Do you know those things that make you sweat? The things that make you feel anxious? The ones that make you want to apologize when you didn’t even do anything wrong? Well, that is how I feel when it comes to verbal communication.
Communication has never been a strength of mine. Well, let me rephrase that–verbally communicating how I feel and what I need has never been easy for me. My brain was wired to devalue my feelings and needs and overvalue another. It was a learned behavior that I needed to learn how to harness.
Courage to Communicate
I remember distinctly the first time I verbally voiced what I needed to my husband.
My husband and I were sitting on the couch one night after he had gotten home from work. I knew that walking, yoga and physical activity helped me manage my anxiety and could feel my anxiety slowly creeping up. I wanted to go for a walk by myself to breathe, take a time out from the kids, and relax. However, with two small kids at home and a husband that was working a very physical job, I felt that his happiness and relaxation were more important than mine. Asking for a “break” made me feel guilty.
However, at that moment, I knew exactly what I needed and I needed it so badly I had no choice. I swallowed my fear and verbally communicated to my husband that I needed to go for a walk. I paused. And waited. Brian, my husband, said, “Go, hun. I’m good” without flinching. I felt an immediate sense of relief at that moment.
This may not seem like a big deal to some but for me, it was a milestone. That moment where I voiced my needs and wants set a solid foundation for my future. Today, I am able to voice bigger things like my views on parenting, life, and business. It’s also led me to now be able to agree to disagree, be okay with someone not liking what I have to say, and setting time for myself and not feel like I have to ask for permission.
Learning How to Listen
About ten years into recovery, I discovered that I didn’t know how to effectively communicate. I also learned that how well you listen has a major impact on the quality of your relationships with others.
I didn’t know how to listen. I was continually projecting what I thought others were thinking and saying before they even finished talking. With that, I was actually preparing for a rebuttal and would instantly shut down or bark back the moment I would receive a response that I didn’t like.
I had to relearn how to listen.
Even though listening may ‘sound’ easy, listening well is a gift that not everyone has. Improving your ability to listen well will enable you to assess situations with more clarity and gain insight into other people, their opinions and the overall circumstances of an event. Listening well can prevent you from misreading a situation and making mistakes –like I was doing.
Make Your Voice Heard
I decided somewhere along my journey, with the help of the yoga I know, meditation, and fully embracing the love of those around me to press on. To keep voicing up. To keep asking those uncomfortable questions. To say what I need to say.
Speak up, friend. You deserve to speak. You have something valuable to say and your voice matters.
And each time it will only get better. Each time you voice up and choose to communicate instead of hold it in, you will get better at it. Each time you ask that uncomfortable question it feels less uncomfortable. Each time you will get more precise at what you need to say and how you need to say it.
Work in Progress
I have learned time and time again in life and business that it is MY responsibility to ask questions, inquire, and do research if needed. This practice, in a sense, is putting myself first, and at the same time putting the other person first as well, because now communication is open. My advice, start with safe people. Start in safe environments and with small less scary things to communicate. For me, it was wanting to go for a walk. For you it may be voicing that you want Mexican food tonight instead of just saying “I don’t care”.
Full disclosure, doing these things is super hard for me. Still, I’ve discovered that time and time again; I am continually putting others’ well-being, happiness, comfort, and satisfaction above mine. And I am so grateful I have developed an ever-growing toolbox to help me build up these muscles in my life and business.
Let me help you get rid of stress so you can press on to the next phase of your life.
Check out my blog: 3 Yoga Poses to Banish Stress Instantly
If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship.
It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.
Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills.
Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:
- Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
- Effective communication
- How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
- Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
- It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
- There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.
Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.
We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.
That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift.
We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions.
If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.
My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.? This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.
Doing so requires you to do two simple things:
- STOP and step back (literally, step back).
- Inhale and exhale.
Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others.
And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.
Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.
A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.
Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me.
My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.
?I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.
One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.
May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.
I never thought that yoga would become such a huge part of my life. To be honest, I didn’t even know what yoga was until a co-worker said to me one day, “You look like someone who would practice yoga.” Hmmmm…thanks? I guess?
You know, those moments in life that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, at 17 years old, that is exactly what that moment did to me.
