Unfortunately, the more we grow and evolve, the more others who aren’t ready to do the same will want us to stay the same. If you’re around friends and family who just can’t seem to get on board with you getting healthier, what do you do? Do you just pretend to be the same old person you always were around them just to keep them happy? Or do you embrace this new you and leave it up to them to get used to the new you?
Important questions, especially since we all know at least one person that probably doesn’t support our evolution. Is there an easy path where everyone can get along magically? Nope. But there is a path, and that’s what I’ll be talking about today.
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Today’s quick quote is by Rosa Luxemburg and it’s this:
“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”
It’s the perfect quote for this episode because when you grow and evolve, sometimes others don’t want you to. Not because they don’t care about you, but because they can project their own perceptions of limitation onto you.
And those who don’t move, won’t notice that they are really shackled to a way of being that keeps them from improving themselves or their situation.
As you improve yourself, you will outgrow your environment and even some of the people in your life. This is just a fact, because there are people who won’t move and won’t notice the chains.
Whether those are chains of denial, fear, consequence, circumstance, or something else. There are those that continue to try and improve, then there are those that don’t take even the first step because they “know” nothing will come of it.
This episode is about you, improving upon yourself, and what happens when those around you want you to stay where you are. After all, if you break free from your chains, it may mean that they’ll have to break free from theirs too.
And that sounds terribly uncomfortable. So uncomfortable in fact, that those who don’t take that first step will never know that being uncomfortable for a short period of time can lead to a lifetime of healing and fulfillment.
It’s those first steps that are hardest to take. And some people don’t want you to take them. Some people aren’t ready to evolve, so they don’t want you to either.
So a couple weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were having a good conversation with a friend. We are all in the self-help and personal development space, so sometimes our conversations can take an interesting turn.
I say that because sometimes us coaches, healers, spiritual teachers and other people-helpers think we know something so well that we feel it is important enough to share what we know with another person in hopes that they might be, I don’t know, smarter or “enlightened” by our wisdom.
Yes, I catch myself doing this from time to time and do my best to “reel myself in” so that I don’t get caught up in any sort of “Guru Syndrome”. In other words, I never want to appear as if I’m espousing my knowledge or experience on someone else unless they specifically ask for it.
When you listen to this show, I assume you want to hear what I have to talk about, otherwise you wouldn’t tune in. It’s a choice you’re making to invest a small part of your day listening to my viewpoint on personal growth.
However, what about when you’re with a friend or a group of people, and you or someone else starts saying something like, “Well, what you really need to do is this. “This” is the only path to take, and you’ll regret it if you don’t follow what I’m saying!” or something like that?
When you hear someone start talking like this, do you immediately lean in and listen closely, absorbing their wisdom and lifetime of experiences? Or do you start to tune out or look for an exit, hoping they’ll either shut up or drop the subject?
For example, I have a friend that presents on stage. When he’s done, there’s always at least one person that approaches him and tells him what truth really is and tells him what he should tell the world instead of what he’s speaking about now.
Someone will corner him with a question like, “Do you know the real benefits of vitamin B12?” or some other question designed to lead someone into a long conversation. Then the person will go on and on about how beneficial B12 is and how my friend really needs to tell the world about it.
Finally, my friend has to be a bit assertive and thank the person for the info, but leave the conversation. He has his own message for the world and presents it in his own way.
I saw this happen to someone I used to work for. He was a rather famous personal growth speaker and he was holding a party at his office for employees and friends. One of his friends, or maybe an acquaintance, came up to him and started touting all the benefits of ionized water.
She was like, “Oh my God, it cured me and I feel so much better. I want to give you some information on it, and you need to tell your audience about it too!”
I was thinking, ‘ionized water is a cure-all?’
It didn’t resonate with me, but that’s not the point. The point was I could see that the speaker really wasn’t interested in entertaining the idea of talking about ionized water in his presentations. It wasn’t his message nor his calling to spread that information to the world, whether it was true or not.
I’ve had this happen to me too where I’ve been asked to spread someone else’s message to the world because of what they believed to be true.
I’m not offended when someone asks me to spread their message to the world, but I do find it funny that some people believe so strongly in their message, but still only tell one person at a time.
Do you know what I mean? It’s like listening to someone complain and moan about how bad a political candidate is for the country. They’ll complain about it to everyone they meet, but never never stand on a soapbox on the sidewalk of a busy intersection telling everyone about this supposedly bad person.
Why is that?
I mean, if you have information that’s so important that everyone should know about it, why wouldn’t you find as many people as possible to spread that message to?
