When Life is Hard and the World is a Scary Place

The world can feel like a bad place when we're alone with our thoughts.

Our uniqueness can feel like a barrier instead of our most valuable asset, keeping us from feeling connected to the world, the ones we love most, even ourselves.

kaboompics_Pine trees in a wood with dappled sunlight.jpg

When we find ourselves unable to get away from a place of feeling hurt or slighted or misunderstood by people, or by life, we start to experience the world in extremes where every sideways glance from a stranger is a direct attack on us, and every political headline is a confirmation that the world we live in is dangerous, unjust, and evil.

In other words, we either see the world through the eyes of an ant, picking apart the tiniest details of our lives to serve as evidence of our negative perceptions, or we see the world through the eyes of an eagle, personalizing the entirety of the world's pain and making it our own.

When we feel stuck, alone, or disconnected, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to switch our view, and in doing so, switch our mindset.

When we are stuck in ant view, we are in a place where the most minor of disturbances can feel like a monumental devastation. Think of an ant in a rush to get food back to its nest and then coming to a tiny stream. To the ant, the stream will appear to be a massive obstacle to overcome, requiring massive strength and ingenuity to make it to the other side, if making it to the other side is even possible at all.

We feel this way when life is overwhelming. A cold response from a friend that might otherwise be barely a blip on our radar becomes an excruciatingly painful wound to be picked at and analyzed over and over in a futile search for relief. We dissect the minutia of our day looking for evidence to support the fact that our lives are unfair, painful, and just plain hard.

Now think of that same tiny stream from the viewpoint of an eagle flying high above the trees. The stream may not be registered at all to the eagle, or if it is, it's in the context of whether it holds anything of value, such as a fish.

Similarly, when we can step outside ourselves and look at a painful situation from a distance, we get to a place where we can start to find comfort and connection, and ultimately, peace.

So the cold response from the friend becomes much less about what you may or may not have done wrong and much more about remembering that you chose the people in your life for a reason, that people's moods and behaviors usually have nothing to do with you and everything to do with what's going on in their own heads, and that if your friend has a personal issue with you, you can trust them to communicate that to you. Otherwise you have no choice but to conclude that all is well.

Conversely, sometimes it is better to take the ant view. When the world feels chaotic, dangerous, full of one man-made or natural atrocity after another, it helps to take a step away from our social media feeds or TVs and instead take a closer look at the world we have build for ourselves.

There are good loving people everywhere because we are all born good and loving at our core. It's very likely that you encounter people who express their goodness and capacity for love to you on a daily basis, and who give you that love freely and unconditionally in return. 

Letting ourselves off the hook, even for a short while, from taking on the world's pain and suffering isn't selfish. If we want the world we live in to be a loving peaceful one, we have to live in the world with full acknowledgement and appreciation for the love and peace that already exist. 

You can always return back to ant or eagle view at any time, but the change in perspective will likely be valuable to you upon your return. The world's problems and our own struggles are valid and important. But somewhere in between, we can find peace, if only for a moment.

And this moment is really all there is.

If you'd like to work with me on changing perspective, please email me at amy@amybethacker.com, call 973-769-2401, or click here.

The Fear When Things Are Going Well

For many, life can seem like a constant see-saw between feeling extreme gratitude and appreciation for what we have and fearing the unknown. 

It's hard to let ourselves experience fully the good in life when we're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

StockSnap_HTOTME2TTP.jpg

When will it all be taken away from me, we wonder. 
Can I allow myself to let my guard down knowing that nothing lasts forever?

Hard things will happen. Anyone who has been alive for any amount of time knows that much. 

But think about something that is precious to you right now in your life. Something with indescribable value in your heart (a degree, a loved one, a sense of peace, for example). Chances are you went though at least some fear, pain, or inner-turmoil to have it. You wouldn't have it if you hadn't. Maybe you went toward this thing with the knowledge that it would be hard-earned but worth it. 

Or maybe it came seemingly from nowhere, an unwanted, unwelcome trespasser in your life that stretched you and grew you in ways you never would have chosen on your own.

Sometimes the fear leads us to more asking in our lives, and the asking leads to growing, and the growing leads to love. Or peace. Or joy. Or mastery. Or all of the above.

"But!" We say, "What about the people who had something unexpected happen and it didn't lead to growth, it led to the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, the loss of livelihood? That could be me too. We don't know that it will always work out for the best."

But the truth is we also don't know that it always won't. And we can't judge the journey of another person before it's over, especially from our vantage point. We can make assumptions and draw conclusions, but we really have no way of knowing what is true for someone else.

Most people are looking for the same things in life: expansion and growth. Peace, joy, and a sense of inner and outer love. They want to live with authenticity, integrity, and sovereignty. We can't judge the paths that get them there.

