Asking For Help Is Courageous.

Asking For Help Is Courageous.

Bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders is an exhausting task, a task that wipes out and tears down even the strongest people with the greatest willpower and fiercest constitution.

We live in a culture that praises a schedule designed to overwhelm.

At work, home, and play we wipe ourselves out, drinking from empty cups, feeling stressed out, fatigued, cranky, and sad.

We know it’s killing us, yet why do we keep trying so hard to keep up with the very things we’re likely to complain about to our closest friends?

I recently had an amazingly valuable conversation with a new client in my massage therapy office about the very real physical tensions she is feeling arising from the equally real mental overwhelm and stress she is also experiencing.

She wondered if the two go hand-in-hand.

Her desire to take more robust care of herself was so strong she couldn’t ignore it, however, the status quo of doing everything and being everyone in all things is in direct competition with her inner guidance system.

 

What are we supposed to do in this situation?

The reality of the matter is we are a people who thrive in supportive, caring communities.

We need mercy.

Because of our tremendous need, we are also uniquely positioned to be supportive, caring people who recognize the same need in others and offer assistance to the people around us.

However, because our current cultural norms and standards praise busyness, overwhelm, and stress, most people lack the ability to even ask for help when in need due to the subconscious scripts informing us that “asking for help” is the ultimate sign of weakness.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We find ourselves in a Catch-22: we thrive in supportive communities and environments, yet we never enter into or participate with them because of the lie we are fed.

In our fear of vulnerability, we isolate ourselves.

Isolation further breeds more overwhelm and stress causing us to lose perspective, eroding our ability to problem solve, creating fatigue and more stress, with the final outcome of actually causing bodily breakdown.

Anyone who has ever survived through the very real experience of Burnout knows the truth in this “chase your tail” situation.

 

Radical Care Concept Challenge: Support

Everyone needs help from time to time.

This week’s challenge is about becoming aware of your need and the need of others.

Too often we are afraid to ask for help, or we are increasingly distracted by the noisiness around us, often on our screens a few inches from our faces.

Awareness is something that needs to be built into your daily schedule before it becomes a regular practice and a part of your character.

Please don’t get hard on yourself if you decide to participate in this R2C Challenge; opening your eyes and heart is not something that happens consistently overnight.

 

If You Need Help: Ask for it!
This is going to feel scary. Do it anyway.

What do you need help with that you legitimately have difficulty shouldering right now?

Caveat: Notice how the most “unhelpful” people are also the same people who are quick to judge? It might show up as gossiping or providing an opinion on a matter when no one asked for it. Being a nosey busybody is also a sign. Be cautious about asking that person for help.

Seek support from someone whose heart you can trust.

Asking a Sandpaper Person for their help is a surefire way to erode your confidence in your ability to ask for support.

 

Ask If You Can Offer Help:
If you don’t feel like you can ask for help, or if you genuinely don’t have anything you need help with, build awareness by opening your eyes to see the need for mercy around you.

Ask around and fill in the blanks with what you’re physically and emotionally capable of aiding.

PS: this might feel scary too. Do it anyway.

The more you are able to recognize and be aware of peoples’ needs, you’ll be better equipped to recognize it within yourself.

Caveat: Don’t be the Judgmental Helper.

You don’t get to decide the parameters or worthiness of a person’s need.

The Asker defines support. Barring any legal or physical dangers, being sure to actively maintain your own integrity and honoring your personal values, step in appropriately.

Don’t take away a person’s agency to help themself.
Be cautious about completely taking the responsibility on yourself. People in need are rarely 3 year olds with zero emotional problem-solving skills.

Sometimes, the best help you can give is sitting with this person, shoulder-to-shoulder, with your mouth shut.

Nothing is more empathetic then sitting with someone in need as they navigate life.

They are capable and they will thrive in supportive community, so be supportive community.

Well-intentioned, truthful advice incorrectly applied with insensitivity can destroy people.

 

If You’ve Been Asked for Help:
Do it. Do not pass go…do not collect $200.

Please-please-please don’t drop the ball.

When someone asks you for help, it takes tremendous courage for that person to bare their vulnerabilities to you.

