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Author: Jessica Ruprecht

Making sustainable changes in 2018 (and beyond)

As I’ve been taking stock of 2017 and pondering where I might to let life take me in 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we make changes in our lives. You see, in the past I’ve always struggled a lot with New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve experimented with other ideas, like setting an intention world for the year, but honestly those things never really worked for me either.

But something magical happened last year: I picked up some new habits and I deepened some existing ones in a sustainable and lasting way.

In 2017, I meditated more regularly and for longer than I had in any year previously.
In 2017, I practiced yoga more regularly and for longer than I had in any year previously.
In 2017, I studied Russian more days that not, sometimes only for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour or more.

In a lot of ways, even though 2017 didn’t turn out at all the way I had hoped and was harder than I had expected, I feel really good about these small accomplishments.

My meditation practice has deepened into something really beautiful that nourishes me daily. My yoga practice in conjunction with other things is slowly improving my chronic back pain. And I can have some simple conversations in Russian these days and understand a lot of simple texts.

So, this year, I would invite you to not set any resolutions but instead to find a couple of tiny habits that would make your life better if you developed them or existing habits that you might want to deepen.

I think so often we see the New Year as an opportunity to tear down everything we don’t like about ourselves and we think that this will allow us to finally build the life we’ve been longing for. But in my experience it’s making tiny little shifts and taking tiny little steps towards the things that we love that makes more of a difference than anything else.

So, if this sounds intriguing to you, then here are seven things you can do to make sustainable changes in 2018 and beyond.

Choose the right goals

This one sounds easy, but it’s really not. So often in the past when I have set goals for myself I have set all the wrong goals for all the wrong reasons. So here are a couple of tips for setting the right goals this year.

Don’t set goals just because you feel that you “should”. Don’t set goals that don’t light you up inside. If you’re already dreading the effort it will take to achieve something then please do yourself a favor and find a new goal — trying to grit your way through something unpleasant because you think the end result will be “worth it” is almost never the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Make sure the activities required to pursue your goals are mostly activities you genuinely enjoy.

Do set goals that make you happy, even if they don’t make any sense. Learning Russian makes no sense; I don’t have any use for the language except for a vague interest in reading Russian literature in the original. But the truth is that I just really love learning languages and it makes me really happy — if this is your only reason for setting a goal, let it be enough!

Don’t set goals just because everyone else is. I feel like most New Year’s resolutions fall into any number of cliches: lose weight, watch less TV, be less distracted, meditate more, etc. None of these goals is necessarily the wrong thing, but make sure you’re setting goals that really matter to you, not just blindly following along with the herd.

Make the time to begin

Here’s a simple truth that I believe is often easy to ignore: you’re already using every minute of your days. There are 168 hours in every week and for the last month you’ve spent each and every one of them — I guarantee it!

It’s easy to overlook this when we think about setting new goals for the New Year. We think “oh, I should exercise more” and so we buy a gym pass, but we overlook the part where actually going to the gym means taking 3-4 hours a week (or more) away from something else that we were already doing.

Making time for new habits inevitably means saying goodbye to something old.

For every habit you want to create in the new year, make sure you’ve decided what you’re willing to let go of.

And keep an eye on yourself as you begin to implement because it’s easy to dismiss the hours we spend surfing the web or bingeing on Netflix as “time wasted”, but for a lot of us these activities fill a real need for rest, relaxation, and recharging.

Make sure you don’t inadvertently throw out all of your down time in order to make time for “healthier” habits.

Expect to make mistakes

In the past, I’ve gotten myself into so much trouble by expecting everything to be perfect right from day one.

The truth about life is that it’s messy: some weeks you get sick, some days you’re exhausted, or there’s just a lot already going on and trying to squeeze in anything extra would just add extra stress.

This means that your new habits are going to fly off the rails. You’re going to be doing well and life is going to intervene with something you didn’t plan for, and it’s going to cost you an evening or a week or three months.

Expect this to happen. Let it be okay.

It’s important to have priorities and it’s important to be able to let go of what’s not so important when something truly urgent comes up.

Missing a day or two or three or four isn’t the end of the world. Just pick your habits up again when you can.

Practice self-forgiveness

Self-forgiveness is the secret elixir that makes it possible to fail at your goals over and over again without giving up.

Notice how missing a day or a week makes you feel. The truth is that feeling like you’re failing hurts: it’s disappointing, it feels like you’re letting yourself down, or those around you. And if you’re not careful, feeling like a failure deepens into the acrid bitterness of a constant self-loathing that lingers in the background, tainting everything.