We can only reflect on our own path and see that things are ultimately always working out for us. 

Look back on your own life and see the truth of that statement. Maybe the difference between devastation and abundance in life is nothing more than perception.

 

If you would like to talk more about the connection between fear and growth in your own life, call me at (973) 769-2401 or email amy@amybethacker.com or simply click here.

If you like what you're reading and want to join my mailing list, click below!

How to Cope With a Divorce You Didn't Want

I was recently invited to collaborate on an expert panel and share some insights on how cope with divorce. Here are my best tips:

Remain openhearted.

When our hearts are broken, our instinct is to protect ourselves by closing off to prevent further injury. We become angry and fearful, and we may lash out or shut down, which only makes us feel more helpless and more in pain.

This is the opposite of what is needed to maintain connections to people who can support us, grieve as much as needed, and move forward as peacefully as possible.

Discover your wholeness outside the relationship.

Let go of the need cling to the illusion of control by blaming yourself or your spouse. See what aspects of this unwanted situation you can find gratitude in.

For example, there may be places in this relationship where you lost sight of who you are and what you really want out of life.

The ending of the relationship may be an opportunity to rediscover who you are outside the context of the other person.

Give yourself everything you thought you needed from your spouse.

Don’t allow the divorce to lead you to believe you are somehow messed up or unworthy of love.

Don’t use it to come up with examples of all the ways you’re not kind, lovable, and desirable. Use it instead as an opportunity to come to a new understanding with yourself that your essence is innately lovable.

Demonstrate this to yourself on a daily basis by learning to love yourself without condition and engaging in a process of radical non-judgment and self-discovery.

You can read the full article here: How to Cope with Divorce

#Write It Down

My latest publication is in Learn Evolve and Thrive. I was asked to be a contributor for an expert panel on 11 Powerful Techniques and Practices to Cultivate an Abundance Mindset and I wrote about the power of journaling in cultivating abundance in your life. Below is my contribution, and you can click the link above for the full article.

How do you cultivate an abundance mindset?

#Write it down

Putting pen to paper can give us a happier, more intentional, more meaningful life.

Our thoughts create our reality and when we journal, we are able to consciously take control of the power of our thoughts. This helps us to manifest more of what we want in our lives such as abundance, peace, and joy, and to process, heal, and ultimately let go of what we want less of.

Here are some ways to use journaling to bring more abundance into your life:

Write down all the good that you already have.

Starting and/or ending each day with a gratitude practice is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to bring more of what you want into your life. This can be a simple list of what went right during the day, things or people you are glad to have and know, or anything else that feels positive to you.

Tracking the good shows the universe that you acknowledge and appreciate what good it’s flowing to you in the present moment and that you welcome more of it.

Having trouble getting started?

Keep it as simple and as general as you need to to get yourself into a positive mindset about the all the abundance you currently have in your life.

For example:

  • Did you wake up and breathe this morning? Plenty of people would give anything for the opportunity to wake up one more day.

  • When you woke up, did you open your eyes and see the world around you? The gift of sight is a precious one.

  • Do you have a roof over your head? Consider how much more unpleasant your life would be if you didn’t!

CHALLENGE: Spend 5-15 minutes each day for the next week making a gratitude list. At the end of the week, journal on what positive changes you have seen as a result of this simple practice.

Process the things you are having a hard time letting go of.

A journal is a great place to make sense of emotions that are overwhelming us and to become aware of thoughts and feelings that are holding us back from what we want in life.

Writing down the difficult parts of our lives gives us much needed clarity. It helps us heal ourselves as we go within and give loving attention to the places that are hurting and in pain.

In doing this, we become able to let go of the things that once had so much power over our lives and to move forward with a clear mind and a softened heart.

Use your journal to practice nonjudgmental curiosity in order to understand your hurt and pain more deeply and with less inflammatory thinking.

CHALLENGE: Spend an 30 minutes to an hour writing about one situation that has been weighing heavily on you.

  • Who is involved?

  • What about it is triggering for you?

  • What would you like the situation to become?

  • What would need to happen for you to be happy or find peace with the situation?

  • Since you can only change your own thinking and actions, what steps can you take today, independent of any other person or circumstance to start to heal?

Move forward in your life with intention.

Your journal is your place to dream big. You can use it to discover what you really want out of life and what would allow you to be the fullest, freest, highest version of yourself.

But we can’t get from where we are to where we want to be without a plan.

Your journal is the place to let go of the limiting thinking that holds you back. It allows your intuitive mind to explore the places that your rational mind says you can never go.

Note: aim to strike a balance between gratitude and peace in the present moment and the desire to continue to grow and expand. Journaling gives you space to both dream big and love what already exists at the same time. The more you are able to merge both sides of this coin, the more abundance your present and future selves will experience.

