Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Joy Lid

As I’ve created the life of my dreams, living in Mexico on a beach and working remotely doing the work I’m meant to do; Work that is fulfilling and meaningful and energizing, I find myself confronting what I call the “Joy Lid.”

One thing that I uncovered over my journey of healing my father wound is how I had shut down many of my emotions, especially anger and sadness.  I even remember choosing to no longer be angry about my father not being there around the age of 13.  As you can imagine, a little boy who never knew his father, I was deeply saddened and angry, but until years later really had no idea. From my work with a therapist, I realized that this is what kids do when they have emotions that are too powerful or complex to deal with at a young age.  In some ways, I find it comical that I actually believed I had no emotion about not having a Dad.

The other thing I have learned and experienced firsthand is that when you shut down emotions on one end of the spectrum, such as sadness and anger, you equally and automatically shut down emotions on the other end of the spectrum, such as joy and connection.
I call this the Joy Lid and I’ve been confronting this again the last few weeks.  Like you, perhaps, I again thought I had gotten through this, that I had opened up my heart to all of my emotions and thus had broken through the Joy Lid and put that stuff behind me.  Well, like most human being things, nothing is ever done, it’s just a constant practice.

The last few weeks I’ve really had to challenge myself to en-joy the life I’ve created and to intentionally practice celebrating the life of my dreams.

If you notice that you have a Joy Lid, consider taking on some of these practices:
  1.       Practice expressing your emotions on purpose.  If you notice a hint of anger, express it in a healthy way.  Scream every curse word you know as angrily and loudly as possible when you are alone in your car.  Break some bottles in a dumpster or punch a pillow.  For sadness, watch a movie that you know makes you sad and allow yourself to express the emotions of sadness that it stirs up.
  2.            Celebrate intentionally even when it feels like you don’t deserve it and it is stupid.  The more you practice celebrating, the more facility you will have with joy. 

All of these will immediately loosen the lid on your joy. 

With Love,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Step Dad Never Had A Chance

I'm probably not the only step child who has ever had "issues" with their step-parent.  My "issues" were nothing too serious, but it's enough to say that there were lots and lots of arguments, resistance and frustration for most of my childhood.

My step-father came along when I was about 7 years old and was my Mom's first marriage. Until then, it was me and my mom, with loads of help from my Grandma and Grandpa.  At first, getting a "Dad" was like opening a Christmas present. Finally, I would have a Dad like the other kids.  In many ways it was kind of like the way a new romantic relationship goes (minus the physical part obviously.)
I was so excited about having a Dad and all that I thought that meant.  Recently, I was reading some school papers from 3rd grade (around the time my step-dad came along) and I saw that I had wrote that I wanted to be a Sheet Metal Worker (like my step-dad) and that the Los Angeles Dodgers were my favorite baseball team (like my step-dad).

Please do not mention to anyone else that I said the Dodgers were my favorite baseball team.  I was confused and age 7, and it was extremely fleeting.  :)

However, as I read that paper, I realized how deeply connected I wanted to be to my step-father, as indicated by saying something as sac-relig as liking the Dodgers over my beloved (to this day) St Louis Cardinals.

As I grew older and began to take more responsibility for the arguments, resistance and frustration between me and my step-father, I realized how much of a role I had in creating all of it.

I became aware of the standard I had created for what a "Dad" should be like.  (For more on that, check out a previous blog called "Fantasy Dad.")   Prior to my step-dad showing up in my life, I had created an intense picture of what a father was supposed to be like. A complete fantasy where my dad played catch with me everyday, never got angry, loved me, counseled me, coached my little league team and made millions.

Essentially, anything that could be construed as perfection by a man, that's what I thought a dad was.  Dad's, in my mind were like super heroes and definitely not human beings with all of our "imperfections."

Unknowingly, throughout my childhood, I held my step-dad to this unattainable standard every minute of every day.  My step-father is a wonderful man, an honest and loving man, and a man of integrity.  From an outside perspective and the healthier one that I have today, I can see that I got really lucky to have such a great model of a man in my life.

He claimed me as his own from the beginning and treated me as equally as his other children from the very first day.  It was such a gift.

And, because of who I thought he should be, I couldn't experience that gift until many years later.  Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to let him know that and apologize for the hard time I gave him. Our relationship has never been better.

Having this insight has helped me see how I do this to other men and people in leadership positions.  Where I decide that anyone in a leadership position should be perfect at all times.

Notice where you are holding human being to super hero standards. If we can let those standards down, we can experience them for the magical gifts they are.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Broken Open

If you have been dumped and you can't figure out why the heck it hurt so confusingly much.

I may have an idea...

It's strange how our patterns in relationship reflect our childhood pain.  I was a bit awkward growing up and didn't really date anyone until I was 16.  When I did, they tended to be long term committedrelationships  I was always the one that broke it off first and when I broke it off, I did it in a way that ensured that they were still my friend afterwards.  (Or tried to anyways)

I realized later that this was fueled by the part of me that fiercely resisted anyone leaving me.  I can only apologize now to those I dated for the way I left them hanging on and subconsciously acted in a way that wouldn't let them all the way go.  I'm really sorry, if I had known better I would have done better.  And, I trust that we were both learning the lessons that we were meant to.

Now, onto the breakup. Somehow, I managed to only be broken up with once.  I think one of the things I looked for when entering a relationship was safety and a near guarantee that the other person wasn't going to be doing the leaving.

Well, at some point in my 20's, I made one of the most painful and most important errors of my life.  I chose to date a girl who wasn't safe or real for that matter, just beautiful and full of energy.  It was at a time when I was most consumed by my own ego and had buried my pain so deep that I didn't even know it existed.

We only dated for a few months, but the wound it opened mystified me.  I was devastated, heartbroken and embarrassingly obsessed with having it go differently.  After about a year of pining over someone that I had only dated for a few months, and knew quite clearly in my head, that in no way was this the kind of girl I wanted to be with, I still couldn't shake the painful feelings.

About this time, I was reading Eckhart Tolle's, The Power of Now and I turned to a chapter that talked about the Relationship Pain Body.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that what I was experiencing was the pain of abandonment.  I had been abandoned by someone I opened my heart to and that I cared about.  Suddenly, it all made sense.  Of course, I wasn't pining for this girl that I had only dated a few months, I was mourning and confronting the painful feelings I had buried long ago as I realized I had no Dad.

Now, this could have gone two ways...
1. Never open that door (my heart) again. Close it shut and cover up the pain with alcohol, sex and achievement.
2. Allow this experience to begin the most important journey of my life. The journey to healing the deep pain left by the absence of my father.

Fortunately for me and you, I chose the second path. This began a period of healing that continues today and has included a rigorous being based coach training program, 2 years of therapy and the opportunity to be married to one of the sweetest, safest and loving women in the world.