Eleanor (an alias) defines herself by what other people think. She doesn’t want to disappoint others and avoids conflict at all costs. Her boundaries are loose and thus often crossed. Eleanor experiences frustration when she doesn’t get her needs met, but continues to disregard her feelings rather than address them. If something goes awry she takes blame. Unkind self-inflicted opinions about her body and looks flood her thoughts.
When will Eleanor give herself a break? Thankfully, a good friend recommended a wellness coach. Wellness coaches offer practical solutions for anxiety, low self-worth and boundary issues.
An "Openness Practice" was the first recommendation. The first few doses of this “emotional medicine,” produced painful side effects. Eleanor quickly became uneasy. She felt overwhelmed by the suggested activities. However, once her mind and spirit adjusted to the daily Openness infusion, Eleanor became more rooted. She took greater responsibility for her feelings. Mood swings decreased. Eleanor's spirit reemerged as she began to experience a fresh taste of true freedom. Read about opening the heart.
What is Openness? Webster’s defines openness as “the free expression of one's true feelings and opinions.” Eleanor previously interacted with others and did self-talk which sabotaged her authenticity. She had no clue who she was, what she valued and what it takes to thrive. Openness Practice was the necessary key to unlock Eleanor's ability to finding herself.
Are you ready for the Openness Challenge?
- Reveal the self. Eleanor’s coaching began with sharing the story of her childhood, major influences (negative and positive) and what she felt/thought about on a regular basis. Eleanor was able to identify the patterns, values and perspectives she embraced. Although it was not easy to realize how she set herself up repeatedly for failure, Eleanor appreciated the exercise of exposing herself in a safe and comfortable setting.
- Learn something new. Aside from the work done in coaching sessions Eleanor had to complete weekly exercises to build and sustain an Openness Practice such as:
Tuning into her gut's intuition for cues when someone’s comment didn’t feel okay.
Writing out and rehearsing conversations to remain empowered and strong.
Committing to one act of self-care which promotes well-being.
- Laugh at self and our quirky world. Eleanor wore the kind of glasses which made the world look dark and gloomy. With every added dose of Openness, Eleanor’s lens change to see light and love. She soon discovered the gift of laughing at herself and the many off-the-wall ways of the world. She no longer took everything so personally. She consciously decided to approach situations from a new place of skepticism. She gained perspective and worked hard to find humor in it.
- Seek freedom from judgment. For Eleanor, self-judgment represented a monumental challenge. Could she be compassionate and understanding towards herself? Eleanor knew that moving forward meant a hard look at how she treated herself. She filled a bowl with loving written thoughts and pulled one out every day. She read them aloud with tenderness.
- Envision another perspective. Eleanor stopped shutting down or walking away when tension showed up at work or with friends. She quietly and confidently offered suggestions to help herself and others move out of conflict. Her gift became the offering of peaceful solutions.
- Choose opportunity over stress. Stress was in constant play in Eleanor’s family home. Although the word stress wasn’t used much, she rarely experienced calm and stability. Eleanor chose to internalize stress to gain peace and quiet in the midst of chaos. But she had no understanding for managing stress.
Eleanor soon discovered her body gave important clues when stress was mounting. Once she recognized stress rearing its ugly head, she readjusted her mindset. She now saw stress as an opportunity. She began to focus on what she could control in the moment. She sought the support of trusted friends to get through volatile periods.
- Give yourself a break. When others' needs came first, Eleanor led a shaky, unfulfilled existence. Eleanor drew a blank when asked what her tombstone's words would reveal about her character. Openness techniques now allowed her to sum up her life with “Eleanor’s star will forever shine.”
- Breathe deliberately. Eleanor was surprised to find a connection between breath work and openness. When taking outdoor walks she now imagined her lungs sucking in the fresh air. She imagined fresh air circulating throughout her body. Our powerful breath releases hang ups, fantasies and lingering misunderstandings out and away from the heart.
- Clear out the past. Eleanor’s mental and emotional filters were clogged. She carried memories of parents who dealt with life’s hardballs using anger, fighting and power struggles. Eleanor lacked a barometer by which to measure a reasonable use of personal power. She was programmed to believe she didn’t matter. She survived in an invisible world.
Once Eleanor understood that power can be used in healthy ways, she substituted past programming with intentional living. Today she is passionate about interacting with others from a place of clarity, sincerity and honesty.
- Recover. Reset. Restore. With this Openness routine in place, Eleanor has a system for coping with stress and setbacks. She values taking time to recover from negativity. During the reset period, Eleanor realized where different choices might have been made. She now walks a path for healing and forgiveness. In this restoration phase, Eleanor returns to the world with newfound wisdom, patience and expanded awareness.