Are You Digesting Life Properly?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant

Have you ever had something come up in your life that feels eerily similar to an issue you’ve dealt with in the past?

A while ago, I entered into a business partnership that was all wrong, and while my intuition was sending me alarm signals the entire way, I chose to ignore them. Sure enough, the partnership had to end, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Something came up recently within a completely different context, but it had the same icky texture. Since our brains like to find commonalities and make sense of new experiences, my brain immediately declared, “This situation is just like that other one was, which means it’s horrible and you need to get out!”

In some ways, this is really helpful – I was noticing some of the same intuitive signals, and I’ve learned my lesson well enough now to pay more attention to them.

But something else was happening: it became clear to me that I hadn’t fully digested the first partnership, and without doing more emotional work there, it would shadow opportunities to collaborate with others in the future.

I wasn’t able to determine whether this new opportunity that came up was actually right or wrong for me without revisiting and dealing with the old one.

angel Kyodo williams is a Zen priest, writer, and visionary who recently spoke at the Sister Giant conference. While there, she shared an analogy that really stuck with me. She said that people who don’t meditate are going around eating and consuming life, but they’re not digesting any of it.

That is the truth.

Without consciously digesting our experiences, we end up having spiritual diarrhea, constipation, or all sorts of maladies in-between.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantOur bodies are amazing, aren’t they? We consume food throughout the day, our bodies take what they need in order to nourish us, and then they eliminate whatever’s left over and ready to go.

Most of us don’t even have to worry about this process – it just happens automatically, and it gives us the energy we need to enjoy life.

Digesting our experiences is just as important as digesting our food, but many of us have to learn how to do this – it’s not always something we’re taught.

But how do we digest intangible experiences and the thoughts and feelings that come along with them?

When I realized that old pain was informing how I felt about this new opportunity, I got quiet and asked myself some questions: what was the old story I was telling myself, what still hurt, and what was I ready to let go of?

Then I journaled about it so that it got out of my body and onto paper, where I could see it more clearly. This is the digestive process that works for me, but here are some others you could try:

  • Create rituals of processing and releasing. Maybe you write something down on paper and burn it, hike up a mountain and imagine releasing that thing at the top so you’re free on the way back down, or you toss rocks into a lake.
  • You could burn sage or incense after you’ve examined what the experience(s) meant to you, what they taught you, and what about them can be eliminated.
  • You can process things out loud with a loved one or support person.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhatever you do, I hope you’ll just start by being more aware of your emotional and spiritual digestion, because it’s so important.

When our bodies don’t digest things slowly enough, we can’t absorb the nutrients we need. When our bodies digest things too slowly, we get stopped up, which causes pain and an inability to take in any more food.

So it is with the things that we experience in life. We need the time to process and draw out lessons from what goes on in our lives, but we also need to release them and move on in time to receive new experiences.

If there were a continuum between “Digests Experiences Too Quickly” and “Digests Experiences Too Slowly,” where would you fall?

Is your spiritual body in balance, able to take in and eliminate regularly?

If not, consider what you might be holding onto that’s ready to go or savor your next experience and see what nutrients can be drawn from it.

Three Ways to Embrace the Unknown

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantMost of us have an aversion to the unknown. We’re uncomfortable with whatever’s unplanned, mysterious, or hidden. A lot of us were raised to believe that things should be known – that if we don’t know something already, we need to learn it, measure it, shed light on it, etc.

There’s an air of desperation behind this belief, and it can drive us to create a false sense of knowing and control through excessive planning and worry. 

But the unknown isn’t inherently bad. It’s not a problem that we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or in five years – it’s simply how things are.

All of us are constantly in a state of change, but some of us – especially in the United States – are experiencing massive upheaval. The unknown future can feel grim and scary, and in response, we might cling to old habits or fears that make us feel safe but that actually keep us stuck.

I can share an example from my own life:

I’m about to become a mother, and sometimes that is really fucking scary. For a while, I resisted the change as much as I could – I sort of pretended like I wasn’t pregnant, I committed to things I knew I was too tired to do, and I tried to control every aspect of my environment. It got to the point where I was in full-on panic mode because I couldn’t pinpoint what life will be like once the little guy or gal is here. Because of my fear of the future, I was clinging to my habits and routine with a white-knuckled death grip.

