How to Let Go of Fear & Step Into Courage

let go of fear

How to Let Go of Fear & Step Into Courage

How do we let go of fear? The first step is to acknowledge that we are afraid. This is not a bad thing, in fact, saying how we are genuinely feeling is a very good thing indeed. In systemic work we call this “acknowledging what is.” When you can look even the most awful negative things in the face and acknowledge that it simply is the way it is, you then experience freedom to make a different choice and take new steps. This is the pivot point for all changes in our lives.

Acknowledging what is, is often the first step that allows us to step into the present moment.  We stop with our inner excuses or avoidances. This is often the first time we are able to let go a little of the harmful fears of failure. We are able to create space between us and that all-consuming fear monster. Once we fully acknowledge what is, that buzzy feeling in our heads or queasy feeling in our stomachs, or perhaps even an inability to breathe easily start to subside. This is a clear indication that we are starting to let go of fear.

It is helpful to take a deep breath and do a minute or two of breathing exercises once you’ve achieved this. After all, you’ve just run an internal marathon and crossed a finish line.

New Things

The interesting thing is, when we achieve this state we are teaching our bodies to move from stress to joy and peace. In this state our hearts can open, our gut is able to relax, and our brain can begin working clearly and thinking new thoughts. The good thing about taking such a courageous step consciously is that it gives us a little bit of space away from old habits.

Now, quite frankly, the best way of opening our minds and hearts to possibility is by focusing on what we want. The more excited we can be about our goals, the more courageous we are able to become. Then we can start setting the goals to get us to the first step, and then the next step, and then the next, and so on until we arrive at the place where we can experience freedom and inner peace.

But there is something important to understand about fear. It isn’t there to terrorize us. One of the amazing things about fear is that it is a signal from our nervous system that something needs to change. So, next time you experience anxiety, rather than being triggered into a negative emotion or tailspin of fear and anxiety, notice that what you’re experiencing is simply a strong clue for a need for a change. How elegant is that?

If you experience anxiety, have panic attacks or struggle to let go of harmful fears of failure, those clues may well have their roots in your genealogy or in the events in your own life that have shaped your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

The minute you say “Yes” to new things and make that change irresistibly exciting, you will find your way past all your concerns about an uncertain future along with your excuses and limitations that have kept you stuck. Let me give you a quick example of how this works.

Stretch Yourself

Let’s say that you want to go on vacation. And not just any vacation. You want to do something that’s a bit special or that seems slightly adventuresome. A vacation that inspires your sense of freedom and wonder. (Wonder, by the way, is a good thing for growth!) You’ve always wanted to fly, and you know of a nearby paragliding retreat place up in the mountains.

People tell you that you’re crazy, and you find yourself terrified to take the first step to make it happen. Friends tell you all the negative things that could possibly happen going so far beyond the social norms for someone your age. However, you keep having this strong desire to fly beyond your normal day-to-day life. It may not make a great deal of sense to you, but for once you ignore the naysayers. In a way you are on a secret journey and can sense the stretch your spirit needs.

Soaring over the mountains on your paragliding adventure, there’s an enormous feeling of accomplishment. A sense of strong confidence fills you as you move into a different dimension. It’s a good thing called expansion and it moves you beyond the norms and limitations of your daily life and into a new space. Your courageous movement embracing new ways got you here. Who knows how far you will fly from here?

Choice and Courage

Limitations are always coupled to possibilities. For a large part of our lives, our fear of change keeps us unaware of wonderful possibilities. Our natural instinct is to cling to the fears that we use to frighten ourselves … until the day we don’t.

When you hear about someone doing something extraordinary, it simply means that they chose to do something different and kept choosing it all the way to success. This takes two things. Choice, and the courage to act on that choice..

In systemic work and constellations, we dimensionalize (set up in 3D) the fear you have, so that you can see it and interact with it. By making the negative things conscious and the invisible visible, we are able to bring our fear to the surface, take a deep breath, engage with it and create breakthroughs from fear to freedom.

