Emotions rise up from our core, where we are both most vulnerable and powerful. When we can live from this core place inside of us we can be authentic. When that happens we are empowered to be our true selves.
Align your thoughts and feelings with your behavior and you have a recipe for true success in your life.
(The following is a loose transcript of episode 56)
When I talk about healing or clearing the obstacles to happiness, I often do what I call “try it on”. In last week’s episode, I “tried on” what it was like to be cheated on. I imagined it happening to me in order to figure out how to get out of those bad feelings that can come over someone who’s been cheated on.
I try on scenarios, emotions, and all kinds of hard stuff, just to figure out if there’s a way out. I don’t have to try on depression, because I already know what it’s like. I don’t have to try on what it’s like to be jealous or in a codependent relationship, because I’ve been there and done that. But I do often try things on when I don’t have an answer to something.
So last week, I tried on infidelity from both sides. I imagined what it would be like to be the cheater, then the victim, then regret what I did if I cheated, then not regret it. I tried on many sides from different perspectives. It was so draining, I could barely function that day.
That may sound like a harsh way to treat myself, but it’s a powerful way to learn. It’s using creative visualization to the extreme.
I tend to go to extremes when it comes to the hard stuff. If you’ve been listening a while you’ve probably heard me tell you to allow more of your emotional pain come to the surface so that you can reveal the freedom at the end of that pain. I really do believe much of our challenges in life have to do with keeping our emotional pain at just under the threshold of full release.
Typically when the emotional hurt rises up in us, we do everything we can to stuff it back down so we don’t have to feel it. This is equivalent to accidentally chopping a finger off, then putting on a glove in hopes the pain will go away.
Emotions rise up in us for the sole purpose to be expressed. Even laughter is like this.
When I was in school, there were times I would be sitting in class and my friend would do something so funny I thought my head was going to burst. I was doing everything I could do to contain the laughter. I know I was turning red trying to hold in the intense feeling of laughing out loud.
All emotions that rise up in us need a voice of some sort. Sometimes we can just think about something and emotions rise up. At that point we can give that emotion a voice in our own head. We can talk to ourselves and let the emotion express itself through our mind. And sometimes the emotions are stronger than that and need to go beyond the mind and out of our body.
Love does this. We can feel love so strong that we just want to express it to those we adore. We can also feel hatred and we might take that and let loose on someone. When emotions are so strong they cannot be contained they need to be expressed. The trick is to express them in a safe environment. If you express hatred in an unsafe environment, the repercussions could be disastrous.
The biggest challenge I’ve seen most people face when they want to express themselves is that they don’t feel safe doing so. They have deep-rooted issues they really want to talk about, but simply feel too guarded around everyone they know, and can’t share what they really want to share.
I went through this for at least 30 years, holding in all the pain and anger from my childhood. I got so used to repressing my thoughts and suppressing my emotions, that I didn’t even know I needed to express anything!
In fact, I went through life believing that everyone else had problems, and I was just fine. This can happen to any of us, actually. We get comfortable being ourselves, even though we might have peculiar mannerisms and behavior that cause us not to express what’s really going on inside of us.
What I want to talk about today comes from the core of who we are; that true place of power that most people want to keep safe and shielded from the world. It’s where our fears and joy come from. It’s the deepest space of pure vulnerability and strength.
I call it our emotional core, but it’s so much more than that. Not only do our emotions originate here, but it’s also a repository for all of the emotions we’ve suppressed over the years. Imagine that, we have a place inside of us where our emotions originate, and where we stuff them back if we don’t express them.
Of course, I make it sound like it’s just a container inside of our body, creating and storing emotions. In reality, emotions are felt throughout the body due to all the physiological changes that take place. You can feel them in your stomach, in your chest, and maybe even in your neck and head.
I have a somewhat eastern philosophy when it comes talking about emotions, because I do believe that they are centered around our organs. After all, I don’t remember the last time I felt anger in my toe, or joy in my elbow. But I most definitely remember the anger I used to feel in my stomach.
And when you think about any emotion, don’t you feel it somewhere other than your arms and legs? I mean, I guess it’s possible. I once had an acupuncturist tell me that my leg was angry. I tried acupuncture to heal my sciatic nerve pain, and anything she tried didn’t work. She thought my leg was angry.
In the end, it turned out I had a disk in my vertebrae that was so degenerated, it was nearly gone. This compressed my spine and put pressure on my sciatic nerve. My leg might have been angry at my back, I’m not sure. But in the end, my leg pain did not equate to anger, it was just an indication of some sort of malfunction my body was going through.
But pain can cause emotions, that’s for sure. There were times I got very sad because of my sciatica. Then there were times I felt angry. Physical pain and emotional pain are two separate processes, even though one usually complements the other.
By the time this episode is over, you’ll learn how to connect with vulnerability to gain strength, and develop true expression from the deepest part of you.
