Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Setting Boundaries

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I hear it all the time. Over and over. From my friends, from my family, and from my clients.

"How do I just say NO?"

"How do I get my ex-wife to stop calling me?"

"How do I get my mother to stop meddling in my life?"

Ugh! Relationships! They are tough - aren't they? But when I think about the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, it makes me realize - the ball is in my court. I may not be able to control them and how they act towards me, but I can control my reactions towards them.

Its all about setting boundaries. Its the ultimate act of self-love when you recognize your own limits - what you can and cannot tolerate, and honor yourself by setting limits and sticking to them. Learning to set boundaries is learning to be a good friend to yourself. Don't you teach your children what good and bad is, and when someone makes them feel bad, its not acceptable? Then why do you tolerate bad behavior for yourself?

Now, I am not saying to turn a cold shoulder on the world, or stop answering the phone - that is not realistic. But there are ways to deal with difficult people, and keep your sanity.

The first step is to realize that nobody makes you do anything, but you. In other words - when you think "UGH! He makes me so angry!!".... No, he doesn't. YOU make YOU angry. YOU chose to get angry. He may know how to push your buttons, but you still choose your own feelings - no one can choose anger for you. Once you realize that YOU CHOOSE every emotion and reaction you have, then it becomes easier to choose acceptance or forgiveness over frustration.

Setting boundaries is an expression of self-love and care. It should be as important as good food, exercise and sleep. If you are letting someone infringe on your time and step on your values, its no wonder you are stressed, tired and frustrated!

Yet we continue to let people tap our precious resources - our time and energy! Why?

Because we don't want to cause conflict. Its uncomfortable to say no. We like to please people, or we may not want to admit to ourselves that we simply can not "do it all." Unfortunately, we ultimately disappoint ourselves by burning the candle at both ends, or sacrificing personal time and energy for someone else. Sound familiar?

So how do you say no?

  • Just say NO. We all heard it from the Reagan's in the 80's and it still applies today. A firm "Sorry, I can't do this right now" is sufficient enough to get you out of most situations.
  • Take FIVE - If someone is especially persistent say "I will have to get back to you." Let them know you will get back to them (and give them a time frame) and then you can decline with an email or a quick phone call letting the person know your schedule is just too full.
  • Deal, or no deal - If you would like to do what they are asking, but do not have the time or resources to do it on their terms, try the "I would love the opportunity, but can we ... " You never know, your suggestion may be something the person hadn't thought of and it works for everyone.
Remember - YOU choose what's acceptable in your life. You choose your limits.

I had a client try this technique for the first time several weeks ago. She works in a very busy office that is very demanding. She is now finding herself not only doing her own job, but also the job of someone she will be training. The demands that were being placed on her were overwhelming, and she was coming home each night to sheer exhaustion and frustration.

The following week, she called me and when I asked her how she was making progress on setting boundaries, she said "You won't believe it - I just said "I would love to assist on this, but because I am training a new person, its just not going to work in my schedule" and the person said "Ok - I totally understand" They worked out a new compromise, they started a dialogue about the work that had been loaded on her, and she is finding her co-workers and managers to be more cooperative. "I can't believe how easy it was to just say NO."

Another tool I use with clients is the "Absolute YES" list. Spend some time creating a list of situations where its OK for someone to infringe on your time. In the case of my client who had an ex-wife who called on a whim about every little thing, my client wrote on his list things such as "my son", "money", "child-care arrangements"... his list was about 6 items long, and if his ex called about something not on his "YES" list, he asked her if he could contact HER back when he had time to discuss the situation. Now the ball was in his court. He kept his promise and called her back at the exact time he told her - he was in control of the situation. Because he had cleared the time and space to deal with her, he found he didn't get as frustrated, his energy stayed up, and was able to have a decent conversation with her. He set boundaries for himself, and was better able to deal with frustrating situations, creating a more cohesive environment for their son.