For example, “Joan,” a client of mine, had an inexplicable fear of success. She was quite sure if she made it to the top it would spell her downfall. She couldn’t explain why, but she knew that once the got what she wanted she was destined to lose everything.

There was no rational explanation for her fear. She was driven to succeed, and she’d put in long hours to reach a top spot in her company. Yet as soon as success arrived, she found herself in the middle of worry-filled days, harmful fears of failure, and panic attacks that made her unable to function properly at work. She was caught between what she wanted and what she thought would destroy her.

In a constellation session, Joan remembered that her grandmother had told her that her success on stage as an actress had been her downfall. That she lost her husband—the love of her life—because her fame was his breaking point. When he left, she fell apart and her career faltered, leaving her ruined.

Can you see how Joan’s genealogy and ancestral DNA is coloring her life? That emotional event is long over. But because the negative emotion from that experience was never processed by her grandmother or her mother, it had echoed down to her—an ancestral pattern asking to be seen, debriefed and released.

Breakthrough

Power of Now by Eckert Tolle, he invites you to stay in the present moment because that is the space where amazing things can occur.

I invited Joan to pick representatives for each member of her family. (This act in itself can be a key to change. The very act of setting up your fear where you can see it creates shift and movement.) Next, I invited her to take a deep breath and really look at the family pattern in front of her. (It’s interesting to observe when and how quickly we hold our breath. It’s a natural instinct when we experience anxiety or we’re on the edge of a breakthrough.)

She found herself suddenly in tears, seeing her grandparents and understanding the event and resulting emotional-behavioral patterns that had run in her family, leading to her peculiar type of fear. She described it as a veil lifting. She could see three generations of women, all with a strong appetite for success and a deep fear that it would cost them everything as it had her grandmother. 

Finally, understanding where the fear had come from, it hit her like a ton of bricks that she had a choice to either repeat her grandmother’s fate, or turn the emotional DNA around and embrace the success her grandmother, grandfather, and even her mother, had not been able to accept. She then found herself able to step beyond her fear of failure for the very first time.

The minute we gather the courage to lean in and see what’s running the show is the moment change takes place. Not only do we move from fear to self-confidence, but we also take a giant leap forward from survival to adventure. Once we experience our deepest fear in a larger context outside of our mind, we can let go of fear and step into true freedom.

 I look forward to showing you how to release your fear DNA and unleash your fullest potential. For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Release Inherited Emotional Patterns with Genealogy

Emotional Patterns

How to Release Inherited Emotional Patterns with Genealogy

Genealogy has long played an important role in the lives of people around the world. We understand where we came from and how we belong, and that gives us a sense of lineage, community, and place. We understand why we look the way we do and have certain physiological predispositions for physical health and disease because of our physical DNA. But all of this tells us nothing about our emotional patterns.

There has always been a suspicion that our ancestral past has a lot more to tell us about our emotional well-being and how we act in our daily lives than we know. Yet until the present moment, there haven’t been any good reasons to believe those feelings were anything but suspicions.

However, I have made a breakthrough discovery that allows you to gain personal insights and unlock your hidden potential by linking your genealogy and genetic information to your emotional-behavioral patterns. We now have a breakthrough in genealogy. We now have a way to understand unwanted behaviors at a deep level—mental states and negative emotional patterns that influence why we succeed and fail in various areas of our lives—by using our genealogical information.

Effector patterns

Not only do you inherit your physical DNA, you also inherit patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions that were generated by decisions made by your ancestors about events that occurred in their lives. Each decision generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that resulted in outcomes that in turn affected subsequent generations—patterns I refer to as your Emotional DNA.

All it takes is for one family member to experience a significant event in their daily life—say a fire that destroyed the family home and all personal possessions— for negative patterns or positive behaviors to emerge out of that event. These emotional reactions create a cascading effect. The decisions and assumptions that were made by your ancestors and the conclusions that were drawn as a result of a traumatic event are often responsible for creating systemic patterns that operate in our family systems.

