Compliments from Clients

"You are quite extraordinarily wise and compassionate and have a calming presence.  ... my experience has given me the ability to recognize when someone has what it takes to really make a difference in people's lives"

— Michael L.

"You've really changed my life."

— Jennifer K.

"The skills you have taught me will serve me far into the future"

— Jim C.

"I am deeply grateful for the insight and clarity I have gained in working with Essrea; I am ready to face the world in confidence!"

— Regina S.

"Essrea is a phenomenal instructor!!  This was absolutely, by far, the best course I have taken at Regis."

Melody V.

"Thank you for your depth.  Your advice worked!"

Steven B.

Thursday
Jan222015

A Case for 'The Shoulds'

I am aware, as you may be too, of the conventional wisdom that encourages us to “Stop shoulding on ourselves”, and do not disagree with the premise, either. However, before you react so quickly to 'the shoulds' and chase them away with a figurative broom stick, I would like to invite you to pause just a moment and, once again figuratively, invite them in for a cup of tea.

To Should or Not to Should: That is the Question

How is it that we must both stop ‘Shoulding' and that 'shoulds' are worth two seconds of our time?  Allow me to explain....

'Shoulds' play a valuable role: they shine a light on those aspects of ourselves that we refuse to accept as worthy, valuable, or in any way contributing anything positive to who we like to see ourselves as, or who we want to be in the world.  When we 'Should' we are coaching ourselves to be the person we want to be.  Not the person we are, but the person we want others to think we are.

This causes great dissonance within ourselves.  Part of ourselves will object, "But, but, what about me?  I LIKE being lazy!" or, "Hey, I don't care if my clothes match."  The 'shoulds' directed at these aspects of ourselves essentially tell them to “be quiet and go along with the program; this program requires matching clothes!”  

As Within, So Without

In addition to the interior friction that emerges between aspects of ourselves, you will notice that the same discord ends up manifesting in our interactions with others.  We might find ourselves judging others critically for their poorly matched outfits, or laying around watching what appears to be endless hours of television or YouTube videos.  The friction within gets its chance to be on the big stage when acted out in relationships with others.  

The Vital Role

This is where ‘Shoulds’ play a vital role and ought to be honored as such.  Every should arises from a place within ourselves that we have yet to make peace with and is desperate for both acceptance and acknowledgement.  In fact, this part of ourselves wants you to admit that he/she is there AND is just as valid and helpful as all the other parts.  Until you do, the discord will reign within and without, and the constant stream of ‘Shoulds’ will float across your mind as you ‘watch’ yourself go about your day.

Next time you hear one of these ‘Shoulds’ cross your mind, grab it — give gratitude to yourself for bringing this to your attention….then ask yourself, ‘What am I pushing away and not accepting about myself?”  Give yourself a moment to do an honest assessment — there is a part that is in need of appreciation.  Once you have discerned what you are desiring to disown, you can ask it what it offers, what is it bringing, exactly?  When you approach in this manner, seeking understanding rather than reproach, you will find an incredible ease of the inner-tension that had been present, allowing this aspect a chance to explain him/herself.  Knowing that there are no parts of yourself that do not have your best interests at heart, you can give it appreciation for what it brings you, and let it know how important and welcome it is in the constellation of all that is you.

Then, wait patiently for the next ‘Should’ to come along.  Each and every one of these ‘Shoulds’ gives you an opportunity to make peace within yourself; and in so doing, you will simultaneously be making peace with others in your world.

Wednesday
Aug272014

The Guest House

This poem by Rumi perfectly expresses the approach that I take in working with each client, "Reconciling Differences from the Inside Out."

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

In fact, as within so without.  In welcoming all aspects of ourselves and our experience, we expand our ability to offer the same loving acceptance to those we encounter in our day-to-day lives, all are welcome and bring  gifts that may not be immediately evident.  Regardless, we embrace each and everyone.

Monday
Apr282014

“She doesn’t deserve my respect”

“She took my kids away”

Several years ago a gentleman came to me for help with his ex-wife who had taken his kids away from him, after being completely absent from their lives for 8 years.

When they were two and four years old, she (we’ll call her Diane) took off one day with no warning, not to mention notice.  My client (we’ll call him Andrew,), a working class laborer, instantly became a single father with two small children.  The early years were incredibly challenging but he always managed.  Life evened out and he began to feel good about himself as a father, providing and caring for his kids the best he could.  The three of them found happiness and were very close.

After about seven years as a single father, he met a wonderful woman and they became engaged.  Somehow this news must have made its way to Diane, Andrew still does not know how because he had absolutely no contact with her for these seven years.

It was then that Andrew’s nightmare began.  Diane returned into their lives with a vengeance.  She demanded time with her kids, but Andrew felt protective of them, after all, she had ditched them while he had been a steadfast presence through all the hard times.  Who was she to waltz back in and demand time with her kids whom she had abandoned?

When she had disappeared eight years earlier, she had run off with a man who happened to be quite wealthy.  Andrew was still a blue collar laborer and when she took him to court to sue for custody of the children, his low-cost lawyer was no match for the attorney who represented Diane.  It had not occurred to him that it would make much difference; he was confident that the facts would speak for themselves: what judge could not see clearly that he was the responsible parent, not she? 

She was awarded 50% time with the kids, much to the dismay of Andrew and the kids, who were equally upset at being forced to leave their father and their home.  All three were heartbroken with this turn of events.

About a year later, Diane decided she wanted the kids all the time (Andrew had married his fiancée Ellen at this point).  Again, Diane’s high-priced and -powered attorney was able to somehow convince the judge that Andrew was an unfit father, and he lost custody of his kids completely.  He had been reduced to supervised visitation two days per month.