If you give them the old, “yeah, I’ll do it later” brush off, or only half listen because you are distracted by your own perspectives and numbing techniques, you will effectively erode that person’s trust in you.

By not listening, nor following through, you are reinforcing the cultural context about how you shouldn’t really ask for help.

Bottom Line: You get to decide if you’re going to be the cure, or a part of the disease.

 

No person is an island. We can’t do it alone. Honor your need for help.

Help those in need with eyes, arms, and heart open wide.

We are not made to walk through life, struggling alone, in life’s hardships.

As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work”; get creative and see where your hands, your good heart, and your words can speak life into someone else’s experience.

We are a people in need and we have incredible capacity to extend compassion in like measure.

You just may save someone’s life.

And that, my Friend, is a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

The Painful Pursuit of Perfection

The Painful Pursuit of Perfection

Life sometimes feels like an uphill struggle.

To-do lists keep getting longer, distractions get louder, and expectations are damn hard to fulfill. Pressures placed by society, family and social groups, religious affiliations, the media, work, even ourselves, can alarmingly weigh us down. Pressure, and the stress accompanying it, feels terrifyingly heavy.

In my own life, I feel the pressures of being a small business owner, a wife, a daughter and a friend.

My husband asks why the dishes and laundry are never done and why I wait until the last minute to get to the grocery store. My parents ask when they can expect a grandchild. I feel separated from my Mom friends and family because I don’t qualify to be in their club, and evidently I have no clue what overwhelm feels like. I am behind on my continuing education in massage therapy because I have been studying the business side instead. I want to factor in more white space in my schedule to make room for taking care of myself, spending time with God, and to be available for my friends. I’d like to take my dogs for a walk. I’d like to have time to exercise, shower and eat breakfast most mornings. I’d like to fit back into my “skinny” jeans. I want flawless hair and skin.

And while I keep my plates spinning I get to see everyone’s perfectly edited highlight reel on social media; their 6-figure businesses, easily attained beach ready bodies, and beautiful, well-behaved children and GQ husbands who take out the garbage.

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Photo by Katie Hall Photography www.photosbykatiehall.com

Life appears effortless and awesome, and I feel more and more disconnected and ungrounded.

Sometimes I find myself asking, “Nina, what the F is wrong with you? Why can’t you keep up?”

The challenges feel mighty and sometimes the only sweetness I savor is from the organic bakery nearby.

 

A lot of my stress–my soul pressure–comes from feeling like I’m not enough.

I often feel the sharp point of perfectionism. It’s not unusual for me to think, “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t know enough”.

These thoughts regularly cause me tremendous anxiety and fear. This fear makes it impossible to respond productively to any challenge in front of me, undermining my confidence and abilities in overcoming adversity.

The little voice in my head repeats my failings on a loop, and there is no way I can overcome the barrier in front of me.

Growth stops. Stress remains.

To make matters worse, I plug into the self-defeating shame I hear in my head and allow it to fuel my actions– which at this point are completely irrational and not very productive. This is where I’m a mess and become the person no one wants to be around and everyone thinks should be medicated.

I feel unfit for human consumption.

 

I am a perfectionist.

I’d like to think owning this characteristic will help me become a recovering perfectionist.

Being a perfectionist goes way beyond setting high standards for oneself, developing mastery and excellence, or having a keen eye for detail. These are positive attributes, but a perfectionist takes it a step further; it becomes a hard-driving force behind identity that stifles creativity and puts pressure on relationships.

For a perfectionist, a challenge presents a Win/Fail opportunity; the lessons learned along the way are not always seen. The journey is bleak and fraught with self-defeat.

If you win you are a Winner, if you fail you are a Failure. It’s deeply personal, internalized, and insulated.

I’ve set unusually high, often unobtainable, standards for myself. I was counseled at some point in my early academic career to remember, “Even when you know you’ve done a good job, always remember someone else has done better than you”. I grabbed on tightly to the idea that if someone out performed me, I was not as much of a blessing to my family.

Second Place is really First Loser.

