she commented on my daughter’s hair.
“Wow, what curly hair you have.”
I wish that statement had been enough, but she continued…
“Man, you’re gonna hate that hair when you’re older!”
I quickly covered my daughter’s ears and asked the woman to please not say things like that. But it was too late, her message was heard. And I wondered why someone would feel the need to direct words like that to a young, delicate and impressionable mind. Her intentions weren’t bad, but knowing that didn’t stop my heart from aching.
I wanted to scoop my girl up and erase the words from her mind. I wanted to replace them with all the love and admiration I felt for her in that moment.
But instead, I felt paralyzed. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t know the right response. I placed my hands on my daughter’s shoulders and waited for the woman to get off the elevator.
When she left, I knelt down and looked into my daughter’s eyes. I told her that her hair was so beautiful, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
I left it at that, as I worried about drawing too much attention to the negativity. I’ll never know whose words held more weight, mine or this stranger’s. I could only pray they were mine.
But as the weeks continued on, her concerns over her hair showed up more and more. She wished it was “long and straight mama, just like Audrey’s” (her friend at school).
Appreciate Doubt and Shame
For every negative comment uttered to my daughter about her hair, there are ten times as many positive ones, at the very least. People stop us in the street to remark on how beautiful her precious locks are. But I know well enough, it’s the negative comments that sink in the most.
As I watch my little girl, so perfect in her mama’s eyes, I want nothing more than to shield her from life’s painful messages and feelings. If I could grant her a lifetime without doubt, shame or insecurity, I would. But it’s not possible. And the truth is, I’d be doing her a disservice.
Learning how to handle hurtful words and painful feelings is part of our journey. Part of what helps us learn the value of compassion and empathy. Part of our climb towards resiliency. And for my little girl to grow strong, it will need to be part of hers.
Find Your Heroes
My daughter is blessed with the most amazing, loving and nurturing teachers at her school. I knew I needed more help with this issue, so I confided in them. They were so happy I told them, and said they’d do something to help.
When I picked my daughter up later that day, her teacher whispered to me that they did a special lesson on how we’re all different and beautiful in our own unique ways. And when I dropped her off at school the next morning, her other teacher, of mixed descent, who always straightens her hair, wore it out curly for the first time. She told my daughter she made her hair curly to try and make it look as beautiful as hers.
I wanted to hug this wonderful woman and tell her what an amazing teacher she is for caring so much and for going the extra mile. I wanted to tell her how much gratitude I felt for her kindness. But to remain discreet in my daughter’s presence, I simply placed my hand on my heart and mouthed “thank you.”
Thank you to all the wonderful teachers in this world, who spread messages of positivity and acceptance. Thank you to all the kind souls who search for words of encouragement, instead of words of shame. Thank you to all the everyday heroes who take small, often unnoticed, actions to protect and nurture the vulnerable hearts and minds placed in our care.
Broaden Your Perspective
We are influenced by so many people and things in our world. It’s up to us to choose who we allow to influence us the most.
In my daughter’s world, I’ve decided to replace some of the fairytale books we read at night with books written for children of mixed descent. Books about different kinds of hair, and what it means to embrace our differences.
As we were reading the other night, she told me that she loved one of the character’s curly hair. I told her that the character’s hair looked just like hers, to which she replied:
“Yeah,” sounding a bit surprised. “Mama? Maybe Audrey wishes she had curly hair just like mine.”
“Maybe, baby. Maybe.”
Embrace Your Inner Child
We all face our own set of demons; our own insecurities that take a hold of our lives and steal away way too much of our attention.
As we battle those insecurities, it helps to think of the inner child within us. The innocent, vulnerable and impressionable child that deserves nothing but positivity, encouragement and acceptance. The inner child that deserves our unconditional love and healing embrace.
As I’ve watched things unfold for my daughter, I’ve felt a softer spot for my own perceived imperfections. A knowing that I too am deserving of the kind of love I give to my daughters everyday.
