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What Bruce Jenner’s Interview Taught Me About the Fear of Being Yourself (Read Time: 5 min.)

Bruce JennerI watched Bruce Jenner’s interview on Friday.  While I acknowledge his courage in coming forward and speaking openly, it left me with very mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I can understand why, growing up in the era he did, Bruce would never come forward before now.  I can see how his identity and image  as an Olympian formed, in large part, due to his desire to be something other than his true self.  I can understand the pain he must’ve gone through for all this time.

As a wife and mother, what I don’t understand is why he would involve so many wives and children in a life that was so heavily involved with living a lie.  If I put myself in any of those women’s shoes, while I feel for Bruce and his plight, I’d wonder, “What about my dreams, my desires, the life I wanted with you?  What about the fact that you sold me a dream you KNEW you couldn’t deliver 50, 60 years from now?  What about the fact that you lied to me about who you REALLY were… until we were too deeply involved and connected by children for me to easily extricate myself from the situation?  What about me?”

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Bruce’s decisions and his involvement of others in his suppression of his TRUE self is far more common in relationships than most people think.

Here’s what’s true: Whether it’s about a gender, what you earn, your personality, where you want to live, or what you TRULY want from a relationship, most people are deathly afraid of being themselves… ESPECIALLY in relationships.

Every one of us remembers what the beginning of a marriage looks like: your hair is always done, your breath doesn’t stink, and you don’t fart… and that lasts all of about 5 seconds and, at some point, no matter how much “changing” you try to do, the REAL you always shows up… which leads me to a powerful question that Bruce’s interview inspired:

Why are we so afraid to be our REAL selves?

Here are the answers I’ve come up with so far:

#1- We fear the abandonment and rejection of those we love and, with that, the reality that we’ll never be loved or wanted again.  As far fetched as that sounds, for most of us, being left and never being found is a very REAL fear.  We feel it so deeply that we mold ourselves into the image of people we think our partners want.  We deny who really are and we allow ourselves to play “house” with life so we can be the “good” boys and girls mommy and daddy raised.  Until we believe that we are loving and lovable just as we are, this fear has the power to run our lives and keep us from being who we were born to be.

#2- We fear that the REAL us won’t be worth being in the end.  If you live a lie, you still have the opportunity, at the end of 80 or 90 years, to whimsically say on your death bed, “If only I’d been me…”  If you decide to live your life as YOU, your real self, and life still has its’ shitty moments, you still have bad days, and relationships still end before you want them to, you now have to accept that being the REAL you doesn’t fix all or make everything okay.  What most people don’t realize is that ONLY by being the REAL you can you handle all the shitty parts of life from a solid, strong place.  Your fake self has very little ability to cope and it cracks the moments problems arise.  That’s why you see many people step into their REAL selves in the midst of major life crises (divorces, death, financial disaster).  In those make or break moments, only the REAL self can rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  The fake self can’t do that.

#3- We fear that we’ll let our parents down.  This is a SUPER real one.  Say what you want but that birth tie (whether through childbirth or adoption) is REAL and BINDING.  There’s a part in all of us that wants to live up to (or, in some cases, defy) our parents expectations.  To do that, we change who we are.  We become doctors when we really wanted to be dancers.  We marry the “perfect” person when we really wanted to be with the right one.  We buy that house when we wanted to live in that condo near the beach.  We live nearby when we really want to move far away.  We do all of these things to please the parents who gave us life… all because, on some level, we feel we “owe” them that… which is why so many people wait until their parents die before they launch out and live their TRUE lives.  That’s a mistake on so many levels, ESPECIALLY if you had a young parent.  You’re basically growing up and growing old with mom and dad.  If you’re waiting for them to pass to be your real self, that doesn’t leave you much time.

These 3 are just the cream of the crop reasons why we fear being ourselves.

What can we do about it?

Be courageous like Bruce.

Speak your truth, even if only to yourself.

Begin to live your truth in small and big ways.

Say what needs to be said without debating, defending or arguing your point.

Live from the highest place within you and stop apologizing for doing so.

Leave that crummy marriage (or transform it).