CHALLENGE: Take as much time as you need to complete the following exercise:

Imagine that it’s five years from now and you are living the life you were dreaming about today. Describe in detail what an ideal day would will look and feel like for you when this happens.

Some areas to consider:

  • What are the dominant feelings you have throughout this ideal day?

  • Who is in your life and what are your relationships like?

  • How do you spend your time?

  • What are your surroundings? Where are you located?

  • Is your ideal day structured or open-ended? Or a combination of both?

  • What smells, tastes, sights, and sounds do you experience as you move through your ideal day?

  • What is your mindset?

Journal on these questions until you have a very detailed description.

Mark the page in your journal and come back to it periodically. As you review it, allow yourself to experience the day in your mind. Let the feeling-tone of gratitude to be gently present as you do this. Practice feeling and knowing that you already have it. In your mind you already do!

 

9 Signs of a Highly Sensitive Woman: Do You See Yourself In This List?

Many of my clients are highly sensitive women. They go through their lives hearing the same cliches: 

"You're too sensitive. Lighten up."

"You always take things the wrong way!"

"Oh, she's just shy!"

"Why can't you go with the flow?"

What it Means to Be Highly Sensitive

My main goal in working with highly sensitive women is to help them realize they aren't terrible people or tragically flawed. They are simply part of the 15-20% of the population who are genetically predisposed to be more aware of and affected by subtleties in their environment, inclined toward deep reflection and rich inner-experience, and more easily overwhelmed by what's going on around them.

Being highly sensitive is not a personality flaw or a choice. It's in fact a genetically inherited way that the nervous system functions and it affects everything from the most important relationships to how much coffee it takes to become completely wired.

In a world where being outgoing, attractive, easy going, and open to new experiences is considered to be the most desirable of traits for women, highly sensitive women often feel shamed and isolated by their sensitivity.

Are You a Highly Sensitive Woman? 

Highly sensitive women tend to have the following traits:

  • Extremely in-tune and aware of the details and subltleties in her environment, especially those that affect the senses such as the smell of someone's perfume, the sound of a coworker crunching on carrots, or a minor shift in light or temperature in the room.
  • Easily overwhelmed by a lot going on around you.
  • Easily affected by other people's moods or energy.
  • Feel re-energized by withdrawing or isolating yourself when you feel overly stimulated.
  • Worry about making mistakes, being less than perfect, or forgetting things.
  • Seen as sensitive or shy as a child.
  • You are very intuitive.
  • You love to research, think about options, and reflect.
  • Physically sensitive to things like medication, changes in diet, caffeine, or alcohol. 

More Alike Than Different

Being highly sensitive can make you feel like you're completely different than everyone around you, or that you'll never be understood -- by yourself or others. The truth, however, is that being overstimulated doesn't feel good for anyone.

Unrelenting loud noises, impossibly hot rooms or unruly crowds can make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Highly sensitive people just have a different threshold for where that point of discomfort begins.

All people take measures all day every day to maintain a comfortable level of input from the world around us.

We pick up our phones to decrease boredom. We end a conversation when it becomes too upsetting. We take a scratchy sweater off to decrease physical discomfort. We eat ice cream to feel the pleasure of coolness and sweetness in our mouths.

The Positives

Though being a highly sensitive woman can be seen as a negative thing -- especially in today's culture which values hyper-masculinity, rationality, and logic -- being highly sensitive can actually be a huge strength and asset.

Highly sensitive women will fight for what they believe in. They are generally aware of and concerned with issues such as social justice, the environment, and human rights. They want to make the world a better place and put out ideas to make it happen.

They generally make choices and take action based on creativity, imagination, and conviction.

They tend to have a talent for sensitive language and making others feel safe and loved.

Because they like to look at all angles of an issue, they are insightful, able to see the connections between seemingly unconnected things, and able to get to the heart of the matter.

What Highly Sensitive Women Need

Highly sensitive women are like orchids: they can bloom with incredible complexity and beauty given the right conditions. 

If you're a highly sensitive woman, it's crucial to create an environment that works for you and allows you to feel and be your best self. 

Here's What That Looks Like:

  • Learn what makes you feel overstimulated and then take steps to avoid it when possible.

Practice saying no without guilt to events or situations that you know are going to be too much for you. If your friend invites you to a bar and you know it's going to be loud and crowded, suggest another way to spend time together, like going out for coffee or meeting at your house, and let go of the obligation to be all things to all people.

  • Learn to recover from overstimulation when it's over. 

Sometimes overstimulation is unavoidable. If your baby is crying, you're going to stop what you're doing and figure out what's wrong. This may result in minutes or hours of screaming directly in your ear.

When that's over, have a plan already in place to decompress. That may mean sitting alone in a quiet room for a few minutes or calling a friend to vent or watching an episode of your favorite TV show.