I may not always be able to find the perfect words, but I can try to give my little girl the right tools. The tools to respond to all that life will throw her way.
So when given a choice, she’ll choose to focus on the words that nurture her strengths, instead of the ones that dim her light.
She’ll chose the role models that teach love and acceptance, instead of ridicule and shame.
She’ll choose to believe in all that she is, instead of all that she isn’t.
And she’ll rock her big, wild, beautiful curly hair, like only she can.
For all those who struggle with loving their own inner child,
I leave you with these final words:
You cannot choose the words others say to you,
but you can choose the weight you give to those words.
You cannot choose the physical characteristics you were born with,
but you can choose to rock what you’ve got.
You cannot choose to erase your past choices or mistakes,
but you can choose to learn from them and move forward.
You can choose to love your inner child unconditionally,
instead of letting that love be determined by your worst critic.
You can choose to focus on your growing resiliency,
instead of your shame and regret.
You can choose to let your life be directed by all that you are,
instead of all that you are not.
And always know that there is someone out there,
who thinks your soul is so beautiful… the most beautiful they’ve ever seen.
If you know anyone who struggles with self-acceptance, please share this message with them.
What has helped you to soothe your insecurities?
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
The silent promise I give to my little girls.
Their emotions are so delicate. Their tears so easily triggered.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
I told my three-year old daughter as we stood outside the car in her school parking lot, the rain pouring down on us as she sobbed breathlessly in my arms.
She didn’t want to go in the car. She just wanted me to stand there, holding her. And I didn’t want to rush her, or tell her to stop crying.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
I thought as I longed for her to feel what it’s like to have her emotions honored, regardless of what triggered them.
Allowing for her to cry until she determined she was done, instead of trying to determine it for her.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
My mind whispers to them daily. Silently praying that through the honoring of both their tears and their joys, I empower their generous and vulnerable hearts.
Desperate for them to know that no matter how much they hurt, how much they feel or how much they reveal, they are loved, unconditionally.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
Is what I want to tell myself when time feels constantly lacking and the world of a working mother moves at a speed faster than I can fathom.
Always searching for the simple moments when time seems to stop and I’m able to create the most delicate memories.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
Are the words I wish we all could hear when we’re feeling shamed, lonely or dismissed.
Aching for belonging, understanding and purpose. Allowing for our hearts to fully feel and heal before we’re forced to move forward.
“I’ll hold you for as long as it takes.”
Are the words I longed to hear whenever I felt like the world around me was precarious and untrustworthy.
And whenever I felt like the world within me was as fragile and breakable as a child’s delicate heart.
Comforting arms. Love that grounds us. Work that envelopes us.
A life full of moments we can savor, instead of to-dos and empty status updates. Relationships full of comfort and understanding, instead of judgement and shame. Perspectives full of possibility, instead of fear and doubt.
We’re taught the importance of always moving forward, for valid reasons of course. But what about the importance of pausing and holding on.
Holding on to the words, to the imagery, to the emotions that need to be fully felt for us to heal.
Holding on to moments where life feels like magic, never truly knowing if we’ll get another.
Holding on to the child, or the friend, or the spouse who simply needs our full presence.
When I find myself lost in worrying about the future and my husband offers me solutions, I ask him to just hold me instead and tell me all will be okay. It’s in the embrace, not the planning, that I find the security I long for.
And it’s in that holding on, that I heal and change my perspective to one of hope and possibility.
Sometimes pausing and holding on is exactly what allows our greatest leaps forward.
In the work I do, I review and edit countless motivational articles. Many brilliant and moving. But I jump from one to the next, as the job demands.
Sometimes I read something inspirational online or in a book, jumping from one paragraph to the next, knowing how little time I have to devote to any one thing.
But what I really want is to slow down. I want to cherish the words I read and let them envelop me. I want them to call forth my tears as the emotions they trigger work through me. I want them to hold me for as long as it takes to heal the patches in my soul.
I don’t want to rush, I want to feel.
