Posts Tagged: motivation

Is it Time to Move On?

Is it just me? Am I just being sensitive? Am I invisible, or what?

You may find yourself in relationships or environments where your value is not appreciated or recognized. You may not see it at first- in fact, maybe you’re the last to know. But from time to time in life, you may experience the SHUT OUT.

The SHUT OUT happens in social circles, faculty, sports teams and offices, and sometimes even families.  The SHUT OUT is when they (I’ll use they collectively) don’t see you as the valuable person that you know yourself to be.

Maybe you think to yourself, “Why wasn’t I invited to that?” or “Why wasn’t my name considered for that role?” or “Why doesn’t he look at me the way he looks at her?” Maybe you don’t have that pedigree, or that status, or that history, or that education, or that Gucci. Whatever IT is, you’re feeling under-valued and maybe even used. You feel like the Pecking Order has been set, and you’re on the bottom. Unbeknownst to you, the people above you in the pecking order have too much invested in their position to ever let you up.

You wonder, “How did I get here?” And even more depressing, you may wonder, “How did I get here, AGAIN?”

Sometimes, we unconsciously put ourselves in relationships and situations that replicate traumas of the past. We keep trying to get THEM to love us, accept us, or see our worth. But THEY will never do that. No matter how hard we work, or how much we share, or now often we reach out, THEY are incapable of valuing us the way we need. We’re barking up the wrong tree. We are drawing water from a waterless well. We are throwing our pearls among swine.

Did you know that there are relationships, offices, social circles and groups that DON’T do the Pecking Order Thing? It’s true! There are places and teams and relationships and partners that don’t do the SHUT OUT. There are people out there striving to operate in God’s light of love. People who want to value you for you. People who don’t want to step on you to get ahead. There are people out there who will pick you first for the team, not last. Yay for that!!

If you find yourself SHUT OUT and don’t know what to do… consider these steps.

Don’t Just Walk Away: you have something to learn from your SHUT OUT. Since you don’t want to visit this nasty place again, glean all that you can from this experience. Most importantly, learn as much as you can about YOURSELF. Ask yourself some questions- what did I do to set myself up for this? How was I attracted to this in the first place? What signs did I miss that were warning me in the beginning? How have I contributed to this problem? Did I send messages about my own self-doubt?

BIGGIE to ask yourself: In what ways am I NOT VALUING MYSELF, and how am I giving off the vibe that it’s OK for other people not to value me either? If you learn these things, you won’t leave one SHUT OUT to hop right back into another.

Determine when Enough is Enough– I wish I had the secret recipe for READINESS. Everyone is ready at different times to move out of unhealthy and into healthy. I look at my own life, and I see how God patiently teaches me the same lesson over and over until I’m a friggin expert. I’m like the karate kid, wax on wax off. Sooner or later, I become a badass at it. And once I’m competent, I’M READY and I don’t ever have to repeat that lesson again. Whew!

Watch the Magic: When you get to your READY stage, when enough is enough, and you’re ready to value yourself, watch God work. The fire is burning, the passion is alive, and for the first time in a long time, you are ready to go after something better. This is where God will be most apparent in your life. You will see provision after provision. You know why? Because God loves it when you embrace the VALUE in your own life.

Forgive it, baby: I know when God’s magic is happening in someone’s life when they are motivated with love, not anger. They are not blaming THEM, or angry at THEM or giving THEM the proverbial bird. They are motivated by love for themselves. They forgive and pray for the best for them. But, be open to the opportunity to SPEAK UP- you may have some work to do to say what you need to say, before your work is done.

If you’re in a circle, office or relationship that does not appreciate your value, take heart. It happens to all of us. You may feel like the only one, but you’re not. Follow these steps to get yourself moving again. You can do it!

Don’t Read This if You’re Going to Feel Guilty

Psychologists who study human behavior know that motivation is best understood on a continuum. On one side of the continuum is pleasure and on the other side is pain. At a primitive level, humans are motivated to avoid pain and achieve pleasure.

