True Potential Via The Dark Side

 

What if our true potential lies within the part of ourselves of which

we are most ashamed?

This question has been rolling around in my head for the last couple weeks and it won't go away. 

It began when I was listening to Michael Hyatt's Podcast, and he posed this somewhat related question, "What if everything about who you are; the great, the good, the bad, and the real bad, was posted all over the internet tomorrow. What would crush you the most?" 

I started to wonder, "What is the one thing about who I am that I don't want anyone to know?" and that was followed by, "What is the one thing about me that I don't want MYSELF to know?"  Hmmmmm.......

A few days later I went to see a Shaman. In Shamanic cultures, the word "Shaman" has come to mean "the one who sees in the dark" or "the one who knows". They are spiritual guides and teachers. Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual practice known to humans and was around long before established religions. To put it simply, Shamans know about deep, dark, old, spiritual stuff.

“Are you aware of the fact that you are almost ALWAYS smiling?” he asked me.

 “What is wrong with that?” I thought. “It’s better than frowning all the time and I know plenty of people who do that. I am NOT a frowner. I see myself as a carrier of positivity, of course I am smiling all the time!”

I didn't have time to respond out loud when he continued, "You say you are in a 'funk', that things haven't  been going so great, and yet, you have had a huge smile plastered on your face since you walked in”.

 “Uhhhh,” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know I was smiling.

Then he uttered the 2 words that made me want to run away and disappear. “It’s fake”.

 “Is this really happening?” I thought. “Did he just call the Co-founder of the Real ME Project, FAKE?  OMG, kill me now.”

 But I’ve had several days to think about it, and I know this man is trying to help me. As much as I hate to admit it, he’s onto something big.

 Although enthusiasm and positivity are strengths of mine, it seems I may have used those qualities to cover up parts of myself that I didn’t like, for decades, without even realizing it. Oops.

I asked him, "So you're saying that I have been hiding my bad feelings behind a veil of optimism and joy?"  

"What do you think?" he asked.

The truth really blows sometimes. 

This realization was a bit jarring because I was under the impression that I was pretty advanced at this self discovery shit. I had left the dark behind for good many years ago, and now I was supposed to dive headfirst BACK into it?

 I had spent over 10 years working on this stuff already. I had transformed from victim to victor, sick to healthy, anxious to centered, depressed to happy, isolated to connected, phony to real…right?

What was this? Phase 2? Apparently, yes. This next phase was not about overcoming or conquering anything. It was about surrendering. Surrendering to the dark. 

According to the psychologist Carl Jung, we all have a dark side; the part of ourselves that we hate the most and try to cover up. He called it the "shadow". So I asked myself, "What is my shadow?", "What is my dark side?" Once I asked, my answer came almost immediately and I could not believe how blind I had been to it for so long.

I want to share it with you in 4 parts in the hopes you may find this format useful for your own self discovery. Have fun ;-)

Part 1: Acknowledging the dark side.

Part 2: Listing all the ways I have been covering it up in my life.

Part 3: Asking, "What could be great about my dark side?"

Part 4: Finding a way to perceive and integrate the dark side into my life in a positive way.

Before we get into this, let me be clear. This is not about taking a big crap on yourself and pointing out what's "wrong". It is actually the opposite. By acknowledging the truth, we can bring the dark into the light and love ourselves more. That is the whole point. Good? Good.

Part 1: My Dark Side

Historically, the “real me” has been a total pushover. If you look back on the majority of my 42 years you would see that ever since I was a kid, I would rather back down, then fight. I lack assertiveness, backbone, and am overly nice. I easily give up and quit. I can be a real wimp. I avoid confrontation, am easily intimidated and am emotionally weak. I can’t even watch scary movies. This is the part of the real me that I hate….until now. This is my dark side that I want to hide and have been trying to hide for my whole life...until now.

 Part 2: What Have I Done to Hide?

To hide my dark side, I have:

 1.   Distracted people with my enthusiasm, positivity, smile, energy and optimism so they would not have a chance to see that I am weak.

2. Participated in Spartan races and lifted weights in the hopes that if I looked strong on the outside than people would think I was strong on the inside.

3. Used “rebel” and “free spirit” personas to send the message that I don’t care what other people think, even though I really care, probably more than you.

4. Hung out with people who I consider strong and badass in the hopes that it would wear off on me and give me street cred. Ha!

5. Took my Haymakers for Hope Fight, NOT to raise money for cancer, but so people would think I was tough.

6. Have often criticized and judged quitters!

There's a lot more than that, but you get the point. Imagine how much time, energy and money I have spent trying to cover ME up? Imagine what I could have been doing instead?