My brilliant therapist pushed me to consider another way: to actually start doing things that are new.

To try out swimming even though I’ve never swam a lap in my life (at least not on purpose). To take a nap instead of writing another blog post. To try yoga nidra and ditch my regular morning meditation.

My instinctive brain freaked out at first: “I’m nesting and feeling extremely fragile and you want me to start trying to do things that feel unfamiliar?!”

But I trust her, so I did. And you know what? It really helped.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
A snapshot from my first day at the pool, via my profile on Instagram (@mleather)

I got a swimsuit that fit my much larger figure and went to the pool for a swim.

I napped.

I did yoga nidra and got lots of insights that my busy mind had been getting in the way of.

I also accepted the fact that motherhood is a great unknown to me and that it’s coming – whether I’m ready or not.

I was watching the livestream of an amazing event called Sister Giant the other night, and the organizer, Marianne Williamson, was fielding questions from the audience. A woman stood up and expressed how angry she was that Donald Trump is President. She asked questions like “How could this be?” and “How can I accept the people who voted for him?” I loved Marianne’s two-fold response:

First, stop judging and being so self-righteous, because it’s getting in the way of your ability to make change in a loving way, and secondly: it’s time for us to be adults and accept that this is what’s happening.

Embracing the unknown is a very adult thing to do.

We have to grow up and accept that we can’t control and plan for everything.

Now, of course this is easier said than done, but it is something we can get better at through practice.

Here are three ways that we can skillfully embrace the unknown:

First, get grounded.

The unknown is much, much scarier when your limbic (instinctive) brain is on hyper-alert for threats in your environment. None of this will work without some sort of meditative or contemplative practice. I’ve sort of tiptoed around this for years, but I’m done: the point is that you just have to meditate daily, in some form, for any of this to work.

Second, let your inner vision guide you.

Embracing the unknown isn’t about not caring what happens in the future. In fact, visualizing outcomes that make you feel the warm and fuzzies is part of what makes the unknown less scary to your brain. Spend time each day imagining things from the end. What do you want out of this job interview? How do you want to feel after getting coffee with that friend? What kind of home do you want to be in next year? For some practice, check out a little recording I did called One Act That Will Transform Your Next Meeting.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantFinally, let go of anything that comes from a place of worry or obligation.

Like I said earlier, I was clinging to old habits out of fear – fear that if I let go too much, my world would come crashing down around me. My resistance to this major shift that’s happening in my body and in my life manifested as a desire to control every minute of my day. But that meant that my old habits, like my regular meditation practice and other routines, had become stale. I was just doing them on autopilot.

Chances are, we could all use some letting go of old habits and routines. By doing so, we train ourselves to embrace newness and change. We can actually practice embracing the unknown in small, manageable ways that show us that the world is a friendly place.

The unknown isn’t our enemy.

It’s okay not to know what you’ll be doing for work in one, three, or five years. It’s okay not to know what the next few months will look like. If you can get yourself grounded, visualize what you want, and then let go of tired old patterns, you’ll be well on your way to embracing the mystery.

I still don’t know what exactly life will look like once this baby is here, but you can subscribe to my email newsletter to stay up to date on me and my work (and see a photo of the sweet babe once they make their appearance 🙂 )!

 

“Am I Doing It Right?”

*Reprise: I’m winding down to one new post per week between now and Baby Integrated’s arrival in March 2017. Enjoy this repost!*

I grew up as the oldest of five kids. Our family of seven was…bustling, to say the least.

As the oldest, I thought it was my job to minimize the stress on my parents as much as possible, and so I got very good at being obedient (until my teenage years, anyway – but that’s a post for another day).

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
My mom and one of my sisters sitting sweetly as I look on suspiciously.

I was a pretty mellow kid and didn’t get bored easily, and my siblings were fairly similar. One thing we heard over and over again at church was “you kids are so well-behaved!”

Picture five little blonde kids all in a row in a pew, angelically coloring quietly or singing along to the hymns. We’d smile sweetly as adults would pinch our cheeks or tell us how mature we were in the fellowship hall after the service.

It’s easy – and natural – for kids to pick up on the cues from adults, especially the cues that let them know how they can be “successful” in their environment.

In school, at church, and everywhere in-between, I learned that I would get praise and love if I followed the rules and did things “the right way.”

