How to Avoid Autopilot in the Office (and in Life)

How to Avoid Autopilot in the Office (and in Life)

Our comfort zone is not a static thing. Just like us, it changes. What used to make us uncomfortable probably won't after some time spent habituating to it. In order to continue growing, we must keep reaching for the unknown. 

5 Steps to a Happier Perspective on Anything.

5 Steps to a Happier Perspective on Anything.

Many of us have been told, at some point in our lives, that we’re looking at life through rose-colored glasses.

When someone says this, they’re really suggesting that since our lenses are rose-tinted, we’re seeing things as nicer than they really are. Rosy perspectives are painted as naive and irresponsible.

I think this is a load of crap that doesn’t help anyone.

In truth, if we’re wearing glasses at all, they’re likely clouded dark, not rosy, by the negative stories we tell ourselves...

The Power of Not Knowing

The Power of Not Knowing

A voyage to discover curiosity for the sake of curiosity, and not for the sake of finding answers; an exercise in learning to not rescue myself. 

To Those Still Waiting for Someone to Save Them

To Those Still Waiting for Someone to Save Them

Maybe you can get what you’re looking for from outside yourself… But you don’t really want to.

Maybe there’s someone who loves you deeply and shows you in every moment just how much you mean to them… But you know the recognition you crave is your own.

Maybe there’s someone who wants to give you everything, who is just waiting for you to ask… But what you long for is to know, with certainty, that you can, and will, always give it to yourself.

Maybe you’ve fallen in love; found someone to laugh with, to have adventures with and stay up late with… But you retain your own form and never lose sight of who you are.

This is how it feels to know your own gravity.

For Those Who Fear They Aren't Doing Enough.

For Those Who Fear They Aren't Doing Enough.

Originally published on elephant journal.

For most of my life I lived with the shame of believing I was a lazy person.

I hid my so-called laziness, pretending I was doing more work than I actually was. I created obstacles to doing as much as I was capable of so that I could get away with doing less. I made excuses for the time I spent fiddling around on Facebook while I was supposed to be working. I got by in life putting in about 25 percent and doing alright.

I’m sure some of my readers out there can relate.

And it’s a tragedy that I spent so many of my best years living this way because here’s the thing: I love work.

I’m not exaggerating. Working lights me up and leaves me fulfilled like nothing else. I live to create and build. When I’m not doing that, everything else loses its luster. When I’m in the flow on a project I’m passionate about, I’m at my best and 12-hour workdays fly by, leaving me blissed-out.

So after many years of personal research into what ignites me and what actually dims my flame, I’ve concluded that whenever I am tempted to use laziness to explain my lack of ignition, I always need to look deeper.

And here’s the thing I want to say to everyone reading: this isn’t just me. No one is lazy. No one.

We live in a society governed by a tyranny of shoulds, which means that every one of us has some internalized conditioning about what we should be doing, how we should respond, and how we should feel if we are good people.

Casting anyone as lazy when they don’t conform to society’s expectations is damaging to our ability to live fulfilled lives. It’s a judgement designed to force someone into action by inducing shame, and it stops us from getting curious and finding out what the real hold up is.

But if it’s never really laziness, what is it? Here are a few possibilities:

1 . Maybe we’re doing the wrong thing.

I work with people to help them get unstuck in all areas of their lives. For many of my clients, life has always been all about doing things they don’t want to do. Now, to a certain degree, difficult challenges and mundane routines are a part of healthy adult life. However, when it becomes our default to accept that we should do things we don’t want to, then we can find ourselves pushing and forcing our way through life rather than regularly taking a step back to reevaluate the best way forward. We may notice our resistance but instead of asking why we’re feeling it, go straight into criticizing and blaming ourselves for not overcoming it like we’re supposed to.

When clients come to me in this spot, I start out with something like, “Is it possible that it’s totally okay that you don’t want to be doing this thing? Is it possible you feel this resistance because you’re not meant to be doing this thing, or at least not in this way?”

I live by the assumption that our turn-on knows best and that when we’re not turned on by something, it doesn’t mean we’re wrong (or lazy). It means we need to make an adjustment to the course we’re on. Sometimes the reason we can’t get into the flow is that we’re pushing against the tide.

I see a lot of brilliant people languishing in work that doesn’t turn them on, and, as a result, feeling ineffective and worthless. I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake this declaration into them: “You’re allowed to fail at things that don’t turn you on!”

