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It’s You Girl and You Should Know It!

Sometimes we find ourselves stumbling down the streets in such a hurry that life seems to stream by at break-neck speed. We run from place to place without care or concern that we are losing sight of whom and what we really are. There doesn’t seem to be a moment to breathe. You know…we do this to ourselves. We choose it.

I’m an 80s woman. When I need a bit of encouragement, I pull out my entourage of fierce girls. Joan Jett has always been one of my favorites. Joan Jett’s public persona was always one of strength and endurance. In my entourage of fierce girls, Joan Jett stands right between Janis Joplin and P!nk.

There were many nights in the 80s when I hung out with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts -figuratively. I was ecstatic when my cousin invited me to the Joan Jett concert at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot. I was fourteen at the time. I jammed and played air guitar with the best of them. I screamed my heart out that night. It was awesome. I felt on top of the world!

Fast forward to a few years ago. I was in a time of transformation. I wasn’t sure which direction I was going to go and life was taking some interesting turns. And who should walk out of the shadows of the past? That’s right! Joan Jett! She was playing live at the Fargo Ribfest a few blocks from where I had lived. She hadn’t changed a bit, except for a minor hair style change, but I was beyond excited! I had forgotten what it was like to be that excited about anything.

Joan Jett performed “Love is All Around” at that concert, and that was when I realized, yeah, I am that girl. I could take a nothing day and make it all seem worthwhile. I could make it on my own, even if I was all alone.

Happy Sunday to all the fierce women out there! Remember, “It’s you girl and you should know it!” You got this!

You Don’t Live There Anymore

We have all done it, and some of us still occasionally do. We live our lives looking out the rear window, while we watch the ever lengthening road of yesteryear disappear in the distance. Our eyes strain to see all the milestone moments of success, or fixate on those we considered failures, or places we feel we made a wrong turn.

We begin to obsess over the “would’ve beens”, “could’ve beens”, or “should’ve beens”. If I had only said this or that. If I hadn’t done one thing or another. Or even, what if I had done it. All the possibilities of a life unlived appear as shadows in the mist.

The fact of the matter is the past no longer exists. There is nothing there to see, but shadows of all the once was. It can’t be changed, no matter how much we might engage in such wishful thinking. The most difficult part of the journey is acceptance; accepting that we don’t live there anymore.

Our current place of residence, or stop on the road of life, is the here and now; this present moment. The only useful thing to do is to look in the mirror and accept what we see as the all of everything that is. It doesn’t matter if you are twenty-something or eighty-something or greater in years than even eighty; you are at your starting point.

For many years, I sat across the desk from the desperate. I would listen to their stories of how they came to be where they are. Some were tragic. Some were stories of youthful, and not so youthful, missteps. Some were stories of heartache and grief. Nonetheless, not one of their stories could be changed.

Each of them, in spite of their pasts, had to come to the realization that the only thing they could control was the moment in which they lived. What would they do next to reach a greater level of satisfaction in life? The only thing I could do was guide them along the explorations of what might yet be. We worked out needs, wants, desires, passions and hopes for better days.

Some followed through on their goals and missions in life, others fell along the wayside; a few of them even died. The one thing that made the difference for those who successfully created new lives was acceptance. They no longer lived in the past. They kept their eyes on the goal ahead and made each cautious baby step until they were confident enough to take life in greater strides.

I’ll never say the road is easy. It certainly hasn’t been for me. But, the one thing I do know is the road of life only travels in one direction – forward. 

Give Yourself What You Need

The choices we make determine the sum total of our lives. We all experience events that are out of our control, but our reaction to them is well within our control. In fact, we are the only ones who can choose our reactions.

When bad things happen, we tend to throw ourselves a pity party, and invite everyone we know to attend. We even indirectly invite people we don’t know, via the internet, when the festivities reach their peak. The pity party, in and of itself, is to be expected. It’s part of the grief process. But, as with all parties, the pity party isn’t meant to last a lifetime.

Some things to consider:

  • People don’t like being constantly inundated with negative statements;
  • People will be sympathetic and empathetic for a finite time;
  • People expect that you will begin to make choices of change.