Is there a situation or person that is demanding of your time or energy? There are solutions, and I can help. Feel free to call me or email me about the situation, I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Open Doors

I subscribed to the Daily OM at least a couple years ago, and I get their newsletter daily. I've always enjoyed the content, and it adds a boost to my day. Admittedly, I don' t always read it the day it comes in, and sometimes end up reading a weeks worth while drinking my coffee on a weekend.

This post stood out to me, I hope you enjoy it..

July 9, 2009
Walking Through
When Doors Open

When a door opens, walk through it. Trust that the door has opened for a reason and you have been guided to it. Sometimes we have a tendency to over analyze or agonize over the decision, but it is quicker to simply go through the door and discover what’s there as that’s the only way to know. Even if it doesn’t seem right at first, opening this door may lead to another door that will take us where we need to go.

Doors open when the time is right for us to enter a new space, metaphorically speaking, and we can have faith that walking through is the right thing to do. Sometimes we linger in the threshold because we are afraid of leaving our old life for a life we know nothing about. We may have voices inside of our heads that try to hold us back or people in our lives saying discouraging things. These voices, internal and external, are known as threshold spirits, and they express all the fears and doubts that arise at the beginning of a new life. Nevertheless, none of these voices can hold us back, and they will fall silent as soon as we cross the threshold.

There are many doors that open in the course of our lives, leading us into new relationships, jobs, friendships, and creative inspirations. Our lives up to this point are the result of all the doors we have walked through, and our continued growth depends on our willingness to keep moving into new spaces. Every time we walk through an open door, we create a sense memory that encourages us to move into the new fearlessly. When we enter the new space, we almost always feel a thrill and a new feeling of confidence, in ourselves and in the universe. We have stepped across the threshold into a new life.


This amazed me because I felt like someone was living in my head when I named my life coaching business, and decided on the purpose of it - to help people go through doors.

I got thinking about the doors I have gone through - and there have been many. I also thought about the doors that were mysteriously opened for me, at what seemed like the most opportune time, as if Destiny were there guiding me. (and for those who knew my dog Destiny - you know that is not just a metaphor)

One time in particular was when my husband announced after 17 years we were through... and he was dating someone else. My heart was shattered. I was frightened. I never had lived on my own before.... but amazingly - just one month before, I had started schooling at iPec and was being trained as a life coach. At first, the voices in my head taunted me - "how can I coach people to live their ideal lives, when mine is falling apart?"... I learned through my coaching curriculum that this was my Gremlin talking, and I learned to talk back to my Gremlin.

"Cecilia," I said, (I named my Gremlin Cecilia) "How do you know that I will fail? What if people who are looking for a life coach are going through what I went through? What if they need strength, compassion and understanding... like I do?" And Cecilia eventually lost her argument with me, and her power. I gathered up my courage, and I left the marriage - I walked away without remorse. I found a quiant little apartment, and my dog and I moved out the very next day.

Trust that the door has opened for a reason and you have been guided to it

Come to find out walking through that door (or rather OUT that door) was the best life decision I ever made. I am happier and more fulfilled as a result... and so is my ex-husband. We both started new lives - lives that we could not have created together, no matter how hard we tried, because believe me, in the seventeen years we were together - we tried. I never realized, until that door was thrust open like that, that I was in need of a new space to grow. I had become a houseplant that had out grown its pot and was root-bound. Now, living on my own has broadened my horizons and given me the space I need to stretch myself and flourish. I trusted the Universe to guide me... and as usual, the Universe knew exactly what I needed.

Doors open when the time is right for us to enter a new space

Another door that flew wide open for me this past year was the door to my ultimate freedom. To many, people view losing their job as a terrible loss - I saw it as an opportunity and as a gift. I had started up my coaching practice and was dabbling in it part time. I knew it was my purpose and passion to coach people - I was called to it, but I was afraid to let go of my corporate job. It was comfortable. It provided steady income and benefits. I knew how to do it, and I did it well. I was most definitely afraid to leave my old life to do something new. But in January, the Universe opened another door for me, and the company cut back dozens of positions - mine included. But because of the doors in my past that I had walked through and discovered new joys on the other side, I walked through this one with confidence that the Universe provides, and I will be great. Now I have all the time I ever wanted to dedicate to my coaching practice full time, I have gained wonderful clients, friends and connections as a result - and I am still flourishing in my new space. Once again, I had grown root-bound, and I needed more space to grow and be abundant.

