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Fight with Fear and Defeat of My Demons: My Personal Story

fight with fearThis is my story about my fight with fear and how I overcame my personal demons. I share the same time-tested strategies I use with my coaching clients to quickly re-center my racing thoughts and feelings allowing me to focus on what is truly important.

One morning, on the dawn of a potentially business-changing event, I woke up riddled with doubt and something else.  It’s normal to have bouts of doubts.  But, as a productive, well-adjusted adult I have coping skills that quickly move me past run-of-the-mill fears and doubts.  But, this time was different.  I was feeling titanic depths of fear.   I could breathe, I could think, I wasn’t sweating, my heart wasn’t racing, so I know it wasn’t an anxiety attack (I’m blessed to have never suffered one but I have those near and dear that suffer greatly).  But, it was fear. Big, very ugly, fear.  And it was trying to overcome me.

Fear?  Fear of what?  This was new to me, especially in the business realm.  Anything business is my comfort zone. I know how to move in and around business.  I live, eat and breathe business. I recognize that doubt and fear cloud your judgment and gets in your way of achieving your dreams.  I also know if I allowed indecision to get in my way it would be my ultimate downfall.  So I asked myself the same 3 questions I coach others when they express feeling fearful, “What’s different? What’s being said in your head? What’s the worse that could happen?” Beyond the questions though is the action I took that I always recommend others take when faced with inner demons.  But, first, let’s dissect those questions:

  1.  What’s different?  I looked at my last 24-48 hours to see if anything was different. Oh, yes.  I had traveled to attend a business conference within driving distance to where my 18-year-old daughter attends college, 2,300 miles away from home.  So, we spent the day before the conference shopping.  First, I’m NOT a fan of shopping, but I AM a fan of my daughter.  Second, she’s at the age where I am, well, an obstacle to her enjoying life, her way.  As I result, I felt very ineffective and sadly, she projected it, too. Once I identified that I could feel clarity knocking on my hotel room door.
  2. What’s being said-in-my-head?  Without resurrecting the now put-to-rest fears, let’s just say my feeling inadequate the day before obviously stirred some gnarly things back to life that had been said to me some time ago.  Once I identified them, I countered each and every one of them with, “That’s not the truth. Here’s the truth…” Peace joined clarity and both were knocking on my hotel room door.
  3. What’s the worse that could happen? I scribbled a few worst-case scenarios on paper and realized that all of them, some definitely not pretty, could be overcome. Even my worst option, “the business could fold” (followed by the very important detail of identifying the feelings: embarrassment and shame), wasn’t life-ending. I’d just have to get a job or start another business!  Once you address your biggest fear it loses its power. Now, clarity and peace joined hands with me and I walked out of the hotel lobby with a spring in my step, my face to the sky and a smile on my face.

But, the biggest part of overcoming fear and keeping it at bay is to do something, anything different and new.  And you always start small.  So, I downloaded the Uber app and hailed an Uber.  If I was home, perhaps I would have finally scrubbed the face of the iron till it shone like new. If I was at work, I would have replaced the old rope cord that operates the warehouse bay doors.  Then I initiated meaningful conversations (e.g.: potential revenue generating conversations) at the business conference.  When I returned to my hotel room, later that day, I pulled up Excel on my laptopfight with fear and mastered a few formulas that had been plaguing me for months.   Fear demons slayed, dead and buried.  Notice I didn’t say go on-line and watch cute kitten videos or watch a good movie.  Passive activity feeds demons.  You need to engage your brain to scrub them out of your head. Brain science has proven passive screen watching is very detrimental to your brain, your eating and sleeping habits, and your mood, not to mention it’s a big time waster. Heroes, warriors, champions, and go-getters (you know, us entrepreneurs!) don’t sit around and watch the screen, any screen.    

BONUS:  Another secret to slaying those demons?  Compliment everybody.  Say something nice to every person you cross paths with. ALL. DAY. LONG.  What happens is almost transcendent. You’ll find yourself looking for people to say something nice to and looking for something in them that is unique.   It’s really a nice diversion from those gnarly demons.  If your demons go deep, volunteer at a shelter of your choice. Food, animal, anything to serve others.  Volunteer every day if you have to.  Serve during your lunch hour.  Stop after work. Demons die of boredom when you serve and love up others. If you can’t find something nice to say to every person you meet in your day, or you get annoyed at the thought of doing this then the demons have a stronghold on you.  Time to take back your thought life. And apologize to those that work and live with you. 