I truly believe that life has a way of nudging you in the right direction. Of course, it’s up to us if we decide to follow that nudge or not, but, nonetheless, it’s there.
Destined To Do Big Things
I’ve never shared this before but when I growing up, I always knew that I was meant for more. As a child, you could usually find me tucked away, inside of my closet, stapling papers together to create books. Not books to share, but books that I planned to store away with the intent to be found by someone one day when I was gone. That someone who would say, “Wow, this is amazing.” Okay, looking back–maybe that was a little weird BUT the point is–I always knew that I was going to do big things. I knew I was going to be known for something more.
Then came yoga. Practicing yoga was a saving grace to me. It was my lifeline. Every Wednesday night, it gave me hope that I could do it. It showed me I was strong. It showed me what I was capable of. It showed me that I was meant for more.
Yoga changed my life.
Then, randomly one day, my yoga teacher casually suggested to me that I consider teaching yoga. Funny how life works, right?
Yoga Was My Nudge
My first search–“How to become a yoga teacher”–landed me on an ashram in Rollingsville, Colorado. Don’t ask me how or why, but I just knew that this was the place for me. Without hesitation, I signed up, gave them my money, and booked my tickets. However, it wasn’t all quite that simple. The catch–I had finals during my month stay in Colorado. I know what you are thinking– “Ok, Hope, that’s not that big of a deal.”
Here is the thing– I went to a Catholic university and I was off to an ashram to learn how to teach yoga SO it was sort of a BIG deal. The two couldn’t be more different. That next week, relying on my faith and a prayer, I asked my professors if they would consider letting me take my finals early. They all said yes. My stars were aligning.
My Yoga Teaching Journey
There was no hiding it–I was scared. I was still struggling with an eating disorder and there appeared to be no real hope or end in sight. I wanted to stop. I desperately wanted to be able to live a normal life. But I knew I still had a long way to go.
I still remember my first day in our yoga teacher training at the ashram. Eleven of us sitting in a circle and everyone was at least 15 years older than me. I was determined to step aside from my fears and make the most out of this month-long stay–all 98 pounds of me. I was praying to God this would heal me. This 30-day stay would be just what I needed to clear my head and conquer my addiction–for good.
That afternoon, sitting in a circle on the freshly carpeted floor, I knew this was where I belonged. That day I heard a voice inside my head and it told me eleven things I would do going forward from that day. These were things that I never thought I would do. They were things that were never in my scope of dreams. However, to be honest, struggling with an eating disorder, depression, and a laundry list of other issues–survival was the only thing I could focus on. But I pulled out my yellow legal pad and printed out one goal on each line. I tore off the sheet and folded it up. I was on my way.
My article on Mind Body Green highlights what I believe are the 7 Secrets of Becoming a Successful Yoga Teacher.
My Yoga Training Forever Changed the Course of My Life
My yoga training gave me hope that all the prayers that I had said and all the things that I had been through would not be a waste.
That yoga training was hard. It rocked me to my core. It challenged on what I thought about life, movement, and myself. It challenged my faith to go deeper into myself and see wh at and how I really connected to God.
I believe we all need those moments in life in order to truly get to the bottom of who we are. We are all here on this earth for a purpose and it is us who gets in our own way and downplays our potential for greatness.
My yoga training taught me that we are all worth it.
You Are Worth It
For you, it may not be enrolling in a yoga training class. (If it is, please reach out to me if you have questions. I would be happy to help you find the right fit!) Whatever it is, remember–you are worth it. You are better after it and there are never any mistakes in life. Just opportunities. Opportunities to learn and soak up all that is waiting to be had.
Picture a day when you are no longer struggling to get out of the gutter. Instead, you are leading others from it.
A day when you are no longer asking for forgiveness, but receiving gratitude from those around you.
A day when you are not searching for the next best thing. Instead, you find yourself attracting what you desire all the time.
Picture a day when all you have been through was absolutely worth it.
Today is that day. You owe it to yourself.
I truly believe that the more we know about ourselves, the closer we can get to becoming the best version of ourselves.
Today’s world is chalked full of opinions. Good, bad, and ugly–everyone seems to have something to say about everything. It leads people to start to look outside of themselves for validation. However, I believe that real validation lies inside. It really does. People ask me all the time, “Hope, how did you recover from such a horrific eating disorder, the tragic loss of a baby, anxiety, and depression without any medications.” My answer: I focused on my self-awareness.