Failing isn’t a damnation of our character. It’s a sign that we’re meant to find another way forward that resonates with our passion, inspires our conviction, and brings us delight. It’s why successful entrepreneurs all agree that failure is an absolutely integral part of success. It helps us, through a process of elimination, narrow down the huge variety of options to a laser-precise, perfect path.

Imagine plugging away for the rest of your life at something that doesn’t turn you on, foregoing the opportunity to find the right path for you, simply to prove that you can do this thing you don’t want to do; to prove that you’re not lazy.

Chose the path that really turns you on, time after time, and you’ll absolutely kill it at life.

2. We’re afraid of success (or failure).

I’ll start with the fear of failure because it’s the most obvious of the two—it’s the reason we don’t allow ourselves to fail enough times to find the right path forward. It paralyzes us.

But let’s talk about fear of success.

Yes, sometimes we’re simply afraid of success and the change in us that it will demand. Or we’re afraid that if we are successful, it will be at someone else’s expense, making our success a selfish act. Or maybe we fear that when we gain success, we’ll lose sight of other priorities like our spirituality or our relationships.

When we’re not accustomed to it, success can actually feel quite confronting to a sense of self that we’re familiar with. Even if we desperately want it, sometimes it feels like having success could extinguish the person we were before.

We might find we abandon our projects just as we begin to see their promise, and then blame it on our lack of follow-through, never considering that perhaps we’d have excellent follow-through if we weren’t paralyzed by our fear of the unknown realm of success.

A thorough excavation of our beliefs surrounding success is a crucial part of freeing ourselves up to have it. Until we’re able to see how we actively hold ourselves back, and why, success will remain out of our reach.

3. We have a narrow view of what success looks like. 

When I tell people they should do what feels right, sometimes they tell me, “Yeah that’s easy for you to say. You’re an adventure traveler and a life coach. You’ve set your life up so you can be doing the exact things that you want to be doing.” And, to that I reply, “Yes. That’s true. But not everyone truly, deeply wants to do this, glamorous as it may seem.”

We tend to idealize some paths while looking down upon others, and this can create pressure for us to reach for dreams that aren’t really our own.

I’m a natural born leader. I have been ever since I acquired enough language skills to direct the creation of sheet and pillow forts or facilitate games of tag and hide-and-seek with the kids in my neighborhood. I know my role now but I have spent years trying out other roles and quite frankly, I was fired from them because I failed so miserably at those jobs. Meanwhile some of the people I admire the most are those who are fulfilled doing the things I was not meant to do.

For every trailblazer, for ever leader I know, I know someone else whose purpose in life it is to support and serve. They shine and feel most fulfilled in that role.

What breaks my heart is when society tells any of us that we haven’t been successful because we don’t have a particular type of title or aren’t the most visible person on the team, when in fact, we are exactly where we’re the most effective and fulfilled and our contribution is exactly what’s needed.

Bernadette's Taste of Desire

Bernadette's Taste of Desire

I am grateful for this experience where my desire could fight its way out, where it could have a voice and an action. I am grateful for being received and enjoyed in my desire. I am grateful for food so delicious that makes you break your internal rules, grow, and start believing that this world is a beautiful, loving place that wants to see me succeed.

Canada Can't Save Us. Only We Can.

Canada Can't Save Us. Only We Can.

The things we continue to be ashamed of remain perpetually in our shadow, and will haunt us for the rest of our lives, no matter where we go.

When Bananas Become Catalysts.

When Bananas Become Catalysts.

We launched into this game. We had a four hour car ride ahead of us. Anytime anyone said the word "banana" the whole car had to say what story they were telling themselves in that very moment.

Why I Adventure Awake: Tami's Story.

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I’m going on an adventure. 

A big adventure, for me. A transformational adventure, I suspect. 
 
Every once in a while, someone or something comes into your awareness that makes you remember something you forgot you wanted to do. And then you realize that all the reasons you had for not doing those things no longer applied, or they were just made up excuses to begin with. When I started following Summer’s world travels on Facebook about a year ago, something started awakening. Some memory, maybe even a part of my innate identity that I had pushed aside in the process of living a very good life.