Once you are completely comfortable expressing your deepest, most truthful emotions, you will embody the power of full expression. You will speak with confidence knowing who you are, even when you aren’t absolutely sure what you’re talking about.
Full expression from the deepest, most guarded layer inside of you is where your power resides. You don’t have to lie, or take charge, or even push people around to show others your strength. All you have to do is, quite literally, be yourself.
If you are hiding that true self from the world because of fear, shame or regret, then maybe today is the day you’ll be able to let all of it go and step into authenticity. Once you step into your authentic self, happiness shows up out of nowhere. It’s a noble, rewarding path.
Ever since I decided to honor my personal boundaries and speak my truth, I have gotten more of what I want in my life time and time again. The first time I spoke up to my boss, where I shared that his perspective was incorrect and told him why, was a pivotal moment for me.
Not only did I start gaining a lot more respect at work, but it had unintended consequences like a raise and promotion. I can pinpoint from the day I spoke up, the chain of events that led to each promotion, raise, and even new job I accepted, all because I started telling people my truth.
The ultimate test of that was after I was standing in the soup kitchen for a couple months. When I was married, my wife and I went broke, ended up at a soup kitchen, then went into the welfare system for a few months. During that time, I would look for work, but it was hard to come by.
So when I finally found a job, I enjoyed it for a few weeks, until they told me that I’d be answering phones. Well, since my employer didn’t like any of my ideas about ways to improve things, and they were about to put me on phones which is not what I signed up for, I decided to quit.
Yup, no job meant no income, meant back to the soup kitchen. I felt so confident in who I was, I chose to not let any job take that away. So even though I knew we’d be back in a system I didn’t want to be in, it was better than compromising myself everyday.
Once you face the world from an authentic place and are prepared to honor yourself, you’ll make decisions most “normal” people won’t make.
I made the decision to leave the only source of income my wife and I had at the time because I honored myself. I knew if I stayed, I’d be miserable. I figured, if I’m going to be miserable anyway, I’m going to choose my own misery. Which is why I chose to go back to the soup kitchen.
About a month or two later, I found a job online that looked interesting. It was an IT job traveling the country replacing equipment. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun. So I responded to the ad, and sent it off.
Well, in the meantime, my friend Scott calls me up and we have a chat about my work situation. I told him how much money I’m hoping to make with this IT job, and he said, “What? You’re worth a lot more than that!” I was like, “No I’m not, I barely have any experience with X, Y, and Z so they’re not going to pay me more!”
He proceeded to remind me that just because I don’t have particular skills, doesn’t mean I’m not a leader nor have the capability of learning as I go. Since him and I worked together on a few projects, he listing off the abilities he saw in me. I was really surprised how much he looked up to me, and I had to soak it in for a little bit.
The next day, I received a call from the company I applied to and they asked me how much I’m looking to earn on this project. Well, remembering what my friend Scott told me about the talents he saw in me, I decided to tell them an amount five dollars more an hour than I originally asked.
I sat for just a second knowing they’d come back with a counter-offer, and of course, they did. However, they didn’t lower their offer, they raised it another dollar on top of what I already said. I was surprised, and agreed to the counter offer. And soon afterwards, I was hired.
I spoke from a place of authenticity. I told them what I really wanted to tell them, not something I thought they wanted to hear. I would have told them five dollars less and probably would have gotten that or a little more. But when the numbers came out of my mouth, that was my truth. That’s really what I wanted to tell them. I was, what I call, congruent.
Congruency is when what you are thinking and feeling are aligned with your behavior.
It is when you show your true colors. You know, walk your talk, in a sense. Let’s start our discussion on connecting with your vulnerability by talking about congruency.
When I was married, my wife used to start these diet programs. She would get all excited, and say something like, “I really like this new diet program, I can’t wait to see the results” or something like that.
Then I would get excited with her, knowing she was so happy she found a program that might actually work. I felt really good that she was happy and on board with something she had so much passion about.
Then about a week or two later, I’d bring it up, “So how’s that diet program going? Still loving it? Noticing anything new or exciting?”
She would say, “What? What diet program?” I’d be like, “The one you told me about. You just started it. You told me a couple weeks ago.”
She’d think about it, then say, “Oh, that! Yeah, that’s not going to work for me. I decided to stop that.”
“Really? You were so excited about it for several days! You even told me you felt better and were losing weight. I didn’t realize you stopped.”
She would come up with something that made sense on why she stopped, so I just figured, ‘hmm, well, I guess she found out something she didn’t like about it.’ and I’d forget about it.
But then a few months later, she did the same thing. She found another program, and got just as excited once again. And once again, I supported her and couldn’t wait to celebrate the results with her.
And once again, it just disappeared without a peep. She did this several times throughout the years we were together. I finally stopped asking how she liked the program she was on, because the answer was always the same. She always stopped the program for one reason or another.
Soon, I realized that I wasn’t so excited for her anymore. She would share something with me, and inside my head I’d be like, “Yeah, we’ll see how long this lasts”, but I’d be just as supportive with her regardless.
