Owning Our Full Potential

Yesterday was an amazing day for me!  As most of you have read, I recently started running again and yesterday I ran the Kaiser Half Marathon in Golden Gate Park with friends xnet.kp.org/sanfrancisco/.  It was the second year I ran this half marathon and last year I set my half marathon PR (personal record) while running it.  Well, this year I set a new PR and broke last year’s by 6.5 minutes!  Those of you that are runners know that this is quite a lot to shave off a time!  My goal was to beat last year’s time but I never expected to beat it by that much nor was I confident that I would beat it.  I was so surprised and excited by my amazing run.  Yes, that’s right, I said AMAZING!!  I am owning that it was quite an amazing run for me and I am very proud of it, and yet at the same time I am puzzled by it.  Why now and how?  How did I pull this off when I really haven’t been training any harder than usual?

During my run I was thinking about the process that allowed me to run so much faster than I usually do.  While distance running requires a certain amount of physical training, the majority of training needed for distance running is psychological.  Your mind needs to believe that your body can go the distance and you must keep your head in the game, never giving up on yourself.  Once you lose that mental stamina, your body follows suit and no amount of physical training can bring you back.   

This applies to more than just running.  How many of us hold ourselves back in other areas of our lives because we lack the belief that we are competent, powerful, awesome and even amazing?    How many of you are afraid of being big and so you play small, because that you know you can do?  How have you held yourself back from reaching your full potential?  Do you move confidently in the direction of your dreams and goals or do you hold back a little, afraid to fully put yourself out there?

I know how I was able to move beyond what I thought I was capable of yesterday and run my full potential instead of holding myself back.  First of all, I prepared as best I could for my run.  I trained for several months, I got up early enough to eat a good breakfast and I pulled out all the stops on that run!  I don’t usually listen to music on my runs because I mentally train myself to run without extra support.  I like to see what my body can do on its own.  It’s only when I am getting really tired that I will put my earphones on and blast my favorite tunes, and that helps immensely!  I let myself listen to my music at the start of my run.  

I also let myself run as fast as my body felt it could instead of running slower to save my energy for later.  NOW is really all we have, so I put forth my full effort and I had just enough stamina left to finish.  What are we saving ourselves for?  Isn’t now the time to give it our all and let the chips fall where they may?  We can always pick ourselves up if we fail, but what can you do if you never let yourself reach your full potential? What happens if we never push ourselves to the edge of our greatest glory?

The other thing I did was not compare myself to others.  I wasn’t concerned with the person running next to me or in front of me.  I didn’t even think about what I “should be” running, I just ran how I felt!  So I didn’t compare myself to me either – I let go of my perceived limitations and I let myself go for it!!  Can we consciously choose to let go of our perceived limits?  What amazing things would we do then?  How much are you holding yourself back from owning your full potential?  Break out of your perceived limits and establish new ones!  Better yet, drop those limits altogether.

To sum it up, here are some things I believe can help us own our full potential:

1.  Prepare ourselves as best possible for our goal and/or dream – train, read, study, learn, practice!  Do whatever research is necessary to move you towards success.  Train like a ninja!  Know what is supportive for you and use those supports.

2.  Don’t save yourself for later!  Go for your dreams now and push your edges even when you feel the fear.  Let your fear motivate you and push you towards your potential.  When we feel fear, it is a good indication that we are out of our comfort zone and moving towards the edge of greater possibility.

3.  Don’t compare yourself to others or set limits on what you are capable of.  If you want something enough, pull out all the stops and get creative.  The truth is, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Visualize yourself achieving your full potential.  See and feel yourself playing big!

I hope I haven’t bored you with my running story but the best way I know how to share knowledge is to speak from my experience.  I hope you find some resonance even if you aren’t a runner or an athlete.  I hope you share your own experiences of moving towards and owning your full potential.  I leave you with the inspiring words of Marianne Williamson which were also spoken by Nelson Mandela at his inaugral speech:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Please consider sharing and subscribing to my blog if you’ve found it helpful.  Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments and conversation!