I got paid for A’s on my report card; B’s awarded me a lecture on how I didn’t work hard enough. Couple that mentality with the majority of my childhood friends being high-level over-achievers who ranked higher than me, I often felt sub-par. I was exhibiting disordered stress patterns in the 2nd Grade.

 

Sometimes these standards trickle over onto the people closest to me.

When I am tough on myself, I become tough on everyone around me. I feel angry, judgmental and hypercritical. My power cord is plugged in the wrong outlet of criticism and punishment instead of love and understanding.

In my professional life, I have found some balance to perfectionism. It has driven me to pursue high quality education from exceptional teachers, and I have created a practice model not typically found in the massage therapy profession in my community. However, when I try to expand on the ideas of growing professionally, building my practice, and designing a new practice model, perfection paralysis takes hold and stops me in my tracks. The little “you aren’t good enough” voice speaks up.

I feel unworthy and useless when my ideas don’t pan out the way I expected them to.

When I can’t seem to figure out how social media or network marketing works, or newsletters go unopened, ignored and unread, I hear, “nobody cares about what you have to say. Nobody cares about you”! And, for some, that may be true; opening myself up to share my story makes me feel exposed.

I am opening myself up to outside criticism and judgment, and Perfectionist Me is freaking out.

 

There are other times when I’m plugged into something way more powerful and I feel alive and on fire.

Self-acceptance and love wash over me and I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to. In this space I feel like setbacks are lessons, not attacks, and I have the calm perspective to see the proper course correction needed to get back on track. I feel inspired, plugged into genius, brilliance and divinity. Options are available, lessons are learned gracefully, and my growth and maturity level up.

I can lovingly laugh at myself. I feel relaxed.

This is where I want to live all of the time!

 

I’m slowly learning to positively and truthfully re-identify myself.

For me, this has been a deeply spiritual lesson, and I greatly rely on my mentors at the church my husband and I attend. I have been loved and challenged at the same time, and the newfound conclusions I am coming to, based off of God’s Love, have been difficult, rewarding, and much needed.

My closest friends, my connection network, are also an integral part of helping me learn, as Brene Brown calls it, “the gifts of imperfection”. I can trust them to not demand perfection from me, and they continuously remind me to be gentle to myself. I know they have the courage and strength to hear my story and support me in it, and sometimes help lift me out of it.

They have the stamina to love me, not despite my imperfections, but because of them.

 

As to the other bits that fire up my perfectionism, with a lot of talk therapy, research and prayer on the issues at hand, I’ve come to understand some things are out of my hands and will always be out of my hands.

It’s not worth it to harshly criticize myself for other peoples’ actions. What others do in their lives has no significant impact on my own.

We all have agency for our own actions, and not everyone is going to like everyone else. I can’t please everyone no matter how hard I try, and I am not a failure if I fail to make people like me.

I regularly remind myself I can only do what I can do, when I can do it.

 

With more love, understanding, and acceptance of myself, and everyone around me, recognizing we are all imperfect people, life feels sweeter, more brilliant, and divine. There is more flow and less crashing.

There is more compassion and empathy.

Challenges are met with grace and gentleness, and don’t feel like personal attacks, but opportunities to really learn what I am capable of. I just may surprise myself!

I can certainly deal with more of that in my life. I crave more of that in my life.

I think the world needs more understanding and acceptance and less criticism and judgment. It starts here, with myself.

It’s completely my choice, despite any challenge or adversity that comes my way, to choose not to let the stress of perfectionism in when it knocks on the door.

Do I choose criticism, or patience? Judgment, or understanding?

I choose gentleness and love. Perfectionism can knock, but she can’t come in.

 

 

 

Try a Little Tenderness

Try a Little Tenderness

 

Your little girl comes home from school and you can tell something is off.  She isn’t her bubbly, boisterous self.

Something is weighing her down.

You approach her gently and lovingly and eventually she feels ready to open up and share the heartbreak she faced today.

 

Pop Quiz: What do you do?

You can approach this delicate situation in one of two ways…

Version 1: You cross your arms and remind her that life isn’t fair. People are mean so she better thicken her skin in order to survive in this cruel, harsh, unfair world. Don’t forget to remind her that no matter how hard she tries, someone will be better than her. She can always do more to get ahead in this dog-eat-dog world.