But, the problem was that her passion, enthusiasm and motivation did not match her behavior. At first it did, but when she stopped using the program, she never shared that part with me. So I would sometimes go weeks thinking that she was getting full use of something she loved. Instead, she had quit long before I asked, and then sometimes acted surprised when I would ask about it.
So I started to become disenchanted when she got excited about something. It wasn’t because she quit all those programs, it was because she never shared with me that she quit, so my excitement continued for her, while she had dropped out and was no longer excited.
Because I didn’t know, I started feeling this incongruence for her. Incongruence is when what you say or how you feel doesn’t match your behavior or results. In other words, I believed she was still passionate and doing great on a program because she never told me otherwise. Then I felt kind of foolish when I’d ask and she would look at me funny and say, “What program?”
This incongruence seeped into many aspects of our relationship. I got so used to her saying she was going to do something and not follow through with it, I just figured that’s how she was.
I once shared with her how incongruent she was. She didn’t understand what I was telling her at all. I told her how she would start something, I would get excited for her, then thinking she was still doing that same thing, I would bring it up, and she would look at me funny as if I were nuts.
I said, “It’s like you telling me that you’re so excited because you want to paint the bedroom. You share with me all the benefits of painting the bedroom, and you get me excited about it too. So I walk away with a newly painted bedroom in mind. Then the day to paint comes and goes, and I mention, “Didn’t get to the bedroom huh?” and you reply, “What do you mean?” as if you had completely lost interest or forgotten about it.
She would tell me that she has every right to change her mind, which of course I agree with! But when she did that, and I didn’t know she did, I was still in the space of her passion and happiness about her new plan. My thoughts included her positive outlook about herself and the diet program she was on. I was really happy for her!
But when the result didn’t match her intention, I was confused. I wasn’t upset or anything, just confused. She would say one thing, and either do another or not do anything sometimes. What she told me was not congruent with what she did.
I think I would have been okay with this had it happened once or twice, but because she did it many times, I realized it was harder to rely on what she said she was going to do.
Mind you, her programs had nothing to do with me. She could start and quit as many as she wanted. But when she involved me in her excitement, I got drawn into her passion and happiness about it. Then when I was still feeling that for her, and she was no longer even thinking about it, it was just… weird and awkward.
Congruence is when your thoughts, feelings, and intentions match your behavior.
Incongruence is when your thoughts, feelings and intentions are different than the way you behave.
A good example of congruence is when I was in high school. I was sitting with my friend in study hall, and one of the jocks was making fun of my friend’s mom. So my friend told the jock, “If you say one more thing about my mom, I’m going to punch you in the face.”
So, the jock chose to push his luck and say something else about my friend’s mom. Sure enough, my friend calmly got up, walked over, and punched him in the face. It was simple and direct, and he followed through.
A good example of incongruence, at least one that I haven’t used yet in this episode, is when you see a mom in a grocery store with a misbehaving child. She gives the old 3, 2, 1 count to warn the child to stop misbehaving.
Well, I’ve seen moms reach 1 and not do anything about it. Sometimes you’ll hear 3, 2, 2 and half, 2 and three quarters… nothing. The next time and everytime after she counts, the child will know that he or she can misbehave longer and longer each time because there’s rarely, if ever, accountability.
Children can easily detect incongruence, because they push the limits all the time to find out where your breaking points are. Once they become accountable, they know the limits.
When my father would give me a boundary, he meant it. If I blew through that boundary, the belt came off! I’m not saying I agree with punishment like that, but I did learn to become quite disciplined in my own behavior because of times like that.
When you are congruent, you are connecting with what you really want for yourself. This is when you connect with your deepest layer, your core. When you spend the majority of your time coming from this place, you feel empowered. You ask for what you want, and aren’t worried so much about what other people think.
I mean, you’re still going to be somewhat tactful in your approach sometimes. You may be in a situation where speaking your truth may actually be dangerous, so you have to be careful. But the idea is to stay out of dangerous situations and away from dangerous people so that you can be yourself!
Being yourself is the ultimate goal, otherwise what’s the point? If you can be yourself, you can experience joy and passion like never before. But fear holds us back. Fear reminds us to not be ourselves because we could be ridiculed or shamed or who knows what.
Fear is the feeling of not feeling safe. And being in a safe environment with safe people is where we are going next.
Accessing your vulnerability means allowing the real you to come out. The person who has faults, past hurts, and worries about the future. But also the person who has love, joy, and aspirations about what could be. When you are vulnerable, you are showing the world all of this.
Everything that has caused you shame or embarrassment, and also things that others might find weird or silly.
Being vulnerable is when you can courageously share almost anything about yourself.
A good example of this is when I talk about the dysfunction in my life. I know that there are a lot of people out there who can relate to what I’ve gone through. And, unfortunately, there are a lot more people who’ve gone through much worse. When I share a specific story of what happened in my life, how I felt, and where I am now with things, that is being vulnerable.