I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, that’s cold, harsh, mean, and even somewhat cruel. Perhaps, you are even envisioning me as being akin to Meryl Streep in The Devil wears Prada. However,

More things to consider:

  • Most people don’t want to be in the position of an enabler;
  • Most people do want the best for others;
  • Most people don’t enjoy attending life-long pity parties.
Are your co-workers having lunch without you? Are the people in your circle of friends beginning to avoid you? Taking longer to respond to texts? No one is listening to your diatribes of the unfairness of life and how the world is against you? 
 
No one will spend an eternity feeling sorry for you; in fact many won’t feel sorry for you at all. Sure, they will be compassionate and empathetic, but their support will only last for so long, before they become exhausted. That’s when they will begin to migrate away from you, as quickly as they can.

Letting it Go

If it’s too much for you to handle, seek professional help. Just because you are overwhelmed by a life event, doesn’t mean you are crazy. It means your mental health is more important to you than a stigma attached to the counselor’s office. Gaining perspective through talk therapy is a far better alternative than lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, participating in negative self-talk. (Disclaimer: Crazy is an ugly word, and should not be applied to anyone with mental health diagnoses.)
 
Remember that whatever happened is in the past, and you don’t live there anymore. You live in the here and now, where every new day is an opportunity to make things different. The rising of the sun heralds in the better not the bitter.
 
Letting it go; whatever “it” is, is a process. Each person goes through the process in their own way, at their own pace. The point where others become frustrated is when the process stops, and they know it has stopped. They see you lying there in the basement of your soul, refusing to get up and try.
 
As long as you are trying, people will support you, and help you in whatever you need. But, if you are complaining for the sake of complaining, they will see it as an invitation to a pity party, which they will politely decline, and some will decline in a not so polite manner; and some won’t respond at all.
 
Create goals for creating better. Write them down on paper. Look at them every day. Take action every day to take a step toward accomplishing one of the goals. It has been scientifically proven that crossing an item off a list after completion releases the “feel goods” of our emotional world.
 
Don’t use the internet as a replacement for real life. The internet is filled with pity parties. The more you attend, the more you become comfortable in your own. The more you become comfortable, the less real life interactions that you have with people. We are social creatures by nature. We need real life interaction to feel good and mentally strong. The internet is great for support groups to an extent, but make sure you are getting support, and not attending someone else’s pity party.
 
So, go ahead and feel sorry for yourself, no one else will. Give yourself what you need, and then let it go.

Accessing the Right Help

Creating positive change in a person’s life often requires seeking help in the process, but how does one know which is the right help? 

Let’s be clear about something from the beginning: 

THERE IS NO GRAY AREA BETWEEN COACHING AND THERAPY.

Coaches are not allowed to provide therapy unless they are a licensed therapist. It is illegal, unethical, definitely inappropriate, and in most cases dangerous to the client’s overall sense of well-being.

At Butterfly Phoenix Coaching, we serve those who are out of the Chrysalis; ready to take the leap and spread their wings and fly.

The Chrysalis: The time to choose a therapist.

Your mental health is nothing to trifle with. It really can be a matter of life and death. If you are experiencing any of the following examples, the right choice is a therapist or other mental health provider: 

Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, PTSD, a mental health diagnosis, overpowering or overwhelming emotions, addictive behaviors, or toxic stress. 

When you are in the darkness of the Chrysalis, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to make successful, significant life changes. You know you are in the Chrysalis if you are feeling overwhelmed with life events, or trapped, or unable to manage your day-to-day life. The Chrysalis is where we make changes on the inside that transform us at the core of our being. Coaches are not equipped, and lack the capacity to be helpful in this area – unless they are also a licensed therapist.

The Butterfly: The time to choose a coach.

Coaches have the best capacity to work with individuals who are experiencing the desire to make changes in their life. Maybe those changes are personal or professional goals. In either case, you must be in a space where you feel strong and capable of following through with coordinated action-steps that lead you to where you want to be in your life.

A good life coach leads from behind. They work with you to design a plan that is realistic and obtainable, and then assist you every step of the way. They help you to celebrate the successes, and re-evaluate what isn’t working.

Sometimes, you have to spend time nurturing the inside and growing strong physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, before you can expect to succeed in any major life change that you want to make. It’s the “you have to build the foundation, before you can build the house” sort of deal. If you are out of balance in any of the four dimensions of being, you need to take a moment to practice the pause and ask yourself honestly: Do I need a therapist, or do I need a coach.

Choose the answer that is most honest to you.