Cut Them Loose!

You know how there are those people who drain you, who bring out the worst in you?  Cut them loose!  Your life is too precious to waste on people who neither appreciate you nor reciprocate your friendship/love/commitment.

Every now and then we are lucky enough to meet people who bring out the very best in us, who make us want to be more, be better.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet two amazing women who are so beautiful, supportive, encouraging, creative, and all-around amazing, that every time we get together, I leave with my mind racing about all of the possibilities of the new endeavors and projects we have come up with.  Together we set new goals and build new dreams and we inspire each other to be ourselves reach for our dreams – both our individual dreams and our collaborative dreams.  They’re by my side, always, reaching. supporting. encouraging.  These are the best kind of friends to have.  They’re rare, you can’t always identify them at first, but once you realize you have found one – treasure her (or him)!

So this post is a shout out to my amazing friends (thanks, for being awesome!), but even more importantly, it’s a request that each of you take an honest look at your closest friends, your confidants, the people you spend the most time with – and really think about who makes up this group.  Go ahead, take a minute and think about it.  I’ll wait.

My experience tells me that you probably have a couple of honest to goodness true friends who love and support you no matter what.  (Good! Treasure them!  Tell them you love them today!)  My experience also tells me that you probably have some people who do not – they are probably DrainersThwarters, or Obligators.  Sometimes these people can be hard to identify, and if you don’t look too closely, you may never identify them.  Here are some tips on identifying these people, and what to do about them.

Drainers are the people who leave you feeling exhausted after you talk to or spend time with them.  It’s likely that they monopolize all of your time together by talking about themselves – their problems, their achievements, etc.  It could be that you and the Drainer grew up together and have been friends for years and you may feel obligated to continue this friendship.  If you have to try to psych yourself up to get together with one of these people, or you have to force yourself to smile and nod at their stories, or if you leave an encounter with one of these people and just want some quiet time by yourself – congratulations.  You have identified a Drainer.   A Drainer might disguise themselves by asking you questions about yourself.  This is a trick.  As soon as you answer, the Drainer will turn the conversation back to themselves, often cutting you off in the process.

The Drainer is generally either someone you have known for a very long time, or someone you just met who has a bright, dynamic personality.  If the Drainer is the former, someone you have known for a very long time, you probably feel obligated to continue the friendship.  Let me tell you this – you are NOT obligated to continue this pseudo-friendship.    If the Drainer is the latter, you likely just got swept up in all the excitement that is their life – or so they tell you.  They are friendly and easy to talk to (i.e. they will talk to anyone about themselves – endlessly) and it’s easy to think that you are forming a friendship.  But if you were to do nothing but nod and smile during a conversation with them, would they even notice?  Probably not.  They are draining you!

The easiest way to cut a Drainer loose is to stop feeding into their need to talk about themselves.  Don’t encourage the conversations.  Eventually their need to talk about themselves will overtake them and they’ll seek out someone else who will listen.

Thwarters are people who do want to hear about you and your life and your accomplishments…so that they can then tell you a better story, or give you a better suggestion.  Also known as “one uppers,” Thwarters generally have a better story than the one you just told.  Oh, your significant other surprised you with a weekend getaway? Well that’s so great, but the Thwarter’s significant other surprised them with a week long cruise!! Isn’t that amazing?  But more than one upping you, the reason I call these people Thwarters, is because you tell them about this great event that you are really excited about, and if they can’t “beat” the story, they have to tell you why it’s not actually that great.  Oh, you got a promotion at work, one that you’ve been working really hard for?  Wow, that’s great – doesn’t that mean that you now have to work weekends and miss out on time with your family? wamp wamp.

Thwarters are a little tricky to cut loose.  It’s worth it to try to talk to them about the behavior, especially if it’s new behavior.  Sometimes they don’t actually realize that they do it, or they may be going through a rough time and this is some sort of subconscious defense mechanism.  Sometimes talking to a Thwarter will help your relationship.  Other times, they will be offended and seek out other friends to thwart.

Finally, you have the Obligator.  These friends somehow make you feel as though getting together with you is a huge obligation (side note: do you perhaps do this to your Drainers?) They are generally quick with excuses as to why they can’t get together, or they simply don’t respond and then when you do hear from them, you hear how they are SO busy they just forgot.  Here’s the thing – you are not an obligation.  Your friends should WANT to spend time with you.  Of course life happens and things come up – but can you honestly say, Obligator, that you never have time to get together?  I doubt it.  The Obligator is the easiest type of faux-friend to eliminate: stop reaching out to them to make plans.  If the Obligator is actually a true friend, they will reach out to you.  Most likely, though, the true Obligator will just fade off into your past.