But there are reasons I can do this so easily with almost anyone I meet. I’m serious, I just open up about my past to complete strangers sometimes. I mean, if the subject comes up that is. One of the reasons I can open up so easily and access this vulnerable place is that I practice congruence.
What is congruency again? It’s when your behavior matches what you think and feel at the deepest level. When I am confronted with a situation, I always try to be congruent. I don’t always succeed, but I do try. And because I practice this whenever I can, it becomes more natural. It also shows the world who I really am, and how I will always show up.
Being congruent has changed my life in many ways. It is something I highly recommend you start as soon as possible, if you aren’t doing it already. It takes practice, especially if you’re not used to being 100% truthful with people. And it doesn’t mean you have to be truthful to the extent where you might hurt people’s feelings, but you do have to be truthful with yourself, and what’s best for you.
I’ll give you the how-tos on congruence in a minute, but I want to mention the other reason I can open up so easily and live from a more vulnerable place. And that is, because I feel safe almost all the time.
This feeling of safety is one of the components that’s missing in a dysfunctional relationship. Safety seems to be at the top of the list for almost everyone when it comes to being authentic in a relationship of any kind.
When you don’t feel safe enough to express the deepest parts of you, then you close those parts off in your relationships. Safety is something we believe comes from outside of us. We believe we can’t feel safe with other people because they will do something that causes us pain.
We believe that the world has to be safe before we can be vulnerable.
Now think about that for a moment… how many people do you have in your life that you feel 100% safe telling anything to? Is there at least 1 or more? Or any?
That’s why most of us love to be in love. When we find someone that we can feel completely safe and free with, we want to stay in that place forever. Not everyone feels that way I realize, but I’m willing to bet if you felt 100% safe and free with someone, you’d never want them to leave. You’d always want them to be in your life in some way. And when you mix romance and sex into the mix, you have a relationship that is hard to beat.
Safety comes in many ways, but mainly there’s one way that means the most to almost anyone who needs safety in their life. This component of communication is the key to happiness, safety and freedom in any relationship. And that is when you aren’t judged or criticized in any way for who you are, what you say, and what you do.
When you can share with someone your craziest ideas, and they don’t immediately criticize you, you’ll feel safer to share even more with them next time. When you make a fool of yourself and they laugh with you and not at you, you’ll be more comfortable with them to try even more next time.
In a lot of ways, my ex-wife felt completely safe with me. This deepened our love for each other. But in one major way, she didn’t feel safe at all, because I used to judge her for her food issues. If she chose to eat food instead of express her emotional pain, my judgment would kick in.
She was in a dilemma, because she could tell me her deepest, darkest emotions and struggles, but had to close up when it came to sharing her difficulties with food.
Because I was in fear when my stepfather reached for alcohol, I brought this irrational fear into my romantic relationships. So when she reached for food to stuff her painful emotions down, my fear kicked in. I didn’t fear her getting violent, but that old trigger did come up for me.
I was creating a space of danger for her in our relationship. She couldn’t feel safe when there was junk food or sweets around, because I would get triggered. I wouldn’t get angry, but I would feel sad and withdrawn, and she knew it.
The more I got triggered, the less safe she felt, and the more she closed me off. The last year of our relationship was the best one yet, because my triggers were gone. But her closing up didn’t stop, so she walked away. She could not feel safe with me anymore, and decided it was too dangerous to stay.
When you feel safe to do and say anything you want, and be who you want to be, you’ll explode with love, passion and excitement for anything you do. When you don’t feel like you’ll be ridiculed or put down, you are on top of the world. You just feel good most of the time.
Do you feel safe to be 100% of who you are? Should you be 100% even if you could be? How congruent are you in your life? Do you follow through with your intentions, or do you back off a lot?
Let’s get into some of the practical steps you can take to create this safety and congruence inside of you.
When you are congruent, you are showing the world your intentions. You are clear, and you follow through with what you intend.
When you feel safe to express the deepest aspects of yourself, you feel more confident, and more free to be who you are at your deepest level.
The problem many people face is that they don’t feel safe, and therefore cannot be congruent. A battered wife may say she’s going to leave her abusive husband, but because she doesn’t feel safe, she instead stays and takes more abuse.
She may not be safe in that environment, but she believes that she will be less safe if she leaves. And what she wants will never be in alignment with what she does as long as she doesn’t feel safe.
So what do you do when you don’t feel safe enough to be congruent? And how do you connect with a vulnerable place inside of you if you don’t feel safe enough to do so?
These questions are tough to answer, because many people don’t think they will ever feel safe enough to be who they want to be and say what they want to say. Some people have a belief that it’s best just to hold a part of them in, so that the outside world doesn’t see the real them.
This is no way to live, unless you have dangerous tendencies. If you are a danger to people in some way, then find a professional for sure. After all, if you can’t express yourself because you’re a danger, it’s time to talk about it with someone.