Anything but respect

His life had been destroyed by this evil woman!  How dare she take his kids away from him after he was the one who was there for them their entire lives?  He was enraged yet also completely defeated, overwhelmed by the feeling of powerlessness.  She was loaded, he had almost nothing, how did he ever stand a chance against her?

He and the kids were thoroughly distraught, having unjustly been torn from each other.  

Then he sought my help.  His goal was crystal clear: he wanted time with his kids back.  Exploding at Diane every time they spoke on the telephone was not getting him any closer to his goal.  

We discussed strategies to help him achieve his goal, but he adamantly refused to give her respect.  “She doesn’t deserve my respect!”  Indeed, she may not have deserved his respect: in her self-centered haze, she had inflicted many painful wounds.

When we find ourselves in similar situations, we tend to withhold the one thing that can help us get closer to achieving our own goals.  We are willing to forgo our stated goals in order to spite the other person.  Go figure: Andrew was unwilling to give Diane even one iota of respect because of how badly she had hurt him (this was his way of getting back at her -- she had destroyed his life, he was going to hurt her right back: there was no way he was going to give her what she wanted), even if it meant no more time with his kids!

“It worked!”

When assessing the costs involved for the options before him, he realized that time with his kids was infinitely more valuable to him than the respect he was refusing to give Diane.    Indeed, there was actually no physical cost in terms of time or money, merely a cost to his ego.  Once he realized that he was actually sabotaging his own efforts to regain time with his kids, he was able to see the absurdity of this unwavering stance.  It was not easy, but with his ‘eyes on the prize’ and some practice together, he determined to give the affirmation that she so desperately craved from him.

From one coaching session to the next, a week later, his entire countenance had shifted.  “It worked!”  He was elated, beaming in a way that I had never experienced before.  For the first time in several years, they were able to have a civil conversation that did not end in slamming down the phone and hanging up on each other.  By carefully tuning in to her identity claims, he did not withhold this time, he was able to acknowledge her for being a loving and caring mother, and whatever else helped to feed her self-esteem.  She responded favorably, giving him the courage to give even more.  She softened.  They were able to hear one another; he was most surprised to find that she actually listened to HIM!  This had never happened before, or at least not since she had disappeared many years ago.

With a few more weeks of coaching, their communication continued to improve.  I heard from him a year later that they had made a new arrangement and were sharing custody, 50/50.

Tuesday
Jun182013

Don't You Hate Being Manipulated?

Are you as tired as I am of people taking advantage of you - just because you are nice?  People walking all over you, as if you are a doormat?  Getting you to give them whatever they want, only to find they never seem to care about your needs?  Some people have the 'Art of Manipulation' down so good, you don't even realize what happened until it is too late and they are walking away to the keys to your house (practically!).

Well, guess what?  There is a fail safe way to ensure this never happens again! 

Manipulators' Pot Holes

Did you know that it is not possible for someone to manipulate us without our allowing them?  Yes, this is the secret to staying out of this proverbial pot hole! 

The key is to recognize the very moment that we give our power away to the other person.  At that moment, we have signaled to him or her that their needs come before ours.  They may test the waters a few times, and get the same results, "Sure enough, it worked again!"  Eventually it becomes expected and habitual.

However, the power to change this debilitating dynamic is in our hands.

Who to Get Angry At?

We want to be careful not to get angry at the identified 'manipulator' - after all, we gave them our power.  The anger more rightly ought be directed towards ourselves.  However, that is not a very productive emotion to direct inwardly.  Better to have compassion for ourselves - surely we learned this technique from role models along the way who did not know better. 

The fact that we recognize the need for change and that it is in our power to make a change is extremely encouraging and we ought to give ourselves a 'pat on the back' for seeking help and insight into this habit we happen to have.

Are you ready to stop giving your power away to others and change the dynamics in your most troubling relationships?  Give me a call or drop me an email - together we can uncover those moments that slip by our radar and set us on the wrong course in our relationships.  Once we bring clarity to how and when we have, once again, given our power to the 'other' we can begin to make different choices as we go forward.  We need to shine the light upon ourselves to see what we are responsible for instead of focusing on what the other has 'done to us.' 

I am happy to work with you in person, over the phone or by email - whatever suits your needs.  Together we can put an end to this one!  Call me!

 

Thursday
May032012

Embrace Conflict, Are You Crazy?

Conflict is Bad

When hearing the word 'conflict' many people conger negative implications such as fighting, violence, and war.  Why on earth would anyone wish to embrace that?? 

Another Way

It is true that conflict CAN result in great harm, although it does not have to.  Well-managed conflict can lead to deepened connections and strengthened bonds.  When we recognize that conflict is a fact of life (even for a hermit!) we can begin to seek ways to work with it rather than attempting to avoid it.  Indeed, avoiding conflict not only will not lead to resolution, but it does not make conflict go away either.  It is like sweeping dust under the carpet -- you can do it and the dust will be out of sight, however, eventually the bulge under the carpet will grow to the point where you can no longer ignore it (and generally leads to an ugly, unwieldy blow up).  When the 'bulge' is big, of course it is challenging and can be hurtful, when handled right away, it is manageable and not overwhelming. 

Conflict Benefits?

Learning constructive conflict techniques can benefit us in many areas of our life:

  • Improving our relationships
  • No longer feeling like a victim in life
  • Communication Competence is a key skill in any career
  • Work more effectively with co-workers & supervisors
  • Supervise more effectively
  • Save money by avoiding costly breakdowns in communication
  • Physical health (we hold unresolved conflict in our bodies resulting in 'dis-ease')
  • Understand life and motivations of others better
  • Be better parents/children/siblings/employees/employers/etc.

I encourage you to re-examine your beliefs about conflict and come to see it, as I do, as a powerful life force that is here to help!