So that is why I named my coaching practice "Open Door Life Coaching"... because everyone has doors that are opened - sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes because you are guided to them, sometimes because you were searching for them. But they are there all the same. And walking through them can be scary, and once you are on the other side, it can be overwhelming.

Because of my personal and professional experiences, I am ready to be your guide. If you are wondering where the open doors are, I can help you find them. If you are standing on the threshold afraid of whats on the other side, or unable to let go of what you are familiar with, I can take your hand and help you through. Don't live another day root-bound, choked out, and under nourished. I want everyone to experience what I have experienced - a richer, fuller life that is spacious, abundant and beautiful - on the other side of the door. Give yourself the space to grow.

Live Your Dreams, Inside - OUT

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Walking the Talk

One of the Oaths I take as a Life Coach is to "Walk the Talk"... sometimes I struggle with it, but hey, I am not coaching Jesus here. I am coaching real people with real issues... therefore, "walking the talk" to me means "keeping it real".

It has rained for 26 days out of 30 in the month of June. And even though most people are trying to keep a sense of humor about it - its effecting everyone. Kids are bored, tourists are at bay, and energy is low because we are deficient on vitamin D.

Its hard to "walk the talk" when its gloomy and depressing outside. Its hard to be upbeat and energetic and continue to move forward in goals. Therapists are reporting a spike in new clients, and I have to admit, interest to my website, facebook account and inquiries are up for me as well. I met with Rick Snow from Maine Indoor Karting and he is reporting having a banner year due to all the rain - so there is GOOD happening as a result of the summer wash outs - we just have to look for it!

We've heard all the famous quotes - "Every cloud has a silver lining", or one of my favorites "to have a rainbow, you have to put up with a little rain" ~ Dolly Pardon

Does it help to repeat cliche quotes when you are truly suffering and having a hard time dealing in tough situations? Sometimes - yes, it does. Why sometimes? Well, its my true belief that unless there is action connected to a saying... it doesn't carry much power.

So lets take the "Every cloud has a silver lining" phrase. We've been seeing alot of clouds lately. Where is the silver lining? What good has the rain created? I just gave Rick Snow as an example - his sales are up as a result of nasty weather. What else? Maybe you've been reading more than ever. Maybe you've discovered beauty in the rain drops, or that running in the rain is exhilarating. If you are like most Mainers, you are saving money on your water bill because you don't have to water your lawn, and think about the money you are saving on sunscreen!

Now - I am not saying to skip around and pretend that everything is fantastic. Remember - part of my own "Walking the Talk" is "Keeping it Real". I have some real issues about this rain. I have parents who are farmers who are watching their crops mold in the fields. I have friends in the lawn care business who are struggling to "make hay while the sun shines".... hello? the sun hasn't shined in a month! I have small annoyances like the chore of taking my laundry to laundromat because I do not have a clothes dryer and rely on the summer sun to dry my clothes. There are very real reasons to be down about the rain.... but positive affirmations are about two things - choice, and action.

You can choose to walk around glum about the weather. You can get angry. You can decide you've had enough and get out of town for a while. You have choices about what you can do. How do you want to represent yourself? What kind of person do you want to be as a result of hard times? Do you want to the the gloomy nay-sayer - or do you want to be the person who is still encouraging, creative, and enlightening.

I'm not saying this is easy. If you are in a business that depends on good weather to bring in the money - your pain and frustration is understandable. But what kind of business person do you want to be remembered as during stormy times - the one who folds and throws in the cards? Or the one who works with the hand your dealt and makes the best out of a poor situation?

Its your choice. Walk the talk. Keep it Real.... and doing a sun dance might not hurt either.

Live Your Dreams, Inside - OUT!