Let’s take the given situation of a house fire for example. Negative emotional patterns arising from that event can take on multiple appearances. One ancestor might develop a flight response to any sort of open flame. Two generations later you wonder why nobody in your family enjoys outdoor cooking, camping and bonfires. Another negative expressive response could be the development of a belief that “Nothing lasts” or “You can’t count on anything being there when you need it.”

Perhaps an irresponsible mental pattern of “carpe diem”—live for the day—begins to flow through the psyches of many family members.  Instead of relating to people, situations and personal possessions in a healthy way, they blow through money, houses, jobs, and relationships, letting things and people slip through their fingers. After all, “It might all be gone tomorrow.” Why try to hold on?

Positive behaviors and positive emotional patterns resulting from the same event might be the development of resilience and the ability to bounce back from anything.

Neural pathways

Our reactions to events generate neural pathways that can either limit or liberate members of our family system. The science of epigenetics shows that if emotional experiences affect us deeply enough, they can affect subsequent family members for generations. Knowing your genealogical history can thus unlock a world of insights and possibilities for the individual. It gives you a way to understand your sometimes inexplicable negative emotions, emotional responses, and even your physiological responses to life experiences. It also explains why you are drawn to certain partners, careers, experiences, cultures, and so many other aspects of your life.

For example, have you ever wondered why you need two of everything or have an obsessive need to not waste? You can likely thank your great-grandparents and the Great Depression for that one. And what about your painful emotions based in stressful situations with money? Who in your family lineage made a bold financial move and lost it all? And now you sit in fear of taking risks of any kind and struggle with the inability to see opportunity when it arrives on your doorstep.

When we feel ourselves overwhelmed by emotional-behavioral patterns it is not uncommon to find a prior family member who has experienced something similar. In other words, we are now out of the present moment and repeating the emotional experiences of someone else’s life. How wild is that! And yet I see it all the time. Studies show that we are more frequently repeating history than we are present and living our own lives.

Autonomic nervous system

In systemic work and constellations, we recognize that living our own lives begins when we are fully present, laying down the burdens that don’t belong to us, yet respecting our genealogy. Instead of going into fear-based thoughts and a state of inherited overwhelm when we get triggered, we begin to realize that there are good reasons for the emotional patterns in our lives.

The good news is that there are now increasing ways to explore unwanted behaviors in a healthy way. Rather than being embarrassed or ashamed of painful emotions, jealous reactions, or failure, it’s important to realize that often all these things are not all on you. You may well be tapping into the nervous system and emotional patterns of your family.

When you realize this—the response/emotional reaction that was once a solution to a problem that has now become a problem for you, can be set down or transformed. The next humongous evolution is that once you understand that your experiences may not be your experiences, you are able to rewire your brain. Which means you will actually able to finally have an original thought and an original experience. In fact, you may just be able to find out who you are for the first time as an individual and what you are capable of achieving.

Questions to ask to release inherited emotional patterns

  • Where did your negative emotions come from?
  • Which ones cause you the most pain and perhaps even cause physiological responses?
  • Does another family member exhibit similar negative patterns?
  • When you focus on these patterns and negative emotions what (and who?) has no room to grow in your daily life?
  • What would you like to love?
  • How would you like to be?

The last two questions often take people by surprise and bring them into the present moment. They have to think about their current emotional state and then choose what they might like to experience instead. By doing this I am linking them to their genealogy in order to identify where the flow of joy and success may have stopped and how they might restore it.

The next step is: Think about your own genealogy. What objective experiences (events) have your ancestors experienced that have created subjective experiences and decisions for you? Let me give you an example: Let’s say you have an inexplicable fear of traveling. Anything outside of your local environment causes you distress. There’s a part of you that would love to see the world but for you that brings up terror which makes no sense for you. 

Asking “What would you like to love? And how would you like to be?” triggers the answers: “I would love to see new and even strange places. I would like to feel free to explore!”