What motivates someone to tell a person, but not the world? When you have a message that you know will change people for the better, why wouldn’t you do everything you can to get that message out? Especially in today’s day and age where blogging and/or making videos or podcasts like this is so accessible?
We all have the ability to reach a million people with a message nowadays. When I started The Overwhelmed Brain, I remember the first day I saw 60 downloads of the show.
I was like, “Wow, 60 people heard this show. 60 people who likely had no idea who I was heard me talking to the world.”
My first actual interview was with Jeff Olson, who wrote the book The Slight Edge. If you don’t know who that is, you aren’t alone. A year and a half ago, I didn’t know who that was either.
But, my first interview I wanted to be memorable. I wanted to create a very popular show right out of the gate, so I reached out to Tony Robbins, probably the most popular personal growth speaker ever.
I figured if I could get him on the show, people would tune in for sure. But, instead, Tony was too busy for an interview, so I ended up with someone named Jeff Olson.
Let me tell you what happens when you reach into the world and let it be known who you are and what your message is… you shine.
I created this show from an idea and went online with it. In a matter of months, thousands of people started to listen. It took a lot of hard work and creating connections for sure, but it took that first step in order for any of it to happen.
Because I reached into the world with my voice, I shined. It wasn’t because I’m all that great at what I do, I just stood up and told the world who I am and what my message was.
When I did that, it was like lighting a candle in a pitch black room.
That candle was a beacon so that others saw me in the light.
And because I shined, I ended up with that author I interviewed, Jeff Olson. What I haven’t told you, unless you already know, is that it turned out that Jeff Olson was an extremely popular person who was not easy to secure, even for established media outlets.
But because I put myself out there, and because the timing and the subject matter were ideal for him, he wanted to be on the show. He is a multi-million dollar author and personal development speaker who wrote an extremely popular book.
I got Jeff Olson for my very first show!
That is phenomenal, especially considering he certainly never heard of me.
I never really thought I’d actually get Tony Robbins when I reached out, so when I heard the name Jeff Olson, I figured he was just some small-time author. I was still very happy to get anyone at the time, but I just didn’t realize how big he was.
After arranging an interview with his media team, he was on my show in a matter of weeks.
Why? Why would he spend his valuable time talking to me for over an hour when I was a complete unknown. You need to remember, this is before I released any episodes of this show.
When I looked him up online, I saw that he wrote a book and thought to myself, “Well, he talks about personal growth, so it should be a good interview regardless.”
And during the first several months of my show I was thinking I was some no-name personal growth guy who would only meet and talk with those I considered at the same level as me.
But it turned out, because I shined, people wanted to talk with me.
The reason I’m telling you this is because we all have abilities inside us that make us shine. Some people find it early on and they are that bright light all their lives. Others like myself don’t find it for decades.
I mean, I always felt like I shined at work, but I never realized just how much more potential I had to reach more people. We all serve others in one way, shape or form. Even if you’re incredibly wealthy, the things you buy put food on the table for other people.
You serve others in some way, but it’s how you go about it that will make you shine. When I worked from 9 to 5 everyday, I would always go out of my way to impress my superiors. Back then, I thought that by impressing people, I would rise in the ranks.
And I did, for sure! But I was spending energy impressing people instead of investing energy into making more of myself. In other words, there are two major ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll be a success at something, and they are this:
- You are overly friendly and accommodating to everyone, especially those with more clout or power than you. You make sure to compliment them even when you don’t mean it. And you go out of your way to purposefully impress them.
- You are absolutely dedicated to what you do, and you want everyone involved to be a success. You help where you can, always keeping the bigger vision in mind, and aren’t trying to impress anyone. And your main goal is to improve yourself so that you can be the best person you can be.
The first one is all about impressing and brown nosing. It’s something I did for years, and it does work, no doubt. But, what happens is that you waste so much energy trying to impress other people that you soon don’t enjoy what you do.
This could be in work or other situations, so just apply it where you want. The first one says that to be a success, we must impress.
However, the second scenario has us investing our time and energy into being the best we can be. We learn what we can to become better at what we do, and we keep the bigger vision in mind for everyone involved so that they can also be successful at what they do.
One is very externally focused, trying to get others to see us for more than we are. The other is very internally focused, trying to be more than we are.
Can you guess which one is long-lasting and fulfilling?
When you invest in yourself, spending time, energy, and money into being more than you are right now, and you have other people in mind and wonder how they could benefit from your improved self too, you’ve got an amazingly powerful combination.
The truest feelings of success come when you help others be successful.
And those are the ones that shine.
