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.

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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.

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#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.

 

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:

New Article in Elephant Journal: "Why Inexperienced Men can make the Best Lovers"

I'm thrilled to have my latest article, "Why Inexperienced Men can Make the Best Lovers" in Elephant Journal!

In the article, I discuss men, women, and some surprising truths that I've discovered in my last decade as a counselor.

Learn how each partner can take responsibility for a satisfying sexual experience and the dos and don'ts of connecting with your partner no matter what his or her level of experience is.

If you would like to learn more about working with me or to set up a free phone consultation, please click the link below.

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.

 

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.”

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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

 

 

The Problem With 'Make Him Love You Forever'

I was recently asked by an old friend for my opinion on companies that run Facebook ads with promises like "make him love you forever" or "how to make a man fall in love with you." She said she thought she was being targeted because her status is "single." She wanted to know my thoughts on the ads and I agreed it would be a great idea for a blog post.

Side note - I love to hear suggestions for blog posts from my readers, so if you have one, don't be shy!

When you're single, it can be almost impossible not to constantly think about the ways your life would be better if you were in a relationship. You may feel lonely and left out and you probably started wondering a long time ago what's wrong with you that you can't find (or keep) a relationship.

If you're mid-20's or older, you've most likely been in at least one "major" relationship and so you know what it feels like to have someone loving and committed in your life which makes the contrast of not having it all the more intense.

We're hard wired to connect with others and seek out intimacy. Of course a company that promises to help you end the feelings of loneliness and isolation would sound intriguing: they are appealing to one of your greatest pain points and offering an easy solution. 

Full disclosure: I've been in a relationship with my husband for 10 years . That being said, one thing I can say for sure is that if you feel lonely, isolated, or stuck as a single person, you will continue to have those feelings as someone in a relationship.

The bottom line is that the areas where you are most unhappy in life are the areas where you are giving away your power.

If you are waiting until you're in a relationship to feel good again, you are giving your power away- in this case to an idealized but imaginary significant other. Inside, your subconscious will resist you getting into a relationship with someone else when at your core, you're not okay with yourself.

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The main objection I take with those ads is the word "make." It implies there is some secret formula to being in a loving, committed relationship and that you don't have it. It also implies you can control someone else's feelings, and of course, you can't. It's as if love is something that can be achieved, when the reality is that love is something that is received.

Here's the truth as I see it: our value as women doesn't come from doing, it comes from self-worth and self-love. When you criticize yourself, when you place your value on external factors like the love of someone else, you disempower yourself.

If you are single and wanting to be in a relationship, here are my suggestions:

  • Continue to put yourself out there but don't attach yourself to the outcome. I know this sounds easier said than done, but enjoy the process of getting to know new people with no expectations or strings attached.
  • Let it come from a place of wanting, not a place of needing. As you put yourself out there, take note of the things you enjoyed about each experience. For example, maybe you met someone who you don't really feel a strong connection with per se, but who you found has a great sense of humor. Put the sense of humor - or more specifically, how you felt around the sense of humor on your list. Use this time to really think about what your preferences for a partner in a future relationship are.
  • Enjoy the process. You cannot have a happy ending to a journey that has not been enjoyable. Though not every interaction with a potential mate will lead to a lasting relationship, the thing you are really seeking is union and connection. Focus on the ways those feelings already exist in your life and the feeling of gratitude and appreciation that they bring to you.
  • Realize that opportunities for connection and intimacy are always there and that it is entirely within your power to focus on them now.

Ultimately, you want a partner who loves you for who you really are, but unless you yourself truly feel that you're enough, your subconscious will never allow it to happen. Heal the parts that are critical, that believe you're flawed and in the meantime, enjoy the process of learning more about what you are looking for in a potential partner.

Paradoxically, as you focus on ways that true, passionate, intimate connection already exists in your life, especially with yourself, you will expand its potential in other areas of your life as well.


"My Life Would Be So Much Better if She Got Fired!"

Years ago, I had a job that I dreaded going to. I had a colleague who was hostile, aggressive and antagonistic to everyone around her, and it caused me a huge amount of stress. When we were working together, I felt defensive and vulnerable, sometimes finding my heart pounding at the thought of having to ask her a question or communicate an issue to her.

Her outrageous behavior was well known at the agency where I was working at the time. Everyone was afraid of her, and no one wanted to do anything about it.  As time went on, I began to feel trapped and helpless. I loved my job, but she was making me miserable!

It came to a point where I dreaded every interaction with her. I felt that if only she would get fired or quit, my life would improve dramatically and everything would be good again.

I didn’t realize at the time, but I was putting my sense of joy, freedom, and power in a very unpleasant and unstable person. No wonder I was miserable!

If you are in a situation like this, here are some ways to turn your thinking around, reconnect with your authentic self, and eventually get yourself unstuck from the situation.

  1. Stop feeling the need to defend yourself.

Realize that you are never going to feel or be free when you are in the mindset of needing to justify yourself to someone else.

As executive coach Stewart Emory says, “you’re just an extra from central casting,” meaning 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.

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. By feeling the need to explain myself to my colleague when she was giving me a hard time, I was wasting valuable time and energy. The bottom line was she was never going to be a reasonable person, and I needed to stop wanting her to be.

2.  Use your feelings to guide you to a place of balance.

How do you know when you’re not being authentic? You feel like shit! Luckily, unlike the opinions of a crazy person, our feelings are one thing we can actually control.

As Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from man except one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist whose entire family was killed and his life’s work destroyed in the Holocaust. Yet through it all, he maintained that we always have the choice of a better feeling thought.

If my younger self read that quote, I might have said that it was impossible to feel good with that woman in my life. In fact, there was a certain satisfaction and camaraderie in bitching about her with coworkers and to my husband. But that did nothing to improve my situation and in fact, it only made it worse.

If I was looking to feel joy and inner peace, focusing on the part of my job that sucked was never going to help me reach that goal - no matter how justified I was.

3. 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.

When you’re focused on thoughts that you’re being treated unfairly, you’ll be stuck in a shitty situation until someone else gets fired or quits. If you’re honest with yourself, there is always going to be someone treating you unfairly in life. If you’re waiting until you are treated well by everyone in the world to be happy, you’ll be waiting a long time.

So how do you use your freedom to choose better feeling thoughts? By focusing only on the parts of the job you enjoy. Make a list every day of the parts of your job that are awesome and that make you feel great.

Here are some examples:

  • I’m great at my job and I love how I’ve been asked to head the new project. It feels good to know that my hard work is being recognized.

  • I love that I have friends at work. It’s great that we connect and support each other throughout the day.

  • My job gives me a daily opportunity to be creative in new ways.

  • I love that I’m taking care of my family with my income.

Look at the situation with a sense of gratitude and appreciation and then think about the feelings. The great part is that the more you use these tools, the more they’ll work for you!

             

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to learn more about how to use your thoughts to guide your feelings and find a place of balance, get in touch with me. You can call me at 973-769-2401 or email at amy.beth.acker@gmail.com.