The genealogy chart of the person above reveals that their great-grandparents on their mother’s side were forced out of their home in Russia in a pogrom. They were beaten and almost died. They traveled to three different countries before they found a place to settle, each worse than the last. They had no friends for a long time and formed a very tight, safe, family unit.

Immediately you can see where the fear comes from. You can see how back in the day, safety was important. But now it has outgrown its usefulness. Body and mind yearn for more freedom. The past event is past. It has lived in the bodies and minds of three generations and now it is time for something else.     

Exercise:

1) Write down a pattern that lives in you that runs in your genealogy—a pattern/habit that you would like to change.

2) Looking at that pattern ask yourself:

  • What triggered this genealogical pattern in me?
  • Who else in my family was or is like this?
  • What is the common factor?
  • How do I feel connected to them? Does this pattern give me a sense of belonging/comfort/shared unhappiness?
  • What was/is the payoff for staying that way?
  • What would happen if I chose something different?

3) Now ask:

  • When I am this way what do I not have space for in my heart?
  • What is the antidote for this?

4) Take two pieces of paper. On one write: Family + family pattern. On the other write: The antidote. Place both pieces of paper far apart on the floor.

  • Face your family + family pattern and tell them how you feel. (In the above example the feel was safety + limitations + )
  • Really feel your emotional reactions. Really feel the pull of your pattern and its basic emotions.
  • Thank it for coming to you to change it and ask for its support.
  • Turn around so you can feel it at your back and feel that support
  • Face the antidote and name it. (In the above example the antidote was )
  • See how close you can move to that piece of paper as you name it and see if you can say a full “yes” to it.

You want to make sure that you feel what you are saying. This is very important. Emotions drive motion and keep you engaged. You are now consciously wiring new neural pathways into your thinking brain and that plays an important role in establishing positive changes and changing that genealogical pattern. You are also changing basic emotions.

The more you embrace the new direction with new thoughts that feel good and cause positive changes the more affect yourself and others in a healthy way.  Positive thoughts create positive behaviors. Essentially you are creating new emotional DNA and that is very good news. You are becoming the change agent you were born to be.  

A final thing to remember as you disentangle from a genealogical pattern is this: The pattern came to you to inspire growth and emotional intelligence. It is not a burden. It is a gift and always part of your purpose.  

 I look forward to showing you how to release your fear DNA and unleash your fullest potential. For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Release Fear & Fear DNA – Simple Steps

how to release fear

How to Release Fear & Fear DNA - Simple Steps

As humans, most of us are not particularly inclined to watch horror movies. (Although almost 64 percent of US adults aged 30 to 44 say they like or even love the horror movie genre!) Even so, most of us have fear-based thoughts all the time, telling ourselves worst-case scenario horror stories all day long about ourselves, our lives, and our prospects.

“You’re going to run out of money and wind up on the streets.” Or “You’re too stupid to get that promotion.” Or “The person you love the most is going to meet a tragic ending as soon as they set foot out of the apartment.” Or “Everybody hates you and you are going to be all alone, forever.”

These are just a few of the anxious thoughts we indulge in on a daily basis—inner monsters triggering stress hormones that can run the show and frighten us witless. Driven by an over-arching fear of the unknown, the language and tone of our inner thoughts tend to be exaggerated, inflated, and over dramatic. We wouldn’t say such things out loud. But we keep thinking them. And the emotional response they produce and the actions we take around them feel very important and real.

Fear DNA

Fear-based thoughts tend to shift with the generations, and what sounds silly to one generation makes perfect sense if we zoom out and take a look at the whole family system and its events, decisions and consequences. Every generation faces different challenges and has different ways of looking at life events and different coping mechanisms.

Our inner language, including our fear-based thoughts, often reflects multigenerational language around issues not resolved in prior generations, language that contains clues to the places where we are stuck as well as the clues to the next level of expression. For example, you may come from a wealthy family and yet experience fear around money, thinking things like “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Or “Money can’t buy everything.” Or “More money, more problems.”