Whatever works for you is fine, just know what it is and be ready to go and do it as soon as possible.

  • Get information about your sensitivity.

Most highly sensitive women love information, and love to understand themselves more fully and deeply.

Books like The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive In a World That Overwhelms You by Elaine Aaron and Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain are great places to start.

Talk to friends or family who are sensitive like you, and if you don't know any, look for Facebook groups or even hashtags that will connect you with like-minded women.

  • Look at your past with an understanding of your sensitivity. 

That time you exploded at your partner at the mall: was it because you were being unreasonable or was it because you had been surround by noisy strangers for hours?

That time your teacher called you shy in front of the class: was it because you really didn't like talking to people or was it just that you preferred to spend your energy talking to people you felt a true connection with?

Counseling can help you look at your past actions with fresh eyes and a deeper, more compassionate understanding of who you are.

  • Increase your sensitivity to your own needs and dial down your sensitivity to others.

Remember that our society tends to praise sensitivity in women mainly when it leads to "unselfishly" caring for others. But caring for others all the time while putting your needs second or even last will ultimately end in resentment or burn-out, and then you're of no help to anyone.

Be selective in who you give your time, energy, and attention to. Don't waste it on office gossip or your overbearing mother in law and then have nothing left for the people you really value, or even worse yourself!

While it generally brings highly sensitive women great relief to understand and define their way of experiencing the world, understanding is no substitute for therapy in identifying and healing the wounds that can come with it. Highly sensitive women can be at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and trauma due to the intensity that they experience both positive and negative events and emotions in their lives.

If you suspect this might be the case for you, email me at amy@amybethacker.com or call 973-769-2401 to set up a free phone consultation.

 

How to Deal With the Difficult Person in Your Life

Dealing with a difficult person in your life? Here are some ways to cope:


1. Realize that you are never going to feel peace when you are in the mindset of needing to justify yourself to someone else.

2. Remember that someone else’s opinion of you is never personal. They’re just treating you as they would anyone who represents whatever it is you happen to represent to them.

3. Be okay with the fact that not everyone will see you for who you authentically are, and you don’t need to spend time worrying about it. Don't waste valuable time and energy explaining yourself to someone who is never going to get it.

4. Use your feelings to guide you to a place of balance. Luckily, unlike the opinions of someone else, our feelings are one thing we can actually control.

If you're looking to feel joy and inner peace, focusing on the part of your life that you're not happy with is never going to help you to reach that goal - no matter how justified you are.

5. Use your thoughts to guide your feelings. Many people think that when they feel better, their thinking about the situation will improve, but the opposite is actually true: your thoughts create your emotions. This is good news because it means you have the power to improve your situation all the time - it’s all a matter of focus.

6. Look at the situation and see if there is any room for gratitude and appreciation. You might not like most of it, but is there any part that is positive? Focusing on the positive aspects doesn't mean you're ignoring the negative. It just means you're choosing peace in the moment!

All About Your Intuition

Our intuitions are our birthright.

Intuition is a gift we carry with us all our lives. Though we sometimes lose touch with it, we can never be completely cut off from it.

Our lives are proof of its existence. Our existence is a mirror reflection of its.

When we are connected to our intuition, we are inspired, creative, we know what we must do next (not should do next).

When we are separated, we feel stuck, alone, directionless.

Intuition is a part of ourselves that we can develop a relationship with over time, at any time.

As we hone that relationship, we learn to trust ourselves. We develop a deep, inner knowing about when to hold on and when to walk away, when to speak out and when to keep our boundaries.

In other words, we own what we are and what we are is whole.

When we are out of touch with our intuition, we are cut off from our natural instincts: the ones handed down to us by generations upon generations of women.

This happens when we become consumed by a culture that values the end result, not the journey; the rational mind over the emotional, the liner over the cyclical.

And yet we can never be fully cut off.

Your intuition is the voice that says "this way" or "turn in the other direction and run!"

It is the voice that urges you forward when you think you have nothing left to give.

Our intuition comes from both the past and the future to find us now, here in this moment and to quietly urge us to a new frontier of love, joy, peace, and freedom.

How does your intuition communicate with you?

New Article in Psych Central: Warning Signs of Perfectionism (and How to Fix Them)

Perfectionists believe that there is no such thing as "good enough." There is either "fail" or "don't fail." Perfectionists never feel successful because there is always more to be done, more to be improved, more to "fix". In my latest article, out today in PsychCentral, I discuss the warning signs of perfectionism and how to fix them.
You'll learn:

🔺How to let go of judging yourself and others with compassion and grace.


🔺Why perfectionists often feel disconnected from their feelings and how to get connected on a day to day, moment to moment basis.

🔺Why perfectionists tend to have an all or nothing mentality and how to start living in life's gray areas.


Click the link below for the full article!