So allow yourself to notice how it feels when the plan gets messed up. Notice if you’re judging yourself for not being good enough, notice if you’re hurting.

And then place your hands over your heart and feel their warmth in your chest and whisper to yourself, “Forgiven, forgiven.” You’re hurting, but nothing is irreparably broken that cannot be fixed.

It’s all going to be perfectly okay.

Learn to start over

Each time you fall off the wagon, practice noticing and self-forgiveness — and then, when you’re able, start over.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that perfect execution looks like starting something once and then never failing, never stopping.

But this idea just isn’t realistic. So learn to start and stop and start over and over again. Just keep starting over whenever you need to, whenever you can.

Practice starting over by returning to the practice the same way we return to the breath in meditation. Don’t judge or make it into a big deal. Just notice and come back to the practice.

Every day is just another day to begin again. No big deal.

Celebrate how far you’ve come

The beautiful thing about this approach is that if you implement it diligently you really will make progress.

Focusing on the habits and goals that really matter to you every day and not expecting it all to go perfectly, but just forgiving yourself and starting over every time your habits get disrupted — it really works.

If you practice in this way, on the vast majority of days you do the things you intended to do. You make it to your yoga mat, your meditation cushion, and your Russian lesson.

At the end of the year when you look back at where you were when you started and where you are now you can see that real progress has been achieved, even though on any given day it didn’t really seem like hard work.

Let the cycle unfold over and over again

This practice doesn’t stop; it just keeps going. In 2018, I’m going to continue to deepening all of my existing practices and I look forward to seeing where those journeys take me.

And I’m going to start just one new thing: I’m going to set the intention to write more in 2018.

And, you guys, I’m starting so, so small with this goal because I’ve set this goal for myself so many times and disappointed myself so many times that I know that I need to be extra-gentle with myself.

So I’m starting not by writing more for this blog, or writing more poetry, or anything else.

I’m starting with my journal. Because writing in my journal has always felt safe and nourishing to me and I genuinely enjoy bringing my troubles to the page and finding my answers there.

And I’m not making any rules about how many times a week or how much I need to write. My intention is simply to honor the truth that my journal is a tool that supports me and makes me healthier and happier and that it would be a shame to overlook that.

My hope is that this journaling practice will begin to spill over into other kinds of writing, but I refuse to put that kind of pressure on myself right now. So for now, I’m starting here where my habit is so small and so enjoyable that it feels easy — and we’ll see where that eventually takes me.

I wish you the very best in 2018!

Much love,
Jessica

P.S. If this post resonates with you but you aren’t quite sure how to really apply it, I’d like to invite you to consider the option of private coaching with me. While the concepts that lead us to freedom are in some sense universal, the barriers are often very individual and working privately with a coach can be the most effective way to overcome your unique barriers and see real results. If this interests you, click here to schedule a free conversation with me and learn more about what I offer my private clients.

Choosing to stay with the struggle

Here’s an often unwelcome, but ultimately unavoidable truth: sometimes life is just hard.

I feel like 2017 more than other years has been a hard year for me — as evidenced by the fact that I’ve barely written anything for this blog. But in some ways I can see that 2017, more than other years, has also been a really good year for me.

Yes, my health has been fragile at best and, yes, the daily news cycle has trampled my heart 3,000x over. But I’ve also mostly managed to stay reasonably cheerful and engaged in the face of adversity.

In some ways I consider this to have been my greatest triumph for 2017.

That life fell apart a bit and I didn’t spiral down into the depths of despair. That, slowly but surely, I’m learning to surf life’s sneaker waves instead of being bowled over by them.

Which isn’t to say that I never have days when everything seems like a mess and I can’t keep my tears to myself — because 2017 has definitely been enough to bring me to my knees from time to time. It’s just that the hard stuff hasn’t been what defines my experience.

I firmly believe that living this way is possible for all of us.

There’s no magic to it — and at the same time it’s still the most magical thing I know.

The secret is as simple as this: to the best of our ability, we choose to stay with the struggle.

This is a lesson I first learned on the meditation cushion, a lesson I first learned working with physical discomfort as chronic back pain often turned a simple meditation practice into an exercise in working with agony.

Sticking with the practice despite the discomfort turned out to be a useful training, even if I did not fully appreciate its value at the time.

The truth is that life is uncomfortable.