Color inside the lines. Glue the macaroni in just the right spot on the paper. Write my name in that corner. There was so much to do correctly, and everyone saw what happened to the kids who had trouble with or refused to fall into line – their macaroni art looked like shit.

One question loomed large in my childhood, as it does for many kids, and it was “Am I doing it right?”

This question got lodged deep into my brain, and it’s no wonder that it continues to show up in my adult life. Since it’s in me, it’s easy for me to see it in others, too, and the question permeates so many of my interactions with my clients. They wonder if they’re going about their job search wrong, or if they said the right thing to a co-worker, or if they’re just doing life completely backward.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThey wonder if they’re missing the “right” path, and the fear that they’re getting this all wrong causes them so much stress.

But our journey to create a life that we love isn’t some step by step coloring exercise. There are no lines.

There’s no one right way that you’re supposed to do this. There are a million right ways, and the trick is to find the one that works for you.

Here’s a question I like a lot more than “Am I doing this right?”:

“Does this work for me?”

Does the macaroni face I just made work for me? Does this organization work for me? Does my obsession with money, status, appearance, prestige, etc. work for me?

You are the only one that can answer that question, but if you’re going to break free of the pressure to do more, faster, and by someone else’s standards, you have to.

Does your life right now work for you?

Does your work work for you?

If it doesn’t, that’s okay – it can change. If you’re willing to choose to live according to the things that work for you, it becomes easier to recalibrate and get back on your own perfect flight path.

megan leatherman a wild new workStarting 2/4/17, working women have an opportunity to create space for a worklife that works for them in whatever beautiful way they need it to. I’m offering a three-week online series that will dive into these issues, so if anything in this blog post resonates with you, I’d encourage you to join us.

If you’d like to learn more and sign up, you can click here.

I hope you’ll try to let go of “Am I doing this right?” and embrace “Does this work for me?” instead.

You’ll feel about 1,000,000 pounds lighter and be well on your way to a life that is full of beauty.

What to Do in a Job Where You’re Not Valued

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultantI’ve been hearing from a lot of people lately who feel completely undervalued in their jobs. They use words like “under-appreciated,” “replaceable,” “a cog in the machine,” and their hearts are heavy.

It’s a pretty depressing state to be in. You know you’ve got good ideas, you know you can contribute more, but you feel stifled. Overlooked. Dismissed.

The creative energy you had when you started the job dwindles over time, and soon enough, you notice that you’re complicit in all sorts of silly practices and policies that you scoffed at when you first came on. You stop trying. You figure no one will listen anyway.

It breaks my heart to hear from people who are in this situation, because I can see how disempowering it is. It makes them forget that they’re gifted, that they have agency over their lives, and that things can change.

When I think about this issue, two questions pop into my mind:

Is it true that you’re not valued? and…

What beliefs and behaviors have gotten you to this point?

These are the questions I want to answer today in this post, and I offer up these thoughts from a place of wanting to leave you, dear reader, empowered.

I want to remind you that you are inherently valuable, no matter what, and that you are a badass grown-up who gets to decide where, how, and why you contribute your gifts.

So, question number one: Is it true that you’re not valued?

It might be.

There are a lot of organizations looking for modern-day factory workers who will simply put their heads down and do the work. In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin writes:

“Most white-collar workers wear white collars, but they’re still working in the factory. They push a pencil or process an application or type on a keyboard instead of operating a drill press…But it’s factory work.

It’s factory work because it’s planned, controlled, and measured. It’s factory work because you can optimize for productivity. These workers know what they’re going to do all day – and it’s still morning.”

It could also be true, however, that you’re looking for appreciation when it hasn’t been earned. If you’re like me, then you grew up in a generation that was praised constantly. If we took a shit, we got a gold star.

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultantThat messes with our heads over time – we start looking for validation and accolades instead of focusing on the work and just enjoying it for what it is.

It may be that you’re very much valued in your organization, but that you have different expectations for how an employer should demonstrate their care. If you’re feeling that desperate urge to get the gold star, hold your heart for a second and take a deep breath.

Instead of focusing on what you’re not getting from your employer, consider what about the work you enjoy and spend your energy there.

All that said, if it’s clear to you that you are considered by the organization to be a factory worker and you want more, then it’s time to go somewhere with people who can see and celebrate your strengths.

Question number two: What beliefs and behaviors have gotten you to this point?