Let go of friends who aren’t really friends.

Create amazing relationships with your children.

Do what you want to do.  Go where you want to go.

Create an exit plan from the job that’s sucking the life out of you.

Let go of the past and every toxic person in it.

Honor your need for alone time and space.

Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do.

Tell your parents who you REALLY are and what you REALLY want and let their opinions be just that: opinions.

Enter ALL relationships being 100% yourself.  That’s the only way to guarantee that you experience the relationship fully and leave it with all integrity if that’s what happens in the end.

Above all else, love yourself and honor who you are by being that 100% of the time.

At the end of the day, you’ve got YOU… and that’s all you need…

Are you ready to uncover your REAL fears?  

Check out my latest book on Amazon and learn how:

–>CLICK HERE TO READ AN EXCERPT<– 

How to Overcome The Fear of Being Too Old For Your Dreams… (Read Time: 5 min.)

miraclesAge… such an arbitrary thing.

What would happen if you didn’t know when you were born?  No birthday, no chronological age, not one mirror in sight to show you the lines or wrinkles of time.  Would you live your life the way you’re living it right now?

I don’t think so…

Aging (at least in the United States) has become this plague of sorts.  Being under 30 is glorified as the mecca of beauty, vitality and momentum.  Being above 40 is seen as the end nearing THE END.  Beyond 60, younger people look at you and think, “Oh, they’re almost done.  Why bother?”  I read all of these posts on LinkedIn by women above the age of 50 who grapple with the reality that they’re almost invisible to most men and definitely dismissed by many women.  I read about the worries, fears and regrets of both men and women who, now well above 40, look back on their lives and wonder where they went wrong.

“This isn’t where I thought I’d be”, they say.

“This isn’t how I thought things would turn out”, they cry.

But wait a second… Turn out?  Your life isn’t even 75% over yet and you’re already in the final scene of the final act.

What is going on here?

Here’s where fear comes in: We spent our twenties rushing to some fairyland called “I’ve arrived” only to get to 30 and realize that there’s no such place.  Then we dashed again at 30 going for “ultimate success” only to get to 40 and realize that what we REALLY want is something TOTALLY different and, by the time we’re 50, we’re either too disillusioned to dream another dream or too tired and beat down by the past to go for something more.  It’s a vicious cycle after a while, a cycle that’s propelled, driven and fed by FEAR… 

Here’s the wake-up call:

Age can no longer be your excuse for not being the miracle you are.

Fear can no longer be the thing that drives you into a frenzy of going after things, people and situations that you really don’t want any way.

Your present-moment condition is not about your age or your missed opportunities.  It is about the decision you are making RIGHT NOW about who you are, what you deserve, and whether you actually can have that.

attitude

It’s your attitude, not your age, that determines both what you go after and what you accept from life.

Will it be harder to change careers, find true love, or create an amazing business after a certain age?  Maybe…

So much of that depends on you and the way you look at and seize opportunities.

Will it be a longer journey to get to where you want to be at an older age?  Never.

The time it takes is the time it takes.  In fact, one of the benefits of no longer being “young and dumb” is that you understand that things take time.  There’s no rushing the process.  At an older age, let’s hope we’re better able to use courageous patience as a means to weather the storms of life and still go after what we want.

Attitude is everything in this aging fear equation.  The better your attitude, the more you enjoy life.  The more you enjoy life, the more present you are to life.  The more present you are to life, the more blessings, gifts and opportunities show up for you BECAUSE you can now see them…

In conclusion, your age is not the thing that’s driving your fear.  Your BELIEFS ABOUT WHAT YOUR AGE MEANS is…

The moment you know that the same miracle that brought you into this world is the same miracle that will help you live miraculously in it is the exact moment that EVERYTHING in your life changes… and it’s your job to keep allowing the changes to unfold.

Einstein has said:

einstein quote

And that’s the way you overcome the fear of being too old for your dreams.

Let me help you out with something:

What’s FOR you is FOR YOU… and it will find a way to you.