I realize that this might sound very harsh and cold.  I admit, I have a bitchy side, but the bottom line is this: friendship matters.  We’re all busy, we’ve all got our own lives going on with families, jobs, hobbies, relationship, etc. but if you can make time for your friends, then your friends can make time for you.  And if they can’t, they aren’t really your friends after all.  Life is too short to surround yourself with anyone who doesn’t bring just as much to your relationships as you do.

Another important step on your journey to owning your you is to work on surrounding yourself with the right people.  The people who love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support you JUST AS MUCH as you love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support them.  Surround yourselves with these people.  The will make your journey more enjoyable, and they will make it easier to Own Your You.

 

 

 

Just Listen.

It’s tough to not have all the answers.  We want to have all the answers, to know the next move, the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, we don’t always know these things.  It can leave us feeling helpless. I felt that way twice this past weekend.  I had two separate friends tell me about two separate things they were dealing with and I couldn’t “fix” either of them.

Of course, we are all responsible for our own lives and the only one who can fix your life is you.  And no one comes to me expecting me to fix it for them.  However, I’ve grown accustomed to at least being able to give some helpful advice or suggestions.  But these two instances were such that there was really nothing I could say to make the situation better for them.  I felt as though I were letting my friends down.  That was tough for me.  I was disappointed in my lack of ability to help and thought that my friends would probably feel the same way.  When I lamented this to one of these friends, she wisely told me that “…sometimes we just need to vent…”

Bam.  Just like that.  Hit in the face with some truth.

Sometimes we just need to vent.

Sometimes we just need to listen.

Sometimes that’s all the help someone needs.  Wow.

I learned that while I love it when I can actively help someone with something, part of my role is to just listen.  And that is helping.  It’s even something that I’ve told my husband before:  “Babe, I don’t need you to try to fix anything, I just want to say these things.”  I thought I was asking him to do something simple.  Just listen to me.  Don’t offer suggestions or advice.  Just listen.  He’s a doer like I am, though, so now I see that I wasn’t making a simple request, I was asking for something more difficult.  Even though I’ve been the one who simply needed to vent, I still wasn’t able to just let myself be a listener!

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

So I have learned something about me, and about my journey.  I don’t have to have all of the answers.  I will work on being a listener.

Sometimes it’s enough to just listen.

Fake it!

The hardest part about Owning Your You is believing it.  Believing that you are good enough, capable enough, etc. to do what you want to do.  It’s hard to change how you view yourself, you’ve spent your whole life thinking about yourself in a certain way; for many of us, that “certain” way includes a fair amount of negativity and self doubt.  I’m not as smart as her.  I’m not as pretty as her.  I’m not as talented as her.  I can’t do what she does.  I’m not.  I can’t.  I’m not.  I can’t….

After years of the “not” and “can’t” commentary in your head, no wonder it’s so hard to break out of that and start to think “I AM” and “I CAN!”

But I have good news.  There is a way to start acting like you are and you can: Fake it! Yes.  Fake it.

You see, perception is reality.  Think about that for a second.  Perception is reality.  If other people perceive you as being confident and capable (or whatever else you want to portray) then in their eyes you ARE confident and capable.  They believe it if you act like you believe it, too.  Eventually, their perception of you is that you are confident and capable – repeat that last part: you ARE confident and capable.  It’s often true that a big part of our negative feelings about ourselves are a result of what we believe that other people think about us.  Well, then, the opposite is also true.  If we believe that people think we are confident and capable, we will begin to believe that ourselves until, eventually, you’re not faking it anymore…you’re believing it…you are Owning It!

The next time you are in a situation where you want to be successful, where you want to be capable (again, these are my examples, use whatever skill/trait that YOU struggle with and want to improve on) take a minute before you enter that situation and remind yourself to act the way you want to be perceived.  Remind yourself to fake it.

You’re on your way to Owning Your You.  Be proud of that.

Fleeting Crazy

I’m not a writer. I love to read. I love to write. But I am not a writer. I have friends who are amazing writers, and some of them are also amazing bloggers.  They can just see/hear/feel something and WRITE about it.  In a way that is in engaging, humorous, honest, and meaningful.  I tend to ramble.  I have realized that I put short bursts of thoughts down, but struggle with expanding on them without a defined end result.

Great.  Another blogger who can’t write.  Just what the internet needs, right? I know! I couldn’t agree more.  The reason I’m taking this leap is that, while I can’t churn out beautiful, deep, thought provoking prose on cue, I can talk to people about their concerns, issues, thoughts, etc. – what I call their “Crazy.”  I have always been a person my friends know that they can come to for honest, no-nonsense advice.  I have referred to myself as the “Crazy Wrangler” on more than one occasion when friends have come to me with their current Crazy and asked me to help them rein it in…or wrangle it.  I can do this; I love doing this.  I want to do this for you.