Reading the news breaks our hearts each morning. Disasters, big and small, plague our existence. We lose the people we love, we give our hearts away and have them thrown back in our face, we put everything we have into our dreams and fail anyway.

This truth is the very nature of what it means to be alive and human.

The only thing we get to control is our response to difficult circumstances.

Do we numb out and stuff our feelings down deep inside of us so that we don’t have to experience our own discomfort?

Do we lash out and blame others, pointing the finger anywhere but here, certain that our pain must be someone else’s fault?

Do we run — fleeing the job, the city, the marriage certain that if only we found the right job, city, or relationship that it would ease our discomfort and finally make us happy?

The truth, as best I know it, is that none of these strategies ever really work.

We can’t numb away our discomfort without numbing away our joy.

Blaming others brings no lasting peace because a part of the problem still in some way lies with us.

Running brings no escape because our demons follow us wherever we might flee.

The truth, as best I know it, is that lasting freedom comes only when we choose to stay with the discomfort, when we choose to stay with the struggle.

If I could wish one thing for you, it would be this: that you might have the strength and the courage to not abandon yourself in your moments of distress.

I believe that choosing to stay with yourself through the agonies of physical pain, illness, heartbreak, terror, or shame is the kindest thing you could ever do for yourself.

I believe that choosing to stay with ourselves through the storm is at its very essence the way we reclaim our true power.

Because when we practice living this way we develop the ingredients necessary for courage.

We develop the willingness to acknowledge that we are struggling, without judgement about whether or not it is reasonable for us to struggle.

We develop the capacity to engage with our difficult emotions instead of hiding, blaming, or running — to instead hold space for our struggle, to breathe with our difficulties, and to remember what it is to struggle and at the very same moment to feel safe.

We develop the capacity to bring our own kind attention to our hurts, to our heartbreaks, to our unmet needs. And in doing so, we learn that our own kind attention is the most basic ingredient of true healing.

We learn to engage with our struggle instead of trying desperately to escape from it and in doing so we develop the readiness, the skills we need to stand directly in the face of life’s fiercest winds and roughest seas and stand rooted in ourselves and ready — not to flee — but to transmute fear into aliveness as we laugh into the wind and the rain streams like tears down our cheeks.

It is my belief that this knowing is the essence of freedom and that, if you stand ready to face life’s fiercest storms, you stand ready for anything — awake, and alive, and firmly rooted in your power.

This is my wish for you.

Much love,
Jessica

P.S. If this post resonates with you but you aren’t quite sure how to really apply it, I’d like to invite you to consider the option of private coaching with me. While the concepts that lead us to freedom are in some sense universal, the barriers are often very individual and working privately with a coach can be the most effective way to overcome your unique barriers and see real results. If this interests you, click here to schedule a free conversation with me and learn more about what I offer my private clients.

The art of beginning again (and again)

The truth is this: I don’t think I’ve written anything more serious than a journal entry in almost six months (not counting academic publications, that is).

And even that truth is something of a lie because I have written some things, I have an unfinished draft or two of a blog post hanging out on my computer that I never polished up and published and an even longer list of possible blog titles I liked enough to jot down, but never followed through on.

I haven’t written for a long list of reasons — among them, I’ve been focused on healing several chronic health issues (progress has been mixed, but there has been progress) and that lately the time has never felt right (hint: the time will never feel right).

All of which is to say that this blog post is about beginning again (and again). Because as much as I like to tell myself the story that it is enough to begin something once and then to keep going — the truth is always that I begin something once and then life derails me and I find myself needing to begin over and over again.

So today, I thought I’d share just a few tips for how to begin again with grace.

First, honor the truth that this is how life is.

Life is full of difficulties you failed to account for: a bad night’s sleep, an unexpectedly dead phone, a serious illness. These difficulties come in all shapes and sizes and their most important shared feature is that, no matter how carefully you planned or how diligently you agonized, you could not have accounted for them.

The important thing isn’t that these things happen — it’s how we choose to respond when they do.

If we sleep badly do we slack off because we’re exhausted and then feel guilty about how little we’re accomplishing? Or do we take a cold, hard look at our plans for the day and say, “Here’s the two key things that I have the energy to accomplish today. Everything else will have to wait for tomorrow” — and then we follow through on that: we do our two things and are done for the day.

The way to more forward with grace when life throws up an unexpected roadblock is to keep coming home to the truth of our reality in each moment.

Today my reality is that I am tired. Today my reality is that I have needed to scale back on some of the things I had hoped to accomplish.

