I was recently contacted by the moderator of LoveEvolveandThrive.com to write about how to attract healthy love. Many therapists, counselors and coaches contributed, and you can find my take on the subject by scrolling down to entry #18. In it, I write about Challenging Your Fears of Showing Your True Self as a gateway to attracting a healthy relationship. To read the article, click here. Let me know your thoughts and what has worked for you!
My latest guest contribution to the personaldevelopementcafe.com website offered tips on how to stop worrying about what others think. Although it may be natural, and even healthy, to consider the impact our actions may have on others, we can limit our own self-expression if we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by worrying about what others think. Check out entry #8 at the following link to learn more.
How to Stop Worrying About What Others Think About You
What do you do to stop worrying about how others view you?
You'd think it'd be easy to be your authentic self, wouldn't you? Just let your true essence shine through, right? If only it were so simple. Our fears come into play and stop us in our tracks. What if I'm rejected? What if they don't like the real me?
Click the link below for some tips on how to live more authentically. My contribution is #2!
How To Be Your Authentic Self
I just finished Janet Mock's fantastic memoir "Redefining Realness," in which she includes the above quote from Audre Lorde. Ms. Mock uses it in reference to the vulnerability of speaking about her journey as a transgender woman and the strength it's taken to "step out of the silence and come forward fully as my own woman." This concept of finding strength in vulnerability is echoed in Brene Brown's work, such as in her book "Daring Greatly." The idea is that we connect with others on a deeper, more authentic level when we shed our masks and take a risk to show who we truly are. I've found this to be true; in my own life it's the people to whom I "unmask" myself and who do the same with me who are those I consider the closest. In a recent session, a client and I pondered the juxtaposition of the beauty of vulnerability and its connective potential with the need to maintain boundaries and a sense of safety. If we share our full truth indiscriminately, are we safe? Perhaps not from others' judgment, but maybe that doesn't matter so much once we've taken the leap to stand firm in our self-acceptance. This is how I've interpreted the messages from Audre Lorde, Janet Mock, Brene Brown, and others. What are your thoughts? Do you dare greatly? Do you make your vulnerability visible?
PS...click here to find these wonderful books (and others) in my mental health resource list.
Saying "no" can be tough stuff, but here are 14 ideas of how to tackle this issue with grace and integrity. Take a look at my contribution, #10, in this article on the Personal Development Cafe site.
How to Say 'No' Without Feeling Guilty.
Here's another link to an article published on the Personal Development Cafe site. Take a look at #7 to see my contribution: Check in with yourself. How Not To Lose Yourself in a Relationship.
So maybe I'll never have THESE moves...
"The devil's a liar! Don't listen to him! There are angels all around you!"
No, these weren't the words belted out across the pews at a church on a Sunday morning. This was inspiration found in a weekday funk dance class.
I'd decided to try an intriguing new class, CardioFunk, offered at my local gym. Scanning the others in the studio, it was clear that I wasn't going to be the only one relatively new to this style. There's something about dancing that can bring out insecurities and self-consciousness, making an otherwise capable adult feel as vulnerable as a gangly teen at a school formal.
Luckily, the instructor was onto us. Milo had enough experience teaching hip hop to suburbanites to know that we just might be feeling, well, a touch un-cool. That's when he started with the verbal support.
"Don't listen to that voice that's bringing you down. That's the devil and he's a liar! Let loose and dance like you're alone at home."
Milo's words were enthusiastic enough to override the negative thoughts that were threatening to derail our fun. His message was clear: the more you just go for it, the more confident you'll look and feel. I often use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in my counseling work. I know how powerful our thoughts can be in affecting our feelings. Who knew I'd be reminded of a principle of psychology in my morning gym class? Thank you, Milo, for guiding us out of our heads and onto the dance floor.
In his new book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works," Jonah Lehrer explores the artistic genius of renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. "But Ma wasn't always such an expressive performer. In fact, his pursuit of musical emotion began only after a memorable failure. 'I was nineteen and I had worked by butt off,' Ma told The New Yorker in 1989. 'I knew the music inside and out. while sitting there at the concert, playing all the notes correctly, I started to wonder 'Why am I here? What's at stake? Nothing. Not only is the audience bored but I myself am bored.' Perfection is not very communicative.' For Ma, the tedium of the flawless performance taught him that there is often a tradeoff between perfection and expression. 'If you are only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing,' he says. 'You will have missed the point of making music, which is to make people feel something.'"
Lehrer goes on to write that "there is something scary about letting ourselves go. It means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. It means that we will say things we didn't mean to say and express feelings that we can't explain. It means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won't know what we're going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the strings. While this spontaneous method might be frightening, it's also an extremely valuable source of creativity."
Reading Lehrer's words and his description of Yo-Yo Ma's process reminds me of Brene Brown's work with vulnerability. So many of us work hard to keep the walls up around us, to protect us from judgment and shame. Yet when we find the courage to show ourselves and release some control, we are often rewarded with increased connection and expanded creativity.
In her fantastic new book "Daring Greatly," Dr. Brene Brown shares her insight into connection with others:
"When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose our on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It's a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism."
Marnee Reiley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working with couples and individuals in Irvine, Orange County, California.