However, if you can’t express yourself because you feel like someone will laugh at you or call you stupid, that’s something that is a good idea to resolve as soon as possible. Because if you think that’s what will happen, that actually creates negative self-talk.
Whenever you think others will make fun of you, or think you’re stupid, or wrong, or whatever, that shows up in your internal dialogue as negative reinforcement. If you say “My idea is stupid” enough times, you will soon find that you won’t have to say it anymore because it will be an ingrained truth for you.
You can actually create beliefs just by repeating mantras inside your head! You could call those negative affirmations I suppose. But because you don’t feel safe expressing, you find ways to hold back from speaking what’s on your mind, or taking action because of the imagined consequences.
This is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your mind to think that what you have to say or want to do is not worthy or important.
I have a rule in my life: Whether I’m right or wrong, I will express what’s on my mind.
Now that doesn’t mean I express everything. Sometimes I simply don’t say what’s on my mind because it’s not relevant or important. But when I feel the need to express something because it just has to come out, I’ll do so, knowing I could be wrong too.
What does that mean? It means I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.
But many people are afraid, which is why they don’t speak up. So I’m going to share with you some things you can do to help you practice your congruence, and feel less fear and more safe. Are you ready? Let’s begin.
- Know that almost everyone feels just as unsafe and insecure as you do most of the time.
This is the ultimate fear-buster because most people have insecurities, fear, and a feeling of being unsafe in some way. When you adopt this belief, then you start to act a little differently around people. You start to realize, “Hey, that person is just as scared as I am, but one of us has to speak up. And, I bet if I speak up, that person will think I’m confident and fearless!!The belief that everyone is walking around with pretty much the same fears frees you from feeling alone, as if you are the only person who feels this way. We don’t all fear the same things, but we all have fears.The challenge comes when we are around people that seem to have everything under control. They appear confident and steadfast in their decisions. They take bold steps towards what they want. They seem to have no fear whatsoever.The truth is we all have fears. I know millionaires who appear confident and sure of themselves to everyone on the outside, but they are a scared child on the inside. We all carry around some fears.When you start to really let this soak in, you can start talking to others from a higher place inside yourself. You can start speaking from your heart, and being more confident in who you are and what you want to express.I’ve spoken to high level managers that everyone looked up to only to find out they had just as many fears, if not more, than other people. The more responsibilities that came into their lives, the more fears came with it. Since they hadn’t gotten over previous insecurities, they added new ones to the mix.Many people feel unsafe in some way. I remember I was in an adult education class and the teacher totally confused everyone by explaining something in an unusual way. Nobody raised their hand to ask her to explain it again because they all felt alone as if they were the only dumb person in class to not get it.I always loved to be the “dumb” person to raise my hand and say, “Could you explain that again, I didn’t understand.” And of course, the teacher was happy to re-explain it. And after he or she did the whole class would often go, “Oh, that’s what you meant”, or something like that.
I always found that funny, because no one was willing to be vulnerable and admit they didn’t understand what was just taught.
Why? Are we so scared of being laughed at or pointed out that we don’t know something that we won’t even ask for someone to explain it to us again?
I adopted a belief in my 20s that really helped me get over my fear of feeling dumb, and that is this:
If one person did it, so can I.
This sound like basic personal growth, I know, but I twisted it a little bit to help me feel better about asking the questions no one else would ask. Here’s my twisted around version:
If I don’t know, that means someone else doesn’t know.
What’s funny is that second statement is more true than the first one more often. If I don’t know something, or if I’m nervous about something, or if I don’t want to say something, I know there are others just like me in the same situation. And, when I do take action towards full expression, those same people are grateful I did so, and even look up to me as being somewhat fearless.
There are few fearless people. I mean, given the right circumstances, even the most fearless person can have fear. So to have other people look at me as highly confident and fearless just means I took a step into the fear and just chose to be vulnerable.
That’s why I always say that vulnerability is a place of strength. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you connect with your truest form. That place where your authenticity awaits to be expressed; who you are at the deepest level of being.
- The second thing you can do, is to start to accept that people will judge you no matter what you do.Every show I put out is a chance for someone to comment on it. Every time I say something, someone smarter than I am, or at least thinks they’re smarter than I am, might put me down for something I said, or state some scientific fact I’m not aware of.I spread my own thoughts and opinions out into the world thinking I’m right about what I talk about, but it’s possible I’m not. I have a friend who told me once, “You shouldn’t tell people to feel more emotional pain, they may not be equipped to handle it, and may have a breakdown of some sort.I told her she was right and that I will rephrase that more carefully next time I say it. If you don’t know what I’m referring to listen to the episode called Clear the Path to Happiness. It’s not that she was judging me so much, but she was pointing out what she believed was an incorrect way to teach.I hold the belief that I believe what I say to be true and am open to being wrong.People are going to judge or comment on what you say and do no matter what, so you might as well say and do from a place of authenticity. This is that place of vulnerability where you can be “real”, and allow your true thoughts and feelings to be expressed.Every show is like that for me. I put it out there for the world to judge. Some people listen and stick around for more, then other people listen and give the show a 1 or 2 star rating in iTunes and never tune in again.I know I can’t please everyone, and I know my teachings aren’t for everyone, but I still move forward and create new episodes all the time.If you know that people will always judge you whether you do something or not, it is a lot easier to just start doing things you believe in and being authentic. The criticisms will come, yes, but that’s where the next step comes in.