Until next time, aloha!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death As A Motivator to Living Fully

I work in a police department and in my work as a therapist, I sometimes respond to critical incidents in the community, events where someone has died.  While some of the deaths are suicides, many are terrible accidents where the person dies unexpectedly and is often in good health.   Death is a familiar companion for me in one capacity or another, but in 2013 death has been showing up a lot more in my life.  Although death is often tragic and quite sad, I welcome it in my life as a great motivator.

You see, many of us like to think that we have forever to reach this dream or goal and that “someday” we’ll finally do this or that.  The truth is, we don’t have forever and we never know which day will be our last.  I may not wake up tomorrow or I may wake up and get hit by a car on my way somewhere and die.  Hopefully I won’t, but I just don’t know.  So I live each day remembering that it could be my last, and with this in mind I go through my day deliberately, with intentionality and gratitude.

Each day I tell my husband I love him and I always kiss him hello and goodbye, and every chance I get in between!  I thank him for the things he does for me each day and I try to do helpful things for him as well.  I don’t wait until tomorrow or a special day.  Today is THE day, it is the ONLY day.  If death comes knocking on your door today or tomorrow, how would you feel about your life thus far?  Are there things you keep putting off, waiting for the “right time”?  Are there people you want to see or things you want to say, places you want to visit, habits you want to adopt, yet you haven’t?  How would you live differently today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?  Or would you?

I invite you to think about death as you live through your days and see if it can be a motivator to move you towards your desires, dreams and positive choices.  There are lots books written with this intention, the intention to get people to wake up to their lives while they are still living it, while they still have many choices in front of them.  If you are interested in living your life more fully this way, I recommend reading Stephen Levine‘s book “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last” and Wayne Muller’s book “How Then, Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives.”  Both authors have worked extensively with death and the dying and share their insights and experiences of how death can help us wake up more fully to life.

I’d love to hear how death serves to motivate you and your choices in life or how you think it could become a motivator for you.  Thanks for reading!  Please consider following and sharing my blog!

Until next time, aloha!

 

Posted in personal growth, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Supporting Our Choices

Happy New Year! I hope your 2013 is off to an excellent start! The new year is often a time of reflection for many of us, looking back on the past year, what we accomplished, the events that stand out for the year, and a looking forward to the new year ahead of us. Many people make new years resolutions or set new intentions for the year. The new year is a natural time of renewal, transformation and change. There’s something about the start of the new that makes people want to make different, and often better, choices. Gym memberships increase in January, more people can be seen exercising and working out and new habits are being practiced all around us. On my first day back at work this week, my colleagues and I were all talking about how we want to “get back” to exercising more and eating healthier.

The desire to change our life or habits and make better choices is wonderful yet chances are that if we do not have something in place to help support those choices, come February or maybe March, those intentions will have fallen by the wayside. Research shows that although we make our new year’s resolutions in good faith and with conviction, they are difficult to keep and we often fail. It doesn’t have to be this way though. There are things we can put in place to help support our resolutions and intentions for the new year. We CAN be successful at making new, better, healthier choices. “But how?”, you may ask.

I believe that the best and most successful way to keep our resolutions and intentions is to gather support for them. Let’s face it, we are more likely to do anything better when we know others are there for us, whether they are encouraging us to do a good job or holding us accountable to what we say we’re gonna do. It helps to have others in our corner helping us hold those intentions for healthier choices and cheering us on when we start to lose faith in ourselves. Change IS hard so why not gather support and allies for the new choices you want to make?

As I shared in my first blog, I made big changes in my health and exercise routine because I saw myself becoming something I wasn’t happy with. This change didn’t happen overnight and I had been saying I was going to make this change YEARS before I finally made it. Like many of us, new year after new year I had set intentions to change and I failed, year after year. So what was it that finally led to my success in making better choices for my health? I realized that I needed a concrete goal to work towards and that I needed support along the way. Change is HARD and we often can’t do it alone, nor should we have to.

