What leash are you are wearing that keeps you from playing full out? What is the next step you can take towards living the life you know you are meant to live?
This is the first post of the Big Dog Series. Let’s talk about what I mean by Big Dogs. Am I talking about the leader of the pack, the best of the best, a-list bloggers with 20 K twitter followers? No, that’s not what I mean by Big Dogs. Hey, don’t get me wrong, those people may in fact be Big Dogs, but you don’t have to be all that to be a Big Dog in my book. There are a lot of ways to define a Big Dog but I think a Big Dog is one who has tuned in and knows what he or she is meant to do and then takes one step after another in order to get there. Does a Big Dog feel afraid? Hell yes. Fear is part of the deal. But they check in with themselves and those that they care about, assess the situation, make a decision and take their next best step anyway.
If you are a dog person, you may know that real dogs are hard-wired not to show any signs of weakness or illness, until they are really bad off. Back in the days when dogs roamed in packs in the wild it was an effective strategy to keep safe from the other dogs vying for leadership. This is not such a great strategy for the domestic dog who won’t show his owner there is a problem. Some of us have similar wiring. I know it is familiar territory for me being the oldest of seven children and being a clinical psychologist. My safe role is that of caretaker, teacher, leader. Certainly not to show weakness. Nope, somebody has to be in charge here. Again maybe that strategy has its benefits but as with the domestic dog sometimes it gets in the way of getting our needs met and real power sometimes comes in the ability to be vulnerable. There is always that period of vulnerability in taking the next step to what we want in life. It is unknown whether it is learning Tango or growing your business.
Doing this series had me step outside my safe-zone. I had to actually ask people to write guest posts for me. Doesn’t sound that hard, but let me tell you, I stood on the edge of that precipice for a couple of months using I am too busy as my excuse. This series has also presented me with a choice. I can to play it safe in the role where I can hide or I can step out there. I am stepping out there.
I just returned from the World Domination Summit where the question was asked, ” What are you going to take from these 3 days that will change in your life that will make the biggest difference to you this next year?” I immediately knew the one thing that was the most salient for me. This is where I have have a chain on, and the stakes on this one are really high. I have gained 100 pounds. Yes, 100 damn pounds in seven years. The leash I have been wearing has stopped me from taking serious action because I don’t like it and am pissed off.
Shortly after I turned fifty, I was normal weight and training to do a triathlon. A month before the race, I developed a bunch of weird symptoms where my whole body was stiff and painful. Frozen shoulder, Achilles tendinitis in both legs and weird leg and muscle stiffness. WTF was going on? Of course, I couldn’t do the Triathlon, nor a lot of the other things I loved doing, dancing being one of them.
Over time, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have always hated these kinds of mamsy pamsy syndromes. Fibromyalgia is a catch all diagnosis that means used when the medical profession has no idea why, but your body has started to attack itself causing weird pain and stiffness. After a year or so, I went to a different doctor who told me to cut gluten out of my diet. No wheat and it is damn near in everything. I did cut gluten out of my diet and most of the really painful symptoms abated. But, by this time I had gained a lot of weight and worse yet, continued to do so. It seemed that something had happened to me, and my metabolism, and what I had done in the past to lose or even maintain my weight, was not working. It was devastating to feel such a lack of control.
The doctors also told me I had low thyroid and gave me gave me pills which did seem to make make any difference in my metabolism. I started walking an hour, 5-6 mornings a week and have been doing it for a year and a half. It has probably saved me from having diabetes, but hasn’t done sh*t for my weight. I have tried to stay on this diet or that and have not able to stick with any of them and vacillating between anger and denial. Being pissed off about something liked this is not a power position. In fact it is just about the lowest place one’s spirit can hang out. So what did I do about this major health challenge? I decided to ignore it. Pretend it was not there. I mean how bad could it be?
I am here to say it is never a good idea to ignore that voice in your head when it is telling you to pay attention to something important. If we ignore it, the voice just gets louder and if we don’t pick up, the consequences get worse and worse. Sixty pounds turned into one-hundred and I am waving the white flag. I give up. Something drastic has to happen here. Do I want to talk about this? Hell no! I do not like to be that vulnerable. It makes me want to throw up and go get under the covers. But guess what? Everyone who knows me knows about this already. There are some problems a person can hide, but this is not one of them.
I have come to a place where I am not going to hide out about this anymore. I can sit here and be pissed that this is happening to me or I can treat the fibromyalgea and my weight gain like the major illness that it is and get off the porch and do something about it. I would like to trade it out and take on some other less noticeable illness, but this is mine to deal with. I can’t sit here another minute and be pissed off that this is happening to me. This is what stops me and it stops most of us. We decide it is not fair and we stop. We decide we tried and we stop. We decide we can’t do it anymore and we stop and take the softer easier way. Climb down off the diving board. Back away from the edge of the cliff. But the way I see it now, I really don’t have that luxury. I have to take the next steps.
My commitment is that I am not going to pretend. I am not going to stop. I started making changes a week ago and will do whatever it takes to allow my body to heal. I am not approaching this as a diet but as a life overhaul. I have taken off the chain and want to get my self back. And just the act of cleaning up my side of the street will give me my power back. This is what a Big Dog does and I can’t do anything less and expect my clients to do the work they need and want to do.
I am privileged to be able to work with people who are at turning point in their lives. Most of my clients are starting new ventures or are now ready to take their business of blog to the next level and need to develop their brand and online presence. This process brings up huge emotional reactions.
One of my clients a fiercely competent Yogini, who has become a friend on mine, reminded me how she cried during her first meeting with me about developing a website that would allow her to take her business to the world. Another new client, excused herself to go to the bathroom and throw up, during her first visit with me and then ended up taking a three-hour nap in my garden.
More than one client has cried when I unveiled their newly completed site. Having me see them and create a web presence that reflected their true self blew them away.
Then there are those people whose fears of economic insecurity and change is so great that they imbue their new website, every pixel and parcel of the design, with the power to make them or break them. Their fear and all of their anxiety gets focused on the web design and the web designer to make it perfect and rescue them. And a client with this emotional pattern has a difficulty producing any content for their site because they have a fear of being seen as wrong. Let me tell you, this kind of fear can cause some snarky behavior, which, by the way, is not a great motivator to someone working for you, but this type of person is not good with change and is basically pissed off. “Damn it, why isn’t my old website bringing any clients any longer? It use to work just fine,” they lament. I don’t want to have to write blog posts. Why can’t you just put some meta-tags on the page and be done with it? Their need of perfection isn’t attainable and without taking those awkward first steps there can be no improvement.
Yes, there is a lot of emotion in this process of taking the next frightening steps in whatever it is we went or need to do, including growing our businesses. When I come across these issues, I know they are coming from fear and work with this for the person with the tears, as well as the snarky perfectionists. These panicked vulnerable feelings are human reactions to needing to take that next big step towards realization of our potential or even our survival. It seems a lot safer to stay “on the porch” and not take the risks. It seems safer not to put ourselves out there; to tell ourselves we can’t be that vulnerable, to keep the leash on tight. But it is not safer. The safety of playing small is just an illusion and it will surely kill our spirit. I am taking off this leash and taking action on my health. I can’t get to the places I want to go and do the things I want to do without addressing my health. I want to rock my business and I want to dance again.
I am going to end with the same questions I opened with. What leash are you are wearing that is keeping you from playing full out? What is the next step you can take towards living the life you know you are meant to live? What is it you want to do and what’s stopping you?
Talk to me and each other. I will be responding to all the comments. And you can use the hashtag #bigdogs in your Tweets! If you haven’t signed up you can do so here and get the daily e-mails.