**or**

Version 2: You embrace your little beloved girl and remind her that sometimes life isn’t fair and people can be mean, but it’s important to stay strong and true. You encourage her to be the shining light in a dark world because her spirit, full of love, can heal the hurting and fix the broken. Tell her you understand how hard it is in this sometimes cruel, harsh, unfair world, but all we can do is try our best from a place of understanding and love.

 

It’s way too easy to be your own worst critic.

When things don’t go right in your life, do you lay it on harsh like version 1, or do you gently speak to yourself like version 2?

I get it, the mean girl inner dialogue.

You hold yourself up to some crazy high standards. When things don’t pan out like you wanted or expected it’s not uncommon to beat yourself up for your shortcomings.

Don’t speak to yourself in such a way you would never, ever allow someone else to.

 

You always…

You’re such a…

Why can’t you ever…

 

Remember your inner child.

Speak to your inner self in a kind and loving manner.

What would you say to your child?

Your niece or nephew?

Your best friend?

Would you be hard with them, or would you be the picture of patience, compassion, and understanding?

Be generously patient, compassionate, and understanding with yourself.

When you feel bitterness and anger begin to set in when things don’t turn out how you expected, ask yourself, “What would I say to my loved one in this situation if they came to me for advice or understanding?”

Now be gracious with yourself.

You deserve to hear it too.

 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

In my numerous years of working with stressed out people as a massage therapist, I noticed there are some pretty glaring blind spots when it comes to stress management.
An hour massage once per month is great….but it isn’t enough to help you restore relaxation and enjoy the health and wellness you crave.  That you deserve.
Too many people lack the necessary skills to bring calm back into their lives.
I used to be one such person too. Still am sometimes.
Join me from the trenches as we attempt to shine a light on the blind spots and bring some peace and calm into our crazy lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Have To Own Your Story

Why You Have To Own Your Story

 

 

We’ve taken “don’t air your dirty laundry” to a whole new level in our social media culture.

Not everyone is qualified to hear all the parts of your story, but living without truth and integrity can cause you to stay stuck in the areas of your life you wish to improve upon.

 

Authenticity and vulnerability are the keys to honesty. Silence and secrecy keep you stuck.

 

Be truthful.

Don’t broadcast a highlight reel when you feel like crying.

Likewise, don’t feel guilty if your life is great at present! Let us celebrate with you. Don’t squash your joy.

If you are struggling with something, own it.  Don’t plaster a fake smile on your face or publish a BS FB post.

Denying your feelings when things are tough typically keeps us from seeking the help or learning the skills we need to move forward.

 

It’s okay to not be okay. 

It’s also okay to be fantastic.

Let’s not feel guilty for either one!

Own your Truth. Represent yourself honestly.

Move through your challenges, and let’s dance bomb your successes!

 


 

In my numerous years of working with stressed out people as a massage therapist, I noticed there are some pretty glaring blind spots when it comes to stress management.

An hour massage once per month is great….but it isn’t enough to help you restore relaxation and enjoy the health and wellness you crave.  That you deserve.

Too many people lack the necessary skills to bring calm back into their lives.

I used to be one such person too. Still am sometimes.

Join me from the trenches as we attempt to shine a light on the blind spots and bring some peace and calm into our crazy lives.

 

 

Doormats Are Not Happy, Nor Healthy

Doormats Are Not Happy, Nor Healthy

Boundaries. Oh, Man!  Let’s talk about a tough topic.

If you want to ensure vital and vibrant health and happiness, you gotta understand what is important and valuable to you and protect those things fiercely.  That’s a boundary.

 

Have you every had someone come onto your property uninvited?

How about someone standing just a little too close to you?  Makes you mad and uncomfortable.

These are pretty easy to understand, your physical boundaries.

 

Boundaries have a funny way of getting fuzzy when it comes to your emotional and mental well-being.

Anyone with a meddlesome family member can speak to that.

These boundaries can be much more difficult to manage and protect because of a deep desire to not upset someone, even when they upset you.

