Our Stories

Very early in life we begin learning language and relating to the world in part by making associations; If I cry, mother will come. If I throw a block, everyone will turn toward me. If I take a nap, daddy won’t yell. Etc. These associations, coupled with our observations of the environment are woven into stories we tell ourselves. We come to believe that some of them represent truth.

A mother who goes back to work full time after years in the home may be the foundation for a child’s story that he had been too difficult to care for. An overheard and rather innocuous statement such as “I can’t wait to get back to work!” may be interpreted incorrectly and turned into a tale of unworthiness.

This happens over and over again to individuals and it can be more complicated when we share stories of experiential traumas over time. I was in a conversation not too long ago with three ladies from my family. We had all attended an event more than 20 years ago and yet as we sat there reminiscing, we all had different recollections of how things went down that day. Imagine how that plays out from grandparent to child to grandchild across many generations.

Keep in mind that as stories are told, we tend to color it from our position, our stance; both physically and perceptually. Furthermore, we are apt to wrap it in the emotional envelope of how we experienced it at the time or, how we imagined it to be. I tend to think of the stories that came from Holocaust survivors and their agreed perspective that it was tortuous and horrible yet there were some who found light and others who surrendered to the darkness of it all.

This is one of the intrinsic elements that make us individual human beings.  People raised in the south have heard stories all their lives about their heritage as have people raised in the north, east, and west.  Some of those stories are laden with the hatred their forefathers coveted. Others were woven with hope and perseverance. Some stories fostered helplessness and fractured into positions of surrender. Others defied the cultural climate and pushed boundaries; creating new stories with happier endings.

It’s important to wrap our minds around the fact that we create stories as a way to categorize people, places, and things. These same parameters are applied to conceptual ideas like love, religion, gender, and most anything we think to save for reference. 

If my mom and dad fought all the time, I probably have a story in my head that justifies marital discourse.  If my brother got away with punching me most days, I might tend to think that bullying is normal.  If I am consistently treated unkindly or belittled, the story I weave might leave me feeling unworthy.

All behavior is driven by emotion of some kind.  Emotions are born through our stories. They are neither right or wrong but may definitely be based on a fictional story rather than one of truth. For example – one’s value is never determined by how someone else treats you.

All of this is to help you stop and think about your stories… do they need rewritten? When you see someone behaving poorly, think about what their story might be? What is the underlying motivation for the action or inaction you may be witnessing? What story have they been told or are they telling themselves?

Culture is created and often delineated by these stories. Be curious. Take time to learn. If you are a couple in distress, talk about the stories you grew up with and the ones you tell yourself now.  If you are a family in distress – check the stories and cultural ideology you operate from and talk about the differences. If you are a person in distress, seek these same understandings as they pertain to the space you occupy in the world you live in.

Know your stories and listen for all the rest.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

TTAH

 

You can also listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, orFeedburner

 

 

It’s Hurt People Who Hurt People

It’s always been my intent to foster personal growth, both as a therapist and as the woman I am. It’s a personal passion of mine as well as a daily intention. While the current political and social landscape is inspiring the energy from which I write, my motivation is still to encourage each reader to consider how they might move forward on the road to self-actualization.

People don’t wake up and think “Wow, I’m so happy I think I’ll punch someone.”… No. When someone throws a punch, it is generally because they have just felt fear or insult and their instinct is to fight or fight back. Please understand… it’s HURT people who HURT people.

Let’s define HURT.

Mirriam Webster defines hurt as “to inflict with physical pain” and “to cause emotional pain or anguish”. Some hurt is easy to identify. We can see bruises, broken bones, and blood. Sometimes, we can see emotional pain with tears, downcast eyes, and sorrowful expressions. But often, emotional pain is hidden deeply in the core of our being, in our memories, and in the stories of our lives. These pains are the ones doing the most damage. These pains are the invisible and silent motivators of hurtful behavior. These pains are at the core of hatred.

Recently, Oprah Winfrey started a discussion “Where do we go from here?” I was so happy to hear her begin by saying “we can’t even begin until we acknowledge the hurt and the pain”. 

Please read that again…

When I am helping clients heal a relationship, it is imperative that we begin by acknowledging the past pain.

Acknowledging is not the same as agreeing about the pain’s origin, it is not about determining that someone is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and it is not about turning it around to talk about how much you were hurt. Acknowledging is listening and accepting that each individual had a personally unique experience of that point in time. People may never see eye-to-eye about a painful event as there are always a variety of perspectives but healing cannot begin until people are heard.

When we don’t feel ‘heard’, we seek validation in other areas… 

  • We talk to other people.
  • We project our feelings onto something else.
  • We become demanding.