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness means recognizing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing when you are doing it. It is a practice of mindfulness, which is the idea of being 100% present and engaged in whatever you’re doing–free from distraction or judgment.
“Self-awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don’t mean self-consciousness where you’re limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.” -– Tony Robbins
Why is developing self-awareness so important?
So, why is developing self-awareness so important? Well, it’s pretty simple–you CAN’T control everything that happens in your life, but you CAN control how you react to it. Once you are more self-aware, you want to make the changes needed to be the best version of you that you can be.
For me, focusing on my self-awareness meant that I had to take a hard look at my emotions. The emotions that caused me to struggle with anxiety, depression and addiction. I had to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way so that I could find clarity and peace. Yoga was my saving grace. After my first yoga class, something inside me flipped. And even though I wasn’t very good, I felt relief. Quiet. Stillness. No urges or anxiety of any kind. Just relief. Yoga helped me at a time when I needed it the most. Yoga helped me help myself. Yoga forced me to deal with my emotions. Yoga helped me to become more self-aware.
Here are some great ways that you can start to develop your own self-awareness.
KEEP A JOURNAL
That’s right, the good old journal. You know, the one that actually requires a pen or pencil to write in it? LOL–Well, all kidding aside, the best way to start to truly learn about yourself. Journaling gives you a place to think, write, and organize your thoughts and feelings and it is imperative to your developing self-awareness.
Meditation will help you become more self-aware and will help to improve your overall health and well-being. Breath awareness, or mindfulness meditation, reduces stress, anxiety, and anger, and sharpens concentration and attention skills. Counting Breath for Stress Relief & Relaxation is a guided meditation that helps focus the mind and relax the body. This 5-minute meditation will allow you to de-stress and step back into the present moment; helping you to relax, breathe and dig into your breathing so you can step back into life ready and willing.
Simply stated–mindfulness is self-awareness. Self-awareness doesn’t always mean being mindful. Mindfulness means having an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. When you’re mindful, you are able to accept your thoughts and feelings without judging them. As you know, when I was a teenager, I suffered from an eating disorder. When I learned that when I felt an urge to purge, I turned to the yoga mat. I recognized the thoughts and feelings that would arise at that moment and I was able to take a breath and not act on them. I was acting purposefully–or being mindful.
When you become more self-aware, you will be able to see the greater good in yourself. Self-awareness can help you get anywhere you want in life as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.
“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.”
— Lawrence Bossidy
As you may or may not know, I’ve spent most of my life struggling. Struggling to survive. I survived an eating disorder, a laundry list of addictions, and the loss of a child. My journey to reach the place where I am at today hasn’t been easy. It took a lot of hard work and I met some amazing people that helped me to find a purpose in my everyday life. Thanks to the people who helped me, I am blessed to now be able to help others by offering a coaching program, Practices for a Positive and Productive Life.
I am SO excited to OFFICIALLY launch my Practices for a Positive and Productive Life Masterclass. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, this virtual coaching opportunity and online course will help you get crystal clear on your life priorities, health needs, and how to achieve your goals.
The beta launch starts on JANUARY 15, 2020.
SIGN UP RIGHT NOW
The best part? Sign up before January 10, 2020 and receive $1,000 off to participate in the Beta Launch of this program!
You will get access to the entire Practices for a Positive and Productive Life Masterclass for only $497 (a $1,497 value)!! I know how VALUABLE this class is. Which is why I want as many people as possible to have access to it. The Practices for a Positive and Productive Life Masterclass will without a doubt help you jumpstart the new shift in your life!
This Beta Launch is offered to you at a SIGNIFICANT DISCOUNT in exchange for your participation and feedback.
By signing up for this course and coaching program, you will get:
SIGN UP TODAY
- Group coaching calls every week to ask questions, deepen your understanding, and connect with others.
- Email support from me, whenever you need it!
- Weekly videos including meditations, affirmations, and journaling
- Private Facebook Group Access
- Free $10 Starbucks Giftcard and Leather-bound journal, sent directly to you!
If I can go from a walking corpse, stricken with a deadly eating disorder, to a healthy mom of four, I can only imagine what is in store for you.