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/09/04/warning-signs-of-perfectionism-and-how-to-fix-them/

If you want to learn more about working with me to drop your perfectionist mindset for good, click the button to set up a free consultation:

Going Home, Not Going Big

If you're an entrepreneur, you're most likely familiar with the world of online business coaching. You're probably inundated on a daily basis with concepts like "going big in business," "creating a life you love," "creating a "business you love," or "creating a business that funds your dream life".

We see these promises and hear the stories of those that are living these ideals on a daily basis in social media and in our inboxes.

But this is a different story. This is a story about my friend who invested thousands of dollars on courses and masterminds and hundreds of hours on social media trying to get traction on her business.

This friend is a former nurse who worked her way through college and graduated with honors and two majors. Excellence was a concept she was well acquainted with and that she strived to live every day. She aimed to apply the principle of excellence to her new venture - her coaching business.

She did this because she wanted to feel like she was a person of value. She did it because she wasn't living the life she truly wanted and pouring herself into her business was a way to drown out the barrage of self-criticism that she constantly inflicted on herself.

Deep in her heart, a wish was being carefully nurtured: the wish to be a mother. She and her husband tried for years to get pregnant and still it wasn't happening.

She was feeling stuck.

The months wore on and she continued to pour time and money into developing her business with little to show for it. She struggled on a daily, even hourly basis with feeling useless because her creativity seemed to be stunted on all levels: physical, mental and spiritual.

The harder she pushed in her business, the more stuck she felt on all fronts. She knew that subconsciously, what she really wanted was to be pregnant, to grow a baby, not a business. And to make that happen, she approached it from every angle she could: fertility testing, exercise and yoga regimes, visualizing, praying, special diets and supplements.

But she felt powerless to make it happen. She felt blocked from the flow of creation and she felt like there was nothing she could do about it.

Along the way, she came to an important realization. She needed to have faith that her baby was out there for her but was not ready to come into the world on her timeline and that she needed to have patience.

Using her business to distract her was only causing more frustration and heartache. So, reluctantly and tenuously, she loosened her grip on both her business and her timeline for her baby. She committed herself to honoring her inherent value and letting go of the notion that her value was contingent on making money or creating and caring for another human.

This spring, she applied for a scholarship to a high-end business course. She felt confident that she would get it.

She didn't.

Several weeks later, she took a pregnancy test and it was positive.

And for the first time in her life, she realized that she was exactly where she was meant to be. She decided to put her business on hold while she focuses on being present in this brief stage in her life.

Yes, she is extremely fortunate that she has the option to do this, and she's very aware of that fact. People also have no problem reminding her of it. In fact, her choice is the subject of judgment from strangers and sometimes even family members.

And still struggles constantly with feeling worthless because she isn't being productive in a quantifiable, measurable way. But this story isn't about who has it harder and why.

This is a story about how my friend came to realize that when she lives life from her most deeply held values, she comes home to herself.

For another woman, the values might look completely different. Living authentically for you might look entirely different. The point is do what your intuition tells you to regardless of what it looks like to others.

So my friend is "going big" with what has meaning to her in this chapter in her life. She's "creating a life she loves" even if it doesn't look like much from the outside. She's modeling true bravery and conviction in the face of massive social pressure to be more and do more.

In doing so, she's contributing to the world and in a way that living from a desire to achieve or please never can.

To learn more about working with me or to set up a free consultation, click the button below or email amy@amybethacker.com 

 

 

The Quickest and Easiest Way to Self-Care

When you're already overwhelmed and overloaded and your to do list is a mile long, it's easy to see self care as another source of stress. It becomes another thing you're supposed to be doing, another thing to feel guilty about not doing.

Pretty soon it becomes a source of self-criticism:

"I'm not taking good enough care of myself."

"What's wrong with me?"

"I should meditate or something, but I just don't feel like it."

I used to see self care as something to feel guilty about not doing. It was another thing on my to-do list like laundry and taking out the recycling. But as I've gotten more in touch with my feminine energy, I have come to realize that self care is a gift that only I can give myself.

It's not something that inhibits my freedom by taking up time I don't feel prepared to invest. Self care actually gives me the gift of pleasure, the gift of comfort, the gift of expressing love to myself.

As women, it is our birthright to experience pleasure and joy on a daily basis. I make time to do this by waking up at 4:30 in the morning and taking an hour and a half before the rest of my family wakes up to spend loving time with myself.

Here's how that looks:

::I wake up and wash my face with warm water to help energize me.

::I look up at the moon to see where it is in its monthly cycle

::I honor the gift of my body through stretching and exercise.

::I give myself the gift of clarity through meditation

::Finally, I make myself a quiet cup of (decaf) coffee and spend devoted time with my journal

When I do these, things, I feel filled before the day has even begun for my family. If nothing else gets accomplished that day, if the rest of the day gets away from me, I still carry with me the gifts that my morning routine brought to me.