Or…

  • We give up. 
  • We shut down. 
  • We surrender.

And when that happens… nothing constructive can be attained. When feelings are not addressed, the pain stays rooted in our psyche and becomes the catalyst for our behavior. It’s noticed in resentment, bitterness, defensiveness, passive aggressiveness, and anger. 

The answer is multifaceted with both individual and compassionate components:

  1. KNOW YOUR PAIN. I cannot say this enough. Self awareness and self understanding are central to addressing your behavior.
  2. SELF-MASTERY. Again, I cannot stress this enough. No one – ever – at any time – makes you behave in a particular way. YOU are the master of your behavior; your reaction, at all times.
  3. TAME YOUR REACTIONS. When you develop self-mastery and become proficient, you can tame your reactions so that they don’t escalate into screaming matches or violence.
  4. SHOW COMPASSION. If you’ve done your own work, you’ll immediately notice that aggressive or withdrawal reactions are consequences of pain. Compassion and empathy go a long way in de-escalating heated scenarios.
  5. BE HUMANE. There is never a reason – ever – to treat another human being in a way other than what is globally considered humane

When we truly understand that it’s typically ‘hurt people’ who are lashing out, shutting us down, or denying us… we might find the courage and strength to react from a place of love and compassion – changing the outcome significantly. 

Oprah also spoke about “ [the] collective grief and anger” that has accumulated over generations of pain that has been shared via our stories. Stories play a vital role in our pain and I’ll be discussing that in the next post so stay tuned! 

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

TTAH

You can also listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, orFeedburner

 

“I’m Back” – Healing Wounds

I’ve missed writing. Especially, when there has been so much to talk about. I am often reminded of the image I envisioned while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic about ideas and how they drop into our minds – offering us an opportunity to grab them and develop them – and then moving on to someone else when we fail to attend to them. I’ve allowed a lot of good thoughts move on but the ones I’ve recently tapped into have my attention and … “I’m Back”.

Even though I haven’t been writing here, I’ve been busy. I’ve been painting, publishing the podcast weekly, seeing clients, and imagining the next step. Covid has forced me to take my practice virtual and I haven’t minded. Yet, I want to impact a broader range of people. I want to teach, foster, and encourage self-awareness and maybe more importantly, self-mastery. I’ve been working on a template for a coaching enterprise to do; stay tuned.

In the meantime, I implore each of you reading this to add a couple of things to your ‘to-do’ list today and each day throughout the summer and beyond.

  1. Open your mind to learn those things that you don’t know you don’t know. LISTEN. I’ll be writing more about this but don’t wait for me to write it… learn to listen with an open heart – an open mind. Consider what people tell you and honor their perspective without criticism and judgement. This means you have to let go of being ‘right’ and seek commonalities. Find a place to connect and go from there.
  2. Practice mutuality in each of your human interactions. How can you support that human being you are interacting with to live their best life? Ultimately, mutuality works best when it is reciprocated but for now… just while we are all open to learning, be the one to start. Use the phrase “how can I help?”
  3. Become aware of your pain. What hurts are you carrying? What generational insults have you bought into? What do you fear? Only hurt people hurt people so if you feel injustice, prejudice, or judgement – understand why! Weeds continue to grow if we don’t pluck ALL the roots.
  4. Have difficult conversations.Stop being afraid of bringing up topics that are politically divisive. We have to talk with people who think differently than us and seek to find similarities or most importantly – hear their position in order to find a place where we can connect. Ask “why?”. Ask “ How?”. Check all of your assumptions… “I was taught….”, “I’ve always thought…”, “Is that true for you?”, “What has your experience been?”.

If we want to be a part of the healing in this country, we must begin by addressing the macro elements that keep pain alive in one another’s hearts. No social program will fix a heart of hatred. Only kindness, compassion, and empathy will suture the wounds that exist from eons of theft, torture, mistrust, brutality, minimization, demoralization, and misconduct both historically and in this very moment of time.

Entertain discussion in your heart, your home, and your community about your part in creating a humane world where each human being has an equal opportunity to thrive. We must figure out a way to recognize when someone is hurting and teach healing techniques so that it doesn’t fester and become the massive infection that is represented in hateful prejudice, no matter the source. 

I’ll continue to talk about this and I invite respectful discussion.

Be safe. Stay well.

______________________________________________________________________________

TTAH

You can also listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, orFeedburner

Savoring This Moment

The way to develop the habit of savoring is to pause when something is beautiful and good and catches our attention – the sound of rain, the look of the night sky – the glow in a child’s eyes, or when we witness some kindness. Pause… then totally immerse in the experience of savoring it. ~ Tara Brach

This morning, I am taking a little bit of time to contemplate how in the heck it is December 20th… In fact, I’m thinking a bit of how in the heck is it almost 2020?? Where really… does time go?