But today my reality is also that I have managed to do many of the things that I intended to do — and that this is cause for celebration, not punishment. In my own way, I am triumphing despite adverse circumstances — should I choose to view my actions in this way.

Second, offer yourself compassion instead of judgement.

This is the one thing that has made the biggest difference in my life.

I used to have this terribly toxic inner dialogue where every missed deadline was a disaster and every broken promise (to myself, mostly, but sometimes to other people) proved what a terrible, unreliable person I was.

But the truth about living this way is it makes you feel hunted.

Your own scathing inner voices haunt you, until you are terrified to drop the ball on even one small thing for fear of the furious criticism that will issue from the bully that lives inside your mind.

Being constantly on the run from your own inner critic doesn’t work very well.

When you’re on the run, nothing you achieve feels like a victory — it feels like a commuted death sentence or a bullet dodged — a terror-tainted relief, unworthy of jubilation.

Happily, if you are also guilty of a toxic inner dialogue, this is a pattern that can be shifted with mindful awareness and the conscious development and regular practice of self-compassion.

It is possible to recognize that our terribly mean inner voices are fueled by nothing more than our fear: fear that we are not good enough, fear that we will be rejected, fear that others will shame or abandon us if we dare to let them down.

These fears are natural, normal, healthy human fears.

We’re afraid of being alone. We’re afraid of feeling vulnerable. And the fear centers of our brain are working overtime to try and keep us safe and out of danger.

But it is possible to honor our instincts and our fears without succumbing to them.

It is possible to hold our instincts and our fears with compassionate witness and to choose to take a different path. It is possible to choose to honor and navigate our fears with compassion. To offer the smallest, most frightened parts of ourselves our love and protection.

Third, safety is what makes change possible.

The strength needed to begin again (and again) is so much less when we feel safe.

In meditation we come back to the breath over and over again. And we become distracted over and over again — because it is the nature of the mind to wander.

But with practice, we learn that what matters the most is not preventing distraction. What matters the most is how we choose to come back to the breath.

When I first started meditating, years ago, I came back to the breath like this: “Oh, shoot, thinking… Thinking. Again! Argh!… Crap, still thinking…” Needless to say, I often finished my meditation frustrated with myself, my mind, and my own lack of concentration.

These days, I come back to the breath more like this: “Oh, hello thinking…. Planning, thank you for your concern… Past — how good to see you today…” And in between this friendly noticing of what my mind is up to, I generally experience calm and peace.

And when I feel agitated, restless, bored, and uncomfortable  — when peace seems farther away than anything — I notice that with friendliness and compassion, too.

The critical thing that changed was this: I stopped judging myself for becoming distracted and, in doing so, I turned my meditation into an experience that was safe.

Safe to fail. Safe to forget. Safe to start over again.

Because truly, I believe that when make our lives safe for ourselves to live in anything is possible.

And the good news is, most of creating safety for yourself is an inside job.

It’s learning to listen to your fears and outrages and desires. It’s learning to separate your scary story and your insecurity from what is really happening. It’s learning to trust yourself to navigate change and hardship capably and with as much grace as is possible.

It’s the simple (and yet amazingly difficult) commitment to be the one person who will never abandon you. To stick with your body, your feelings, and your circumstances no matter how rough the seas or how fierce the winds.

And if you can do that, you can do anything.

Much love,
Jessica

The breakdown is also the breakthrough

Years ago at a college party someone remarked to me that drunk people walk like this: fine, fine, fine, fine — oh sh*t, falling. Parties were really never my scene, but that image stuck with me and I remember it to this day because it seemed like a really good metaphor.

I think for a lot of us life goes something like this: fine, fine, fine, fine — oh sh*t, falling apart.

I know it goes this way for me sometimes.

Sometimes that’s just the way things are. Sometimes life is unexpected and hard and we didn’t want it to be this way and then suddenly it is and we’re falling apart. Sometimes it’s all beyond our control.

But sometimes I think there’s something else at play — sometimes I think it’s the same for us as it is for the drunk person: we’re trying so hard to prove something (that we’re doing okay, that we’ve got this, that we’re fine, no really) that we don’t see our downfall coming until we’re landing on our face.

The truth is that pretending works for a while — right up to the point where I start to feel a just a little more confident, start to think that maybe this time I’m going to get away with it… And then it catches up with me and I trip spectacularly over how not-okay I’ve been all along.