Therefore, this blog, my blog is at the mercy of you.  Yes YOU.  I can’t do this without you.  I need your questions, situations, drama…I need your Crazy.  I want to help you Own Your You.

We’ve all got a little bit of Crazy in us.  Some of us have a lot of Crazy in us.  It’s all ok.  It’s who we are.  It’s your Crazy that makes you YOU.  It’s your Crazy that makes you interesting.  Don’t be afraid of your Crazy.  Own it.  Thrive with it, in spite of it, or because of it…whatever makes sense for you.

Of course, every now and then, we experience a Fleeting Crazy – a situation that normally doesn’t affect us turns us into crazy, obsessive, over-thinking, over-reacting creatures that we don’t even recognize!  This kind of Crazy is ok, too.  It’s normal.  And I’m here to help you acknowledge it and work through it.

I had a bout of Fleeting Crazy recently.  I generally am fairly confident and try to be positive about things…except when I’m not.  I started comparing some of my work to that of some other talented, and more experienced, people.  Their work is amazing.  I was comparing and found myself severely lacking.  I was feeling very mopey and “woe-is-me” for the better part of a day.  I hate feeling that way.  I acknowledged it, but I could not get myself out of it.  I turned to two of my friends and just told them how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way.  I didn’t ask them to fix it, I didn’t ask them to make me feel better, and I certainly didn’t ask them to shower me with false compliments.  I just said this is what I’m feeling, and this is why.  And, being the amazing friends that they are, they knew exactly what to say.  They did not fill my head with flowery words and tell me that I’m the absolute best thing in the world and there is no one better – they were honest.  They told me they understood, they’ve felt that way before, and they gave me their honest feedback on my work (fortunately they do like my work, so that helped!) and it helped.  I felt better.  I am not “fixed,” I will still have moments of doubt, moments of harsh self-criticism, moments where I contemplating throwing in the towel.  But I know that’s my Fleeting Crazy, and I know if I need help getting through it, help is just a call or email away.

Oh, Crazy.  You do make life interesting.

It’s a Journey.

What does that mean? Own Your You.  It’s just three words that kind of sound the same. It makes no sense.  You could rearrange them and say “Your Own You” but that’s not what I want to say.  What I’m saying is: Own. Your. You.  It’s a directive.  I’m telling you to do something.  (I know, who the heck am I to be telling you to do anything?  I’ll get to that later, I promise.  Bear with me for now, though, please).  What I’m telling you to do is be yourself: who you are – who you really are – and own it. Love it. Don’t hide it.  Don’t apologize for it. Own it. 

It sounds simple enough, right?  Sadly it is not.  We’re all human which means we are impressionable – particularly at a young age, which is when we start to see and hear and learn what is acceptable, what is normal, what we should be, think, feel, do.  What this means is that many of us struggle to be, think, feel, and do the things we are supposed to do.  This means it’s easy to lose or forget who we really are, or who we really want to be.  Or, if you are lucky enough to know these things, you often feel guilty or embarrassed by it.  There are people who are lucky enough to not feel that way; who truly do own who they are.  Fearlessly, peacefully, honestly.  To those people, I say: Congratulations!  To those of you who are trying to get to that point, I say: Congratulations!  Congratulations on knowing where you are and thinking about where you want to be and working on getting there. 

Now, as promised, I’m coming back to why you should listen to me when I tell you to Own Your You.  It’s because you matter.  You deserve to be able to live the life you want, being who you are – not pretending to be someone you aren’t.  You deserve that.  I am telling you that I want you – yes YOU – to be happy. To be YOU.

It’s a journey.  It’s not easy.  It requires undoing years of “I should” and “I shouldn’t” and it requires looking into yourself and understanding exactly what you want and it requires the strength to be, to Own, yourself even thought you might not think it’s who you should be.  That is difficult.  And important.  And liberating.

So let’s do it.  Let’s take this journey together.

Ask me questions….I am not a certified life coach; I am not a mental health professional.  I am a person who believes strongly in the worth of you and the strength of you.  I will not be able to fix your problems, and I may not even be able to answer all of your questions.  But what I will do is give you honest, straightforward responses to your questions.  What I will do is ask you questions that make you look deeper and help you find your path and your answers.  To eventually Own Your You.

Thanks for reading!

My First Post! (What am I getting myself into?)

What is Own Your You about?

Own Your You is a place where people can go for guidance in finding their true selves.

We spend our whole lives thinking about what we should do.  What we shouldn’t do.  What is expected.  And very little time really focusing on what we actually want/don’t want/feel/like…and then even when we do know we want/don’t want something, we’re afraid to go for it because maybe it’s not what’s expected.  So Own Your You is about being yourself and owning it.  Fearlessly.  Peacefully.  Honestly.  It’s a place to ask questions, exchange ideas, to start to be comfortable “owning” who you really are, and to make sure you are on the path you want to be on.