Part 3 - What is great about this? or What COULD be great?

 What is great about having the nature of a non-badass? Well, let's see...

1. My non-badassness makes me a very compassionate, forgiving person. Being overly sensitive, makes me very sensitive to other people's pain.

2. My non-badassness is the inspiration behind all the work I do; coaching, writing and speaking. I want to empower people because I know what it feels like to be dis-empowered. 

3. My non-badassness has pushed me to go out and try to acquire perseverance and strength. Ironically enough, all that boxing and obstacle racing that I've done in the hopes of hiding my weakness, has actually made me physically and mentally tougher.

4. Those are 3 pretty great things.

 Part 4 - How can I integrate this, instead of deny it?

With this new found awareness, I realize that I couldn't have any of those positives, if I didn't have the BIG negative. And that is true for everyone. 

There is another awesome thing going on here. Once we shine the light on our dark side, it loses its power. It becomes just another part of who we are, instead of a dark force of which we are unaware. We are free!

Now that my dark side is out in the open, it doesn't have a hold on me. I feel stronger because I am not TRYING so hard to be strong. Does that make sense?

My job now? To keep the light on.

So what do you say? If you are willing, flip on ALL the lights and ask yourself, "What is my dark side?", "What do I hate the most about myself?"

Maybe you're a liar, or a bitch, or manipulative, or hypocritical, or a wimp like me… whatever your dark side is, are you willing to haul it out into the open? Everyone has ALL the human qualities in SOME percentage inside them, so let's take the moral judgement out of this. 

If you can acknowledge the part you hate the most, are you willing to ask yourself, "What is great about this part of me?” or "What COULD be great?"

I believe that our purpose in this world and our true potential is found in the part of ourselves of which we are most ashamed. The only way to reach our true potential is to stop hiding what we hate, and embrace it for what it is; a part of the whole. Our WHOLE self. 

 

"Your defects are the ways that glory gets manifested.
Whoever sees clearly what is diseased in himself
begins to gallop on the way. - Rumi

Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Smarter Way of Working Out

A Smarter Way of Working Out!

 

June 29, 2016

I used to exercise like a total maniac and firmly believed that working out didn't "count" unless I was pushing myself to the brink of death.

I'm not sure how the craziness began but for a long time I believed that exercise was supposed to be agony, and that anything else was wimpy and a waste of time. Whenever I was in an exercise class, or the boxing ring, or even running with a friend, I wanted to be the strongest, the fastest, and most importantly, the one who could endure the most pain.

And when I say I pushed myself to the brink of death, I wasn't kidding. On 2 occasions, I worked out so hard I suffered severe tachycardia in which my heart began spasming out of control. My chest felt like it was going to explode and, as I lay on the floor, I thought for sure I was a dead duck…both times.

Soon after those episodes, I started teaching exercise classes and it was more of the same. I believed that "maximum intensity equals maximum results."  I was known for having the hardest, most feared classes, and I was proud of that.

I used to yell things like "ALL OUT EFFORT!!" and "EVERYTHING YOU GOT!"

I never stopped to ask myself, "Why?" "Why are we working out again?" and certainly not, "What is best for the human body?"

In our quick fix culture, we want the shortest workout that will "burn the most calories". We sit for most of the day, and then go to the gym where we work out as hard as possible for 30-60 minutes, and then return home for a few more hours of sitting. This can't be natural and I feel we need to change our ways. 

I am trying to teach smarter and workout smarter. My classes are still challenging and I believe that we need to push ourselves beyond what is comfortable in order to grow and improve, but we don't need to kill ourselves.

When I go for a run in the woods now, I run at the pace that feels good for me, not the fastest pace I can endure. With my strength, endurance and mobility training I am now playing the long game; working on gradually improving in all 3 areas over the course of the REST OF MY LIFE, not the next month.

I think a better approach to fitness is shifting our focus to self care. We have been given one body, one vehicle that we need to keep running for about 100 years. We need to take care of it, the way we would a car that had to last a lifetime.

One of Whole Foods' slogans about self care is, "Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love".

So, with that in mind, here is the simplest exercise plan I have ever prescribed: 

1. MORE physical activity at a healthy level and pace!

2.. LESS sitting! 

A smarter way of working out.

And that is what I was thinking about today. Have a great night! 

Thank you for reading!