I am thrilled to be a part of this inaugural Adventure Awake trip, to the Country of Georgia. After I signed up, Summer asked me if I’d like to share why I am taking this leap and why now? Well… 
  
I realize, looking back on my life, that I was born into somewhat adventurous roots. My dad was a dreamer who actually did the things he dreamed of. As a boy of 17 he traveled across country all alone, to report for duty in the Navy, with the goal to escape his lean childhood in rural Mississippi for a chance to live his dreams.

He had dreams of learning to fly. He did. He had dreams of learning to Sail. He did. He wanted to be a deep sea diver. He become one. He wanted to build things; Houses, planes, boats. He built them all with his own hands in his own way. He wanted to live aboard a sailboat. So sure enough, half of my childhood was spent living aboard sailboats. Our family of four and our little dog too!

Growing up living aboard as a kid in a marina wasn’t a ‘normal’ life but it gave me a unique experience and perspective. There weren't too many kids around my age but age didn’t matter that much. All summer I wore nothing but a bathing suit, every single day, playing around the boat yard. Barefoot, hopping from shadows to shady spots, feet burning from the scorching asphalt lots. Also being raised a Navy brat, moving every few years, having to say goodbye and learn to make new friends over and over, while sometimes heartbreaking, taught me a lot about resilience and connection.

Living in a marina brought me in contact with an eclectic group of souls. The dreamers and the doers and everything in between. I can't help but believe that the many hours my 12 year old self spent philosophizing with 40 year old dreamers shaped me in some weird and wonderful way. I assumed that I would always have that gypsy spirit in my blood, that desire to keep moving. I had dreams of doing cool things and sailing solo around the world or exploring more of it, at least. I thought I’d never be able to stay in one place for long.

And then life happens. You meet someone in the first year of college and the next thing you know you are married at 20 and divorced at 28 and you've built a career and a dependable income and then you are married again by 35 you have 2 children and a wonderful local support system of family and friends and there is security and routine and everything is good and everyone is generally happy in their warm comfortable life. So comfortable. And time marches on.

And now the kids are almost grown. You realize You’re single, over 50. You still have a  good career. You have that dependable income, and a little extra money to play with. And all that energy that used to be consumed with relationships and romance and raising children has been freed up. And you realize that with average life expectancies being what they are, you've now been alive more years than you will continue to be alive and there are things you still want to do and places you still want to go.  

And you realize maybe you are actually free to start pursuing some of those dreams. (Maybe you always were). And you realize the time is now.

Now, I know this one trip does not offer a lifetime of travel, nor does it involve sailing around the world. But what it is is a baby step - no, a big step. It's a leap away from my daily routine. It's a look through a portal into what is still possible for me to experience in my life.

And that is a very good start. 

All Signs Point to Georgia.

All Signs Point to Georgia.

In about a week from now, we head out on our first trip. It feels like only yesterday that Summer announced on facebook that we were going to be taking people with us on our next adventure together. We had briefly hashed the idea over while unpacking from a treacherous and eventful journey through the unbelievably foggy and perpetually wet Faroe Islands. She sort of yelled it out to me from her adopted post on my couch in the living room: "Antesa. It's time." 

Five Signs we've Compromised our Authenticity in a Relationship.

Originally on elephant journal.

Show me any relationship dysfunction and I’ll help you trace it back to where you compromised your truth—your authenticity.

I say this because I’m convinced that every single dysfunctional issue we face in relationships is a result of a breakdown in connection, and all breakdowns in connection result from our failing to be completely honest with ourselves or with another person about what we want, need, feel and see.

When I talk about not being completely honest I’m not talking about anything so obvious as telling outright lies but rather about something more subtle. It’s about the truths we’ve been conditioned to withhold; the things we may have never even considered we could share with another person.

When we were children we learned that some things were appropriate to share and others were not. And the things that were not appropriate were usually the ones that caused discomfort for others. In this paradigm, sharing anything that makes others uncomfortable is bad. So, often, telling the truth is bad. And of course we don’t want to be bad.

For many of us, knowing when we’re not being honest is trickier than it sounds because when we’re conditioned to believe we cannot share a certain something and when we believe must live our lives never sharing it, we learn to hide it even from ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean it goes away. In fact, if we’re repressing our truth, we’re likely seeing the repercussions of that disconnection everywhere, showing up as dysfunction in our relationships. We just may have no idea where the dysfunction is coming from or how to address it.