A lot of people, myself included, believe that our outer lives are reflections of our inner lives.

If you believe you’re not valued by the organization you’re a part of, then I would challenge you to ask yourself if you value yourself.

Do you take your dreams seriously?

Do you trust your intuition?

Do you honor your strengths?

What are your answers to those questions, without any bullshit?

On the other hand, do you value the organization you’re part of? Do you value the people around you and see them in their giftedness?

I’m not trying to spread guilt or admonish anyone for feeling undervalued, but I also don’t buy into murky limiting beliefs that are more about us than they are about how we’re treated by others.

The truth is that what we’re looking for is usually something that we’re withholding from ourselves or others. 

It’s actually not your organization’s responsibility to make you feel valued. You’re the only one that can accept and foster that inherent sense of self-worth. If it’s not already anchored within you, you’ll grasp for it from external sources that can’t ever truly fulfill you.

If you’ve been feeling really overlooked or under-utilized at work, the steps forward are relatively simple:

  1. Make sure you’re demonstrating your belief that you and those around you are inherently valuable. Appreciate and show kindness to yourself, your co-workers, and anyone you encounter;
  2. Give the work your all and then let go of what you can’t control;
  3. If it’s clear to you that your gifts simply aren’t welcome in the organization you’re in, don’t stay stuck in a cycle of complaining. Go out and find a community that’s happy to pay you in exchange for the sharing of your strengths.

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultantWe have to become what we’re seeking.

We have to become people who reject the industrialized model of working and who contribute work from our hearts – that’s what’s valuable.

You are so capable, friend. It may just be that you’re buying into beliefs that are keeping you stuck. Or it may be that it’s time to up-level your career and move on to a community where you can really blossom.

Either way, you are already valuable – absolutely, inherently, simply by being born onto this Earth.

Is Your Emotional Frequency Making Work Harder?

megan leatherman career coach human resources work emotional frequencyThis post goes out to all you spiritual woo-woo types who, like me, are finding ways to blend ancient wisdom with modern-day professionalism. I’ve got my flower child headband on, my kombucha to sip, and my Birkenstocks are close by in case I need to run out and hug a tree.

Here’s what I’m proposing today: your energy (or vibe) might be making work a lot harder than it needs to be.

It’s something I think about and am attuned to personally in my work, and I want to expand upon a scientific concept that I learned about on Jess Lively’s podcast, which you can check out here.

The concept that got me thinking about all of this is quantum mechanics. On Lively’s podcast, she tells us about a groundbreaking experiment that Einstein did that I’ll attempt to put into very simple lingo below:

  • He wanted to find out what got electrons moving
  • He used light and found that the intensity of the light wasn’t what got things working – it was the frequency
  • If the light was of a low frequency radiation, it would take way more intensity to get the electrons to move
  • But with a high frequency light, he only needed a little intensity

Now, for this to make sense or even matter to us, we have to buy into the belief that all matter emits vibrational frequencies. To quote physicist Don Lincoln, “Everything—and I mean everything—is just a consequence of many infinitely-large fields vibrating.”

megan leatherman career coach human resources work emotional frequency
David Hawkins created the Scale of Consciousness

This includes you and the emotions that you feel. Using techniques from the field of applied kinesiology, David Hawkins demonstrated that different emotions emit vibrations of varying frequencies. You can see his “Scale of Consciousness” in the photo to your left.

Are you still with me? 

Do you wanna smoke some peyote and dance under the full moon? I kid. Mostly.

If it’s true that everything – including our emotions – vibrates and that low vibrational frequencies are less effective in creating movement than high frequencies are, then it could also follow that approaching our work from a place of shame, anger, and fear is a recipe for suffering.

This has been absolutely true in my experience, and I can share a little anecdote in case it’s helpful.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Let the Pain of Not Knowing Lead You, I went through a pretty rough patch in my worklife last year. Business was slow, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was really worried about money. I definitely wasn’t at my best.

Everything with work felt hard. I felt like I was trying to force something that just wasn’t meant to be. I looked at job postings online. I almost signed a contract gig even though it gave me the heebie-jeebies all over. I felt desperate and lost.