I hope you slay your fear and doubt demons. Because that’s what they are, demons, also known as “the enemy.”  Demons suck the very life out of what makes you special and unique. When you become less they loom large.  They love it when you spend time with them. When you wallow in their darkness they get larger than (your) life preventing you from living a full and happy life. Take back your awesomeness, specialness, and uniqueness and turn-your-back-on those gnarly demons.  Live, love and serve. That will put them where they belong.  Away from your heart, mind, and soul.

Do you have a way of getting rid of your demons?  Please share, below. It’s a great way to serve others. As always, please be considerate and make your comments family-friendly.

Live, love, serve.

Annette

 

Business is redemptive

Business is redemptiveRedemption to some is a charged word. But, for me, it means new beginnings. Redemption means literally to save.  But, it doesn’t have to mean saving others.  Flight attendants have taught us for decades to put on your oxygen mask, first, then turn and put it on others.  Why? Because we can’t help others if we passed out, or more bluntly, died, from lack of oxygen.

So, then, how can we save ourselves? But, more importantly, why do we need saving? If you’re in a narcissistic, abusive relationship, you need saving.  You also need saving if your husband has poor communication techniques that leave you feeling drained, confused, and rejected. But, first, you need to discover who you are. Why? Because how can you save what you don’t know or isn’t there?  What better way to find out through full expression of creating something new or rediscovering what you’re about. Take, for example, Sophia, who owns a bakery.  Her head and her heart are divided between placating her husband’s constant negative doubts about her and her bakery or focusing on becoming the best bakery her town has ever experienced. What does she love to do? Bake. Not process payroll.  Not package the products. Just bake.  To do that, she needs to put the right people in the right positions.  Even if that means making difficult decisions such as letting some people go or scaling back the business.  She needs to get back to her passion so her business can grow to meet her vision. When Sophia synced with her passion, again, she knew her truth: she is the best baker and is creating the best bakery in her town.  She has a lot more confidence to respectfully defend her husband’s criticisms and intelligently engage in a difference of opinion.

Then, there is the story of Tessa, a vibrant young mother of 3 rambunctious boys, who is caught in the cross-hairs of a verbally and emotionally abusive husband and her desire to transition her exquisite silverware hobby into an income producing business.  Her husband actually said to her, “What makes you think you’re so special? I work hard. I don’t want to hear another word about your stupid silverware s**t, again. In fact, I don’t ever want to see it either.”  Tessa, bless her heart, foolishly thinks that she is doing something, anything to control the circumstances from making that ugly beast come at her, again.  She tries to manipulate the situation by literally putting her business in the closet before he gets home every night.  The truth is her creative, loving soul is tortured with self-doubt and self-flagellation stealing her creativity.   How can someone create something new, something great with messages like that filling her heart, soul, and mind? Without a doubt, Tessa is in a damaging, unhealthy, abusive relationship and needs to not only get out (so easy to say) but she desperately needs to be saved.  Creating her beautiful custom silverware, hearing her customers accolades, and building an environment of support and beauty may just provide the redemption she needs.  But, first, she needs to know her truth.  She needs to correctly label her relationship, so she can move away from it and quit trying to fix it or excuse it away. An alcoholic doesn’t fall asleep on the couch, they pass out.  Chronic complaining isn’t venting, it’s a poor attitude of the heart.  Tessa’s husband isn’t just having a bad day, he is an abusive man and they are in an unhealthy, destructive relationship.

Business redemptive? Absolutely! Hallelujah!

 

7 Questions to Determine if His Apology is Real

 

Is His Apology Real? 

Apology RealYour husband just apologized, but you’re unsettled by your mental gymnastics that doubt his sincerity.  Perhaps these sound familiar, “He sounds sorry.  Can I trust his apology? But, I’ve heard this before. I wish he had just said, (fill in the blanks). What if he does it, again?” and on and on your monkey mind travels.  The answer may seem complex and difficult due to personal expectations, and personal and relationship history.  To avoid more mind-twisting ruminations and to finally get some peace, ask yourself these 7 reflective questions:

  1. Is he empathetic to your emotional pain? Will he listen to your pain until you get closure?  If so, it’s worth considering accepting the apology and moving on, together. But, if he just wants to move on, stop talking about it, or tells you to, “…get over it. I said I was sorry.” Then, yes, you may need to get over it and fast.  “It” being the relationship and him.
  2. Is he remorseful? I’m not talking about he’s sorry he got “caught.”  I’m talking about real regret for making a decision that wounded another human being.
  3. Is he accepting full responsibility for his actions? Or is there blame involved such as, “If you hadn’t/had, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank)?” If blame is part of the apology, his apology isn’t sincere.
  4. Will he do what it takes to repair it? I’m not talking giving you flowers or calling/texting you incessantly to ask how you’re doing. I’m talking about voluntarily giving you the information you need to feel safe with him, again.
  5. Was restitution given freely? If physical compensation or restoration is needed to make it right, was it freely offered and completed on a timely basis without your involvement?
  6. Is there true repentance? Now, before you turn from this thinking it’s a religious term, give me a moment. Repent literally means to turn from.  So in this case, it means the “event” never happens, again.  It’s actually a great way to live: do something wrong/hurtful, acknowledge it, apologize and never do it, again.
  7. The over-riding factor you must consider regardless of the sincerity of the apology is this: was the transgression a 1-time event or was this a repeat offense? if the latter, then you’re dealing with a character issue and you need to seriously consider moving on. This also applies if the offenses are different.  Poor choices in multiple areas signify a serious character flaw.  This is not an opportunity to “love him through it.”  It’s time for you to have enough self-respect to be only with people that cherish, honor and support you.  This includes family, friends, and co-workers.  But, more importantly, you need to be with someone who has enough self-respect that he wouldn’t put himself in situations that could hurt himself or wound others.

If your husband meets all the above criteria for a sincere apology, then it is time to put it to rest and rebuild together.  And refrain from revisiting it.  It’s tiresome to keep hearing about something that happened years ago.  This is especially true if it never happened again.  We ALL make mistakes.  His mistake isn’t worse than your transgressions.  They are all the same when it comes to a hurting heart.

Apology RealA look in the mirror:

Have you hurt someone?  Reflect on the questions.  Be brutally honest.  If you need to sincerely and honor someone’s pain due to a bad decision/action on your part,  ask for forgiveness. Then be completely accountable.  Please read my other related blog post, “How to Help Those You Hurt

Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of blog posts, transcripts, columns, etc… often titled the “The 4 R’s of an Apology.”  Because I’ve been on both the ends of apologies and wrong-doing, please read my other related blog posts, “How to Help Those You Hurt” and “7 Ways to Mess Up an Apology.”

Is it abuse? A definition, 5 types, and 2 two questions.

abuse

Abuse is often over-used or used incorrectly. And yet, when it is needed to be said, the word isn’t uttered due to shame. It’s time to set the record straight. The word “abuse” is defined by Merriam-Webster as

  • a corrupt practice or custom

  • improper or excessive use or treatment

  • a deceitful act , deception

  • language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily

  • physical maltreatment

Abuse comes in many forms.  Following are 5 major types:

  • Physical (when physical touch hurts.  Period. Yes, hair pulling, pushing and grabbing is abuse.  It’s that simple.  Throws a punch to the wall next to you also counts.  That is intimidating and not safe.)

  • Emotional (bullying, threatening and intimidating behaviors; you don’t feel safe; you feel crushed, minimized, by  the person that’s supposed to love you, limits your/denies you time spent with friends/family.  Unpredictable responses.  Embarrasses you in public. Framing things as you being over sensitive. Blaming you for their bad behavior.)

  • Financial (withholds information about and/or access to money; stealing/embezzling from accounts for their expenses and not telling you about it)

  • Verbal (when words said by others hurt and/or leaves you feeling confused.  Yelling/screaming/calling you names.)

  • Sexual (forces you to do something you don’t want to do)

    Regardless of the type, they are all difficult to experience.    The first step is to define it for what it is.   For example, you must first accept you are being verbally abused when someone swears at you and calls you names.  You have to say to yourself, “I am being verbally abused” and accept your reality, before you can confront the perpetrator.  But, what if you aren’t sure?  What if you were asleep in the back of the car and he started throwing popcorn at you and laughing.  Is that emotional abuse (embarrassing you in public)? No.  Juvenile? Yes.

    I will add to be framed “abuse” it needs to be a trend or chronic situation, in all abuse categories, with the exception of the physical.  One-and-done is all it takes and the police are called.   Please have some common sense about this.  Don’t count opening the kitchen cabinet door in your face, accidentally, four years ago as abuse.  Especially if nothing remotely similar has happened. That was an accident; and a funny memory you two can share.