The fact that I feel as if I actually have time this morning may be part of the problem. I’ve created a life that is so busy, there are fewer moments that I make time to savor and so they seem to pass outside of my awareness. It is a fact in complete violation of my desire to be present but in many ways, it is simply what’s real for most of us.

Why not take a moment with me now… deep inhale… slow exhale… repeat. Notice the comfort of your seat and be aware of your body in the room.  Doesn’t taking that moment feel good?

I realize I haven’t written much since I finished the book but I didn’t want the year to end without taking a minute to check in here. I am so very appreciative of the support that I’ve garnered by the readers of this blog, the listeners of the Podcast, and the purchasers of my book. I hope that the information / advice that has been offered has helped in some way. My goal is always a mutually encouraging and supportive exchange.

After  a few errands this morning and an afternoon with clients, I am prepared to enjoy  – to completely savor – the remainder of 2019 surrounded by people I love. I hope you are as well.  My wish is that each of you savor the spirit of what’s been good and manifest joy as we move into another new decade.

Happy Holiday’s and a very Happy New Year!!

~ Leslyn

Off the Bucket List

As of today, I can officially cross off a line item on my bucket list. I have published a book!  BE HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE; 365 INSPIRING IDEAS is available in print on Amazon!!

It’s a solid compilation of my blog here – the series I wrote from February through this past February. As I moved through that project, I was often asked if I would turn it into a book and was finally convinced when a few people specifically spoke about how they wanted to give it as a gift in book form. Well… here it is!

Be Happier Cover Final 3D

There are a couple of new ideas that weren’t part of the original blog as I found a couple of duplicates and I deleted one or two that were too similar to others. Overall, it’s a paperback book (416 pages) that offers suggestions geared to promote a better sense of overall well-being.

It’s the kind of book that you can use as a reference, send as a gift, keep on your nightstand, or work your way through (if you haven’t already). It’s the kind of book you’ll a couple of pages of and then try and figure out a time or place to try one of the suggestions. It’s the kind of book that may make you roll your eyes, laugh out loud, and learn from – all in one.

Aside from a shameless plug… I hope you’ll consider this post inspiration for accomplishing those things on your own bucket list. I read somewhere once that if 10 people have an idea – three will act on it – but only ONE will follow through.  While I have a long, long list of things that I only acted on… the printing of my book is a major follow through piece for me. I hope it inspires you to follow through on something near and dear to your heart!!

If you’ve been a supporter – thanks so much! You’re part of why this happened! <3

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TTAHYou can also listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, orFeedburner

LOVE does not Hurt!

LOVE doesn’t hurt you. A person who doesn’t know how to love or who is in pain may hurt you. Be a person who loves anyway.

I love this quote (author unknown) about love and pain because it is so true. Love does not hurt. Period.

love hurts

Loving energy only produces loving feelings. Just like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 states:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Anything else… does not originate from loving energy. It comes from pain and fear. It comes from not knowing love. Someone who has rarely experienced kindness may not know how to be kind. Likewise, if they don’t have a history of being supported – how do they know that supporting others is an expression of love?

When we don’t experience consistent and pure loving energy as we grow, we are likely not to extend it as adults. This is evident over and over again in people who claim to love yet they engage in behavior that is very unloving. Think about it…

A parent says “I love you” and then they are demanding and critical. A child makes a connection between the two.

A parent says “I love you” and then doesn’t listen or isn’t attentive. A child believes they are related.

In this way, a child grows up to understand that love is demanding, critical, and inattentive. They don’t think twice about engaging in that behavior and expressing love at the same time. For that adult, true loving energy was scarce and consequently, remains unlearned. They will continue the pattern with the next generation unless they are able to experience true love.

True love is peaceful. It is joyful. And it is always a better choice. We are born in a natural state of knowing love and then learn otherwise. Getting back there may take a bit of work as we unplug all of the correlations that were made as we learned. One by one, it’s important to disconnect the idea that love is something other than patience, compassion, understanding, and kindness and practice how to extend loving energy under all conditions.

If it’s ‘true’ love – it will always feel good.

TTAHYou can listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

Image by Pexels on Pixabay

#2 Stop Overthinking

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#2

Stop Overthinking

Do you think a thought and then ‘run with it’? Do you thoughts ever take on a life of their own? Do you find yourself getting anxious or worried?  Do you have a hard time focusing or sleeping? Do thoughts get stuck in your mind and go round and round? These are all symptoms of overthinking.