I don’t want to find a solution, I want understanding.
I don’t want to move on to the next thing, I want to move deeper within.
However deep the passage. However strong the message. However difficult the emotions.
However long it takes, is sometimes exactly how long we should hold on.
It takes a will of steel to get through some of the challenges life brings us without losing ourselves.
Without crumbling or allowing our worst selves to surface.
A will of steel to stay whole when you feel trampled on. To stay calm when your nerves are flaming. To shine outwardly when you’re stuck deep within.
As I go through the long hectic days of raising two young kids, while balancing a job I’m fortunate enough to get to do from home, I have to constantly channel that will. Not always perfectly succeeding, but imperfectly giving it my all.
It’s that will that pushes me to try and show up as my best, when exhaustion wants to bring out my worst.
To smile, despite my tired eyes. To brighten, when all they want to do is dance.
It’s that will that calls for me to hold them, for as long as it takes, even in the pouring rain…
The Power of Our Silent Promises
It’s the silent promises we make to ourselves and others that shape our world.
The silent promises that keep our actions aligned with our values. That push us to stay loving even when our worst would be more than understandable.
To create those promises, we need to pause and hold on.
Hold on to the emotions we need to fully feel before moving forward. Hold on to the words that seep into our souls and heal our patches. Hold on to the vision of what life would feel like if we continually honored those promises.
I will never be able to give my little girls all that they deserve. Their magic exceeds the bounds of my humanness.
But I can give them my silent promises and hope that those promises always lure my best self forward.
And so for now, I promise to hold them, for as long as it takes, and I pray that’s all they really need.
We all have times in our life when we feel utterly disempowered.
Weak, unimportant, inferior.
A snide remark from a stranger. A friend’s betrayal. A family member who could never love you as you wished they would. Or worse – abuse, neglect, abandonment…
We feel powerless and unworthy. Shamed and betrayed. Unlovable.
We cut deeply and carry those wounds with us. Constantly injuring our future with our past.
We brace for the next assault, instead of opening up to possibility. We hide who we are, instead of living a fully expressed life. We carry shame as our companion, instead of self-compassion.
If only we were given tools to release our shame and empower ourselves, no matter what emotional assaults we were forced to bear. Instead we go through life putting the pieces together slowly on our own, hoping to find healing, but sometimes never succeeding.
Perhaps the tools don’t need to be as complicated as we might imagine. Perhaps they could be simple daily reminders.
For anyone feeling ‘less than,’ here are five things to tell yourself whenever you need to feel empowered:
1. “I will use my pain as a catalyst for growth.”
Emotional pain is inevitable, it comes fully attached to our humanity. We can’t completely avoid it, but we can decide what we do with it.
No matter what you’ve struggled through in the past, you can empower yourself by choosing the lessons you learn from it.
How can you take your pain and use it to love more openly, instead of withdrawing?
How can you use it to break bad patterns, instead of repeating them?
How can you use it to help others, instead of feeling helpless?
Our struggles define and shape us. But we choose the form we mold into.
Empower yourself by using your pain as a catalyst for growth, depth and expansion.
2. “I am in full control of my thoughts and actions.”
We can’t always control what happens to us in life. We can’t change how others treat us, avoid loss or solve all our day-to-day problems in an instant.
But we can always pause and mindfully take control of our inner dialogue and the way we respond to what life throws at us.
This takes practice, perseverance and an endless amount of patience with ourselves and others. It takes an iron will. But it is possible.
Life can bring you to your knees. But even then, your thoughts and actions remain totally in your control. No one can take that from you.
When we forget this, we aggressively react to life and snowball down an emotionally slippery slope where we find ourselves completely out of control.
It can feel like life controls us, instead of the other way around.
When this starts to happen, remind yourself that you are in full control. You can envision the best version of yourself, and strive to choose the thoughts, responses and actions that live up to that vision.
3. “I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy.”
If there’s something you want in life, whether it’s a loving relationship, a better work environment, or perhaps forgiveness, always remind yourself that you are worthy.