 I believe we do some things (maybe a lot of things) out of a sense of guilt. I hear people say, “Well, I’ll feel bad if I don’t do _____________,” or “If I tell him the truth, his feelings will be hurt…. And then I’ll feel so bad,” or “I better do ___________ because they’d think I was a ____________ if I didn’t.” They think that if that doing something to avoid guilt, they will be avoiding the pain. But the pain is just delayed. It always catches up.

When Sweet and Sassy were in elementary school, the pressure to be a volunteer was mounting. Holiday Party sign ups were the worst. The other moms (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) brought Easter watermelons carved into flowers, and Halloween cheese balls that looked like brains with crackers that looked like spiders, and Coconut sprinkled snowmen that were too cute to eat. I brought wrapped cheese sticks in a Safeway bag. Boom! I figured the real reason I was there was to make the other moms feel good about themselves.

Anyway, one of the main reasons I even went to these parties so I wouldn’t feel guilty for missing it.

This is more my style...

This is more my style…

I’m here to admit that I will still do things in order to avoid the guilt that would accompany NOT doing them. But I’m fully aware what’s motivating me, and that is sometimes half the battle.

Being aware of the WHY you are doing something gives you more power the next time of whether you do it at all. Once you call it what it is, you have power over it.

Remember Adam in the garden of Eden? He was in charge of naming the animals, and then he was given dominion over every living thing he named. Same thing here. When you and I can name our Motivation- THE WHY- we can have dominion over it. Here are some “For Examples:”

  • I yell at my kids because I feel out of control
  • I drink  at night because I’m stressed/depressed.
  • I don’t exercise because I feel I’m too far gone.
  • I have difficulty setting a boundary with someone because I don’t want them to be mad or disappointed in me.
  • I do __________________  so others will think I’m a good person.
  • I Read this blog so Michelle won’t think nobody reads her blog. (I put that in there for giggles.)

If you’re doing something in order to avoid pain or to achieve pleasure, or simply not to feel “bad,” then call it what it is and sit with that for a minute. Then determine if you’d like to keep on doing it. 

If you read this blog because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, or disloyal, or whatever, then STOP reading it RIGHT AWAY! That goes for anything that you’re doing out of guilt. Doing things out of guilt steals our life-blood like a leech on a plump fanny. But if you read this blog because you feel inspired and connectivity and energy- and because it brings you pleasure, then keep on.

“This lady keeps feeding me, so I keep coming back!”

When we do things out of love and passion instead of guilt and obligation, God’s in it. His love makes more love. His blessing makes more blessing. But doing things out of guilt and fear breads more guilt and fear. Like rats in London. Like rabbits in a garden. Like rampant baby vampires that want to suck you dry of anything good.

How about you? How have you stopped guilt motivated activities? What do you do instead with your time and energy? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to the Guilt-Free Freedom Fighters, the Mavens of Motivation, the Princess of Passion and the Sojourners of Love!

How to Build Self Esteem Part II: Dream Big

Have you ever had a dream or desire that you kept locked up in a little treasure chest somewhere inside your head? Like maybe you let yourself day dream a little once or twice about what it would feel like to be in that place, accomplishing that thing. Maybe it’s your wedding day, or maybe it’s holding a baby in your arms, or maybe it’s owning your own business, or making your own music CD. Sometimes reality exceeds the fantasy, and sometimes reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy. But we just wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have the dream. The way you see yourself affects everything in your life, including your relationships. I know that if I can help you improve your self esteem, your self respect and your self confidence, I am also helping you have the power to transform your relationships for the good. The stronger you are as a person, the stronger your relationships will be too. That’s just God’s honest truth. 

We are in part II of a three part series. These concepts have the power to transform your life and your relationships, bringing you into the fullness of God’s plan and purpose for your life, IF you let them. They will take time, energy, risk and investment. But gee whiz, you are worth every ounce of sweat equity you put out there.