Of course, I always have the freedom to decide that a 4:30 wake up call just isn't worth it and sleep in. But most days, I truly do see it as a gift to myself, nourishment for my soul that only I can provide for myself.

So experiment with making sacred time for yourself a priority as important as getting to class or paying a bill. Experiment with making it a non-negotiable.

Make your presence with yourself your present to yourself.

 

To learn more about my services or schedule a free phone consultation, please click the button below:

An Act of Love

When you're a new mom, it is easy to oscillate- sometimes moment by moment- between complete love and gratitude for the new life you have created and complete overwhelment. It can feel impossible to meet even your most basic needs when all the time and energy you have seems to go directly into meeting the needs of your child. Sometimes it feels like too much to handle.

This was the case for a good friend of mine when her older son was three and her younger son was two months.

Forgetting

She called me one day in tears and told me she had done something that made her question her entire sense of self. I listened as she told me the story of what happened.

She was feeling excited and hopeful that day because she had managed to get some things done around the house while the baby slept peacefully in his swing. Toys that had been out for days were finally put away, laundry sorted and folded, and a load of dishes in the dishwasher. She even got in a shower before it was time to pick her older son up from school.

She arrived at her son's classroom feeling like she might finally have the whole mom of two kids thing under control, but that all came crashing down when his teacher opened the classroom door and asked "Oh, did the baby stay home with dad today?"

Her heart dropped. Panic washed over her. She had forgotten to take the baby into the school! She had left him strapped in his car seat!

A nauseating combination of shame, terror, and humiliation ensued as she pushed past the other parents to fetch the baby from the car where he was sleeping peacefully.

She was in disbelief that she could do something so grossly irresponsible. She never thought she could forget her own child. If she was capable of forgetting him once, she reasoned, it could happen again at any time. Maybe her own child wasn't safe with her. Maybe she didn't have what it took to be a good mom and this proved it.

Remembering

After several solid hours of freaking out, she talked to some friends who all had stories of similar situations happening to them, which reminded her that she, like all other parents in the world was a human being having a human experience.

When you have an experience that threatens your core beliefs about yourself, your ability to forgive yourself is what will determine whether you are able to move forward or remain stuck in a shame spiral. I have found that the quickest way to forgive yourself is to remember yourself.

Remember that you are your own harshest critic but that your deepest core is always love. You just need to allow that love in. Imagine the "flawed" part of you as a small child begging to be treated with love despite her imperfections. See how badly she is hurting.

See that you aren't able to fully love those around you including your children when you don't fully love yourself. After all, you can't give something you don't have.

Turning it Around

I said these things to my friend as she breathed into the phone. When I was done, she replied, "I know I need to work on loving myself and forgiving myself more. But how?"

"You already know," I told her. "Start taking care of yourself and letting the outside and the inside be reflections of love. Start small and all is coming for you in time."


"You mean taking care of my body?" she asked.

"Yes, taking care of your body is an act of love that you want for yourself and that you want to model for your sons. You also need to care for your mind and spirit. You need to treat yourself like the whole person you are. It's not that complicated, I promise. And I promise every mother on the planet has been exactly where you have been. Forgiving yourself for being imperfect is a journey but it's one you don't have to take alone.

My heart went out to my friend whose confidence as a mother was so shaken by her mistake. We have all been there in one way or another as women because as women we are all creators of fragile things, whether it is a child or a piece of art or a new idea. The universe is always expanding and so are we. It's a journey for sure, but it's one we can take together.

 

If you want to learn more about the next steps in your journey, call me for a free phone consultation at (973) 769-2401.

 

To the Woman Who Isn't Getting the Help She Needs

To the Woman Who Isn't Getting the Help She Needs:

I know you have been suffering in silence with anxiety or hopelessness or feeling like you no longer exist in any recognizable form. I know you are feeling so many things right now: shame that you can't seem to get better on your own, sadness that things are this bad despite all you have done to fix it.

I know you feel like your spirituality or meditation or self help studies or exercise or diet changes should have fixed things right now. You feel like if you just tried a little harder you would start to see more progress. But you're tired. You don't know how to get yourself out of this. You feel weak. You think maybe you just need more self control. Maybe that would fix things.

I know you don't want one more day of feeling panicked, helpless, on edge. I know you want the waves of anxiety to stop. I know you've been snapping at the people you love the most and then beating yourself up over it.

The people you have confided in may have been dismissive - even those who supposedly know you the best. They don't see your situation as being as bad as you feel it is. You think you might be overreacting, but you know deep down inside you're not.

I know you wonder: what if this is the way you are and nothing can change that?

To the woman who isn't getting the help she needs, I want you to know this:

What you are going through right now is an exercise and a lesson in self-love and self-compassion, just like everything else in life.