In my work, I talk to lots of people about their interpersonal relationships and, let me tell you, it is completely common to live with the assumption that there are things we could never share. Whether the thing we don’t think we can be honest about is our attraction to other people, or that we were hurt by something our partner did, or maybe just the simple fact that we need some space—it can often feel totally taboo to share it. Many of us never even consider that we could, or should, be sharing so honestly.

We’ve learned to try and ignore our own needs and desires to such a degree that we often aren’t able to feel our truths anymore, and we don’t really notice that until our relationships get pretty far off track and we’re forced to start troubleshooting.

One of the most important parts of my job is helping people to get in touch with their own truths and to find the courage to act upon them.

It all begins with learning to pay attention when something feels a little bit off. From there we can look for where we disconnected and we can do whatever is needed to get back to truth and connection. So I’ve put together a list of five signs we can look for to let us know we’ve compromised on our truth somewhere.

1. We feel disconnected.

Maybe this seems obvious after I just described our loss of connection as a result of our failure to be completely honest, but it’s still worth mentioning in case my idea of feeling disconnected differs from yours.

I’m talking about that experience where we find ourselves thinking, “They don’t really know or understand me.” It’s sitting with another person and instead of feeling like we have a kindred soul in our corner, feeling lonely in their presence.

When we feel this, we know we’ve traded in our truth for company, but found that we can never trade our truth for really good, connected company. The best we can hope for when we trade in our truth is to be lonely with someone else.

2. We start thinking they’re dumb.

When we withhold our truth we actually make the people around us dumb. And it’s not just in our heads. When we don’t tell them what we want and need, they aren’t informed and can’t come through for us.

We start thinking, “They will never satisfy me,” or “They can’t do anything right,” or “ Why are they acting so insecure and incompetent all of a sudden? I used to think they were the best at everything. What did I see in them?”

When we are hiding our truth, not only are we failing to equip them with any insider info on how to be successful with us, we are actually scrambling signals that they might otherwise naturally pick up on, which makes them look supremely stupid as their processors short-circuit trying to navigate all our blocks.

3. They go crazy.

So, at this point they are walking around with their signals all scrambled—unable to feel us, disconnected and confused. You might imagine this would create some tension and anxiety, and it usually does.

That is because we are feeling creatures and we actually have a whole section of our brain (the limbic brain) which is designed to feel into the feeling states of others. It’s why babies stop crying and their heartbeats synch up when we hold them close. Perhaps it’s why we amazingly don’t all bump into each other as we rush around on crowded city streets.

Birds have limbic systems too, which some have speculated contributes to their ability to turn in perfect unison in flocks of hundreds.

When our partner can feel something from us but we’re telling them an entirely different thing, it’s crazy-making. It feels confusing and sometimes suspicious. So if we’re feeling one thing and trying to project an air of something entirely different, let’s not be surprised when our partner starts freaking out, acting insecure, or feeling paranoid about us.

We can help them return to their natural state by getting back into alignment ourselves.

4. We feel trapped.

This seems so obvious and yet many people tell me they feel trapped, having never stopped to consider that this is because they have created a relationship where they aren’t honest and, therefore, aren’t having what they actually want and need.

And, while many of us might believe we can’t have what we want and need from our partners, and while that may be true, my guess is we’d all feel less trapped if we at least had an open conversation about our wants and needs, and the opportunity to put some some collaborative compromises on the table.

It’s also worth noting that our partner may totally surprise us with their willingness if we give them the chance to rise to the occasion.

5. We stop feeling excited about being around them.

Yes, when we aren’t telling those vulnerable, edgy truths our relationships get a little boring. It’s difficult to stay excited about our partner when we’re essentially assuming they wouldn’t be able to handle our truth. When we keep secrets we not only render them incapable of showing us they can rise to the occasion, we also exclude them from an element of our lives.

Though we might imagine telling them the truth about those particular things would be horrible, the truth is it would often be much more thrilling. At the very least it would give us an opportunity to deeply connect over something raw and gritty and real.

When we carefully craft what we let them see, the whole ordeal starts to feel a little tame. It’s common to begin a relationship riding on the novelty of new love and coasting on the bonding and euphoria hormones of oxytocin and dopamine, but once those start to wear off we find there’s not much to keep us excited about each other.

However, when we build a relationship telling the truth, we set a precedent to relate with each other from a more courageous place, and that’s just a lot more interesting.