Fuzzy boundaries can lead to emotional instability if you don’t figure out and protect yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Emotional instability and mental static can lead to some serious stress and overwhelm in your life.

If you want to live a vibrantly healthy and happy life, it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships.

 

Signs of weak boundaries can include:

  • Abuse of any kind
  • Sacrificing your goals, dreams, or plans to make someone else happy
  • Blaming others for your emotional states, or for what happens in your life
  • Taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings

Healthy Boundaries are critical for:

  • Being assertive
  • Meeting your own needs
  • Empowered ability to make healthy choices
  • Positive, healthy self-esteem

 

Sit down and figure out what is important and valuable to you.  Protect those things.  Don’t allow yourself to be a doormat to another person by keeping fuzzy and weak boundaries.

Draw your “property line” and stick a DO NOT ENTER sign on it.

Some people love to step over the line in the sand. They will speak to you or try certain shenanigans, physically/mentally/emotionally. Protect your space.

Likewise, honor and respect the boundaries of those around you.  Show them how it’s done by remaining calm and kind whenever boundaries are in question.

 


 

In my numerous years of working with stressed out people as a massage therapist, I noticed there are some pretty glaring blind spots when it comes to stress management.

An hour massage once per month is great….but it isn’t enough to help you restore relaxation and enjoy the health and wellness you crave.  That you deserve.

Too many people lack the necessary skills to bring calm back into their lives.

I used to be one such person too. Still am sometimes.

Join me from the trenches as we attempt to shine a light on the blind spots and bring some peace and calm into out crazy lives.

 

 

 

The Secret to Positive Changes that Stick

It’s the New Year and everywhere you look, Facebook, TV commercials, the cover of Cosmo, you can’t escape the numerous “New Year, New You” messages.

It’s as if your “Old You” is lacking in pretty much every life goal and personality department imaginable.

Nutritional “cleansing” programs are beginning, weight loss challenges are ramping up, and gyms see an all time high in attendance. For at least the first 2 weeks of the year.

The top Resolutions typically deal with what you put in your body (eat less sugar; quit drinking; eat healthier; quit smoking), your bodily output (workout…hard), and something or other to do with your money (spend less, save more).

All good things, to be sure! Who doesn’t want to look good, feel good, and then have the cash to strut the bikini body around a pool at some lush Cancun resort? I know I’d be pretty down with that!

There’s a very real struggle where changes and new rhythms are concerned. The plate is full, the clock is ticking, and goals need to be checked off.

You start the year off with some lofty goals and grand intentions but then lose momentum and fall into old patterns.

It can be a devil of a time trying to break out of those old rhythms.

Despite your best intentions, why is it so tough to make changes with real sticking power?

 

The Answer: WORTHINESS.

ninaverhalen.com

The problem isn’t with a lack of intentions or planning. At the gooey center of it all, deep down in the middle of all of us is the question, “Am I worth it?”

The problem is two-fold: 1) it’s far easier to view ourselves in a negative light versus a positive one, and 2) we heavily count on external criteria to dictate our worth rather than allowing our internal reliance to guide our decisions.

 

 Focusing On Weaknesses Over Strengths

 A healthy, positive self-esteem seems hard to come by these days. Do you fear being confident will read to those around you as arrogance, or do you just not know what you’re good at anymore?

Test it out. Grab a piece of paper and fold it in half; on one half list your strengths, the other your weaknesses. Which side fills up faster?

Our society is acutely focused on reminding us of what is wrong with us as individuals. We often experience this in our family of origin, throughout academia and workplace culture, followed by continued validation from social media and media outlets of all kinds. Magazine covers tell us we don’t have the right body. Work reminds us what we do wrong and rarely focuses on what we do right. Teachers and parents are more likely to focus on weak grades, and how we can improve them, rather than celebrating and encouraging strengths, skills, and areas of potential greatness. Not everyone is wired for a keen eye of mathematical detail, nor is everyone meant to be artists, teachers, or compassionate caregivers.