I’ve been thinking about this recently in the context of chronic pain (but the lesson applies more generally) — because about a month ago I spent a week walking in Wales with a friend and experienced seven glorious, pain-free days and because my back wasn’t hurting and I was tired from walking, I actually slept. Which is to say that by the end of the week I actually felt kind of amazing.

It’s been a very long time since I felt amazing. So long that I had mostly forgotten what amazing feels like.

And then I came back to Boston and my back started hurting and I stopped sleeping well (the two go together for me), and all of a sudden there I was: tripping over how not-okay I was and fraying apart at my edges.

I’m not even sure that the last four weeks have been worse than “normal” — I think maybe it’s just me that’s changed. Because I’d forgotten what it was like to feel good, until suddenly I did.

In the end it doesn’t matter: the truth is simply that I am in need of a new “normal”, that I am no longer willing to push on as I have been.

Somewhere in the last four weeks my strength for fighting through being in pain ran out. All of my toughness disappeared on me.

This is what the breakdown looks like.

It’s not always loud and messy and tear-soaked. Sometimes it’s quiet and gentle.

But here’s the thing: I’ve fallen down and out and over enough times now to know that the breakdown can also be a really, really good thing.

Because reaching the end of your rope is always immediately and immensely clarifying.

You thought you still had some wiggle room, but then suddenly there it is: the end of your pretending leaves you with nowhere left to hide from your truth.

It’s terrifying and terrific: the breakdown is also the breakthrough. Or at least it can be if we’re willing to let it be both.

I used to be so afraid of falling apart that I never learned how to let the breakdown become the breakthrough. Whenever I felt myself falling apart, I did the only thing I knew how to do: I held on to anything I could reach as tightly as I could, to try and keep the pieces of myself together.

But in order to get to the breakthrough we have to stop pretending.

We have to hit the bottom and let ourselves shatter a little.

We have to stop to take a really good look around, instead of immediately getting up and heading on our way — hoping that no one noticed our stumble.

The breakthrough demands our curiosity, our willingness to linger, to take stock of what hurts and what’s broken and what are we no longer willing to put back together.

What is true for me today is this: I am no longer willing to be tough on pain.

What is true for you will inevitably be different. Your breakdown and your breakthrough are yours, and yours alone.

But you’ll know when you’ve found the truth you’re looking for because it will land in your body with a thump, an almost-visceral sensation that lies somewhere between a punch to the gut and an enormous sigh of relief.

And if you thought that getting to this knowing was the hard part, I have unfortunate news for you. The truth is that knowing is only the first step that makes the journey possible.

Insight without action is really just another form of hiding. And (because the truth is always a paradox…) there’s really nothing wrong with hiding.

It’s okay to be not-ready.

Just be honest with yourself that not-ready is where you’re at. Say: not today, but maybe someday — and let yourself sit with that.

Someday you’re going to be ready and, when you are, you’ll get to face the scariest part: the part where you take your knowing and you use it to reshape your life around some new principle you’ve never lived by before.

For me, today, that new principle is this: I want to be soft with pain. Wherever pain shows up I want to meet it with gentleness.

None of this will be easy. Change never is.

Our lives aren’t designed to accommodate the messiness of our human needs. 

To be soft with pain I’ll have to make changes at work and at home, I’ll have to have uncomfortable conversations with managers and untangle old habits to make space for new ways of being.

Being soft on pain demands that where pain shows up I will pull up a chair and give pain its very own seat at my table. It demands that I carve out new spaces in my life, to make room for pain to be present and to allow pain to have whatever it needs.

And the very worst part: I have no idea if any of this will be “worth it”. I have no guarantee that any of this will “work”.

After seven years of chronic pain, I live perpetually in a state of both really believing that not feeling this way is possible, and not really believing that any particular change will be the one that finally makes a difference. (I keep making them anyway, because you really never know…)

But what I do know is that I’m tired of fighting with pain and I can choose to put my weapons down.

The pain may or may not go away — but I can choose today to end the war.

Because today I am willing to admit that sometimes our strength lies not in our toughness but in our softness. In our willingness to lay down our arms and let what is true for us right now matter more than any story we might have about who, what, or how we are supposed to be.

At the end of the day, this is always the real breakthrough: the moment we choose to end our war with reality and turn instead toward allowing what is to shape us into the people we are ready to become.

Much love,
Jessica

What to do when your comfort zone feels like a prison

Here’s a puzzle for you: what should you do if your comfort zone feels like a prison?

I used to feel this way a lot. My job was comfortable, but I hated it. My hobbies were comfortable, but they bored me. Living in Boston was familiar, but I hated the ceaseless bustle of the city.