You don’t choose your calling.  Your calling chooses you. – Dr. Wayne Dyer

If it’s in you to pursue something, go after it.  Maybe you’ll get there.  Maybe you won’t but one thing’s for sure.  You will always get what is meant for you IF you show up FULLY for it, know that it’s within your grasp to achieve it, and make a CLEAR, UNEQUIVOCAL decision that you will be there UNTIL…

Yes, that takes days, weeks, months, years and decades but you’re going to be there anyway.

Why not take the ride miraculously?

I’d love to hear from you!

What’s one limiting belief about your age that’s been holding you back?

What will you do to transform that belief and shift your fears? 

Leave a comment below!

Did You Miss the Boat on Your Dreams? 3 Ways to Overcome the Fear of Jumping in Too Late… (Read Time: 4 min.)

quittingI’m not in my 20s anymore… Pretty soon, I’ll be at 40… Oh, and I have no fear of aging.  I felt old when I was young so, to me, another birthday means little more than another year wiser (hopefully).

What I have felt fear about is missing the boat… The opportunities, the accolades, the new ventures… Based on the choices I made in my twenties, I sometimes wonder, “If I’d done it differently then, would I be somewhere different now?”

Here’s the answer: Yes…

But that answer’s not going to help me, at 36, get to where I want to be by 40.  In fact, even asking that question is keeping me stuck in a past time, at a past age, doing a past thing that I, today, cannot change.

So what do I do when I find myself wishing for a better past?

3 things:

1) I recognize the fear of it.

2) I find the hope in it.

3) I take the next step through it.

1. Recognize the fear of wishing for a better past.  Sounds simple, right?  Not exactly.  When you’re afraid that you missed opportunities in the past, what you’re really saying is, “I messed up.  I could’ve been here, here or here and, instead, I’m HERE…”  It’s a great, underhanded, super-subtle way to play the victim without you even knowing it.  Rather than tackle the victim story, a good way to approach the fear is by asking, “What are all the things I’m afraid that I missed out on and how can I get to those things in the future?”  Let’s break this down even further.  Pull out a sheet of paper.  Draw a line down the center.  On the left column, write, “What I could’ve achieved by now.”  On the right hand column, write, “What I need to achieve to catch up.”  You know what’s really funny about that exercise?  My answers for both columns were EXACTLY the same, meaning, what I thought I could’ve achieved by now and what I still want to achieve are one in the same.  Clearly, I didn’t miss the boat.  I simply need to catch a speed boat and land myself back on the yacht.  The lesson here is powerful.

You NEVER miss where you’re supposed to be.  

Your dreams don’t die because you turned 30, 40 or 50.  They may be delayed or deferred but they aren’t dead.

2. Find the hope in it.  As long as you’re breathing, you still have a chance to go after and achieve what you want.  Let me back up here for a second.  Certain dreams (there are very few of them that apply to this) have time limits on them.  For women, having babies is one of them.  If you want 10 children, you currently don’t have any, and you aren’t even dating someone AND you’re 36,  let me help you out: you’re running out of time.  Regardless of how the past went, if you’re SUPER serious about this goal, you’ve got to change your strategy, come up with a plan and do your best to get it done.  However, for most other goals, you’ve literally got an entire lifetime to get there (even more lifetimes if you subscribe to the belief in reincarnation).  What decides whether you get to the goal or not is not your age or your financial situation or your level of family support (or lack thereof); it’s your commitment.

Your grit, persistence, and ability to roll with the punches has a lot to do with whether you’ll stay the course or fizzle out.  

So keep your hope because hope fuels commitment.

3. Take the next step through it.  It’s about one foot in front of the other.  Stop planning. Start doing.  Take the next step afraid.  Don’t wait for permission from other people (you won’t get it).  Stop wondering if it’s worth the risk (it usually is) and get over the idea of knowing HOW it’s all going to work out.  You don’t.  That’s why it’s called a risk.  Remember that regret is far worse than wisdom.  No matter how the end game turns out, if you go for what you want, you never lose.  You either win or you learn.  If you don’t go for what you want, you ALWAYS lose.  You end up old, disillusioned, and disappointed with how your life turned out.

And the best part?