So you don’t have to create a show like I did, you can just improve yourself with the idea that others will benefit because you are learning and growing.
You change your outside world by changing your inside world. You remember last week’s quote by the Dalai Lama?
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
The same thing applies for almost everything.
Ghandi says we cannot see change in the world until we are the change we want to see. Well, I paraphrased, but it’s close enough.
The reason we learn, heal and grow within is so that our experience of the world changes. This is important.
Whatever your experience of the world is right now, whether difficult or not, it changes when you change.
When my stepfather used to bother me, I tried to change him. But nothing about him changed until I did. In other words, I looked inward and asked myself what I needed to do to become the person that couldn’t be bothered by him.
When my now ex-wife had issues that affected me, I wanted her to change so badly. But it wasn’t until the last year of our marriage when it was already too late to save that I finally learned that in order to change my experiences in life, I needed to learn, heal and grow myself.
When I was married and my wife’s behavior bothered me, I wanted her to change.
But what I didn’t know is that if I really want to change my experience in this world, I needed to become the person that wouldn’t be bothered by her behavior.
I learned that my experience of the world changes when I took full responsibility for other people’s behavior in myself.
Now don’t get me wrong because that isn’t what it sounds like. What I mean is that when someone bothers you, or a situation bothers you, then look inward to figure out what you need to learn inside yourself in order for that situation not to bother you anymore.
Don’t change the environment, change yourself.
This doesn’t mean that when you change, the other person will too – although that happens quite frequently. It means that when you change, you will be a person who will take action for what you want and deserve in life. And by doing so, you honor yourself.
When I moved away from home after high school, my stepfather was no longer in my life… or so I thought. I still ended up on the phone with him. And I certainly saw him plenty of times when I came back to visit. And he always bothered me.
But in my 30s when I released a lot of the repressed anger towards him, I became a different person. And because of that, my experience of him changed.
He didn’t change, I did. And because I changed, he was no longer a problem.
Why? Because I stopped reacting to his behavior. I stopped responding the same way I always responded.
This is so important to remember because people will never change until you change your response to them. That’s why I say…
Change yourself so that you can change your experience of the world.
By transforming your thoughts and fears and everything else that goes on in your mind, you change your perception of how things are.
When I was married, my wife had behavior that triggered me. I wanted her to change.
I would talk to myself, “If she would only change, we’d have a happy life together!” But she never would because I cannot control another person’s behavior, I can only control myself.
The moment I realized that she would never change… ever… was when I finally took responsibility for myself. I asked myself, “Knowing she will never change, will you accept the way things are forever, or will you leave?”
That was the ultimatum that started everything for me. I gave myself two choices: Accept or leave.
When you give yourself an ultimatum like this, your brain has no choice but to resolve the problem. The problems have a hard time going away when you have too many choices, or believe that there are so many options.
Remove the options and leave yourself with only two or three, and suddenly you’re coming up with a solution.
When you change inside, you will change your experience of the world.
This doesn’t mean the world actually changes, but your experience of it does. So for all practical purposes, since you only know your experience of the world, the world does actually change for you.
For me, I changed my world by knowing I didn’t want my stepfather in my life anymore. So I did things for me that didn’t include him. Step by step, I forgave him and, at the same time, let him go.
Slowly but surely, he disappeared. Before I was well, I would “be nice” to him and talk to him on the phone. I would accommodate him and do things I didn’t feel like doing. But when I chose to instead honor myself, he called less and less. And soon, he realized that I was no longer the person I used to be and he could no longer take advantage of me.
This was a powerful step for both of us. I was no longer pretending to be happy with him and he was no longer being deceived. It was a win-win situation. We both gained from it. I could move on in life and leave him behind, and he could move on with the truth.
I made a decision that in order to be the best me I could be, I had to eliminate him from my life. So I did what I could to be the person that didn’t have a person like that in my life.
Does this make sense?
You can’t always just get rid of people. You can kick them out of your life, and they can come back in different ways, bothering you, harassing you, or whatever. Some people never go away because you aren’t yet the person you need to be that can keep people like that from bringing you down.
Change yourself, and you change your experience of the world.
When I finally accepted that it was me that was the problem in my marriage, not her battle with food, there was no more tension in the marriage.
When the tension disappeared, she didn’t know how to respond around me. And because of that, we got to communicate from a different level. The marriage ended because we had just gone too long down the wrong path, but we were both finally healing from some internal turmoil.
Well, I can only speak for myself there. I had a lot of turmoil because I wanted her to be different. But taking responsibility for her behavior in myself changed everything.
I said that before so let me explain what I mean.
