You matter far more than you may think!

As published in Sybil Magazine, December 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine, December 2015

(#12 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

How do you respond when someone disappoints you?  Maybe you don’t hear from friends when you’re sick or in crisis.  Maybe your best friend doesn’t remember your birthday. Maybe someone doesn’t return your phone call or show up on time.  In our disappointment and hurt, it’s easy to conclude that we don’t matter.

Sometimes there’s truth in the belief.  When someone isn’t there for us we may NOT matter to them as much as we’d like.  And we should keep in mind that their life may be far more complex and challenging than we know.  But when a friend or loved one consistently drops the ball on our relationship, time and time again, it’s time to look closer.  We can make excuses by saying they’re busy, preoccupied or whatever justification we can make to keep them in our lives.  But if they just keep on hurting us through their unresponsiveness it’s a sign we may be hooked into wanting them to be different than they are.

If we surround ourselves with such people we can forever be at the effect of ‘not mattering’.  When we get hooked into trying to placate others or trying to prove our worth it can send our mood, energy, vision and effectiveness into a downward spiral.  But when we acknowledge that not everyone is able to give us what we long for, without making it about us, we get to choose what to do about it.  We can choose to confront the situation or to set boundaries on our giving back.  Most importantly, we get to decide who we surround ourselves with and the messages we take in from others.

It’s important to surround ourselves with loving supportive people who encourage us, believe in our dreams, show up when they say they will and apologize when appropriate.  It’s the wind beneath our wings, the thing we need to remind us of our best selves.  Cultivating those relationships is far more important than constantly struggling with someone we wish would be different.

In the end, though, our relationship with others mirrors our relationship with ourselves.  When others don’t treat us well, it’s worth stopping to ask: “How am I not in right relationship with myself?”  How am I neglecting my needs, values, or dreams?  How am I not there for myself?  When we focus on these things the debris of bad relationships falls away.  When we stand for ourselves in our own heart and mind, no one can shake us.

We all matter, every minute of our lives.  Our words, actions and mood affect others automatically – either positively or negatively.  So next time you question your value to others, reach outward and touch someone else’s life with kindness.  Mattering is not always about changing the world or being important in the lives of others.  It’s about doing small things with great kindness.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 

~ Jane Goodall

The Myth of the Early and Late Bloomer

(#6 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)
As published in Sybil Magazine, June 2015.

As published in Sybil Magazine, June 2015.

Is there a ‘right time’ to bloom? The question may seem a little silly asked in this way but it’s at the heart of many of the dilemmas that women have shared with me over the years.

Younger women often believe that it’s too early for them to step into their power. Often they’ll work flat out, hoping to prove their worth to their supervisors. Or maybe they’ll hold themselves back from applying for that dream job because they believe it requires a degree, credential or experience that they don’t have.   And perhaps they just have a vague notion of not being ready because they haven’t paid their dues.

And certainly there’s an element of truth here. We don’t want someone in first year of medical school performing surgery on a loved one. But on the other hand, too many of us waste precious years waiting to be ready. We can waste our lives waiting for permission to step into our dreams, missing the fact that we have unique talents that others don’t have and that, in many dimensions of our lives, we’re already in full bloom.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are the so-called ‘late bloomers’. They’re the ones who have a sense that they haven’t quite stepped into their calling, full voice or potential and are secretly afraid it might be too late. Often they fail to recognize the many ways they have bloomed throughout their lives. Instead, they focus on the sense that time may be running out and their fear that the last bloom is the only one that matters.

In both cases, it’s ourselves – our harsh ‘inner critics’ – that really are the problem. And a disempowering set of cultural beliefs about success, power and what it means to blossom.

But when you think about it, are the flowers that bloom in May any better or less beautiful than the ones that blossom in June – or even September?  Is the fragrant desert flower – the one that blooms once year at night – any lesser than the geranium that thrives in full sun all summer long? Are perennials better than annuals?

It seems to me that nature offers a profound lesson. In the garden of life there’s no such thing as too early or too late to bloom. We’re all uniquely beautiful and each of us unfolds according to our own inner rhythms. What’s inside of us can be honored, nourished and supported but it can’t be forced or rushed or stuffed into boxes of ‘supposed-to-be’.  What does support us is patiently tending those gardens, and paying loving attention to the unique needs, conditions and roots of our lives.

Could Invisibility be a Secret Power?

 
As published in Sybil Magazine, April 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine, April 2015

(#4 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Nowadays in social media and elsewhere the ‘come out of hiding and step into your power’ message seems to be getting louder and louder. But I often wonder… does this admonishment make us stronger? Or does it offer the message that we have to change who we are, and what we are doing to ‘become’ powerful?

When we see our quiet nature, or our need for privacy or internal time as negative, we buy into the notion that we have a ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed. We adopt another ‘should’ instead of asking who we are and what gifts we possess. We can then become “the woman in hiding,” the shy one “afraid of her own power”, the one who is constantly on the verge of success but “can’t quite make it”.  Instead, we need to stop and question the whole notion that a quality like introversion (or a need for turning inward) is ‘hiding’ – wrong, bad and worthy of shame. And to question the belief that power means being extroverted, ‘having impact’ or being constantly in the spotlight.

What is the truth about declining the spotlight and visibility? Is it the opposite to ‘stepping into our power?’ In the popular Harry Potter series, as he apprentices to become a powerful wizard, Harry is gifted with several secret tools or powers. One of these is the Invisibility Cloak. When he dawns the cloak, he does not lose power. He gains it. He gains the ability to travel great distances without being seen or impeded. He is able to observe conversations without being detected. And it allows him to act on behalf of good in the world without fear of being thwarted by the forces of evil.

Similarly, when we are introverted, or when we chose to remain silent and out of the spotlight, we gain valuable opportunities – to observe, to listen deeply, to gestate, to see the whole, or to quietly prepare until we are ready to speak. As a powerful wizard, Harry doesn’t live his life under the invisibility cloak. But having it and learning to use it wisely gives him an advantage that others lack.

I’m not suggesting that women should hide their power or not speak up. But what I’ve learned is that when we’re judging ourselves, when we label our behavior with words like ‘hiding’, we are fighting ourselves. We are denying and pushing away our unique, inherent power. Whether the fullness of your power stuns like the roar of a lion or mesmerizes like the quiet beauty of fireflies against the night sky, it has its own unique nature, needs and rhythms.

If you are pushing yourself to be more visible, or resisting your ‘hiding’ in any way, I invite you to pause and consider this. What secret powers may your invisibility cloak be offering you?

Healing ambivalence about power

CTH-logo-BTRMany healers, change agents and transformative leaders have a deep ambivalence about power and stepping into it.  In this radio interview I talk about some of the sources of this ambivalence and how it can hold us back in our missions to create a better world.

The core message is that redefining power in our own terms is crucial in claiming the ability EACH of us has to make a difference.

Thanks to Susan Jacobi from ‘Conversations that Heal’ for this interview entitled “How do  you use your power?”  You can listen to the replay here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationsthatheal/2015/02/11/how-do-you-use-your-power