Still wondering if is abuse or not?  The best way is to get educated about the topic.  If the dictionary definition didn’t help, here are some excellent resources to get you started (emphasis on emotional and verbal abuse because it isn’t as obvious or defining as physical abuse):

  • The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (Christian perspective on the verbally/emotionally abusive marriage) Book and website.  She exposes the subtleties and subliminal attitudes and behaviors of the abuser that so often confuse and conflict the victim.
  • Love is Respect.org website dedicated to helping young people prevent and end abuse, but everyone can benefit.    Fabulous breakdown of the different types of abuse.  Helpful quizzes and resources.   On-line, 24-hour chat.  You have to take a quiz to activate it.
  • 7 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship YouTube video created by Adam LaDolce, of SexyConfidence.  Excellent and entertaining.

Finally, I leave you with what may be the two most important questions to ask yourself to determine if what you’re experiencing is abuse:

  •  Does the person behave appropriately to the circumstances?
  •  How do you feel after an encounter with them?

Please remember to leave your kind words or comments below.

Blessings and Joy,

How to Help Those You Hurt (when you made a BIG mistake)

We all make mistakes.  Even my totally cute, perfect friend, Jan.  I don’t know when she did, but she’s a human being so I’m sure she forgot to put the butter away some time and her dog got into it.  Love ya, Jan! <3  But, the other 99.999% of us have made many mistakes and some of them are big, hairy, icky, makes-you-want-to-shake-the-memory-out-of-your-head mistake. How do you get that out of your head? How do you shake that guilt, embarrassment, and yes, shame? How do you know you won’t do it, again?

trust is like paper once its crumpled its not perfect

As a woman of faith, I am thankful Christianity gives me the gift of grace.  It’s God’s “do-over” plan. But, here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Just because I was forgiven by my creator doesn’t mean I can take a pass and commit the offense over and over.  I need to be remorseful and turn from committing the same crimes/sins/mistakes.  Christian or not, that’s a great way to live a life.  Only when we are released from that guilt and shame can we be and do our best.  

If you made a BIG mistake, which sadly means usually hurting those we love, there is a formula to move on:

  • Quickly ask for forgiveness from those you hurt.
  • Never, never say, “because you did “y,” I did x.”  That is deflecting.  Also known as blaming.  That’s what children do.  Take responsibility for your actions, own up to your faults. This is not giving in, it’s growing up.
  • Repeat your mistake, and how you hurt them, in your words. You may not have the exact words, but it shows you’re trying to understand their pain.
  • Let them speak their pain regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you feel.  Sit with it. Your discomfort is fairly low on the “we care” scale, at the moment.  It’s part of the process.
  • Empathize with them.  You must feel their pain for you to grow.  If you don’t feel their pain, seek counseling.
  • Give those that you hurt time to heal on their time-frame, not yours.  If that means getting fired, put on administrative leave, losing someone or something, or any kind of separation, accept it.
  • Let those you hurt re-hash the “event” for awhile.  It’s part of their recovery.  But, after some time, they and you need to move on if healing is going to occur.
  • Make restitution when necessary. Even if it takes the rest of your life.
  • Recognize some mistakes and hurts can’t be overcome.  Be prepared to lose the one(s) you hurt.  This may be the lesson you need to grow and learn.
  • Get help if you need it.  Don’t wait for a court-mandated order or your loved one insisting on it.  Take the initiative and seek professional help. This is taking action.  Action is always esteemed over words.
  • If the relationship continues, recognize it will be different.
  • Don’t do it, again.  Actions speak louder than words and memories fade more quickly if not repeated.

Blessings and Joy,

Annette

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! How to say, “I love you.” Even when you don’t feel like it.

I love youHow many of you have stood in front of the greeting card section at your local grocery store, just days away from Valentine’s Day, snorting or hrmphing at the prose expressed on romantic cards?  I have.  In fact, one time I snorted and mumbled “Yeah, right!” loud enough so that the woman next to me broke up in raucous laughter.  I apologized and walked away lamenting (quietly) about the state of my marriage mind.

There are times in any relationship when the shine has worn off, the dents and dings show, or worse, rust and corrosion has undermined the very foundation of who you two used to be.  Here is a short list to still honor the man you married, regardless of the state of your relationship:

  1.  Do something completely different, together.  If you’ve never golfed, go to the driving range.  If you haven’t been to a library, lately, sit quietly flipping through magazines and watch who uses it and talk about the future of libraries.  Try cooking a brand new dish, together.  Walk quietly through a cemetery, in the daylight. Go to a jazz festival, because you’ve never been to one.
  2. Watch and listen to him and find out what he’s been reading, listening to, watching and suggest he read a chapter to you, listen to a track or two with him, or watch an episode.  Just sit and be there.
  3. Get out of your city/town for the afternoon (evening puts too much romantic pressure on a stifled relationship).  Schedule a babysitter, if needed.
  4. Tell him to describe 1 hour, 1 meeting/job/project, 1 drive/bus ride/walk to work.  You’ll be surprised what you learn.