When you take responsibility for someone else’s behavior, you’re not accountable for their behavior, you’re just being responsible for your response to their behavior.
When you are responsible for your responses to someone else’s behavior, you change your experience of the world. In other words, your world changes.
However, I go one further than that and say, “I am responsible for that person’s behavior.”
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I mean, there’s a lot of awful people in the world. But the reason I say it is so that I will do what I can to change. It’s a mind trick, really. If I say to myself, “My stepfather wouldn’t behave that way towards me if I became 100% responsible for his behavior”, then I am empowered to make the changes I need to alter his presence in my life.
I will never be able to change his behavior, but by taking his behavior as if it were my own, I work on myself as if I have issues.
And the truth is, if I am allowing someone like that to bother me and continue to be in my life, then I really do have issues.
I may not be doing the same behavior he does, but because I am allowing him into my life so that he can cross my personal boundaries, I might as well be doing the same thing he’s doing to me, to myself.
And when I accept that the person I am will always have him in my life, I need to change him or the person I am. Since I know I can’t change him, I change who I am.
Ghandi says to be the change you want to see in the world. How much more profound do memorable quotes get?
The ultimate shift in your experience of reality is to outgrow who you are.
That means to learn more, do more and be more. You do this by investing in yourself. Whether that’s through education, following your dreams, learning what it takes to be the best partner or parent or sister, brother or friend, or simply by learning how to create an amazing cup of coffee.
When you improve yourself, you improve the world because your experience of the world is the world you know.
When I strengthened my personal boundaries and realized I deserve better than to be mistreated, my stepfather slowly disappeared from my life.
When I accepted that I was fully responsible for my marriage falling apart, I did what I could to improve myself.
Sure, she may have had a hand in the downfall, but I chose to adopt the belief that I was responsible for her behavior. By doing that, it caused me to seek solutions for what I was doing to cause that behavior in her.
Now this isn’t accepting blame for what she did, and my adoption of the responsibility doesn’t mean I am causing her behavior, even though that actually might be true, but by accepting responsibility for the behavior I don’t like in others, I can choose to change who I am around them.
And, I can also choose to not be around them if they continue to cause me harm in any way. What is harm? Anything that makes me feel bad or unsafe, or takes away my power.
An empowered self is a strong self. When you feel safe, you almost always feel good. Safety is a huge component in a loving relationship. When you don’t feel safe, you don’t typically feel good so you can either become the person that can feel safe by honoring yourself, or you can change other people and your environment.
But, since you can’t change others, you have to change yourself.
Anyway, I’ve hit that point time and time again so let me come back to my original point of how you shine and what any of this has to do with Jeff Olson.
You shine when you honor who you are. You shine when help others succeed. You shine when improve yourself so much, that you become highly overqualified in your position.
I started shining when I broke out of my shell of introversion to put my message into the world. And when I put everything I am out there for the world to listen to, judge, laugh at, cry at, make fun of, put down, or whatever they did and you are doing right now, I set up a beacon.
I put myself into the world as a vulnerable unknown just sharing what I know. And by doing this, it was like that analogy I gave earlier: I lit a candle in a dark room. Except, on a broader scale, I lit a bulb in a lighthouse.
A lighthouse is a beacon that ships use to know where land is. When I first started this, it was like lighting up the lighthouse. No one would have known I existed until I released it into the world.
And because I did, I was found. That’s where I’m going with all of this.
You will be found when you reveal yourself to the world
Now, this statement has multiple meanings. Some people don’t want to be found in the world. I get that. But, maybe you want to be “found” in your relationship, or your job, or in your hobby. Maybe you want to be seen and feel significant.
Maybe all you want is to be recognized for the person you know yourself to be.
That’s why I tried to impress people most of my life. I figured if I just impressed others, they’d like me and I’d feel significant.
Again, it does work, but it doesn’t feel very good. I lost friendships because I was more concerned about being a people pleaser than honoring myself.
Then when I started honoring myself, I noticed my friendships became more authentic. I was also happier and my relationships were closer and more real. I was suddenly becoming recognized for being myself, instead of trying to impress others all the time.
This helped me strengthen my emotional core and honor my boundaries. People respected and admired me because I respected and admired myself. I did that by honoring what I truly wanted for me.
My stepfather couldn’t bother me anymore, because when he did, I stood up to him and honored myself. He came to the door, and I sent him away. Period.
It sounds harsh and maybe a little cold, but I value who I am enough to not let the bad people in anymore. I’ve let bad people in for far too long.