In the highly illuminating book, StrengthFinder2.0, by Tom Rath, based on over 50 years of research by Donald Clifton, Ph.D, the Father of Strength-Based Psychology, it’s a recognized phenomenon that people gain more growth potential when they invest in the development of their strengths rather than fixing their weaknesses. Strength over deficiency wins the day.

You need to start working with what’s right with yourself. Like Rath states in StrengthFinder, “from the cradle to the cubicle to the casket, we devote more time to our shortcomings that to our strengths”.

How can you leverage the positive parts of yourself when it comes to making sustainable changes in your life, as well as remind and encourage yourself that, yes indeed, you are worth it?

It’s simple actually. Using the opportunity to develop your strengths is more important to success than any external criteria you can hold your success up to. Your strengths trump your title, your salary, your role, or your pant size. Focusing on what is positive and good about you leads to more confidence, direction, hope, kindness and compassion toward others. In essence, focusing on your positives is the life’s blood of healthy, positive self-esteem.

Don’t dwell on what is broken. Acknowledge your weaknesses and use your strengths to creatively grow and contribute to the world. You are definitely worth it to be more of you!

 

Relying on External Validation Over Internal Reliance

We live in a culture heavily reliant on Social Media. Seems society plays a major role when it comes to how we feel about ourselves. Do we fall into a category that the prevailing culture deems worthy? It’s easy to fall into the trap of editing your life into a highlight reel to fit into the tidy constructs your social circles dictate. Don’t rock the boat! Don’t break out, and wait for the validation of a job well done from likes, comments, and followers. I personally have felt anxiety when a post “underperformed” and I didn’t receive the external validation I subconsciously was looking for.

A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that when Facebook interaction increased, self-esteem decreased, and women who used Facebook where less satisfied, happy and content with their lives.

Comparison is a bitch.

A sign of a positive, healthy sense of self-worth is when you are able to look inside, see how you live your life and make decisions, and feel contentment because you live according to your personal beliefs and values. You walk your talk because you operate from a place of honoring what matters most to you.

A negative sense of self-worth is usually predicated by a strong need for validation from outside sources. You need the world to tell you you are doing a good job and have a great life. Might be true, but the validation isn’t an inside job.

Society is bombarded by messages of not being “good enough”: not thin enough; fit enough; not successful enough. You have the wrong house; the wrong relationship; your kids are all sorts of wrong and you suck at being a parent.

These messages are great for advertising and swaying you to buy something, but does zero for your sense of self-esteem because you always feel less than. You simply don’t measure up. These often times unrealistic expectations also fuel a sense of status quo in social groups; If you go with the flow nobody else has to question their own choices. It’s a vicious cycle. These messages, often internalized on a subconscious level, can really make you feel like a loser who isn’t worth it.

The need for external validation over internal reliance is a sure-fire way to chip away a person’s sense of self-worth.

Don’t get me wrong I understand the need for validation from time to time; one of my primary Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. Sometimes I doubt myself and having trusted, good-willed friends or family members remind me of my strengths and successes can help pull me out of a funk. However, if I don’t operate from the place inside where I truly believe in my strengths and abilities, those warm, fuzzy validations are fleeting.

Key points: 1) trust in self 2) only rely on trusted, good-willed souls. Not random people. Remember: Social Media “friends” are rarely more than old acquaintances. 3) operate from a place where you honor and protect the things that are most important to you. You may cause other people discomfort. It’s okay. Really. You are worth it.

 

You are Worth It. Rinse. Repeat as Needed

I can’t say it enough; you are worth it; your strengths, your weaknesses, your successes and your broken places!

I trust you are a good-willed individual and I believe you deserve the desires of your heart, whatever they may be.

As we embark on the next year please remember that your worth is more than what someone else says or how they treat you. You are more than a message on a magazine cover. You are not a statistic. Move from the place in your heart that honors and protects what you hold most dear and important. Everything else can fall away.

Begin with the first step toward your dream today. Cherish it. You are worth it. You owe it to yourself to believe it, and the rest of us are really looking forward to meeting you, helping you, and walking with you. The world needs more people who believe in the power, the goodness, the strength, and the worthiness of everyone around us.

It’s an inside job, and it begins with you.