Archives

Commitment-phobe or Intuition?

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to write an article for Love Evolve and Thrive, a website dedicated to helping women with their relationships, personal growth and wellness. Click the paragraph for a link to the article:

Relationships, by nature, are going to push our buttons, trigger our insecurities, and demand that we get out of our comfort zone. How do we know when our fear is telling us to leave a relationship, and when it is a sign for deeper work?

love

Advertisements

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Boundaries: Loving Kindness in Action

IMG_1503

© Lynn Barrette

What does setting boundaries mean to you? Selfishness? Gigantic confrontations? Plates thrown across the room? Hurt feelings followed by the silent treatment for days? An opportunity to unload 30 years’ worth of baggage that you’ve been carrying?

When I say the word “boundaries” to my clients, I often sense the fear response that is common for many people when they think of putting in place even the healthiest of boundaries.

Yet, setting boundaries is a loving gesture that allows us to take care of ourselves through clear and gentle communication of what we’re willing to do or to allow around us. Boundaries that we set are kind for the other person, too. They make our intentions clear and help each person to be respectful and respected.

Brené Brown, PhD, author and human behavior researcher, uses the acronym BIG to formulate her boundaries with others: “What Boundaries do I need so that I can stay in Integrity with myself and be as Generous as possible with you?” We can’t be generous with others—our time, resources, emotional energy, compassion—when we feel overburdened, taken advantage of, or drained. We instead start feeling resentful and build protective walls between ourselves and the other person.

How do we set boundaries with loving kindness?

We are in charge of ourselves: our time, our location, our finances, our sense of self and well-being. If any of those are being taken advantage of, it is up to us to protect the resource we feel is being drained. To do this, we define what we need or are willing to do, and determine the best way to communicate it, given the person with whom we’ll be communicating.

Here are a couple of examples:

Scenario #1: You have a friend in need whom you want to support, but he’s not taking any action to support himself. After several rounds of hearing the same story and offering the same suggestions, you are beginning to feel drained.

Possible boundary: “I understand you are going through a hard time. You always have my support, and I know that you know what to do.” Repeat as needed.

Note: I always encourage the use of voicemail as a boundary-setting tool. You can return the call at a time that is convenient to you; plus, you have time to prepare your boundary beforehand and have it ready when needed.

Scenario #2: That obnoxious family member will be at the dinner gathering you are going to. She is always in everybody’s business and has something to say about it.

Possible boundary: “Thank you for asking, Aunt Millie. Things are going well with me. What have you been up to lately?” (Notice the deflection and redirection. You only have to share what you want to, and with those you want to share it with. In this case, turning the focus back onto Aunt Mildred kindly redirects her attention, at least for a while.

In either scenario, the other person wouldn’t necessarily know that we are setting a boundary with them. We are communicating the limit clearly, but less directly. We don’t have to wait until we are so exasperated with our friend, frozen in crisis, that we stop talking to him altogether, or end up saying something that is more hurtful than helpful. With Aunt Millie, we don’t have to tell her how obnoxious her behavior is— she probably already knows, and she might thrive on the negative exchange if we did tell her! In both cases, we simply set our boundary so as to not get entangled with the other person’s emotional state.

Boundaries are kind, compassionate, loving ways to maintain our own integrity while respecting where the other person might be on their journey of self-awareness. What boundary are you going to put in to place today?

Don’t Worry, the Universe Will Remind You that Your Work Isn’t Done

tumblr_nrtexbzjua1snt055o1_400Sometimes it takes a lot to push through resentment to find the gratitude.

I knew someone who had purchased a condo to help a friend in need–a place for the friend to stay while she was trying to get back on her feet. All things were going well until the friend lost her job and stopped paying rent. Then one day, she disappeared to another state without explanation.

How betrayed he felt! How could she do that? She left him with thousands of dollars in mortgage each month, plus his own home’s mortgage! No word, no apology, no help!

For several years, he tried to sell the condo. Sale after sale fell through for this reason or that. Every failed attempt to rid himself of the condo was one more reminder of the betrayal of his so-called friend, a reminder of how angry he felt at himself for trusting her, a reminder to forgive again.

One New Year’s Eve at a Burning Bowl Ceremony, he wrote a letter to himself stating that for the new year, the condo would be sold! The letter was mailed to him eleven months later, and eleven months later the condo still hadn’t been sold.