When you honor and value yourself as if you were protecting a small child, you suddenly make decisions that are in your best interest, instead of decisions that are designed keep the peace so to speak.
That doesn’t mean you become cold and self-centered, because there will be times when you certainly need to keep the peace. But you do enter a stage where you value what’s important to you, and that can outweigh what might be important to someone else.
When there are bad people or situations in your life that you allow to be simply because you want to “keep the peace”, do you blame the people or the situations for causing you strife, or do you look at yourself and ask, “What am I doing that is continuing to allow this to be a component of my life.”
Many times, we forget that we have a choice in how things are going to be. We forget that there’s a choice because we know we don’t want to face the consequences of making that choice.
The choice I made to remove my stepfather from my life I knew would have consequences. Just seeing him a few months ago and sending him away was something I had to face. It was the first time I stood up to him and told him he wasn’t welcome.
That was hard. Because I’ve never been that way with him before. He only, always knew me as the person I used to be.
In last week’s episode, I said that family is our gauge of vulnerability. This is so true.
I heard a personal growth speaker say once that ‘if you think you’re enlightened, try to be the same person you are with everyone else when you are with family.’
If you can hold your own, and honor your values, ethics, and boundaries around the same people you grew up with, then you are doing really well.
Family always remembers who we were growing up.
And because of that, their behavior towards us will typically be the same as it always was. So if you weren’t enlightened then, that’s how you’ll be treated now. I use “enlightened” as only a fun term here, but you know what I mean.
When you’ve gone through a lot of personal growth, then go back to your family, they will usually still treat you as the person you were before you changed. And this will be your true test in honoring yourself.
So if you ever feel enlightened, visit your family and see if you can hold your own. If you can, then you have rooted your learnings deep, and you will notice changes around you.
Either your family will adapt and love you and your improvements, or they won’t know how to act around you and feel awkward. But you’ll soon learn who honors you honoring yourself, and who doesn’t.
I was surprised my stepfather didn’t try to bust into the house to see my mom that day. I made the decision to send him walking, and he complied. It felt weird because it was the first time him and I had ever interacted like that, but I felt good knowing it was the right thing to do.
He left, and I realized that what I’ve learned has sunk in. I’m practicing what I preach. And it strengthened my confidence in myself. And I continue to work on myself, because the journey never ends.
I want to shine and keep shining, so I will continue to work on and improve upon me. Just like I want you to work on and improve upon you too.
You have a lot of light inside you to shine. If you’re here listening right now, then you are already shining.
I realize this sounds kind of “out there”. I use the term “shine” because that is how we are seen by others. We can appear as a bright light on a dark night. People notice us when we improve ourselves.
When we “shine”, some people will be scared and won’t want to be a part of our lives anymore. They’ll see us changing and evolving, and they’ll be afraid to go on that journey with us.
Others will love it and will be so happy to see us doing things for ourselves. Either way, this “shine” I talk about is how you radiate or get attention from other people.
When I see someone jogging down the street, I think about how they are shining right now. They are out there improving themselves or enhancing something about themselves to outgrow who they are. And I tell you what, the less they look like a jogger, the more they shine in my eyes.
I’ve seen very unhealthy looking people out there doing what they can to get healthy. That to me is amazing because the steps they have to take to get from A to Z are much more challenging than someone who is already in shape.
Where else can you shine in your life? Where else can you become overqualified so that you are just a natural at what you do? Again, it doesn’t have to be major. It can be the tiniest thing. And just like a snowball, as it rolls downhill, it gets larger and larger.
When you improve, you set yourself up for the next time and you’re that much closer to even bigger things for yourself.
So what does all this have to do with Jeff Olson? Well, I would never have gotten such a big name on my show if I didn’t strip off my armor and put myself out into the world as the authentic person I am always striving to be. I chose that the path to improving myself would be to reveal who I am to the world.
And I knew some people would reject me, and others would accept me. But no one would have even seen me had I not taken the step to become something more than I am. Creating an international radio show sounds like a huge undertaking, but like Jeff Olson said in his book The Slight Edge,
“What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”
Everyday, I took a step in the direction of creating this show. Everyday I thought about it and put my energy towards it. And the day after every day, I knew just a little bit more than the day before.
I think a lot of us try to get it all as fast as we can without realizing the learning curve and the time it takes to create some things in our lives.
Jeff says when you read 10 pages of a book everyday, you will have read an entire book by the end of the month. That’s 12 books a year. That’s impressive! And it’s a lot more than most people read.
I chose to outgrow myself to become more than I was by taking steps towards my vision every single day. And because of that, I got guests on this show like Jeff Olson.
When you’re always moving forward, you’re always shining just a little more each day. This is the natural process of self-improvement. There’s no mystery to it. There’s no need to rely on hope or wishful thinking. It’s just taking steps in the right direction everyday.
Yes, you won’t always get what you want, but you’ll get more than you had
When you improve yourself, your world changes. You become more of who you really are inside, and people want to be around that. They resonate with you because they sense a strength in you that either they want for themselves, or feel a kinship because they have that strength too.
You can shine brighter each day – it is a choice. And I realize it can be a hard choice when you are in a dark place. But you have it in you to do it.
Near the beginning of today’s episode, I mentioned how some people want other people to spread their message. Why would anyone want someone else to shine for them? If you have a message, a dream, a vision, a cause, or something bigger for yourself or the world, then run with it.
Sure, seek resources and find ways to make it happen, but own it. Make it happen for you because it’s very unlikely that anyone will be as passionate about what you’re passionate about.
And if you find equally passionate people, then you will both help each other and bring whatever you want into reality. When you help others become successful, you will be successful too.
Shining is not an ego trip. It’s about expanding yourself and being the person who changes their own world and even their own destiny
Let’s end today’s episode with a listener email. This listener is in the same boat I was in and probably one that many of you are in too, and that’s this:
How can you be the new person you’ve become when you return to family? It’s hard, I know! Family remembers who you were, not who you’ve become – most of the time. When you have a family that is stuck in the thinking that you’ll never change, it can be very difficult to be the change you’d made around them.
Want to hear what you can do? You may not like the answer. That’s coming up next.
Once a week, I write a personal message to the subscribers of my newsletter. One, I let them know what the latest episode is about. And two, I always tell them of some story or personal growth and learning I did that has to do with the episode they’re about to listen to.
Last week’s episode was on the 5 simple realizations of a peaceful mind. One of the subjects I talked about in that episode had to do with basing decisions and actions on “fear” versus basing them on doing “what’s right”.
My newsletter read as such:
“There’s a question at the beginning of today’s episode (remember, this is referring to last week’s episode) that I’d like you to think about:
Are the decisions you make based on fear, or “what’s right”?
Depending on from which place you come, one path builds more fear and resentment, and the other honors your boundaries and builds confidence. Can you guess which one does what?
From the age of 16, I’ve based most of my job and career decisions on fear. I would fear asking my boss for a day off or disagreeing with him or her on something. I would fear saying “no” to projects. Almost all my decisions came from that place of fear.
In my 30s, I decided to turn that around. I started asking myself, “Is this right?” in situations.
One day, my boss was talking about a co-worker. What he was saying wasn’t accurate and it didn’t feel right to me. So I spoke up.
I said, “With all due respect, you’re never here to witness this person do his job. Before you make a decision about his future, maybe you should at least evaluate what he does day to day first.”
He stopped and stared at me for a second with a blank expression. I thought ‘Well, it was a good run. I guess I need to find a box and start cleaning out my desk now. ‘
But he said, “You’re right. That’s exactly what we need to do.”
I was shocked, because that was the first time I spoke up with confidence not caring what the outcome would be, so I figured I’d get disciplined or fired for sure. But I had to speak up because it felt like the right thing to do.
Where do your decisions come from? Fear or confidence?
If every decision you make comes from fear, you will stay in your comfort zone even if your comfort zone is uncomfortable!
My mom found her “comfort” zone in a 40 year abusive relationship. When he finally left, she found new meaning to the words “comfort zone” and is now learning what it’s like to live more confidently and peacefully.
And this is where we end up when we start making decisions from a place of confidence: Peace.
At least, most of the time.
That’s because we’re not stressed all the time! We’re actually making decisions that we want to make, not ones that we feel we should make.”
That was basically the end of my newsletter. Well, a listener and subscriber wrote back to me and asked an important question. And since we talked about family and who you are and want to be around them in today’s episode, I thought this letter was very fitting.
Here’s his letter, which I’ll paraphrase now:
“You described a scenario where standing up for what was right worked out. But what about when it doesn’t? What if you have people in your life, like family, that you’ve learned how to be around in a certain way. In other words, family knows you better than anyone. How do you overcome and “do the right thing” when you carry the burden of who you always are around them?”
First of all, this is a fantastic question. I can tell this guy really gets it. He understands the concept that family knows you as you always were. And he is asking a question that I would have asked too!
Secondly, I love his wording in this question, “How do you overcome and “do the right thing” when you carry the burden of who you always are around them?”
‘Carry the burden of who you always are’ is such a brilliant way to say it. It can feel like a burden when people expect you to be the same person you’ve always been. I know this feeling all too well.
I told the person who wrote the letter that I totally get this question. It’s an excellent letter and worthy of addressing on the air.
Our family, the closest people to us, know us and treat us in a certain way because they always have.
And even if they don’t purposefully treat us a certain way, we still find ourselves acting a certain way around them because that’s how we’ve always behaved around them.
For example, I remember when I was in the 8th grade. I was new to the school, so I had no friends and was already pretty shy anyway. Well, this bully came up and started picking on me. He said he wanted to fight me. I was scared but talked my way out of it.
I was very good at negotiating, especially when it came to squashing potentially dangerous situations. However, I was starting to get more fearful as the days went on because he wouldn’t leave me alone. He approached me almost daily and threatened and intimidated me.
So I went home and asked my dad, “What do I do if someone keeps wanting to fight me?”
I’m not condoning what my dad told me, but at the time it was exactly what I needed to hear. He said, “Bullies typically talk but don’t follow through. The next time he says he wants to fight you, just say, ‘Okay, let’s go’”.
I replied to my dad, “What? I can’t say that! He will take it as an open door and punch me in the face!”
However, my dad seemed so confident about his advice, so I decided to follow it. I went back to school the next day, and like clockwork that same bully came over to me to once again intimidate me and want me to fight.
I forget why he wanted to fight so bad, but he kept egging me on.
So this time, instead of talking my way out of it like I always did, I changed my response.
I chose not to look scared, and pretended to appear confident. I acted as if the bully’s words didn’t phase me a bit. I looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “Okay, let’s go. If you want to fight, I’ll fight.”
He looked stunned!
He wasn’t expecting the new, shy kid to actually call him on his threat. Suddenly, his body language softened, and he kind of laughed and said, “Okay, you’re cool, you’re cool. I was just kidding.”
In my mind I went, “What? You son of a bitch! You’ve been threatening me for days making me feel scared. I was afraid to go to school because of you. I was stressing and fearing for my life because of you.”
At first, I was upset because the threat was never real. And I kept believing and being scared of him which gave him all the power. But as soon as I changed my response and honored myself, his behavior changed!
As I think about it now, I realize that had I just honored myself in the first place, I never would have gone through days of fear like I did. But I simply didn’t know.
I mean, you never know. That’s why I don’t condone that type of response. Schools have ways to deal with bullies so I’m not here to talk about that today, but it does validate the point I made earlier:
If you want to change the people around you, you need to change yourself
The bully would have kept pestering me had I stayed the same. But because I changed my response, he changed his. My life literally changed because I was no longer scared. Well, I wasn’t scared of him anymore at least.
The reason I mention this story is because it is directly related to the reply I sent to the person who wrote me that letter.
He wanted to know how to behave around family who expect you to be who you’ve always been. Yes, that’s a great question. Here was my reply:
“I totally get that. Your most vulnerable aspects are those that are revealed when old triggers in family still exist. Just like I said in the episode, Family is our gauge of vulnerability.
I believe family to be the biggest test of all because we have been so exposed to them (both in being vulnerable and in being around them all the time) most of our lives.
My stepfather showed up out of nowhere at my mom’s house a few months ago. I was the one who answered the door, and for the first time I had to make a choice: Honor myself and those I love, or be the child I was when we all lived together.
My stepfather was an abusive alcoholic my entire life, and he left my mom last year. My mom has never been happier. But I often wondered who I’d be if he ever showed up again. So when he did, I felt that scared, submissive child come back and almost buckled… but I didn’t. I just faced him like I’d face any other person I found threatening and told him that he wasn’t invited in and my mom didn’t want to see him. He made some excuse to come in, but I told him “Sorry, you have to go.”
He shrugged his shoulders and left.
It was a huge moment for me because I didn’t know who I’d be when I saw him again.
That’s the thing, Who Are You when you are with your family? Are you the person that you always were, reacting the same way to people who know you as only that way? Or have you grown, matured, and healed from a lot of your past? If so, why aren’t you being that grown, matured, healed person with them now?
People will always behave the same way when you do, so one of you has to be different in order for the outcome to be different.
You asked, “But what about when it doesn’t work out?” “
(He’s referring to when you base your decision on ‘doing what’s right’ as opposed to doing it out of fear. And also when you have people in your life, like family, that you’ve learned how to be around in a certain way.
“That’s just it, it may or may not work out either way. If my boss decided to fire me [that day I stood up to him], I’d still feel like I did the right thing. It wouldn’t have worked out for my career, but it would have worked out for me. It all depends on where your priorities lie. I came to a point where I needed to uphold my integrity, regardless of the consequences. I started “demanding” respect (not the best term, but I insisted on being treated with respect for sure), and people saw the difference in me.
I lost friends and family members in the process. It was hard and painful, but in the end I found out who supported me for honoring myself and who didn’t.
If you have people in your life that don’t honor or respect you when you honor yourself, do you really want those people in your life? Maybe you do! Maybe to you, blood is thicker than self-respect. A lot of people are like that.
To me, [blood is not thicker than self-respect]. I am kind and generous to people. I respect them and their space, and where they’re at in life. And I deserve the same treatment [I give them], so there are times I have to be “different” [or the new, improved me] around people I grew up with.
Almost everyone likes the more authentic me. They know exactly who they’re getting and they can choose to be with me or not. But it has to start with a step in the direction of honoring yourself and saying ‘no’ to things that aren’t right for you.
But what if I lost my job? What if I lost my family? What if… there are a lot of what ifs for sure. And they are all legitimate questions. I still weigh the “what ifs” in situations and make decisions from there, but almost always the “Is this right?” question wins, so I stand up and do the right thing.
I have lost a job where I did what was right. I have lost family where I did what was right. And to this day, I feel confident knowing I did the right thing. People who really want the best for you will support you honoring yourself. Period. Those who don’t will do what they can to get away from you, or get rid of you, or change you. The trick is honoring yourself and doing what you know is right for you.
You will have losses doing it that way, but the big question is:
Do you want to keep people in your life who don’t honor you wanting to be the best you – you can be?
You might, I’m not sure. But if you choose to keep those people around, and [you choose to] be the person they always expect you to be, and it doesn’t feel very good being that person, then you will have to accept the circumstances as they are.
When you can accept people and circumstances as they are, you can free yourself of the desire to want people to change. [This allows you to be anything you want around them and just let them respond to you as they will. Of course, you have to be in a very accepting, loving, and non-judgmental space to do this].
It’s possible to have the same family [you always had] but not the same drama, as long as you choose to either accept things as they are, or honor who you are and just let the chips fall where they may.
It’s not easy, I know this firsthand. But you do end up letting go of a lot of the stress either way.
Thanks so much for your very important question.”
That’s the end of my reply.
It all comes back to what people will do when you shine. When you are new and improved, those who support you will support you even more because they want you to be happy and are glad to see you honoring yourself.
Those who don’t, and don’t want things to change and want to keep you in the same space they’re in are going to feel strange around you. They won’t understand where you went and maybe even wonder what’s wrong with you.
If you get that type of response, just ask them this question and you’ll know right away where they stand. The question is:
“Do you support the person I want to be?”
If they say, “Of course, but…” then they are likely projecting their own fears and failures onto you. After all, if they can’t grow, why should you be able to?
They may have some legitimate advice for you, but sometimes you just want to learn your own lessons in your own time. You can choose to heed their advice, or ask them to honor your journey and learn the lessons your own way.
That is true empowerment. When you come to a place in yourself where you are doing what’s right for you, improving yourself and going on a journey of continuous self-development, even when that path appears wrong to others, that is when you shine.
Yup, you could crash and burn, but the lessons learned will be yours and no one else’s. And you can take the wisdom with you throughout your life.
It’s not that you never take the advice of others, you just don’t allow them to convince you that you can’t outgrow who you are.
You do shine, and how brightly you do is up to you.
It’s been an honor talking with you today.
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If I didn’t call your name in this episode, just know that I appreciate you and thank you for being there for me, listening, learning, and growing.
You know, I give my stepfather a hard time in a lot of my episodes. But you might be surprised to hear that I have no hatred left in me for him. He’s done some downright awful things, but my hatred has fizzled.
Of course, it had to. By hanging on to hate, it keeps him around. You know how that works, don’t you? The more angry or hateful you feel towards someone, the more they will stick around in your thoughts and in your life in general.
When you are able to express and release all those negative thoughts and emotions, you suddenly realize the person they’re about isn’t around as much anymore.
What you resist persists, remember? What we think about, we bring about. The more you think about what you don’t want in your life, the more it will happen. It just seems to work that way more times than not.
When I talk about people that have harmed me in my past, it is only because I’ve healed through the stuff I needed to heal through. It doesn’t mean I won’t discover a trigger I didn’t know about down the road, but it does mean I’m always making progress.
Remember that everyday is a chance to make progress. So step into your power and be firm in your decisions and actions, you will end up creating the life you want. Then soon, you’ll discover what I already know to be true about you, that you are amazing.