The last post was on How to build your self esteem- by getting out of your own way. I covered the ways you sabotage your own success, thereby reinforcing your low sense of self-worth. That’s bad joo joo. But when you learn how you are getting in your own way, you have power to get out of your own way and to succeed. When you start collecting small successes, you grow in strength and competency, and your self esteem is improved. Sounds simple, right? It is. But it does take some time and effort. But you have what it takes, so keep going!

WORD TO THE WISE: When you start working on yourself esteem, goal setting and making changes, don’t expect the world to throw you a party. In fact, expect resistance. And guess where some of this resistance will come from. You got it, from the people you love the most!  They are used to you a certain way. When you upset the apple cart with your growth and changes, it forces them to change too. Some will welcome this change and adapt easily. But this is not the majority of people. Most people find change anxiety provoking and resist it. However, do not let your family’s resistance to the new and improved you get the better of you. The fact is, when you embrace God’s love for your life and you allow it to transform you, that same love desires to have its way with your entire family- starting with your spouse, your kids, and then your closest friends. If you know the change inside of you is God’s transformative power, then let it run its course in all your relationships! A change at any level of the system, changes the whole system. When you start acting like the person God has made you to be, confident in your loved and cherished position with God, it will change your entire family system. You have so much more power for good, than you are even aware.

This is what Peter says in the bible. Remember Peter? The guy who walked on water, and then fell in? the guy who cut the ear of a soldier who was arresting Jesus? The guy who denied Christ three times the eve of His crucifixion. Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle and knew Him well. This is what he says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  1 Pe 5:8-11 Don’t quit just because it gets hard. Expect it to get harder before it gets easier.

Christians sometimes squelch their dreams because they worry about being too self centered or too prideful. If they see themselves in a powerful or admirable position, they wrongly consider this to be ungodly or carnal or too “of the flesh.” If you have been one of these Christians, let me put your mind at ease. Here is the secret to your success. Humble yourself and be completely dependent on God.

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:13-15

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

You humble yourself by praying, “I don’t know if this dream or this desire is from you, but I lay it at your feet. I know that faith pleases you, so I am going to take a big risk and say that this dream is from you, that you put it in my heart, and because I love this dream, I am going to surrender it just like Abraham surrendered Isaac. I don’t have to make my dream happen, You do, and in due time as I humble myself before you, I know you will lift me up.”

Simple right? As you submit your dreams to God, watch how He provides exactly what you need when you need it. Like the ram in the bushes. God didn’t provide the ram in the bushes until Abraham surrendered Isaac- his dream child- his promised child. Once Abraham surrendered his ownership and responsibility for Isaac, God provided exactly what was needed.

Your dream may shift a little, depending on the circumstances of your life. What you thought you wanted, you may determine later that you want something different. The essence of what you want is probably the same- and I believe that the essence of your dream is God given- so dream it in the form that you have it now, and trust God to change it to His will as you go. God’s got it in His hands. He cares more about the dream He’s put in your heart than you do. He’ll be faithful to see it through.

What we know about self-esteem, is that it has a lot to do with who we are, what we think, and what decisions we make in life. Here are some examples:

A person with healthy Self Esteem:

  •    Take educated risks in professional and personal areas of life
  •    Have bounce-back-ability. They are resilient after set backs
  •    Seek understanding of other’s points of view because they are not threatened by diversity
  •    Are Not easily offended or take criticisms personally
  •    Are able to separate behavior from identity
  •    Are able to bless those who curse them- that take justice to the next level and instead of repaying evil with evil, they seek to give blessing.
  •    Are able to assert their needs, opinions and desires.
  •    Are able to verbalize their opinions with respect and love.
  •    Able to empathize and care for others in need


A person with low Self-Esteem:

  • Will be dependent on other’s approval before formulating thoughts and ideas
  •  Will be avoid making decisions independently
  • Have a pessimistic view of self and his influence in the world
  • Will feel powerless over his life and circumstances
  • May become overwhelmed with shame and guilt over mistakes or failures.
  • When they experience a failure, they internalize it to mean they are a failure.
  • Unable to verbalize or assert their needs, desires or limitations.
  • Will tend to be overly guarded and distrusting or overly trusting, needy and naive
  • Engages in negative self-talk and negative predictions

The reason why we want to talk about the behaviors and feelings of people who do and do not have healthy self esteem, is because we want to emulate those who got it. Those of you who say, “I need to improve my self esteem,” then I’m here to help you know what that looks like, so you can recognize what areas you want to work on.

                One significant difference between those who have healthy self esteem and those who do not, is their ability to DREAM BIG. For the person with a healthy self esteem, they really believe that anything is possible. Maybe because nothing in their family past has informed them otherwise. Or maybe because they have overcome so many obstacles in their life, they can’t help but believe miracles are possible. Whatever the reasons for healthy self esteem, an exercise to help you improve yours is to practice dreaming big, writing it down and saying it out loud. Now this next part, you are going to want to work through slowly. Don’t worry, to those of you who are listening to this live, I will have the podcast available to you on my web site. You can stop and pause until you are ready to move on. Take your time, write these things down.

A common problem to improving self esteem is that we don’t allow ourselves to imagine something different, something better. So let’s do a couple of exercises that jog that imagination.

1.  Now, thinking about your interests, what comes naturally to you that gives you an “unfair advantage”? 

2. When do you feel so immersed in something that you forget that the rest of the world exists? 

3. What do you do that brings you pleasure, piques your curiosity and gives you more energy than when you started?

4. If you could do anything without fear of failure, what would it be?

5. What was the happiest period of your life?

6. What was a turning point in your life?

7. Was there an event in which you demonstrated great courage and perseverance?

8. Are there any values that you would like to establish?

9. What are some weaknesses, things you do poorly that you will need help with?

10. Project yourself into the future. You pick the time frame, two years, five years or ten years. Don’t filter this exercise with shoulds and oughts. This exercise is meant to inform you. Just let it flow and see what comes. Now close your eyes and use your imagination to see what your ideal day would look like if you had your dream. Imagine that anything is possible, fantasize what you are wearing, what you are doing, where you are and who you are with. What kind of people are around you. Now, this is an important part. As you imagine yourself, now ascertain how you are feeling in that scene. How do you feel about what you are doing. What is the expression on your face? What is the impact you have? One more thing, now, imagine God in the dream. Where is He, how does he feel about this ideal day of yours? Where is He? Looking down from above, beside your working, in the crowd judging your performance or smiling with delight? Now imagine a conversation between the two of you. You talking to God and Him talking back. Don’t filter this conversation with shoulds and oughts. Just let it flow. When you’re done, write down what you saw and the conversation you had with God.

There are many good things in our lives.  However, “good” can be the enemy of “best”.  When thinking about your passions and your values, you may find that the many “good” things in your life may be crowding out the “best” things in your life.  For example, if one of your passion is “writing” but you never seem to have the time to do it because of your involvement in other “good” things, then it is time to discard the “good” for the “best”.  It is out of your passions that real potential flows.

1.            What is something that you would like to discard, so that you can allow more time, energy and investment for something better?

2. What will be difficult about discarding that thing?  What will you lose?  What will you potentially gain?

Progress requires sacrifice.  To win the race, we must lay aside everything that weighs us down.  To make it to the top, we must slough off the heavy weights that keep us from climbing.  These weights are mere distractions from the ultimate goal.  They are rabbit trails and red herrings.

How Does a Non-Athlete Train for a Triathlon?

Lessons from the Trail

How does a non-athlete train for a triathlon? With friends!

Many of you know that I’m training for a triathlon scheduled for August. It’s a sprint, which means it’s a little more light weight than an Iron Man. Ok, more like A LOT more light weight than an Iron Man. I’ll be swimming 1/2 mile in Lake Washington, biking 12 miles, and running 3.2 miles. Cake, right? Maybe for natural born athletes, but not for a choir geek like me.