He had been sharing this story with me over time via email, and I could now hear the disappointment in his words. He had worked faithfully with the Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties, a forgiveness process I had shared with him toward the beginning of this difficult, healing journey, and would return to it each time a condo sale would fall through.

When he shared with me about his letter for the year, and his yet unmet commitment to continue to forgive, I could suddenly see the message loud and strong, and I replied:

“You have worked hard this year to continue to free yourself from that condo, through all the sales that fell through, plus the forgiveness work that you have been persistent in affirming. Perhaps the condo is still part of your life, but you have freed your heart so much this year–and your free heart is something you get to take into the new year! Congratulations!

“Sometimes we forget that the Universe uses our human circumstances to do a job that we might not have done otherwise. If the condo hadn’t been a reminder of your friend’s betrayal all this time, how would you have paid attention to that forgiveness need? It might have been buried in your heart like a needle in a haystack–only to poke you when you least expected it!

“No wonder it’s so important to look for the good in all things! It is always there. You have done a great job on fulfilling what you wrote in your letter last year! Now you’re just waiting for the sale to go through. Give thanks for all things–mysterious and obvious alike!”

As is true so often in my work, I can’t give encouragement without seeing how it applies in my own life. As I composed my email, I could see the many people and circumstances that have been so challenging in my own life this past year (and some for several years!). I could see how I hoped a struggle would be over, only to have it rear its ugly head over and over and over again. I could see my persistence, but also how it looked so disappointing because things didn’t change according to my ideas or timing.

Yet I could also see how the struggle is what strengthened me, slowly but surely! It loosened my grip on my desired results. It reminded me of the inner work left to do. It reminded me to forgive what needs to be forgiven, and that I wasn’t finished quite yet.

Outer results are easy to see, easy to be grateful for. But to see that there’s something bigger going on? That takes looking beyond results.

What in your life continues to show up and remind you to do your inner work?

 

Join us for our series of workshops to transition into the new year!

 

Love Is the Answer. What Was the Question?

Jane Elizabeth Hart, my spiritual mentor and author of Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul, would often say in her classes, “Love is the answer. What is the question?”

She was reminding us that every day provides opportunities to love—and not just the easy ones. As her students, we would ask her, “What do I do about this person? What do I need to do to forgive and release them from my life?” At times, underneath such questions was the ulterior motive of either making the person change or wanting them out of our lives altogether! Jane Elizabeth would respond with the bottom line answer: Love.

This was our direction: That no matter how much processing, forgiving and releasing we do, our action step is still the same: to love unconditionally, without judgment or hesitation. Her question became a tool in the midst of difficult interactions. We could ask our selves, “If I were coming from love, how would I act?”

At Christmastime, there is an energy of love which opens our hearts to giving and receiving love. Let your Christmas intention be to share love freely, especially with those more difficult characters in your Christmas story.

Love is the answer. What was the question?

IMG_4972

What Is the Glass Ceiling between You and Your Soul?

2015 Lynn Barrette

2015 Lynn Barrette

Usually when we talk about the glass ceiling, we are referring to that organizational block that keeps us from moving up the hierarchy of a company. But have you ever noticed a glass ceiling on your life’s journey? Have you felt a block that stands between you and the fulfillment of your heart’s desire?

Similarly to a dead end job, our inner glass ceiling can make us feel hopeless, helpless, and like the victim of circumstances. The glass ceiling makes us feel it is impenetrable—why should we even bother trying? Yet, there’s something inside of us that keeps reflecting to us those wonderful possibilities! There are always options open to us, if we are willing to look at them—and take action on them—and allow ourselves to be transformed.

When we moved from Kansas to Michigan, I went through a difficult bout of depression. Even though my children were still young, I had been wearing the identity of “stay-at-home mom” for some time. But, it was no longer working for me, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t see any other options—and besides, I loved my family very much, so of course I should feel terribly guilty for not wanting to be home with them all the time, right?