- The third thing you can do to practice congruence and feel less fear and more safe is to explore why criticism hurts you.One of the huge benefits to releasing repressed emotions is that you become more resilient of others. When I started processing and letting go of my unexpressed emotions, and I’m talking deep stuff like anger and hatred towards family, I noticed that people’s words didn’t hurt me as much, if at all, anymore.What’s going on there?Turns out when we keep unexpressed emotional pain inside of us, that defines our self-worth and self-esteem. So if we never let these things go we feel less worthy as we go through life. If we feel less worthy, than people’s words can be more hurtful.If your mom yelled at you every time you dropped your fork at the dinner table when you were a child, you may have developed self-talk that told you “You are so clumsy. Be careful when you eat. Why do you have to be so uncoordinated?”Taking this belief into your adult life can certainly cause you to be triggered when someone says, “Ha ha, nice going dropping your fork on the floor!”It may have been a completely innocent comment, or not, but either way, you take it to heart and suddenly feel stupid when someone calls you out on it. The negative, repressed emotions related to your trigger were never processed and released, causing you to continue to carry this belief system that makes you believe that someone’s criticisms are true.In the example I use, the person never called you stupid, but he didn’t have to. All he had to do was say it with a certain tone and certain words, and you interpreted their statement as a comment on your stupidity.
This is what gets you every time you feel criticized. If you feel that you are being judged or criticized, the cause is inside you. The person criticizing is only a trigger for what you already believe about yourself.
Once you know who you are through and through, then people can criticize you all day and night, and it won’t bother you. You will see that their beliefs are faulty, and you will actually start feeling sorry for them because they have such a narrow view of reality.
What’s funny is that people who criticize you when you’re in this space of self-confidence will be surprised that you aren’t reacting to their criticism.
I’ve had people criticize me, then ask me, “You’re not upset that I think that about you?” Where I’ll respond, “Why would I be upset? I know it’s not true!”
When you get to this place, where you know what people say about you isn’t true, then you won’t be affected at all. When you are affected by what people say about you, that means that there’s a small part of you that actually believes them. When this happens, it’s time to go inside and figure out what makes you believe their comments, and release any unexpressed negative emotions that you have about it.
There are quite a few episodes of The Overwhelmed Brain on releasing unexpressed emotions, so I won’t dive into that too deeply here. But once you do this, you gain strength and clarity of who you are. When that happens, you start seeing people differently. And when they try to put you down, you’ll realize they have something inside them that needs resolving, and you’ll stop taking things so personally.
When you realize that when someone criticizes you, that it’s really an expression of what’s hurting inside them, you are simply no longer affected.
The final thing you can do to practice congruence and feel less fear and more safe, is to commit and follow through.
But, I’m not necessarily talking about with people. I mean, when you commit to something, you are actually committing to yourself. And when you do this, and don’t follow through, you are telling your subconscious mind that you can’t trust yourself.
I know, sounds a little strange. But the more you tell people or yourself that you are going to do something, and you don’t do it, the more easy it is to get lazy, and not follow through with a lot of things. This is one of the primary drivers of laziness.
For example, if I told myself, I’m going to wake up at 6 AM every day and go to the gym, then that’s what I’ll do. If however, I decide after a week that I’m going to skip a day, this tiny fragment of permission seeps into my commitment. This puts a little crack in the glass, so to speak. You ever see a crack in a window spread over time? I know my windshield had one that got longer and longer after several months until I finally had it replaced.
This is how I see breaking commitments to yourself. Give yourself a little more leeway each time, and that crack in the glass gets longer and longer. Eventually it will break, and you will stop altogether. So if I started taking one day off a week from the gym, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to take two days off a week. After all, another day won’t matter.
Then, I’ll be used to going 5 days a week. I’ll rationalize that 4 days is all I really need. After all, my days are busy. As the crack gets longer, my days at the gym become more and more limited. And soon, I stop going permanently.
My original intent was to go 7 days a week. This is what my subconscious mind prepared for. But when I got down to 4 days a week, my subconscious mind figured I wasn’t serious about it anymore, so it stopped motivating me.
It’s probably strange to think that you actually are communicating with another part of you, your subconscious mind, but it’s true! Whatever you commit to consciously, goes into your unconscious. So when I consciously commit to something, my subconscious mind prepares for it to happen. The less I follow through, the less my subconscious mind believes me.