If you don’t believe in that fundamental truth, what you long for may continually elude you.
No matter what you’ve experienced or what mistakes you’ve made along the way, you are worthy of a new beginning.
Your forgiving heart, your compassionate soul, your humanity, all make you worthy.
Worthy of the love, worthy of belonging, worthy of achievement, worthy of a second chance, or perhaps a third.
Believe that you are worthy and you will open your heart to possibility.
Believe that you are worthy and you will subconsciously walk in the direction you’re longing for.
Believe that you are worthy and you will find that your life aligns with the feelings you’ve craved all along.
4. “Everyday is a new beginning.”
When we feel like less than we are, we make a lot of mistakes. We doubt our instincts, do things we regret, don’t do things we wish we had.
And so we make mistakes in our relationships, in our career, in everything. And then we beat ourselves up, endlessly.
Forgive yourself. It’s not your fault – you are an imperfect human being, just like the rest of us.
We are all bound to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes will completely shatter us and take time to heal. They can’t be undone but they can strengthen the paths we follow next.
If your heart is in the right place, what matters most is what you learn from your mistakes. How can you use them to do better, love more fully, help others more selflessly?
We can’t change what has been done, but we can change every single step we take forward from there and start fresh each day with a stronger, wiser and more empowered beginning.
5. “I have the power to impact the world.”
I firmly believe that if you positively impact one person’s life, you impact the world. You never know where the ripple effect of any one small action will end.
The friend who pushes you to your potential. The teacher who never gives up on their struggling student. The mother who teaches her child the value of compassion. The ripple effects can be world changing.
No matter what you’ve experienced in life, you have that power.
We think our struggles rob us of our might, but the opposite is true. It is our struggles that equip us with the tools we need to leave the greatest impact on others and the world around us.
So whenever you’re feeling disempowered, remember that the power to change the world lies within you.
You Can Live an Empowered Life
You don’t have to go through life feeling like you’re powerless. You can live a fully expressed life that’s full of possibility.
But when feelings of inferiority or lack creep in, as they inevitably do, constantly remind yourself of the above. Then find the lessons you need to learn and create your new beginning.
Before you know it, you will never again think to question your worth.
What helps you to feel empowered?
Most of us grow up learning the wrong messages about sensitivity.
And so we spend large parts of our lives trying to “handle” it and work around it, instead of thriving within it.
In doing so, we steal something from ourselves. Our confidence, our softness, our graceful power, our ability to feel fully alive.
And so we live within emotional prisons of our own making. Trying to fit a norm instead of living authentically to who we are.
With that can come regrets. And while there’s nothing we can do to change the past, we can be mindful of how we want to live now, and the regrets we want to avoid.
Below are five regrets all sensitive souls should avoid from this day forward:
1. Not Protecting Your Softness
In my eyes, softness is something to aspire to.
When my daughter cries so hard she can hardly breathe, it’s my softness that gently embraces her, honors her emotions and helps her to release them, free of shame or judgment.
When my husband lets down his guard and shares his inner struggles with me, it’s his soft side that I see and find the deepest connection with.
When my friends see through my sleepless exhausted early motherhood eyes and know that the real me is still in there, it’s their softness that allows them hold a patient spot for me in their hearts.
When I lose my patience, snap, and feel nothing but bitterness, I know I’ve deviated from the softness that I long for and long to give. And I try to find my way back.
The chips on our shoulder, the agendas we place on others, the harshness we inflict, those are all deviations from love. They make the world feel bleak and scary.
Yet it’s our softness that we often view as the culprit. We’re not tough enough. Our skin isn’t thick enough. Our voice isn’t loud enough.
Act tough and hard, never soft.
Respectfully, I disagree. Find your softness. Honor it. Protect it. And share it with others.
2. Believing There’s Something Wrong With You
Almost every email I receive from readers, starts with the following words:
“For most of my life, I believed there was something fundamentally wrong with me.”