In this moment, right now, you get to decide how the story’s going to go.

What life story are you writing for yourself today?

Leave a comment and let’s go after the dream!

history 1

A degree, a baby, and no job: 4 Thoughts on Overcoming Fear and Insecurity (Read time: 4 min.)

dont let fearI nervously moved across the quad.  Unlike most of the other 20-somethings on Tuskegee University’s campus, I was 20 pushing a 1 year old in a stroller.  It was a gorgeous fall day and I was absolutely afraid of what I was about to hear.

Not five months before that moment, at 20 years old, I’d finished my B.A. in Sociology from Vassar College.  Backtrack four years before that and I’d graduated high school early and had started Vassar as a 16 year old who thought she knew it all (what’s that quote about youth being wasted on the young?).

So here I was, 20, married with a baby, a sociology degree from a top notch college… and no job.  I was about to walk into a professor’s office in the College of Business and seek out an answer to a question I’d been pondering for weeks:

Should I get another bachelor’s degree and, this time, in something useful like business?

I hesitated when I got to the entry way of the professor’s office.  While my baby was babbling, fear was creeping into my thoughts:

  1. You were supposed to be so much farther by now.
  2. I told you not to leave pre-med for sociology.
  3. You could be in med school but, instead, you’re a baby raising a baby and you don’t even have a job!
  4. Are you really going to do ANOTHER bachelor’s degree and lose years of your life?

You get the drift of my fear monster and it was raging.

For a second, I thought about turning around, driving myself back to my tiny apartment, crying my eyes out because for a whopping $27,000 a year Ivy league quality education, I’d made the huge mistake of majoring in a degree as useful as pottery making.  For a split second, I wanted to give up, give in, and accept the fact that where I was, in that moment, was exactly where my poor choices said I deserved to be.

And then another thought stepped in:

You don’t get solutions by NOT finding out answers. 

In other words, if I didn’t face my fear and step into this professor’s office and ask the questions I needed answers to, how was I ever going to solve my problem?  I wasn’t.

So I strolled my baby into that office, sat down with Dr. Upchurch and that one conversation changed my life.

I didn’t go get a second bachelor’s degree.  Two years later, I had finished up an MBA and was now a professor (one of the youngest on the entire campus) at the same university I’d strolled my baby into only a few years before.  None of that would’ve happened had I listened to my fear.

So I write all of that to say that fear could’ve stopped me.  Instead, I transformed the insecurity that fear was promoting into the bravery I needed to make a shift in my life… and maybe you’re at one of those crossroads right now.

Here are 4 thoughts on overcoming fear and insecurity:

1. It’s never as bad as fear makes it sound.  

There’s a lot of black and white thinking when you initially assess your fears.  None of that’s true.  Life is a whole lot of gray and way more complicated than your inner critic makes it sound.  Resist the temptation to make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.  Until you’ve transformed your fear, hear it but do not heed it.

2. Your fear can have a say but it doesn’t get a vote.

Repressing or suppressing fear doesn’t work.  The only way to get rid of fear is to transform it into courage.  The transformation requires that you hear your fear out.  You’ve got to experience the fear to alter it.  But hearing the fear and allowing the fear to live through you are two completely different things.  Fear can have a say but it doesn’t get a vote in your life.

3. The thing you fear to do is EXACTLY the thing you MUST do.

Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.  If you run from every obstacle, you miss every opportunity.  The thing you fear isn’t the source of your defeat; it’s the secret weapon behind your success.  See it that way and courage will come quickly.

4. Insecurity provides its own antidote.  

Insecurity remains as long as inaction is the choice you keep making.  The moment you decide to do it afraid is the same moment that insecurity has lost its hold on your life.  Take action at the source of your insecurity and the insecurity goes away.

Think about one decision that you’re afraid to make in your life right now.

What do you think would happen if you faced your fear and made the decision anyway?

How would you handle the outcome (best, base, and worst case scenario)?

Would you still be standing and breathing- even if the worst happen?

What would life look like if you didn’t move forward, stayed right where you are, and spent the next year or so still pondering the decision?

I’d love to read your comments below 🙂