Guilt and shame made up my inner glass ceiling. I shouldn’t be feeling this way, was my daily mantra. I could hear the possibilities on the other side, but I didn’t know how to get there. As I worked on uncovering the solution through journaling and meditation (and the help of my spiritual mentor and an awesome therapist), I realized I had work to do to move beyond that glass ceiling! Finally, I had the divine idea to go back to school and pursue a career as a behavioral health therapist, blending my spiritual education with psychology to support others in the best way I can.

It cost me time and effort. It forced me to move beyond the guilt and shame of being a full time student, a wife, and a mother—having less time with everyone (but still plenty to go around!). I spent many nights working on ten-page papers, feeling guilty for doing that instead of putting my kids to bed. I worried that my beautifully understanding and supportive husband might feel resentful of his new home duties.

I released my stay-at-home mom self using Jane Hart’s “Seven Steps” process—over and over again until I felt adjusted to my new role as a partner to my husband as we parented together in a new way. I said goodbye to the helpless victim in me as I embraced my new responsibilities as a self-employed therapist and business woman.

The thing about any glass ceiling is that it is only made up of a thin veil of doubt and false beliefs—and perhaps a sprinkle of fear and laziness here and there. When we feel ourselves hitting our heads against it, that’s our call to put our courage on and charge ahead!

What is your glass ceiling? Ask yourself, “What calls to me that I don’t believe is possible for me? What keeps me from trying? What do I need to give up in order to make it happen?” Find those answers within yourself, then move on it, one step at a time. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth – Part 3 / Finale

Continuing from my previous post in this three-part series on Scratching the Surface of Spiritual Growth…

sevenstepsebookA powerful forgiveness and resilience tool is Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions. Hart created this method for releasing old patterns, beliefs and other life situations, based on her personal experiences of change, loss and spiritual growth. Each of theSeven Steps deals with an aspect of the situation at hand.  Journaling your responses to each step’s list of questions is suggested, tissues should be on hand, and laughter at some point is a must. (You can access the journaling questions at church or on the Center for Enlightenment website, www.cfenlightenment.org.)

Step one is ‘Gratitude and Acceptance’ and deals with all that you are grateful for in regards to the situation or person at hand.  Write down everything you can think of for which you are grateful.  What joy have these situations brought to you? Sometimes all I can come up with is, “I am grateful for the opportunity to release this [person or situation].”  Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything; simply return to it when you can. 

Step two looks at the ‘Good Times.’  Think of specific situations in the past that have been enjoyable for you regarding this person or situation.  There might be something that keeps bringing you back for more.  Again, skip it if you need to.  

Step three allows you to look at your ‘Hopes and Dreams.’  What do you, or did you, hope will happen?  What have you dreamt that this person or situation would be like?  Get those thoughts from swimming around in your head, creating unnecessary stress! It doesn’t mean that these hopes and wishes will necessarily come true; this is to help you let them go.

Step four deals with those ‘Disappointments and Difficulties.’  Ah, yes, the confrontations, the embarrassments, the arguments, the losses—everything.  What has disappointed you regarding this person or situation? What has been the most difficult thing to deal with? Can you see any unresolved issues within yourself that are surfacing to be healed?

The most important step is the fifth step:  ‘Forgiveness.’  This is how we heal.  Who or what circumstance is the hardest to forgive?  Why?  What does it mean for you if you don’t forgive?  What does it mean for you if you do?  When you can find it in yourself to forgive, you can handle future similar situations or people much better.  Remember, you are not condoning unacceptable behavior through forgiveness; simply accepting that it has happened, and now you have new information with which to make decisions moving forward.

Forgiveness requires a certain leap of faith—whatever yours may be—into a space of allowing another to be what they choose to be without it throwing you off-center.  Forgiveness pulls you out of the mindset that someone can ruin your day by not meeting your expectations; and puts you into a space of compassion and non-resistance toward outrageous behavior in others (and yourself!).  It’s tough, but as you are willing, you add to your inner management abilities.

Finally, ‘Release’ all these in the sixth step, and affirm your ‘Completion’ with the process in step seven.  I like having a ritual for my completion process, sometimes burning my journaling notes, or using Hart’s Seven Step meditation. 

The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself; and when you are okay with yourself, you can be open to better possibilities.  If you get stuck on a situation, be sure to seek further help.  

No matter what has happened in the past, every day opens new doors for you. Your job is to prepare your mind and heart for those opportunities to come forth, not so someone or something will change, but so you can.