If you love yourself, you are willing to give yourself what you need, even if it goes against what your ego (fear) wants, which is to stay stuck.

If you love yourself, you don't berate yourself for not taking one specific path to get to where your soul needs to be. You do what is necessary and you don't shame yourself for doing what is necessary.

When you love yourself, you follow your intuition. It always knows the right path, even if fear is doing everything it can to talk you out of it.

If you don't love yourself enough to stop judging yourself about this, then think of your love for the women who have come before you and the women who will come after you. Do you want to leave a legacy of silent suffering? Of being a woman who only allows herself a specific kind of help because you have arbitrarily decided that certain kinds of help are acceptable and others aren't?

Your soul knows what you need to do next to get the help you need.

Do what you need to do now. Love yourself now. Be an example now. You are deserving of it now.

To find out how to get the help you need, call me for a free phone consultation 973-769-2401

 

 

 

 

Five Conversations You Need to Have With Your Gay Teen

Recently, a friend told me that he feels it’s much easier for gay teens to come out to their parents now than it was fifteen years ago when he came out to his parents.  

“However”, he went on, “most ‘coming out’ literature still does ignore the fact that it’s about sex.  Any time you come out, you’re also saying what genitals you’re into...and we all know, sex talks of any variety with parents are f--ing awkward.”

Five Conversations You.jpg

This conversation got me thinking about clients I've worked with over the years that have come out to their parents.  There are some families in which the ‘coming out’ conversation is the first and last discussion of the child’s sexual identity, and other families in which it’s a jumping off point for an ongoing dialogue.  

According to current statistics, between five and twenty percent of people identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  If you’re a parent of a gay teen that recently came out, you are probably working through a huge variety of emotions right now from shock to grief to pride, all of which are understandable and expected, even if you have had strong suspicions for some time.

You may also have a seemingly endless list of unanswered questions that you’re not sure how to broach and very real fears about how this could negatively affect him as he navigates a society where he will encounter people that are unhappy about his sexuality.

At the same time as these questions are running through your head, your teen is likely going through some inner-turmoil as well. She is coming to terms with her own sexuality, which is difficult enough for any teen, but especially difficult when it carries the weight of potential rejection by the most important people in her life.

The “coming out” conversation can be tough for all parties involved, but the awkwardness is the very reason it shouldn’t end there. An ongoing dialogue is essential to keeping the lines of communication and making sure your teen gets the support he or she needs.

Here are some open-ended questions that can keep the dialogue going past the first conversation:  

  1. What are the best ways for me to support you right now?  Understand that your teen may or may not be able to articulate concrete ways that she needs your positive involvement right now, and that’s okay. This question is also an important statement that conveys your love for him and your desire to be there for him on whatever terms are most helpful. It is our job as parents to actively seek out ways to reinforce that we want our children to be who they really are at their most authentic

  2. What’s been happening in your life that made you decide to come out now? As my friend pointed out, telling a parent that you’re gay is always going to be awkward because you’re telling your parent not only who you are emotionally attracted to, but also what you’re sexually attracted to.

Any conversation with parents about a sexual topic is never going to be easy.  But this question can also be a jumping off point for a broader look at how your teen feels about communicating with you on important topics in general.

3. Who is supporting you and what has it been like for you at school?  Unfortunately, bullying    of LGBT teens is still rampant in schools and online. Coming out to friends can be even more difficult than coming out to family because a peer group is such a crucial part of a teen’s identity. It’s important to know what’s happening at school while your teen processes what’s going on.

Is he or she joining the Gay/Straight Alliance and being met with complete acceptance from friends or avoiding entire groups of people for fear of being harassed?  Oftentimes it’s some combination of both.  LGBT teens are at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and feeling isolated or experiencing violence at school can be major catalysts.  

By having a good handle on your child’s peer situation, you will know if intervention such as getting the school involved or seeking the help of a therapist that can provide additional support.

4. Would you feel comfortable introducing me to a boyfriend/girlfriend? This is potentially awkward situation that can be made less awkward by discussing it way before it happens. It’s okay to be real and admit to yourself if there is some part of that scenario that might make you uncomfortable.

But like any relationship gay or straight, if a person goes into it with guilt and shame, not feeling that who they are is okay with their parents, the relationship can be filled with guilt and shame as well. That is a recipe for a dysfunctional relationship that no parent wants for their child.

5. What’s been making you proud of yourself lately? In the end, pride is about feeling good about who you are at your core, and getting your teen thinking and talking about what she feels are her best qualities and achievements is a surefire way to help nurture that feeling.

Being gay is one aspect of who your teen is as a whole authentic person. It’s a piece of her identity, but not the entirety of how she sees herself. It’s important to communicate that you still see your child as a whole person too and that you are proud because she’s your daughter, not in spite of the fact that she’s gay.


