What’s the toughest part of loving someone well?

April 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Truthtelling | 6 Comments
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As a recovering “good girl” (one who works overtime to protect herself by trying to be perfect, keeping others happy, and avoiding conflict at all costs), certainly the toughest part of loving someone well is telling the truth about who I am.

And yet, learning to step out of fear and self-protection, and expressing my truth in as caring a way as possible is the essential element in living authentically.

I would hazard a guess that for many of you, like me — whether you’ve spent much of your life hiding your true self behind being “good” or “tough” or “focused on fun” — truth-telling in your meaningful relationships can feel terrifying. Because you may have experienced a long time ago that when you honestly shared your feelings and needs, you were minimized or ignored or abused or abandoned. (For more details on key styles of relating, see Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart, even if sexual abuse is not a part of your story.)

What could be more important than engaging with a process that supports you in trusting and loving yourself, so you can love others well?

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What do you expect from your relationship?

November 17, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | 2 Comments
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I’ve been listening to an audio version of Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, and recently heard a familiar idea posed in a brand new way.

Tolle writes about the impossible expectation that many of us have that when we find the “right” lover, spouse, or friend, we’re going to experience a transcendently joyful relationship. Quite a few of us seem to believe that a relationship is going to make us happier. Tolle points out, however, that relationships are meant to teach us, not necessarily bring us bliss. Certainly, relationships can bring us love and deep fulfillment, but the discomfort or heartbreak we also can feel is designed to help us learn and express who we are and also discover more about the other person.

I agree with this concept – how about you? What have you learned through a recent relational conflict?

Imagine how our families and communities would be transformed if each of us could embrace the opportunity in conflict . . . if we didn’t avoid it or get explosive about it but were committed to exploring it together and better understanding each other’s needs. What incredible light and truth would fill our lives and our world.

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New Storytellers groups now forming

August 24, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Storytelling | 1 Comment
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Storytellers – Love your story, love yourself

If you’re a woman who wants to learn to love your whole self through the sharing of your life story, then Storytellers is for you. New groups are now forming. (See my 4/17/08 post for more info on the healing power of storytelling,)

The transformational storytelling process provides you with an opportunity to:

* better understand and communicate your needs
* practice genuine self-care
* recognize and express your strengths
* be known and valued by others
* develop true community . . . and more

Each Storytellers group is comprised of 2, 3, or 4 participants. Groups meet twice a month for approximately 6 months, depending on group consensus. Sessions run for about 2 hours and are held at the Authentic Life Consulting office near 12th Street and Missouri in Phoenix. Feel free to take part as an individual or with your friend(s).

Please call or email me for more info. I’m also glad to meet on a complimentary basis with you, or you and your friends, to answer your detailed questions about Storytellers.

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How I got over my fear of conflict

August 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Conflict | 7 Comments
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When the mood hit him, my dad was a rager. Very loud and very scary in conflict with others. I believe that much of my difficulty expressing real anger — throughout several decades of my life — springs from often being scared out of my wits by my father’s vitriolic tirades.

When I married I had no tools to guide me in having a difference of opinion with my husband. Unfortunately, my husband lacked tools as well. We were both stuffers, avoiders par excellence, and this ostrich-method had disastrous consequences. Our marriage (the first one) ended after 13 years.

During the years that followed I intentionally sought emotional wellness by reading self-help books, participating in therapy, and practicing a new trust-based way of relating to others. That last piece — practicing — was the key for me. Consciously opening my mouth and saying how I truly felt, with others who cared for me, often felt terrifying . . . yet this was the biggest factor in my getting over my fear of conflict.

Willingly engaging in confrontation still feels slightly unnatural to me. Generally, I have to stop and think about it for a second. But I’m not afraid of it anymore.

When my husband and I remarried more than 10 years ago (that’s right, we chose to try again), I let him know up front that this time I’d be committed to being emotionally honest, that I would no longer run away from conflict. I’m sure there are some days he wishes this wasn’t true (smile), but it’s working for us.

Do you struggle with engaging with conflict? Let me know how you’re overcoming or have overcome your fear.

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I am a former “conflict-a-phobe.”

August 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Conflict | 3 Comments
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I admit it, I used to be scared to death to have a difference of opinion with anyone. When I sensed pending conflict in a conversation or situation, I used to clam up or lie (I was a gifted chameleon), anything to avoid engaging in an unpredictable disagreement that might mushroom into a full-scale argument.

Can you relate?

Or maybe you identify more with “powering up” in conflict, overwhelming someone else with your superior debating skills or your louder, more forceful voice.

Instead of regarding conflict as something to be feared or overcome, consider shifting your perception. What might happen if you chose to regard conflict as a straightforward opportunity for creative growth? After all, does any real change occur in life — whether it happens within yourself or in relationship with others — without a degree of discomfort or struggle?

Let’s talk about this, what are your thoughts? And, if you like, let me know your typical response to conflict.

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“Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

July 14, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | 9 Comments
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I’m pretty late in coming to the worldwide party for Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 bestseller, “Eat, Pray, Love.” Admittedly, I’d passed right over it many times in the bookstore because, based on the title, I thought it sounded too “fluffy.” I couldn’t have been more out to lunch!

The minute I opened Gilbert’s book to the introductory quote by Sheryl Louise Moller , “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell truth,” I sensed this was going to be a transformational book for me. And it was.

“Eat, Pray, Love” is Gilbert’s memoir of her one-year journey of healing and self-discovery in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Her story is funny, inspiring, poignant, and deeply involving . . . but the element that was most meaningful for me was her refreshingly real, authentic voice. Gilbert is so vulnerable about her humanity and womanhood, so incredibly honest in sharing the questions she asks about life, questions many of us wonder about silently but may be afraid to say out loud. She seems to be fearless about telling her emotional truth.

In case you haven’t yet read this vibrant book, I’ll refrain from going into further detail . . . except to urge you — no, implore you — to run to the closest bookstore or library or friend who has a copy you can borrow, and begin reading it now! It’s THAT good!

If you’re already a fan of “Eat, Pray, Love,” — or even if you’ve read it but didn’t care for it — I’d love to hear your impressions of this story. What did you learn from it? How did it change you?

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Embracing your whole life story

April 17, 2008 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Storytelling | 1 Comment
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“Through transforming our negative, painful, or chaotic experiences into stories, we take responsibility for them, and we bring them to bear more constructively on our lives.” (Jack Maguire, The Power of Personal Storytelling)

What’s your life story like?

If it’s anything like mine your story has chapters during which relationships were rich, you felt cared for, and you acted with integrity and selflessness.

There also are passages of great fear and wounding when relationships failed, dreams were lost, and you acted against yourself or others with intolerance and rage.

Many of us seem to want to ignore or even deny those aspects of our story marked by painful experiences or our dysfunctional behavior. Yet, we are our whole life story, not just the pleasant parts. When we refuse to recognize hurtful episodes, we shut off major elements of our identity as well as opportunities to learn about ourselves.

Until we’re able to accept our full story — without shame or guilt — we cannot grow into our authentic selves. As David Benner writes in The Gift of Being Yourself, “You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to embrace the reality of who you are. Only then can you truly become who you are most deeply called to be.”

I hope you have an emotionally safe relationship or environment in which to share and explore the nuances of your distinctive story . . . a place where others you trust listen closely to you and honor you for all that you are and all that you’re becoming.

The Storytellers process that I facilitate for small groups can be such an environment. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about Storytellers.

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Authentic Life group process set to go!

December 31, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | Leave a comment
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Here we are almost on the other side of the holidays, and I’m savoring the look and feel of an exhilarating new year ahead!

One of the experiences I’m anticipating most is collaborating with you in the Authentic Life group process. This is your opportunity to discover, trust, and express all you’re created to be, with 2 or 3 other women who want to grow in similar ways.

We’re going to get started the week of January 14, afternoon and evening times are still available. Group sessions provide the same transformational process I offer to individuals and couples, but at a lesser cost.

Email (ellen@authenticlifeconsulting.com) or call me (602.565.5151) for more details about the Authentic Life group process. You may want to participate yourself and you may know others you’d like to invite as well.

I’ll love to hear from you!

The Christmas song that always makes me cry

December 1, 2007 at 11:16 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | Leave a comment
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Margaret O’Brien and Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis”

As I was driving around doing my Saturday errands today, James Taylor’s mellow tenor came on the radio singing an arrangement of a song I’d never heard him cover before — “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” His version was so simple, and by the time he was half-way into it, I had a big ole lump in my throat.

I can never hear this song without remembering Judy Garland’s poignant rendition of it toward the end of the 1944 musical, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” It also reminds me of friends and loved ones who have persevered through a lot of life and, together, are holding on to hope. “From now on our troubles will be out of sight.”

My tears are a sign to me of what I view as most significant in life, so I try to pay close attention when the waterworks begin. Most often, my tears are inspired by either happy or sad relational situations — children being rescued from abusive environments, people in pain I can do nothing to relieve. As my family knows, I tend to get emotional fairly easily, not usually “out of control” emotional but the quieter variety.

Our capacity to cry is a lovely, expressive gift, a miraculous reliever of tension and joy. It is one of the qualities that makes us human. If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it above our hurting world and cause it to more graciously embrace tears as a symbol of compassion and strength . . . so we could all be freed to move one step closer to living authentically.

Write and let me know what song or life situation makes you cry.

How about a gift for yourself? The Authentic Life group process

November 25, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | Leave a comment
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women-talking_000001746946large.jpgThe gift-giving season is upon us (unless you’ve chosen to go the “Buy Nothing Christmas” route), and right about now many of us are getting down to serious shopping. While you’re at it, how about a gift for yourself, too? Something you may have been putting off for way too long — taking time to discover, trust, and express all that you’re created to be.

Here’s an extraordinary opportunity for you to transform your life and your relationships: join one of my Authentic Life groups beginning the week of January 14. Afternoon or evening times available. The same developmental process I offer on an individual basis but at a lesser cost, with the added experience of enlarging your community. Groups limited to no more than 4 individuals.

Set the intention today that your new year will be one of rich growth and radiant freedom. This is your transcendent time.

Email (ellen@authenticlifeconsulting.com) or call me (602.565.5151) for more details about the Authentic Life group process. You may want to participate yourself, you may have friends you’d like to invite, or you may want to give the group experience to someone you love. Let’s talk soon!

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