So, my non-worker-outer-type girl friend and I committed to the Iron Girl race, and it’s been swim-bike-run ever since.

Tips for Endurance: Think about what kind of food you’re going to wolf down as a motivator to get done.

Goal Morphing: What to do when you must change goals.

It’s half way through your 2013, and time to brush up on your goals. Have they changed since making them at the beginning of the year? Are you right on track, or do you seem helplessly off course? Don’t panic! Successful people know that just because the HOW, WHEN, and WHAT of Goals may change, doesn’t mean the GOAL disappears or loses its integrity. Allowing our strategies to flex and morph to fit current needs is not a failure in anyway.  You can only make decisions and goals based on what you know at the time. Six months ago, you had less information about yourself, about your circumstances, and about your tribe than you do now. These past six months have informed you, educated you and prepared you to make the adjustments your goals need for success.
One goal I made at the beginning of the year was to race in the Iron Girl Seattle Triathlon. I’m not a racer, runner, swimmer or contender of any kind, so this was a pretty hefty challenge. With wet suit in hand, new tires on my college bike, and hundreds of hours on the trail and in the pool, I’m on track to meet my goal this August. This is a goal that is well within my sites.

But that is not the case for every goal I set in January. I walked away from the radio show I hosted,  and I’m counseling fewer hours than I initially planned. I had to make severe cuts (ok, more like rip, thrash and set fire) to the goals I set 6 months ago because new circumstances, new opportunities, and new information came along.  If you’ve had to slash some of your dreams and goals, don’t worry, you’re still on track- or at least close enough to get back on. Goals are mile markers on a map- they are not the final destination, and they are yours to do with what you need. Change them, Specify them, Shelf them, Laser-Beam Focus on them- whatever you need to do to make them work for you. You’re the boss of your goals.

It’s ok to be flexible and make adjustments to the WHAT, WHEN, and HOW of your goals. If you must let some go completely, be sure to boil them down to the essence before you do. That way, you’ll be able to keep the HEART of why you made that goal in the first place.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you re-evaluate, readjust and refocus on your 2013 GOALS.

  • Name the value. What are some of your biggest values? Off the top of your head, what are the things in life that you care most deeply about? Is it family, education, faith, community service? Where does health and personal growth fit into your value system? If you say that personal growth is a value of yours you leave little time or investment for it, then spend some time reevaluating the priority of your values.
  • Name the specific goal. It may be tempting to shoot first several goals that you want in the next year, but it is most realistic to pick one or two. Instead of hoping for the ideal, let’s shoot for the real. What are the top two goals that you’d like to accomplish this year? Ask yourself these questions; what value will accomplishing this goal add to your life? Why is this goal important to you? How will achieving this goal change your life for the better?
  • Name the behaviors needed to reach your goal. What specific actions do you need to take? To reach my goals, for example, I’ll need to schedule one hour in every work day to focus my energy on my specific goal. This will take time, financial investment, and energy. I will not reach my goal if I wait for my schedule to allow for enough time to work on my goal. I must be proactive to schedule a time for myself. I must dictate my calendar, instead of my calendar dictating to me.
  • Name the outcome measure. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? When evaluating your outcome measures, be sure to set smaller goals that turn into bigger goals. Progress is a series of small increments toward the desired outcome. Each increment of progress is worthwhile and necessary.
  • Name your threat. What are the things that will get you off course? Here are some common ones; fear of failure, lack of financial investment, lack of time investment, lack of support, distractions, and insecurities. You may be tempted to use your time and money for others sayings instead of your goal. You may be tempted to settle for the good, instead of reaching the best. Recognize the threats that will keep you from accomplishing your goals, and plan for them.

What goals have you adjusted? I’d love to hear about them. What goals have you scrapped all together? Which ones are you still working on, and what do you need to be successful?

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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