I love to run and I knew that if I wanted to get back into shape and live a healthier life, running was something that could support me with those choices. However, telling myself I was going to start running again wasn’t enough for me as I had done that in the past and it didn’t last long. So I decided to sign up for a run, a goal that I could work towards. I signed up to run a full marathon in a year. I also talked about my goal to others and this led to other forms of support. A cousin of mine learned that I was running and this was something she too wanted to do, so we started running together once a week. Two years later, we have run several half marathons and a full marathon together and we just started training for our second one! We also have a third running partner who joins us now. I recently learned my next door neighbor is a runner and wants to join me on my early morning runs!

All of these things and people support me in my choices and intention to be healthier. I know that without all of this support I probably wouldn’t have done all those races or continue to wake up at 4:40am to get my run in for the day. I know I have people in my corner, cheering me on and even running with me towards better health and well-being. So what can you do to gather support for your new choices and intentions/resolutions? Who do you need to tell about your desire for change? What groups are already out there to help you move towards these goals? I am an avid Facebooker and I use it as a form of support. When I am up another day at 4:40am to run, I let my FB peeps know this and they in turn give me support to keep moving forward. I also subscribe to Facebook running pages and inspirational pages and let us not forget, inspirational blogs (hint, hint)! Last year I wanted more gratitude in my life so a girlfriend and I made a commitment to email each other daily about what we were grateful for that day, and one year later I can honestly say that gratitude is an integral part of my life. A simple yet effective form of support. MeetUp groups are also another great way to connect with people that share your same interest or goal.

So I ask you, what can YOU do to gather support for your new intentions/resolutions and choices? What or who can help you continue towards the life you envision for yourself? Please let me know what you come up with and what has helped you thus far. By sharing your knowledge and experience, you can support others in their choices too! This is the beauty of community and I hope you will support me in building one here at Choicepoint – a blog about making better choices and moving towards the life you envision for yourself! Happy New Year, make it an awesome one! Thanks for reading!

Until next time, aloha!

Posted in personal growth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving Towards Freedom

Choice Point is very much about becoming a freer human being by becoming more and more conscious of the choices we make in our life and how those choices take us closer to our authentic selves and our hopes and dreams.  While I haven’t always thought of my therapy work from this vantage point, I recently realized that my role as a therapist is to help people move towards more freedom in their lives.  In my opinion, the more freedom we feel in our lives, the more balanced and, dare I say, happier we can be.  It is when we feel we have no choice that pain and despair often set in.

The late psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl once said “Everything can be taken from a man or woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”  Frankl was imprisoned in concentration camps for nearly three years, yet during this time he never felt he was without freedom.  The same could be said for Nelson Mandela and Gandhi, who were both imprisoned for their beliefs yet never let anyone take away their inherent feeling of freedom, the ability to choose their attitude towards their imprisonment.

Most of us have not spent a day behind prison bars, yet many of us feel imprisoned in one way or another on a daily basis.  We feel trapped in an unhappy job, lifeless marriage, financial obligations, unhealthy body, etc.  As Frankl points out so eloquently, we are never really without freedom for we have the freedom to choose how we respond to our circumstances and there are steps we can take towards achieving freedom within our life circumstances.  Most of our imprisonment exists in our minds and when we bring this to consciousness, we can then begin our journey towards freedom.

So how are you feeling imprisoned in your life and what can you do to move in the direction of greater freedom?  What choices can you make today, in this moment?  I would encourage you to start with your attitude and then move from there.  For me, this past year I felt imprisoned in a non-athlete’s body which did not fit with how I saw myself.  Today, I am 20 pounds lighter than I was in April 2011, and have a full marathon (26.2 miles) and 5 half marathons under my belt.   I feel much freer and capable of so much more psychologically than I was almost 2 years ago.  My life has changed from running.  You too can experience this freedom, will you choose to?

With the New Year only a few days away, I invite you to choose to have more freedom in your life by figuring out what you’re wanting to change in your life, if anything, and then looking at what choices you can make to start moving in that direction. Remember, just like running a marathon, it all begins with a single step!

Until next time, aloha!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment