Empathy

The Stories We Tell Ourselves: by Heather Barron

Self-limitation, low self-worth, and other crippling beliefs come from the stories we tell ourselves.

Empowerment, capacity, and self-actualization come from the stories we tell ourselves as well.
So why don’t we just choose to tell ourselves empowering stories?

The stories that control our inner narrative may have been told TO us long before they became the stories we rehearse within and believe about ourselves. Beth Kurland, Ph.D, writes: “As children, we inevitably experience upsetting things that happen, whether the smaller hurts such as having a parent yell at us, or being called a mean name, or having an embarrassing moment, or the bigger hurts of loss or traumatic events. We do our best to make sense of our world, but because of our limited ability to see things from a more complex perspective, we can internalize inaccurate messages from these early experiences that lead us to believe that there is something wrong with us. The stories we tell ourselves about these situations can become beliefs about the very nature of who we are, about our worthiness, value and ‘enough-ness’.”

If we had a parent or guiding adult in our life who told us, “You are brilliant. You can do anything you set your mind to. You are made of infinite possibility.” We may have a very empowering inner narrative.

If, on the other hand, the role models and adult guides (and, to our impressionable, young selves, all it takes is one person we trust or look up to) in our childhood told us things like, “You’re stupid. You’re worthless. You’re trouble. You’ll never amount to anything.” You may struggle with feeling like you will never be good enough. You may even believe that you are broken or flawed in essential ways.

As adults, many of us tend to think that whatever our internal voice(s) say must be true about us because they present in the first person.

Do any of these sound familiar:
– I’m not/never good enough.
– I’m a fraud.
I’ll never be as good/talented/beautiful/funny as INSERT NAME HERE.
– I have to prove my worth.
– I’m not worthy.
– I’m not smart enough.
– I’m too fat.
– I don’t deserve love.

Many of us don’t realize that we have adopted external lies as our internal stories. The beauty of this? We have the power to CHANGE the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we have accepted as our own and as the truth about us. We have the capacity to, as Dr. Kurland says, “unhook” these limiting stories. 

We can change our inner narrative. 

So how do we do that? Here is a process that has helped me and the clients I work with as a Transformational Life Coach:
#1. PAY ATTENTION – BECOME AWARE OF THE STORIES WE ARE CARRYING

We have to observe and become aware of the stories bouncing around in our heads. These may be hard to identify at first because they are as close as our own thinking. Sitting down to journal – what beliefs stand in the way of me having the courage to live authentically. 

#2. IMAGINE LIFE WITHOUT THESE OLD STORIES
In “The Work” by Byron Katie, there is a step in her simple and profoundly freeing process that asks us to imagine who we would be without certain beliefs.

Once you have identified the stories that are limiting your peace and keeping you hustling for your value and worth, ask yourself what life would look like without these stories.

Close your eyes and ask, “Who would I be without the story/belief that…” and then notice and record how you feel. 

#3. IDENTIFY THE STORY WE WANT TO LIVE
Without the old stories, what story do we want to claim for our life. Taking the lead of the last step, let us imagine what life looks like without all the tension, fear, concern of the old stories. What new possibilities can we perceive for our life as we write our new story? WRITE THEM DOWN and post them somewhere we can see them regularly.

#4. DISOWN THE OLD STORIES

Just because a thought comes to us in the “I” form does not mean we have to believe it or keep it as our own. A very powerful practice is to begin observing the thoughts that present themselves as “I”: 
– I can’t believe I did that. 
– I’m so stupid. 
– I should be ashamed of myself. 
– Well, as long as I look like this, I will never deserve love. 
– I will never be smart enough to own my own business. 
– I’m such a fraud and someday everyone will find me out.

Leo Babauta writes“… (T)elling ourselves stories is natural — we all do it, all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. But if we’re not aware of the stories we tell ourselves, we can’t understand how they shape our happiness, relationships, moods, and more.

We can become aware of these aggressive stories. We have the right to start saying, “THIS IS NOT MINE.” We have the right to say, “I no longer choose this as my story.” And then REPLACE IT. “My story is…”

#5. CLAIM THE NEW STORY – AFFIRM & PRACTICE WHAT WE WANT TO EXPERIENCE
Affirmations are a powerful tool because they are a stepping-stone to filling the old space with the new. We cannot remove something without a better something to put in its place. For whatever reason, the old way becomes a sort of default (probably because that is what we have practiced for so long already). When we affirm the story we know is rightfully ours, or that we wish to experience, we are claiming, practicing and living our way into a new story of our life.

Perhaps the greatest challenge of this kind of work is that we have practiced the old stories for so long that it can feel challenging, and even impossible, to practice new, empowering stories.

Josh Becker says“Almost certainly there will be progress and setbacks. When the setbacks happen, don’t fall back into the same old story of ‘See, I knew I couldn’t do it.’ Tell yourself a new story, ‘I can’t believe I took a step backward! I was doing so well. I will start again tomorrow. I can do it.’”

What we practice, we experience. We can change the inner narrative we rehearse daily, one story at a time. And that, in turn, can change the way we experience ourselves and the whole world. 

by Heather Barron, Founder of Luminous Life, Inc. Heather is an Integral Life & Mindset Coach, Writer, Speaker. 
Website – www.luminous-life.com
Instagram – www.instagram.com/luminouslifeinc
Facebook – www.facebook.com/LuminousLifeInc

The Power of Story to Change and Transform

The Power of Story to Change and Transform By Laurie Benson

I’ve just returned from a trip to the border of Arizona and Mexico, where my personal experiences reaffirmed that not only is story powerful, but when our stories overlap with those of others – we are changed. 

I was staying in Ajo, AZ with the intention of visiting the Quitobaquito Spring in Organ Pipe National Monument, to see first hand how much it had been impacted by the border wall since my last visit in February.

I had my camera and equipment to gather more stories for my project, A Hundred Voices, which focuses on opening the doors to reconnection with ourselves, each other, and the planet. Simple enough. I knew it would be an emotional trip, but was in no way prepared for what I experienced.

Our border communities are truly sitting at the center of all of the issues plaguing our global communities right now. They are impacted by threats to endangered species and wildlife habitat, migrants and human rights, Indigenous rights and freedom, environmental destruction, and government policy and spending. 

Standing in the center of it all I realized that these issues do not exist in isolation, but are all interconnected. We are all interconnected.

On the second day of my trip, I witnessed two teenage girls and a baby getting picked up by ICE in Organ Pipe National Monument. The look of fear on their faces will stay with me forever. I rolled down my window and smiled, it was all I could do. One of the girls smiled back and then tears began streaming down her face. I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. I pulled over on the side of the road and joined her in her tears. 

After that experience, I found myself completely consumed with the question – What can I do? So I turned to my practice, the embodiment work I’ve been focused on for years. In this silence and awareness, I found my answer – I needed to stand in my strengths and put them to work. I would bring the voices of those on the front lines to the rest of the world. Shine a light on all that is happening here through story. So, I got to work and Larger Than Borders began to come to life. 

I know that we learn through story. Our experiences have shifted who we are, impacted the way we move though the world, and created incredible a-ha moments. It is through the sharing of these stories that we create opportunities for them to support others on their journey as well.

When you sit quietly, slow your breath, and feel into your heart space – what is there waiting to be shared? What story will be your gift to the world?

by Laurie Benson, Laurie was recently introduced as a Voice for the Voiceless and the title stuck. She has dedicated her life to opening doors to reconnection with ourselves, each other, and all living beings. The question, “What story, or deep wisdom, is living inside of you ready to be shared?” guides her work.

Focused on embodiment and the sharing of stories, Laurie believes these two paths lead us to our deepest inner truths, and create a path forward toward unity and compassion. Embodiment Work – www.InwardBoundWomen.com Story Projects – www.AHundredVoices.com and www.BorderCollective.com

 

Hearing Your True Voice Beneath the Noise by Heather Barron

There is so much noise surrounding us right now. Much of that noise is external – explosive headlines, the echo chambers of social media, election ads, constant coronavirus reports, news of wildfires, hurricanes, story after story of humans’ inhumanity to one another, and the constant demands for pivoting in our daily lives, our jobs, and our family needs.

But a lot of the noise is actually right inside our heads too. We have the myopic voice of ego and personality constantly shouting for us to react without questioning these thoughts.

Our inner Itty-Bitty-Shitty-Committee berates us with its sustained soundtrack of failure, not-good-enough, not-doing-enough, guilt, shame, lack of worth, need to earn love, striving for unreachable perfection. All of this noise exhausts us crippling our capacities and stealing our joy and energy.

With constant change, shifting requirements, national in-fighting, natural catastrophes and the many added stressors we are currently facing, the part of ourselves that is biologically designed to respond to emergencies is in overdrive right now. We can feel we have to “do something” with every shifting piece of news and life. Or we can feel we have to “choose sides” (“You’re either with us or you’re against us”), alienating loved ones and neighbors.

And these impulses can feel like our own true voice, dressed up in moralizing, self-righteousness, and a basic need to be liked and respected.

So, with all this noise, how do we hear the part of ourselves that is not just in reactionary, survival mode? How do we see all that is clamoring for our attention and then make healthy, life-affirming decisions and choices that feel like right action rather than reaction?

I have come to learn through the greatest times of trial and despair in my life that I have an active, ever-present “true voice” that is connected to a deeper well of wisdom than the kneejerk reactionary thoughts that are initially triggered by my ego’s reaction to what’s going on around me. But with all the noise in and around our heads, how can we access this true voice?

Here is one way I have found to tap into my true voice – I use the “power of the pause”.

Viktor E. Frankl, renowned Holocaust survivor who developed “Logotherapy” after living through imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, introduced the notion of the space between stimulus and response. He said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This space is the pause we can create in small moments throughout our day. And in that pause, we can hear our true voice calling us into right action or telling us to be still or filling us with courage, patience, and any other qualities that help carry us through our day.

When we shift into responding to life rather than reacting to every trigger or stimulus, we are able to discern what is truly our responsibility. This way of being lifts the heavy burden of false responsibility for saving the whole world all at once – freeing us up to meet the needs that are ours to care for. This pause can also mean the difference between feeling paralyzed by all the suffering, pain, hatred, despair, and grief that we are faced with on a daily basis right now, and hearing our intuition direct us into sustainable, courageous, loving action.

Here are a few steps I have found that help me. When I am in a state of strong emotional reaction, I PAUSE and do the following:
Step 1: I close my eyes (if I can), mentally saying, “I am safe to pause and listen.”
Step 2: I take three deep breaths. Breath one I say to myself, “I belong here.” Breath two, I say to myself, “I am ready.” Breath three, I say to myself, “I am not alone.”
Step 3: Then I continue to allow my breath to flow naturally and with my eyes still closed, I ask myself, “What am I feeling right now?” I name it: fear, anger, sorrow, shame, guilt, despair, rage, frustration, hopelessness, terror, etc.”
Step 4: I place my hands over my heart and ask a few questions: “What deeper wisdom do you have for me, Heart? What do you have for me to know about what I am feeling right now? Do I need to take action based on what I am feeling? Or do I just need to be still with this feeling, acknowledging it until it passes?”
Step 5: I ask my heart: “What is my next right action, my next right step?”
Step 6: I take 3 more deep breaths and open my eyes.

All in all, this does not take very long and has become a practice that surprises me regularly. It surprises me with how calm this helps me to become in the midst of chaos and conflict. And I have been amazed at the unlikely but vital answers that have come to mind in the midst of this practice – ideas that have given me a “Way out of no way”, helping me to find a solution I could not see before.
There are many wonderful spiritual, meditative, calming practices that can help us access this deeper heart-knowing. This is just the one that has worked for me.
Join us on Monday, September 21 at Noon Mountain Time where I will walk us through this process. And if you can’t make the webinar while it is live, register to receive the recording that will have this exercise in it for you!

Heather Barron is Founder of Luminous Life, Inc. Heather is an Integral Life & Mindset Coach, Writer, Speaker. luminous-life.com

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes

“Speak Your Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes” by Whitney Connor Clapper, Senior Global Environmental Activism Marketing Manager at Patagonia

– Maggie Kuhn, human rights activist who dedicated her life to social and economic justice.

The first time I saw this quote, I wondered if this should become my next tattoo. It covered my body in chills and pierced any doubt around voice I’ve ever had.

I grew up in a community where I learned how to survive by using my voice only for good. To share healing, positive emotions and joyous occasions. I discovered it was not ok to talk about pain, hurt, struggle, sickness – anything that was deemed negative. Spoiler alert – using voice only for good and happy things doesn’t always work. Since childhood, I’ve had a full life of love, heartbreak, death, grace and privilege, riddled with job after job that has pulled my voice forth with each experience.
I’ve had to learn over decades that using my voice may not always yield positive emotions for all, like the time I recently emailed my aunt, who is the only black woman in my family, to check in to see how she was doing with all of the social injustices happening around black lives right now – only to get an email back from my white uncle titled: “BLM – you are being played.”
The body copy of the email wasn’t much better and began “May we suggest that your priorities are off” – making me wonder why I felt the need to even send that email in the first place? I wasn’t aiming to cause familial strife, but apparently, I did. 

For me,
voice is
synonymous
with truth. 

Using my voice means standing up for justice. Doing and saying what I feel I need to do and say, even when it causes pain.

When I was young, I watched my dad use his voice through his writings. I remember the time he wrote an email to the President of the Christian college where he taught, sharing his disgust with the school for its swift action in kicking out students who were “misbehaving” rather than truly addressing the issue. Just removing the “problem” without addressing the issue is a short-term solution.
I remember my mom, the kindest woman in the world, who played piano for the school choir finally telling that touchy tenor that she didn’t want any more hugs from him. So yes, I had role models growing up who showed me that we each have a voice and need to choose how to use it, for big and small events.

However, it wasn’t until I entered the corporate world that I really began to comprehend that my voice matters. 


Another tool in my childhood survival kit was humor and politeness, if I could make people in my community laugh and also behave well, life felt a little easier. I unconsciously lived by this mentality in my early years in business. I worked my ass off, made colleagues laugh, turned in reports on time, remained positive even when I wasn’t totally feeling it and did my best to go above and beyond – so as not to disappoint my boss. As a result, I began to climb the corporate ladder and also found myself more and more unsettled with leadership’s actions.  

At one point, as a manager of a team of fourteen field reps across the United States, I found myself writing an email to the President of the corporation in protest of a new mandate that the company had put on my team. This mandate forced all of us to do away with our previous company cars, which the company had supplied us with, to personally purchase a Honda Element for the same work.  We were also instructed to wrap our cars with the company’s logo in bright, bold orange letters. This was not ok, nor was it just. Many of us were fresh out of college, young and had never bought a new car, nor would we ever have chosen to buy that particular make and model of car. In my letter, I not only stated that this was not right, I also was completely transparent in stating that I would not enforce this with my team.  

For me, voice is not only synonymous with truth and standing up for justice, it is a full body experience. 

For people to truly hear my voice, it must come from a heart space, not from my head.
When I sat down to write that letter to the President of the corporation, I had no idea how it would turn out. Would I get fired?  Would I be asked to step down and out of my position?  The outcome didn’t matter. Using my voice for justice, because my heart was guiding me to, was the only thing that mattered and there was no stopping the words that burst from my fingers and onto those computer keys.  

Despite all the challenging emotions and questions that came, I spoke my truth. Rather than getting fired, they promoted me and less than a year later, this mandate was dropped.
 
Now, I am also someone who tends to always side with the underdog. I’ve had a different boss tell me that I can get wound up too easily by others, and he’s right, sometimes. If I’m not careful, it is during those times that using my voice backfires, hard. So, a word of warning – it’s really important to pause to check your motive before waxing poetic. This is why dropping into my heart before acting has become so important – to make sure I am not just acting on an emotion.
We are in a time and space where words matter more than ever – “Black Lives Matter”, “Make America Great Again”, “Dump Trump”, “Pollution is Racial Violence”We are also living in a moment where emotions are high, reactions are unconscious and impulsive, and violence is rampant. So how do we show up? 

There is no formula, or step by step guide. The only contant is your choice within each moment. I worked with a small team on an acknowledgment for Patagonia that we recently released on social media. While we could have edited that piece for many more weeks, the process was pretty dang strong. Words were carefully written, re-written, thought about and re-written again. It took us weeks of working on this acknowledgment before it felt worthy of sharing. 
The motive for this acknowledgment was pure – as a leader in the outdoor industry it felt important to own up to and publicly acknowledge our challenges and shortcomings for racial justice to our Patagonia community and greater outdoor industry. As a result of consciously choosing the words, doing the due diligence internally before the post went live externally, and listening for the right time to share publicly – the acknowledgment was heard, felt and landed well. I realize that not everyone has weeks to prepare the right words to speak, share or write. But everyone has the time to take a deep breath in between trigger and reaction, or stimulus and response (as Viktor Frankl coined it). So, take that time to drop down into the heart space before responding to the next crisis – whether it’s your screaming child, angry co-worker, frustrated partner or challenging President. 