Love, Annie xoxo

13 Ways to Grow More Confidence

13 WAYS TO GROW MORE CONFIDENCE AND SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE!

Feeling insecure? Nervous about that meeting coming up? How about the first class at your new MMA gym that you are supposed to go to tonight? And that phone call you have been putting off? How do you feel about that job interview coming up on Thursday? 

If you feel confident every minute of every day, than this blog post is not for you. Stop reading right now and go make a movie or write a book about how you do it!

If however, you feel a lack of confidence now and again, or in a certain area of your life, or in a lot of areas of your life, or throughout the whole damn day, than this IS for you. 

Lack of confidence (a.k.a. "lac-a-con", the word my friend Mary and I came up with in high school to describe the phenomena) in any situation, blows, because it is rooted in the fear of embarrassment. 

We humans hate being embarrassed. 

We would rather endure physical and emotional pain on a grand scale than feel the slightest twinge of it. And we will pass up incredible opportunities to learn and grow and expand our lives in wonderful ways in order to avoid feeling it. 

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could feel confident more often? Well, guess what? There are 2 really cool things about confidence that I have discovered: 

1. You can venture out into this big, crazy world and ACQUIRE it.

2. You can turn within and DISCOVER it.

Confidence is totally something we can grow from the inside and the outside.

 

Here are a few ideas and insights for growing more confidence that have helped me. Hope you find them helpful too! 

 

13 Ways to Grow Confidence! 

 

1. Have patience and compassion for yourself and acknowledge what you are ALREADY confident about. Maybe you have confidence in your ability to build houses, or grill steak tips, or rescue cats from trees, or teach jiu jitsu, or sing show tunes, or play Spike Ball, or fly helicopters. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back for being awesome at whatever it is you ARE confident about. 

 

2. Reconnect to your invisible ally, the invisible Force from which we emerged into this life as babies. Babies are not born with a lack of confidence in anything. Lack of confidence is learned. Which means it can be un-learned. Re-connecting to our invisible ally returns us to our natural state of being, where lack does not exist. Reconnecting through meditation, prayer, walking in nature, writing morning pages, and spending time with animals, are just a few ways. 

 

3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you are feeling a lack of confidence about any future event, don't wing it.  Stress eats confidence for breakfast. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be, and the more confidence you will have. If you can take even just a few minutes to prepare your remarks, or visualize the scene and anticipate how you are going to perform, you will feel more confident for sure. 

 

4. Ask yourself, "What would it be like, and what would I do, if I felt a little bit more confident in this situation?" This shifts our thinking to what is POSSIBLE, and away from what feels impossible.

 

5. Ask yourself, "What do I really want here, what is my ultimate goal in this situation?" Get clear on what your intentions are before your ego mind takes you for a ride. 

 

6. Embrace a lifetime learner mindset as one of your core values, because the reality is that you are not going to have all the answers, all the time. My mother used to tell me, "If you are ever in a situation in which you are not feeling confident, ask questions! Then ask more questions! And then you will have knowledge and you will feel better." She was right because with knowledge comes confidence. 

 

7. Just get older! Confidence come with age.

 

8. Set and start pursuing goals that are in alignment with your core values and empowering beliefs. If you only did this one thing, you would increase your overall confidence immeditaly.

 

9. Remember that everyone, even super successful, beautiful celebrities and athletes, feels like a stupid, weak, unattractive, loser now and again. That's just a part of life! Have a laugh, and try not to take things too seriously. 

 

10. Ask yourself, "What is the worst possible thing that could happen here?" Usually, it's not as bad as you are anticipating. 

 

11. Ask someone for help and encouragement.                         12. Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Take responsibility for every situation and you will free yourself from ever being a victim again.

 

13. And finally, Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

 

Challenge yourself enough and you will get used to succeeding, but you will also get used to failing. Once you fall flat on your face enough, it will begin to lose its power. The fear of embarrassment fades away once we realize that being embarrassed isn't the worst thing in the world after all. 

 

And that is what I was thinking about today. 

 

Thank you and I hope you found this helpful :-)

 

Love, 

 

Annie

Why I am going to live with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon this summer!

 

Why I am going to the Amazon to live with an indigenous tribe this Summer!

While my 2 darling boys are away at overnight camp in August, I will be headed to the Amazon Rain Forest to live with an indigenous tribe for 2 weeks, which I figure is either good crazy or bad crazy, I can't decide.
 

On the one hand, there are big bugs, big snakes, jaguars, serious earthquakes, the Zica and god only knows what other viruses, guinea worms, unknown food, a new language, and I am unsure of the accommodations.