Here are the two primary factors that got me out of that awful, no-good place:

Admitting how bad and ashamed I felt that my business wasn’t really working, and…

Raising my emotional frequency by having fun and taking care of myself.

megan leatherman career coach human resources work emotional frequency
The view from our cabin in the woods

Nearing my 30th birthday, I’d had enough and decided to splurge on a trip to a cabin in the Mt. Hood National Forest with my sweetie. It was right along a river, had no internet connection, and it was quiet. So quiet.

I really enjoyed myself there – I read, we cooked, I laid in the hammock listening to the river bubble by.

And when I checked my email the day we got home, I’d made more money than I had in the past three months.

This hasn’t proven to be an anomaly, either, I promise. My work resonates the most, whether it’s through sweet emails from blog readers, workshop sign-ups, or opportunities that cross my path, when I a) set it up from a place of wholeness and inspiration and b) check out to go have more fun.

I never, ever, get the most exciting opportunities when I’m bummed out, desperately checking email or forcing the work.

There’s a major difference between worn-out, raggedy ass hustle and aligned, intentional flow.

If you’re finding that the electrons in your life aren’t exactly moving in the right direction (or aren’t moving at all), I’d encourage you to consider addressing your emotional frequency.

When you’re focused on the thing you’re trying to activate, whether it’s a career you love, an intimate relationship, or anything you really want, notice how you feel.

Do you feel desperate? Do you feel angry that it’s hasn’t landed in your lap yet? Do you feel ashamed that you’re so torn up about it?

Or do you feel excited about the idea? Do you feel like you can just assume it will show up? Do you feel light about it, even if it requires a lot of planning or action?

megan leatherman career coach human resources work emotional frequencyYour body knows the difference between forcing and creating. And luckily for us, we can change our emotional frequencies so that our actions are actually helpful instead of being rooted in those low vibes.

Here are five effective ways to amp up your emotional frequency so that you can do less pushing and more enjoying no matter what it is you’re trying to make happen.

  1. Meditate. I know I harp on this a lot, and every guru in the world is telling us to do it, but there’s a reason. If we can’t get disciplined in our mind, it’s harder to notice and shift our emotions. One of my favorite meditation apps, which all of my clients love too, is Headspace. It’s free for the first 10 meditations. Try it out.
  2. Have more fun. I don’t know what counts as fun for you, but having fun is absolutely the responsible thing to do. Do more of it. Most of us don’t get enough.
  3. Treat your body right. If everything emits a frequency, and if higher vibes are generally more effective, how do you think that box of Pringles I just ate is gonna help? It’s not. We’re more able to do better work, quantum-leap work, when we’re well rested, our gut is balanced, and we’re moving our body regularly.
  4. Fast from social media and email from time to time. It’s almost like there’s an inverse relationship between how well my work goes and how often I’m online. At some point, the scales tip and all my fastidious checking and browsing becomes detrimental. Step back. For at least a few hours, or a day, or whatever you can manage. I promise it will up-level your vibe.
  5. Be careful about who you hang out with. Only the most “enlightened” among us can be surrounded by complaining, negative, toxic people all day and not be impacted. The rest of us are very sensitive and pick up all sorts of stuff from the people we’re around. If you want to keep your frequency high, try to limit the amount of time you’re with people who make you feel like shit.

Those are five of the things that have worked for me consistently and that continue to nurture my soul, work, and relationships.

Try some of them out the next time you feel like work is unnecessarily hard, or like you’re pushing for something that’s just not budging.

I bet you’ll notice the movement kick in – movement that’s graceful and light and that feels so easy you’re not sure it’s real.

If you’re a working woman who wants more of this kind of ease and flow in her career, I’d invite you to check out my upcoming series of mini-retreats, A Wild New Work.

 

 

 

Lovingly Assertive Boundary-Setting

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantMy post earlier this week, How to Gracefully Choose Between Work and Life, touched on this issue of setting good boundaries at work.

This is one of the toughest issues that comes up for people in the workplace, and unfortunately, most of our organizations are pretty anti-boundary. We don’t really like it when someone declines a meeting, or says they need to work from home instead today, or doesn’t get back to us within .25 milliseconds.

But if we’re going to stay sane in today’s world of work, we have to learn how to set – and enforce – good boundaries in a way that’s both loving and assertive.

In an effort to help us all do that, I’ve created a SlideShare presentation called Lovingly Assertive Boundary-Setting. I hope you enjoy this visual presentation!