The subconscious mind remembers patterns. So when the pattern you feed it is “Well, I’ll only follow through sometimes”, it starts to fall apart. Once the pattern falls apart, the motivation to repeat the pattern is gone.
If that happens, then you’re going to notice that when you start to make other commitments, your self-talk will be like: “Oh, why bother, you’re not going to follow through anyway!” You can see how this can be absolutely self-defeating. Whenever you don’t follow through, you start to create a new belief system, or pattern, that proves to your subconscious mind that you don’t follow through on things.
This becomes a downward spiral on motivation and confidence. Since you don’t follow through on some things, you’re less likely to follow through on others. It’s a total mind-trap that you designed that keeps you from achieving the things you want in life.
It doesn’t mean you should always stay committed to everything you’ve ever committed to, because sometimes it’s time to stop things that don’t interest you anymore, or are damaging to your physical or mental health in some way.
I’m just referring to how you behave in general. If you’re the type of person that may or may not follow through, then you’ll never develop a successful pattern that motivates you to carry things out to completion.
So, we talked about quite a few things today. Mostly emotional stuff. Have you noticed more shows about emotions lately? I’m detecting a theme here, hmm. But let’s go over some of the main points.
Emotions rise up from our core for the sole purpose to be expressed. This is true over and over again. Does it mean those emotions need to be verbalized or acted out? It depends on the intensity of the emotion. If you can feel it and release it, then all is well. If you feel it, and it lingers on, then maybe it needs to come out and be expressed in some form. Expression can be verbal, by talking to a trusted friend, or physical, by working out or walking.
Our core is powerful. It’s where our authenticity and truths originate. It’s also where the emotions are stuffed back into if we fear fully expressing them. And when we don’t feel safe enough to express something, we close off that core to the outside world. This prevents us from being as truthful as we want to be, or as authentic.
Our authenticity is our strength. But if you are hiding that from the world, you lose some of your power. People use the term “vulnerability” to describe what it’s like to be fully expressive and share things that are the most difficult to share. However, I prefer the term courageous over vulnerability.
It takes courage to grow into a place of authenticity. This core part of you is the most powerful part that, if nurtured and honored, will serve you more than any disingenuous behavior ever will. The more you honor it, the more you will create the life you want. It’s inevitable, because people will see the real you. They will sense your authenticity, and believe in you.
When that happens, your life changes for the better. You will understand the purpose and meaning of every decision you make, and every step you take. You will not have to muddle through your own insecurities and try to interpret your own thoughts. They will be clear and concise.
Once you develop congruency in your life, when your thoughts and intentions are in alignment with your actions and behavior, your life has no choice but to come together as you plan. There is little to no interpretation, because you are clearly defining your path.
When you are incongruent, and you sometimes follow through and sometimes don’t, your life becomes somewhat of a disarray of things. Your subconscious mind isn’t sure what you should be motivated about and what you should skip doing altogether, because there’s really no solid foundation of decision making and follow through.
If you rebuild that foundation and make decisions that you follow through on, you’ll start noticing massive changes in your life. Things will come together, and you’ll see results faster than ever. It’s a commitment to yourself, really. If you commit to yourself, and stay faithful to that commitment, you will create a happier you.
Congruence comes easier when you feel safe. This feeling of safety is achieved being around people you feel safe with. If you don’t feel safe with the people you’re with, you’re probably not with the right people.
It’s hard to be yourself when you are condemned for doing so.
Create safer environments for yourself. When you are able to be with trusting people, you will find that you are easily able to access the core of who you are and be vulnerable with certainty, not fear.
And finally, the four steps to help you practice congruence, and feel less fear and more safe:
- Know that almost everyone feels just as unsafe and insecure as you do most of the time. If you adopt this, you will feel more confident in everything you do.
- Start accepting that people will judge you no matter what, so you might as well be as authentic as possible. And of course, remember, they are not really judging you at all, they are only expressing a fearful part of themselves.
- Explore why criticism hurts you in the first place. So what if someone calls you stupid, why does that hurt? Do you believe any part of that? It only hurts if there’s a part of you that actually believes it. It’s time to explore that part of you, so that you can process and release those negative thoughts about yourself. You are absolutely worthy, so if you’re going to believe anyone, believe me.
- Commit and follow through with what you’ve committed to. Now this doesn’t mean if you married an abusive person, you need to stay with them. It means, commit to yourself first and foremost. Commit to honoring that authentic you. Then, when you make a decision that’s for the greater good of your core self, follow through with that commitment. This will create patterns in your mind, and soon you’ll find life manifesting in front of your eyes.The world appreciates and honors congruent behavior, because patterns create paths to success.Commit and follow through whenever you can, and whenever it’s good for your mental and physical health. This pattern of commitment will soon be ingrained in you, and you’ll find your life improving daily. If you mess up, get right back on track and continue feeding into the good system you’ve created.