At the same time, it is a once in lifetime adventure into an old, old world. I will be dropped into a village that is a 10 day hike from civilization, and immersed among a tribe of 6000 who are living the same way they have lived for thousands of years, without any corruption from the modern world.

Pretty crazy stuff for someone who used to be so scared of the unknown that she barely left the house.

The old me rarely went anywhere without a firm plan and I was always "on guard" for potential threats and dangers.

I used to try and prepare for everything. I carried Bactine and Bandaids in my purse, and large amounts of water at all times because I was terrified that my children were somehow going to die of thirst at any moment.  Just ask my ex-husband about that one! I was insane.

I was constantly trying to control the lives of myself and my family and I resisted spontaneity in the hopes that in doing so, we would all avoid violent, painful deaths.

The reality of course is that we can't predict what is going to happen tomorrow, even if we plan, plan, plan. We just don't know. We can't control mother nature or other people. There are just too many things out of reach.

One of the silver linings to getting really sick is that, if you recover, it feels like someone just handed you a brand new life. It's like returning from the dead for a second shot at the game!

Once I received my second shot at the game, I had a new perspective, and I was able to accept the fact that uncertainty was going to be a permanent player, forever. I chose not to resist it anymore.

I learned so much from going through that health challenge that since then, I have been challenging myself ON PURPOSE in other ways, on a pretty regular basis.

Challenging myself has become one of my guiding values. It is the only way I see to really learn and grow and become a better person.

So when the opportunity appeared to travel to the equator and live with a remote hunter/gatherer tribe, I had to jump on it.

This is WAY out of my comfort zone and although it may not be a challenge for everyone, it certainly is one for me. The only kind of travel I have every done has been to hotels and resorts where they leave you fancy little chocolates on your pillow.

All the more reason I have to get my ass to the Amazon.

When I think back on the times in my life when I have felt proud of something, it has almost always been after I have overcome a challenge. Things like having a baby, training and competing in the boxing ring, healing myself from a debilitating illness, and one particular time when I stood up for myself, make me feel proud.

Think about your own list of proud moments. I am willing to bet that none of them were easy accomplishments. I have never run a marathon, but when I watch people crossing the finish line on marathon day, that look on their face is there for a reason. It's there because it was fucking hard, but somehow, someway, they found the courage to finish.

I am going on this trip for a lot of reasons; certainly to expand my knowledge, awareness and depth of understanding of our tribal roots, the human heart, shamanic healing and nature in it's purist form.

But just as important as all that, I am going to the rainforest to challenge myself on a whole new level and to "grow" more courage!

Can't wait!

How could you challenge yourself this summer?

Have a great night!

Love, Annie
 

 



 

5 Phases of Transformation

 

 5 Phases of Transformation

 

 

June 23, 2016

 

Hi there! It's Annie :-) Hope you are having an inspiring day. If not, maybe I can help.

On Monday I talked briefly about my latest venture and adventure, The Imagination Club! The Imagination Club is an online community that I am in the process of creating dedicated to helping as many people as possible live inspired, fulfilling lives based on their values (what is important to them) and their goals (how they want to grow and where they want to go).

10 years ago when I was trying to heal myself from the debilitating clutches of anxiety and auto-immune disease. I was struggling mentally, emotionally and physically and I was deteriorating by the day. 

I figured out how to heal myself without the immuno-sppressive drugs available at the time, and when I look back on it now, I realize that I went through 5 phases of transformation over the course of 10 years without even realizing it! 

The only thing I was aware of doing at the time was making the commitment. I committed to solving the puzzle, but everything after that  was determined by trial and error. 

I discovered the 5 phases I went through in retrospect; only once I was able to distance myself from it all over time.

If I had been aware of this process ahead of time, if someone had handed me a map and, even better, a support system to go along with it, I am convinced my transformation from sickness to wellness, from victim mindset to empowered mindset, from fast asleep to wide awake, would have been significantly easier and shorter and maybe even enjoyable. 

My goal of sharing this with you is to save you some time, some effort and a whole lot of pain. 

Here is a brief summary of the 5 phases of transformation that I experienced. I felt that they all deserved a name :-)  They are:

 

RISE

 

Healing the Past!

 

Ahhhh…..trauma. We ALL have it. Even if you swear that nothing bad has ever happened to you, trust me, it's lurking in the shadows disguised as guilt and shame and regret. It can have a big effect on the decisions we make, and, since life is just a series of decisions, it's important that we take care of this trauma shit right away. For me, letting it go required:

1. Recognizing it
2. FEELING it
3. Taking responsibility for it
4. Forgiving the other party and myself
5. Leaving it behind for good! 

