Free Yourself

We gain the greatest freedom from cutting our own ties. Ties that bind us to old agreements and roles, need to be broken, when once freely chosen activities now feel like obligations. istock_000005716223xsmall

Self-created ties are complicated, because like any relationship, liberation is more challenging in the presence of emotional entanglement. Our dysfunctions become comfortable. Fortunately there are effective decision-making tools available to aid this process.

In the comments of my last post, Juliet at Life Made Great, asked me for an example of how I use this question posed by Peter Block in his book, The Answer To How Is Yes. What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

Here’s my formula for using this powerful transformational tool.

1). Trust yourself. You know what’s best for you better than anyone else could know. Until you recognize your caring wisdom within and act accordingly, you will continue to search for answers outside of yourself.

2). Tell the truth to yourself and identify an unmade decision that is weighting heavily on you, right now. Unmade decisions are fail proof indicators of where you are losing focus and energy. Delay is extremely costly.

You will always suffer when your mind wants two opposing things at once.  Byron Katie

3). Decide to ask the question.  We suffer only because we haven’t chosen. But instead of choosing we try to do more.  It’s crazy because we add when we need to be simplifying.

We often seek productivity and time management solutions that only serve to make us realize how far behind we really are.  Sometimes we just can’t catch up.  Instead we need to declare a fresh start by setting fresh standards.

Time management is not about organization; it’s about boldness.  Steve Chandler

4). Ask the question. What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

5). Write down your question and answer it.

6). Follow-through and act on the answer. Without action you are disrespecting your own wisdom.

What happens when it all works as designed?

Here’s how I used this process recently.  My coaching business has been booming.  It’s become very clear, that I need to cut way back on some blogging and social media activities, in order to focus more on delivering break through results for an increasing number of clients.

Yet I’ve struggled doing so, mostly because I truly enjoy and value the connections I’ve made with you, my fellow bloggers.  I’ve been grieving the loss of supportive Tom who once visited and return commented on every commenter to his blog.  But I was fearful of cutting back as well.

Fear-Based Marketing

Blogging and social media can become extremely fear-based marketing.  It becomes fear based when we fear the consequences of not doing it well or frequently enough.  Social media by nature, is a reaching-out activity, to those beyond your closest circles.  The further away from intimate connection marketing is, the more fear comes along for the ride.

But that’s the beautiful thing about fear; if you really look at it, fear goes away.  I’ve realized that my true connections will respect my decision.

What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

My question.  How can I feel really good about my decision to radically simplify my life?

My answer.  I can feel really good about my decision to simplify my life: by cutting ties that feel like obligations, and by declaring new standards for blogging and social media participation.  Here are my new standards.

I do not market based on fear of loss or how I look to others.

Before engaging in social media activity I’ll ask this question.
Is there a more direct way to make connection?

I am free from all obligations and I do nothing that feels like an obligation.

I blog only when I am inspired to encourage and inspire others.

I exercise my right to totally change my mind when it feels right to do so.

I am free.

What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

What unmade decision will set you free?

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Off Kilter, Pissed and Real

Life speaks to us all the time.  Mine wouldn’t let me sleep last night.  I had some unexpressed anger to feel, so I got up at 4 AM and wrote it out.  My favorite anger release is to go outside and play “Little John” by smacking some dead trees with my staff, but it’s too damn cold for that. sunburst_space1

Anger is an emotion that begins first as a feeling (physical vibration) in our bodies. But if we don’t give it the space and time to be felt, it will just duck under the covers of our consciousness and come back to bite us in the ass later.  Feelings don’t morph into emotions until we attach thoughts to them. When we don’t feel a feeling and instead judge it as good or bad, it must surface in the way we’ve labeled it.

On Monday I got some disappointing feedback, not in its truth but in its delivery.  I’d shared my vulnerability with a friend and asked him to be gentle, supportive and encouraging, regardless of the quality of the work I’d submitted, for his review.  For some unknown reason, he was unnecessarily harsh.  But since I wanted the feedback, I silently listened and took notes. Interestingly I’d just written about support and speaking up.

I knew that my friend’s behavior was just a trigger for a deeper self-anger that I’d buried.  I’ve previously shared the techniques I use to feel my feelings and about the power in begin pissed.  So I’ll not cover that ground again.  But I would like to write about accepting our darker sides.

Authenticity isn’t just something that we express when every thing is coming up roses. It’s also authentic to be pissed when you feel off kilter and anger is trying to surface.  Years ago I quit wearing the mask of false happiness. While writing this I was tweeting back and forth with fellow coach Tim Brownson when he half-jokingly said.

I don’t even know what authentic is other than to be doing what I want to be doing. Tim Brownson

Thanks Tim, that seems like a pretty powerful definition to me.
But is it advisable to share ones authentic darker side, in a public forum like Twitter?

A well-known social media expert recently tweeted something like this. “Don’t share anything here that you wouldn’t put up on billboards all over town.” Even that pissed me off, because he seemed to be saying, “wear the mask – don’t be real – be careful.” Bullshit to that! I wouldn’t pay to express my anger on a billboard but I’ll not run from it either.

Perhaps people, who play it safe and cautious, end up doing business with others who also value appropriateness over authenticity. I guess playing it safe could be genuine for them. But when I see someone holding back, I question his or her integrity. I think trust comes first, from simply being real.

I’ll close with my favorite three stanzas from The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.   Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Resources:

If you’re just dipping your toes in the social media waters, here are four experts worthy of your trust: Christine Gallagher, Kathy Hendershot-Hurd, Kim Woodbridge and Suzanne Bird-Harris.