The world is already on fire, through our pause to hear how to use our voice we will either choose to fuel the flames or smother the embers. For me personally, amidst the chaos, I am doing my best to pause and only use my voice when it feels appropriate. And even then, my voice may shake mid-sentence. But when I’m speaking for truth and for justice, I know that those who need to hear my message will hear it.

Will you join me?

Whitney Conner Clapper:
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Don’t Let Your Business Die – By Adrian Reif a Future-Focused Strategist

Adrian is a future-focused strategist for some of the most ambitious orgs on the planet. He’s helped lead impact businesses, community-led innovation, & regenerative future design. He believes each of us plays a role in building a future that works for everyone. And if you do this, your org will thrive. He runs Incredible, an innovation, strategy, and design firm + startup studio.

At a given point in time, there are three horizons.
The 1st horizon – the one we’re in now – will die.
If you’re only serving today’s needs, your org will die with it.

The 2nd Horizon will take its place.
Eventually, it will fail.
Your job is to build the 3rd Horizon.

If you do this, your org will be ready to serve the inevitable future. If we get this right, we will step into a future world that works for everyone.

The 2nd Horizon will take its place.
Eventually, it will fail.

Your job is to build the 3rd Horizon.

If you do this, your org will be ready to serve the inevitable future. If we get this right, we will step into a future world that works for everyone.

How to build for the Third Horizon

There are “Pockets of the Future” hidden in the present. The water is murky, but it’s possible to find them — and build them.
Nick Haan of Singularity University says, “Companies and governments that don’t evolve to solve humanity’s grand challenges will be left behind.”
Tackling gnarly challenges – whether in your community or across the globe – will be essential to the promise we’ve told ourselves for 10,000 years: It will get better.

Leaders for the future will need these skills:

 

● Futuring,
● Exponential Innovation,
● Altruism,
● & Collaboration.
The first step you can take is an inventory of these skills. Ask yourself:
“How far is my org looking into the future?”
“What trends — born and unborn — are we spotting?”
“What tools are we using to innovate towards them?”
“How can purpose set us apart or help us do better work?”
“If this problem is gnarly enough, who else is working on it?”
“How might we expand & strengthen our ecosystem to solve this?”

If you’re in the business of making money, these questions will be essential in maintaining relevance – and capturing future market share.

If you’re in the business of solving social and environmental problems, these questions will help deepen your understanding of root problems and build coalitions and movements to solve them.
It’s not easy.
“If you talk about where all of the value will be created over the next 50 years, it’ll be in those hard things,” says Chamath Palihapitiya, founder of Social Capital

Say hello to VUCA.
Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. & Ambiguity.

VUCA is here to stay. In fact, it is only speeding up.

If you want to thrive in a world where change is speeding up, you need to replace old thinking with new frameworks.

At Incredible, we’ve developed a process called Regenerative Innovation to design amidst uncertainty.

Regenerative Opportunities
Regenerative Innovation is being used to tackle some of the gnarliest problems in our communities and around the globe:
➜ Move People Out of Poverty
➜ Create Local & Global Resilience
➜ Shift Power
➜ Drawdown CO2
➜ Uplevel Education
➜ Tap into $4T Circular Economy
➜ Build peace
Just as important, Regenerative Innovation reframes perspectives, expands our locus of impact, & builds capacity in others to solve problems.

The Shift is Hitting the Fan.
A new future demands new stories.
If you believe the Stockholm Resilience Institute, 3 out of 9 levels of our biosphere – the systems of our planet that keep us alive – are beyond the Zone of Uncertainty. Three more are in or nearing the Zone of Uncertainty.

The Global Footprint Network measures how much of Earth we use. We use about 1.6 Earths every year. If we do this much longer, the Earth won’t be able to regenerate enough stuff for us to use. Who are you going to sell stuff to then?

Regenerative Innovation is our approach to writing new stories. Small communities, governments, and global companies can reconnect to the systems they’re nested in. They can determine what they want the future to look like and build toward it.

We Believe
We believe your org can thrive. We believe your customers and supply chain and team members can thrive. We believe it’s possible while the planet thrives too.
All we have to do is reimagine what’s possible.
Contact Adrian Reif at LinkedIn