EMDR therapy helped me tremendously, as did reading books and going to workshops, and there are all sorts of other options out there. Whichever way you choose to go, make healing your past a priority so that it doesn't hold you back from living an inspired life. 


 SHINE

 

Embracing WHO you are, 

WHERE you are!

 

Time to wake up to the present moment and accept ourselves EXACTLY the way we are. Do this and watch your soul GLOW! 

I know, easier said than done. Self acceptance is pretty challenging in a world where the culture of achievement has taken over, but the only way to live an inspired, fulfilling life is to forget what THEY want you to be, and embrace who YOU want to be. 

Self acceptance comes before self improvement, so let's get this puppy under control right now! 

Here is what I know for sure. You are a beautiful, strong, whole, powerful, loving, soul who is connected to the beautiful, strong, whole, powerful, loving Collective Soul. And so is every other human being on the planet. 

Everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge, awareness and understanding they have in each particular moment…including you. 

Phase 2 is about acknowledging our greatness, embracing the present moment, taking care of the physical body, and strengthening our connection to the Collective Soul, The Force, the energy field of love from which we were born on planet earth. 

Some things that had a huge impact for me:

1. Meditation and practicing mindfulness
2. Exercise
3. Time spent in nature
4. Reading and writing
5. Eating healthy, whole foods
6. Getting plenty of sleep
7. Removing toxic people from my life

 

IMAGINE 

 

Dream Up a Vision That Feeds Your Soul!

 

What does your big, bold, sparkling dream for your life look like? What do you really want for yourself and your loved ones? What do you want to have, do and be in all areas of your life? What do you really want for the world? How can you help the world doing what you love to do? 
 

Write it down! 

All the details. Including time frames. 

Get clear. 


Dream up a vision that feeds your soul! Imagine that anything is possible! Don't worry about HOW you are going to do it! Dream big and crazy! Here are a few ideas for you:

1. Create a vision board! 
2. Write out affirmations every day in the present tense! 
3. Visualize your dream every day
4. Believe in your dream with unwavering faith
5. Practice Gratitude for what you already have
6. Invite The Force to the party.

 

CREATE  

 

Time to commit, get to work, and start creating the habits and routines that support your bad ass dream!

 

Committing to the goal is the most important thing, otherwise everything else is a waste of time. 

Once we commit, it's time to create the habits and routines that will support our goals and lead us to mastery, while, at the same time, remove any bad habits and routines that could get in our way.  

Give yourself some peace of mind and create a schedule. Schedule time to work out, time to read, time to do your work, time to sleep. time to write, time to play ping pong with the kids, time to go on a nature walk, time to meditate, even time to do NOTHING…you get the idea.  

A daily schedule that supports the big, bold, sparkling dream you have for your life is CRUCIAL to getting from where you are, to where you want to be. 

In addition to the schedule, it helps to have a contingency plan for when you get distracted from the schedule! It's going to happen and it's very easy to get discouraged. Here are a few ideas:

1. If you get distracted working from home, take your work to the library.  

2. Celebrate all your progress! 

3. Ask for acknowledgment and encouragement when you need it.

4. Be kind to yourself. 

5. Go at a pace that feels right for you. Everyone's pace is different. Make sure you go at a pace that allows you to take good care of yourself. 

6. Review your goals often as a reminder of where you are and where you want to go. 

7. Read inspirational books and listen to podcasts of successful people, powerful creatives and people who are living healthy lifestyles.  

8. Say "no" to any obligation that is not in alignment with your bad ass dream.

 

 

SHIFT 

Making the transition from "me" to "WE"

 

This is where things turn from good to awesome. Once we have healed the past, embraced who we truly are, imagined and committed to a vision that feeds our soul, and started actually DOING what we have always longed to do, it's time to shift the focus from me to WE. 

We move from "how can I become the best version of me?" to

 

"how can I collaborate with others and expand my community and change the world for the better, in my own unique way, doing what I love to do?"


A few ideas:

1. Share your art, your advice, your writing, your personality, your business sense, your product, your love, your WHATEVER with as many people as possible.

2. Collaborate with others

3. Expand your community

4. Ask for help if you are not sure

5. Find a problem in the world that needs to be solved

6. Volunteer, explore, read and keep learning


So that is some of the stuff I have been working on. More details will be available soon on my new website. Yay! 

With love and more love, 

Annie