All of these tips are designed to help you create a happier life for yourself. When the brain knows what’s next, because you are congruent most of the time, you will develop a comfort even if you are in situations that are uncomfortable. The more you practice, the more your life will change. As soon as you introduce inconsistencies and lack of follow through, your life starts to tank, things don’t go your way and you feel like you are a victim to the world.
It’s time to take charge of your life and regain your power.
Before my divorce, I was starting to notice a real congruence in my wife’s behavior. She was getting passionate again. She would tell me she was going to do something, and follow through with it.
When she realized that she needed to break it off with me, she followed through with that too. As much as that hurt me, I can see that she was regaining her power through her congruent actions. She took charge of her life and is continuing to create the future she wants for herself even now.
Sometimes it’s a long, hard road to get where you want to be. But the first step is always the one you can look back on and say, “I made that step, I can make the next one.”
It reminds me of a time when my wife and I got a treadmill for our condo. It was a few months after my back surgery, and we lived up four flights of stairs with no elevator. We brought it home with no idea how we were going to get it up all those stairs.
We bought it used, so it was all put together and unwieldy to handle. We pulled it out of the truck, and set it down in front of the first stair. We looked at each other, then looked at the treadmill, then gazed up at the long journey ahead of us.
Four flights of stairs! How in the world are we going to do this? So, after we found a place to put our hands, we both lifted it onto the first step. It was a struggle, and we both grunted. But, it was on the first step! We both agreed, if we made it to the first step, we can make it to the second one.
So that’s what we did… step by step, grunt after grunt. At about three quarters of the way up, we took a break. It was tiring! But, we got that far, and had one flight left. And before you know it, we made it the whole way.
Each step is a reminder that it can be done. I know you can do this too.
Creating a happier life for yourself involves taking that first step just so you know you can make that step. Then every step after that is not so daunting. It’s like when you’re overwhelmed with work. You know you can only really do one thing at a time, so do that one thing! Then when it’s completely done, do the next thing. It’s a systematic process of self-motivation, and it works.
Practice congruence. Practice committing and following through. Do this for yourself. Show yourself that you’re reliable and consistent. When you create these patterns in your life, new patterns will show up, and you’ll start to be able to easily connect the dots that lead into your future. Align your thoughts and feelings with your behavior, and notice your life improving day by day.
You can do this. I believe in you.
Step into your power and be authentic, so that you can absolutely believe what I already know to be true, that you are amazing.
Very nice article. I’ve read about 10 of your articles so far.
This article actually taught me a new word (or two): congruence and incogruence.
I found #3, the “letting go of repressed emotions” section, to be the most interesting part of your article.
Why? Because our society encourages repressed emotions. People are subconsciously programmed to think that untruth is better than truth, as a means of survival. As a means of seeking approval, where there’s not much acceptance of who you are. A defense mechanism.
It reminds me of a famous poem called “Please Hear What I’m Not Saying”: https://poetrybycharlescfinn.com/pages/please-hear-what-im-not-saying
Here’s a story. Before my wife and I got married, I did my best to gain her trust and convinced her that it wasn’t necessary to lie to me at all, which she’d done with everyone else as a defense mechanism. I showed her examples of how relationships are based on trust. I walked the talk. I never betrayed her trust. She finally released her repressed emotions, i.e. her masks, one by one. She was surprised that she could talk to me about anything, without being judged or betrayed. It was a new thing to her. She suddenly felt much better. It wasn’t long before she was able to let go of a 20-year trauma that had caused her a subconscious fear of exercising. Her depression, overeating tendencies, etc — disappeared shortly afterwards.
That’s the power of letting go of repressed emotions. It releases tension from the mind AND body, and creates inner peace.
This can be observed empirically.
Anyway, great article. 🙂
Yes! Your story exemplifies how when you express your inner pain and fears to someone you feel safe sharing with, someone who won’t judge you or tell you that you are bad or wrong, you find that the pain and fear diminish and don’t have such a strong hold on you anymore. Sometimes years of tension disappears, as you say.
Glad you are getting value from this site. Thank you for link to the poem, it’s right on. Thanks for your valuable comment too. 🙂
Glad to share my thoughts. Uhh… you should check your Disqus spam folder sometimes. Disqus has had a pretty bad reputation lately of too many false positives (for other users too). Even in prior comments I left (at other websites), where no links were in the message and it was approved the first time, all it took was ONE MINOR EDIT for it to be flagged as spam. In the other article where I left a comment earlier, I replied to your reply — and I “think” my reply went through the first time. But I editted only one word and it was automatically flagged as spam. I read elsewhere that Disqus used to be much better than this. Anyway, just a heads up. Thanks.
Thanks for the head’s up! I see two in there from you, I’ll approve the latest one right now. Not sure why Disqus doesn’t like them. Maybe the website you link to doesn’t have a high enough rating or something (total guess, no clue how their filtering works). Or maybe it’s a site that’s been flagged as spammy on other blog comments from other sites… who knows! But I’ll take a look at your other comment now. Thanks again! 🙂
Thanks for digging up that comment. 🙂