I felt like I was perpetually chafing against the edges of my life, haunted by the idea that surely there must be more out there than this.

Maybe you’ve had this problem, too.

Maybe your life is familiar and comfortable… but maybe comfortable is also kind of awful. Maybe you’ve secretly dreamed of running a way to a cabin in the woods and hiding there forever (or at least until things seem less-awful).

Or maybe it’s just me.

But here’s the interesting thing — in the past year almost none of my circumstances have changed. I still have the same job. I still live in the same apartment in the same city.

Nothing has changed materially, and yet today I can say that for the most part I like my job and the city doesn’t really bother me — on good days I sometimes even like living here.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what made this shift possible. And the short answer is always that I did. I changed my relationship to myself, and in doing so I changed my relationship to my job, my life, and my city.

Sometimes it works this way — sometimes uncomfortable circumstances in our life are signposts guiding us to turn inward, to look toward some way in which we are unknowingly creating our own suffering.

And sometimes it’s the opposite — sometimes situations are toxic and we need to get out of them. Sometimes the discomfort is there to help us see that it really is time to move on from a situation in which we have been comfortable for too long.

The more I experience, the more certain I become that truth is always a paradox: do what is easiest, except for when the hardest thing is the right thing for you. Stay put unless it really is time to go. Leave, unless it is time to stay.

Unfortunately, this kind of truth is generally unhelpful — which is why learning to navigate the path to your happiness is ultimately about improving your ability to tell the difference between the loud voice of your fear and the quietest whisper of your heart.

So, with that in mind, here are a few things that have helped to guide me along the way.

The first thing is this: are you moving toward joy or away from discomfort?

I used to believe that moving away from discomfort was the same thing as moving toward joy — that if I reduced my discomfort, I would inevitably experience more joy.

In practice, this never worked out for me. My attempts to make my life more comfortable left me feeling imprisoned rather than free — and today, I no longer believe that this idea to be true.

Because the truth is that we manufacture a lot of our own discomfort.

We tell ourselves scary stories that turn benign situations into nightmares. We create rules about the kind of perfect person we are supposed to be that leave us feeling inadequate and crushingly alone. We are terrified of being vulnerable but angry that our lives are so lacking in meaningful human connection.

The problem is that it’s impossible to move away from the discomfort you create for yourself. If we want these things to change, we have to be the thing that changes.

Otherwise, we inevitably bring our story with us.

I hated my job, but if I’d moved on to a new job, I would have hated that too because the problem wasn’t with my job — it was with my story about what it meant to be a “good employee”.

My job was actually irrelevant — a distraction that I used to avoid facing what was really going on.

Which, again, isn’t to say that you should never move away from discomfort — because sometimes I really believe that you should. But be honest with yourself: are actively moving toward joy or are you just trying to dodge discomfort?

If you’re just trying to dodge discomfort, get really curious about that. What’s the source of your discomfort? Is it really your circumstances (and it might be!), or is it you or how you show up in those circumstances that is causing discomfort?

Because if the problem is really with you (your story, your habits, your mindset), you’re never going to fix it by changing your situation. You’re going to have to face inward and decide to change yourself.

And the second thing is this: what do you need to be okay?

Because sometimes the problem is outside of us, but a lot of the time we’re at least playing a partial role.

Sometimes your boss really is terrible or the situation really is unworkable. But it’s worth asking yourself the question: what do I need to be okay in this situation?

And maybe the answer will just be “LEAVE”, but maybe it won’t be. Maybe some voice inside will whisper that you could learn to set better boundaries, or improve at not taking on another person’s criticism as your own truth.

(Because it’s not the criticism that hurts, so much as the moment just after when we buy into what was said…)

It’s worth asking the question because it is in the asking and the listening that we reclaim our power.

It is in the asking and the listening that we reclaim our right to choose: to choose how we respond, how we show up, how we interact with others, and what we will do moving forward.

Because here’s something I deeply believe to be true: when we trust ourselves to take care of ourselves, even disasters can be handled.

When I trust myself to check-in with myself, to ask myself what I need to be okay, to listen and provide for myself my moments of need — when I trust myself to really do this, I find that it becomes increasingly hard to imagine situations in which I could not find a way to still be okay. There is tremendous freedom in that.

I believe that the definition of empowerment is trusting you to take care of you, over and over and over again.

And when I am able to live like this, suddenly getting out of my comfort zone doesn’t seem quite so scary anymore.

Much love,
Jessica