Coming out is a time of massive change and growth for a gay teen, and when one family member changes, the family dynamic can change too, leading to some growing pains. Keep in mind that it’s normal for those growing pains to happen, but that keeping the dialogue going can help you get through it together. No matter what, the message you want to convey is the same as it’s always been: that your love has always been and will always be unconditional.

How to Make Epic Progress on Your Goals Today

Goals are tricky things. They can feel overwhelming, terrifying, and even immobilizing. When we do manage to get started on them, we may find ourselves questioning whether putting in the time and effort to do something that feels hard or even painful is worth it.

For example, I had a goal to build a website that would be a resource and source of support for women, but as soon as the idea came to me, I immediately built a solid case for why it wasn't a good idea for me to create it. Here were just some of the excellent points I made to myself:

  • I am not tech savvy and learning to build a website might be hard and frustrating.
  • It would take a lot of time and I don't have a lot of time.
  • I might feel overwhelmed and I don't like to feel overwhelmed.
  • It might take time away from other things that are important like my family or my self-care, or my time watching Orange is the New Black.
  • I like writing but people might not like what I have to say and that would be disappointing. Then I might not like writing anymore.
  • I might work really hard only to realize that the whole thing was not a good use of my time.

But in the end, I felt that a website would be a creative outlet and a way to connect with and support other women. In other words, it would be a means of expression for my most authentic self.

I decided to implement some mindset shifts to help my new project develop and two weeks later my imperfect but good enough website was live!

Getting Super Clear

The first thing I did was to get really clear on what my goal was and why it was important to me for that goal to happen. One aspect of this was to think about the tangible results I was looking to achieve: a place to give my clients information about my services, a place to provide support and encouragement to women through my writing, a platform for other future creative endeavors like a webinar.

The more important aspect of getting clear, however, meant articulating to myself what I was looking to feel as a result of my efforts. For me, the answer was that I wanted to feel expansive, creative, excited, connected, and joyful. These are feelings I am always looking to feel more of in my life, and they serve as great motivation for me to try things outside my comfort zone.

The Journey and the Destination are the Same

There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.
-Mahatma Gandhi

How could I guarantee that in the end my website would give me the feelings I was seeking? By making sure to acknowledge and appreciate the opportunities for those feelings that existed in the journey to get there. For example, working with my clients, writing, spending time with my family all give me the opportunity to feel expansive, creative, and joyful on a daily basis. The path to the completion of my website could be all about frustration and anxiety, or it could be all about creativity, being led by my passions and desires, and having new, life-enhancing experiences.  The choice was always mine and mine alone.

Take the Smallest Step

I decided what the smallest step I could take without feeling overwhelmed and then took that step only. So I started by writing one article for my blog. To be honest, just that step caused me to feel frustrated and overwhelmed repeatedly throughout the process and despite my desire to focus on enjoying the journey, I did question multiple times whether it was worth the effort.

But each time I asked myself that question, I had to answer that it was because even if there was no other positive outcome to my work, I do truly love to write. This quote was always helpful to come back to during that time:

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.
-Rumi

And I did. I was so proud of myself for writing that article that I truly felt like if I stopped there and never created the website, I would still have achieved something big for myself. But at that point I had gained momentum and wanted even more of those feelings, so I kept going.

Go With the Flow of Life

I'm at my best when I'm at my most authentic and going with the flow of life. I'm not at my best when I'm fearful, anxious, and stuck. When something feels hard, I try to remember to give myself grace. What this typically looks like is to stop resisting the "hardness" of a task, and instead question with genuine curiosity what's really holding me back in that moment.

It's natural to feel resistance to doing something outside our comfort zone. The trick is to stop fighting it and instead examine what that resistance is really trying to tell us.

It's similar to situations where my three-year-old is having a meltdown. If I respond with frustration, anger, or attempt to shut her down by wanting her to feel instantly better, she usually feels the need to justify herself even more and escalates to epic proportions. If I calmly acknowledge that I can see she's upset and having a hard time and that it's okay to be as upset as she needs as long as she needs to be, she usually regains her composure pretty quickly.

When I'm not honoring my uniqueness, it's easy to get discouraged. When I'm feeling relief because I'm reminding myself that I am enough and have something of value to offer others, I know I'm on the right track. I also try to remember that no woman's value comes from doing, it comes from love and self worth, and I am in full control of those things.

As I write this, I'm so glad I followed my intuition and inner-wisdom and created this website and blog. The feelings I'm having are expansive, creative, excited, connected, and joyful, and so it is exactly as I thought it would be.  

If you would like to connect to learn more about how I can help you to reach your goals, I invite you to give me a call at 973-769-2401 or email at amy.beth.acker@gmail.com