Did you make some suggestions and he poo-pooed them? Did he insinuate you’re nuts?  Then go and enjoy yourself, and come back and tell him how much fun you had.  Feel good that you tried.  Or did you two reconnect in even the smallest way?  Like a smile or you held hands or it was just simply quiet between the two of you?

What are your ideas? What worked?  What didn’t? Please add them in the comments section.  Remember the rules:, no bashing, swearing or griping.  Only helpful solutions and tips, please! Hurting people may be reading this.

Don’t forget, you are loved and lovable!

 

Is your business your lover?

Is Your Business your lover?Valentine’s Day is in 4 days.  Remember the first few months of being in love?  All you could do is think of HIM. Talk about HIM.  Dream about HIM. Give HIM your best. Be your best for HIM.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for HIM.  Spend a lot of time with HIM even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of HIM. And boy, did HE respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive.  You’re smiling, aren’t you?

Now, let’s replace HIM with YB, aka Your Business. All you can do is think of YB.   Talk about YB.  Dream about YB. Give YB your best effort, attitude, and hours.  Be your best for YB.  Think about out-of-the-box creative plans for YB.  Spend a lot of time with YB even to the point of forgetting you had a life outside of YB.  And boy, did YB respond.   It was thrilling, exhilarating, even seductive. Are you smiling? Or squirming?  Listen to that.

If you’re like me, you love to go to work, you love to work in your work and you love to work on your work.   It’s the place where the amount of effort you put in is often rewarded by a factor of X.   For me, work is my happy place. I invest in my employees, my customers, my systems, and my product/services.  And by invest, I don’t mean just money.  I mean I invest all my resources, including my most valuable of resources, my time and energy.  But the real seduction?  I can create the environment and a culture. Talk about an ego boost! I’ve been described as a workaholic. The term has even been hurled at me, repeatedly.   It’s something I wear as a badge.  A big badge. And I’m proud of it.

But, that’s the problem.   When pride enters the picture, love leaves.  The devotion I have to my business may be a source of provision, a creative outlet, and in my case, a safe and happy place (read: an escape from the hurt at home). But, denying those that love me, and sacrificing my most important relationships can have devastating consequences.  Give to your business.  But, save the best for those that love you and those you love.

I look forward to reading your helpful comments and observations, below.

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; a plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

Communicating is not the answer

CommunicatingHow many times have you said (or thought) after an altercation, of any degree, with anyone, “This would be so much easier if we/he/she could just communicate!”  Communication is when two or more people are trying to get their point across.

What’s missing is the lack of trying to understand the other’s point of view, perspective, or opinion. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but instead, they listen with the intent to reply.

A genuine effort to try to understand is accomplished by asking relevant, thoughtful questions.  For example, asking leading questions, such as, “Why do you think that?” or “What aspect are you referring to?” or “How certain are you of this?” or “Why did you say that?” will go a long way in forging communication a connection.

It’s only with connection that you can touch the heart.  Think about how you feel when someone asks you thoughtful questions.  You feel cherished, valued, important.  Do the same for those you love or are close to.  Heck, try it with the grocery clerk.  You’ll be amazed at the heart print you’ll leave behind.


CHALLENGE:  For the next 3 days, I challenge you to put down your need to reply/defend/say something pithy, witty or funny and just listen to everyone you have a conversation with. Don’t listen with the intent to reply, but listen to ask more questions.  Really try to connect. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Let us know what happened, below, in the comments section.

 

What Is Your Happy Place?

Happy PlaceMorning!

Notice the title didn’t ask, “Where is Your Happy Place?”

There is a subtle distinction.  But, this subtly packs a wallop.  I want you to think about the elements that would be in, part and present at your happy place.

Would laughter, respect, solving a customer problem, horseback riding, your children, to be understood, selling your products, running, picnics, worship, painting, balancing the checkbook, etc…be on your list?

A simple exercise to identify elements that make you happy is to take seven minutes and write down everything that makes you happy.

DO NOT overthink this. This is not about practicality or even responsibility.

Once you have that list, read it over 7 different times over the next 3 days. After allowing your happy elements to percolate in your brain, take your list and identify the top 7.  Then rank them in order of importance.  Now, add a “p” to the elements you have present and an “a” to the ones that are absent.

Where do your happy elements fit in your life now?

Where do you find them?

How can you add the ones that are absent?