Life is so short, but this is the feeling so many of us carry around in our hearts.
We go through life believing that we are broken, damaged and unworthy. And so we spend so much time trying to hide ourselves, trying to fit in, trying to simply keep the peace.
We apologize for our feelings, for getting in the way, for being reactive. For our very existence.
It’s such a shame.
For each person who has gone through life carrying this empty feeling in their heart, I honor you. And I ask that you let this feeling go.
There is nothing wrong with you simply because you feel deeply, quite the contrary. You will find so much more joy within yourself, and give so much more to the world, once you stop telling yourself this story and instead start focusing on your strengths.
3. Not Trusting Yourself
When we live our lives trying to fit a norm, instead of embracing who we really are, we lose trust in ourselves. Subconsciously, we begin to doubt our every feeling. As a result, we often end up allowing things into our life that we shouldn’t.
We stay in bad relationships, we put up with things that hurt us, we pursue careers that aren’t meant for us.
I know I did.
I allowed so many things in my life that I shouldn’t have, for the simple reason that I didn’t trust myself.
I didn’t believe in my capabilities. I didn’t listen to my intuition. I didn’t love myself enough to set boundaries.
And so I didn’t follow the paths that called to me. I tolerated things I shouldn’t have. I didn’t ask for help when I desperately needed it.
Now, I choose to trust myself. When people tell me to go back to being a corporate lawyer so I can make the big bucks, I stop them and tell them that I choose to live in alignment with my authentic self, even if that means less money.
When relationships come into my life that feel suffocating and toxic, I ease away from them.
And, perhaps the hardest thing for me of all, when I’m completely overwhelmed by all that life is demanding of me, I ask for help.
The more you trust and honor yourself, the better you’ll craft a life that suits your unique feelings, desires and needs.
4. Letting Worry and Guilt Consume You
As sensitive souls, we worry so much about our emotional footprint. Did we say the wrong thing? Do the wrong thing? Act the wrong way?
Just when I think I’ve come so far with treating myself well, close friends will point out how harshly I’m actually addressing myself and my perceived errors. It’s only when they reflect my words back to me that the reality becomes clear.
We all make mistakes. We all have to live and learn. But to make mistakes and then beat yourself up endlessly for them, is a rough way of living.
You can choose to obsess over your perceived errors, or you can choose to live. You can choose to treat yourself horribly, or you can choose to treat yourself with the forgiving and graceful heart you give to others.
These aren’t choices you make once, you make them over and over again every time you begin to feel consumed by thoughts of your missteps.
Sensitive people can be zones of comfort for others, but war zones internally.
End the war, show yourself the compassion you share so generously with others.
5. Not Finding Joy in All the Feelings
There is joy in the tears. Joy in the struggles. Joy in all the ups and downs.
As I go through early motherhood, I constantly face the choice – do I feel the joy or do I only feel the struggle?
The last year with two little ones while juggling a new career has quite possibly been the hardest year of my life. But it’s also been the best year of my life. And when I’m being consumed by chaos and sleep deprivation, I have to constantly look for the joy. Because it’s there. It’s always there when you look for it.
Things don’t have to be perfect to feel happy. Perfect never comes. It’s up to us to find happiness within the imperfections. Within the chaos. Within the roller coaster of heightened emotions. Within the tough lessons.
I’m learning to find joy in my exhaustion, because I know I’m fully living. Joy in my longings, because they lure me forward when I’m too tired to think. Joy in my anguish, because the lessons I learn will guide my life.
And when my little girls look at me, I want them to see the mama who finds joy in every moment, no matter how hard life can get. And so no matter what, I’ll keep looking for it.
A Life Without Regrets?
We may not be able to avoid all regrets, but some of them are within our control.
Our belief in ourselves, our softness, our happiness, we’ve probably all given those away, or had them taken, at some point in our lives.
But every day is a new beginning. We can choose a new path.
A path that honors our sensitive emotions, with no regrets.