Consequences

Overthinking is generally not good for your overall health. It can cause anxiety, depression, and persistent worry. It promotes obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors. It can strain relationships, work performance, and self-worth. To cope with overthinking, many people try to escape the distress by abusing food, alcohol, or drugs.

Notice

The first step to stopping the pattern of overthinking is to notice when you do it. Take another look at the list in the first paragraph and honestly assess your own processes. When does it happen? About what topic(s)? What is your response? How do you (if you do) get them under control? How do they prevent you from living your best life?

Facts

Are your thoughts based on facts? Or Fears? Are they happening now? Or at some point in the future? Stay focused on the facts that exist in the here and now. When you are facing facts, it’s easier to problem solve. There aren’t any real solutions to fantastical problems.

Distraction

Get busy! There’s only so much space in your brain for active thinking. When your thoughts go into busy mode, overrule them with direct action on something else; pulling energy away from the overrunning thinking. The more involved you are in the distraction, the better.

Meditation

When we are overthinking, it’s not really the thoughts that are problematic, but our feelings and associations we have with the thoughts that are the problem. If we can learn to become observers of the thoughts, their impact is reduced. Meditation is one of the best ways to achieve this. Using this technique may allow you to detach from the thoughts so that they become nothing more than something that moves through your brain.

We all do it from time to time but if your life is negatively impacted by too many thoughts too much of the time, follow these steps in an effort to …

Stop overthinking.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#4  Know Your Ancestry

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#4

Know Your Ancestry

It used to be that people were excited to get their ‘palm’ read – now it’s trendy to have your DNA read. Just by spitting in a little tube, you can identify where your ancestral roots originated. Why bother?

History

Whether it’s a family tree or DNA, your family history is important. It’s the anchor of your ship… the chemical composition of your existence. It offers information about your great-great-uncle Joe or connect the dots between your English and Irish heritage centuries back.

Genealogy

The most elementary part of knowing your ancestry is to record your direct lineage. Your father, his father, his father and so on… Do the same with your mother and hers… Connect those lines as far back as you can. When you run into a stumbling block, try the DNA  route to run the lines as far as they can go.

DNA

Whether you choose 23&Me or another service, researching your cellular structure offers even more information. Instead of learning that your great, great, great, great, Aunt Florence was the first woman to captain a ship out of Naples, you might discover that your Italian heritage is closer to the French than it is to the Baltic even though she was he hero of that port.

DNA even allows you the genetic history of disease influence. No matter if your ancestry stems from Jewish, African, European, or Middle Eastern – the results can indicate propensity for issues carried by others in that gene group.

Story

At the very least, knowing your ancestry is a tool to help you construct your ‘story’ – the story of you and of how you came to be. It’s a more advanced version – a 3D illustration – of you. Knowing a little about the people that came before you gives depth to who you are.

Can you imagine all those souls that were in front of you? Do you know their story? Their contribution to your being? It’s possible that you’ll be forever changed if you only take the time to …

Know your ancestry.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#6 Stop Being Defensive

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#6

Stop Being Defensive

In this series, I’ve talked about Identifying Your Triggers, Arguing Effectively, and Emotional Intelligence. They all speak to mastering awareness in your communication. Perhaps the most important and impactful element of this is the ability to stop getting defensive.

Defenses

We experience a sense of needing to ‘protect’ ourselves whenever we become afraid and perceive that we are at risk for losing something. Whenever we imagine that we are in danger of having less of or never having something… we also may feel afraid and we tend to want to fight. When we feel attacked, we want to fight back. Emotionally speaking, we aren’t taught effective strategies very often and unless the other person we are speaking with is also equipped with similar strategies, the communication is sure to break down quickly. The conversation can resemble a war zone.

Notice Defensiveness

First, you must make the effort to understand when you become defensive and how it feels in your body. Does your blood pressure rise? Your shoulders? Is there a tightness in your jaw? Does your heart race? Notice that they are the same symptoms of fear. It’s your parasympathetic nervous system getting ready for a fight.

Step Back

When you feel your body tightening, that’s the moment you know it’s imperative that you step back. Take a deep breath. Count to five. Get Grounded. Remember who you are – who you want to be. Think about something you love or really like about the person in front of you. If it’s a stranger or an estranged individual, remember that by engaging you are giving them YOUR power. Stop.

Back Down

Backing down from a confrontation demonstrates emotional mastery – not weakness. Think about how much intention it takes to get to this point after your fear or fight is activated. It takes great strength to step back and gain composure. Adopt the attitude that you will not engage in a confrontation infused with negative energy.

Once you take the defensive energy out of an interaction, you’ll be amazed at how it dies down – it’s akin to a fire without oxygen. Your confrontations turn into constructive discussions and problem solving when you get to the point where you can…

Stop being defensive.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.