We call this inner language your systemic language, and no one is immune. Not the smallest among us nor even the titans of industries. We all have fearful thoughts that drive or plague us, until we recognize them for what they really are—clues from the past showing how our ancestors thought about things; clues we can use that show us where we are stuck and how we can shape futures we desire.

Emotional Experience

We often feel deeply that fearful thoughts and feelings belong to us and are inescapable, but systemic work, constellations and epigenetics indicate otherwise. When we look at family history, we often find that the inner monsters—our habit of focusing on the worst-case scenario or our fear of failure—began with a limiting decision an ancestor made about an event.  

For example, a wealthy great-grandfather takes a chance on a good prospect and loses most of his money. He vows not to ever take a gamble of any sort ever again. He tells himself that he was stupid and reckless and becomes filled with excessive worry about money. He feels ashamed and embarrassed and develops a fear of rejection. He tells his children not to ever gamble or take a chance. He tells them if they do they will lose everything. 

Three generations later, a great-grandson is offered the opportunity and investment of a lifetime. It is a no brainer, and yet he cannot bring himself to participate. He finds himself in survival mode with skyrocketing stress levels, believing he will lose it all just like his great-grandfather did. The investment takes off and he realizes that this extreme risk aversion that was once a solution for his ancestor is the very thing that is now hurting his family. What was once a solution is now a problem and it’s time to get help.  

This is a good example of how fearful thoughts, fearful feelings, common fears, and survival response are passed on. The original ideas are designed to keep us safe, but the message keeps traveling through the generations until it turns into a problem.  Once we recognize the thought patterns and their source, however, we can change the fearful thoughts anytime we want to. We can do a 180.  

Attaining Emotional Freedom

One of the main ways we can experience a turnaround of fearful thoughts, stressful situations, and all the painful emotions accompanying these things is by realizing that the negative patterns of thoughts that have been running the show do not belong to us. They are ancestral patterns that we have inherited.

Using the above example, I would ask the client to verbalize his fear around investing and ask him about his grandfather’s and father’s language about money and investing. (Or about other ancestors and their language around money.) As soon as the client sees where the originating event happened and gets that the fearful thoughts, negative difficult emotions and unwanted behaviours do not belong to him, I would invite him to recognize where that fear belongs, and then literally hand the negative emotional patterns back to the person they originally belonged to.

The next step involves the client imagining what he would really like to do, how he would like to be instead of acting out the old negative emotional patterns. He might recognize that where his great-grandfather had no access to information, he now does. He can do due diligence where his great-grandfather could not. He can hire wise financial advisors. Finally, the client voices the new options and choices that he has decided upon.

The Pivot Points

There are two pivot points that occur when shifting anxiety disorders and common fears. The first occurs when the person acknowledges that this pattern is damaging and does not belong to him or her. We call this “acknowledging what is.” The second pivot happens when s/he recognizes that s/he can do things differently and that, indeed, the family system will be better off if s/he does something different. Sometimes permission is needed from the ancestors for the client to move forward into a happier life. There is often a sigh of relief or a smile or perhaps tears when this is done. There may be insight and compassion for those who came before the client or a movement in the direction of a new opportunity.

Dealing with Common Fears

Unfortunately, excluding excessive worry, fearful thoughts, and anxiety symptoms from your life is not an option. In all systems and situations, what we exclude creates a pattern that expands and repeats. In other words, what we resist persists and grows. I often ask participants at my events to actually thank the monsters in their lives (and in their heads). Even fearful thoughts have purpose. They are often treasures in disguise—pain points that push us to pay attention to what isn’t working and then grow.

When you can acknowledge the purpose of even your deepest fear and thank it, then you can use fear as motivation to do better than those who came before you. Once the monsters have been seen, acknowledged and included, they can quiet down. The pattern has been seen and their purpose pivots from acting as a signal into becoming a portal of possibility—the opportunity to do something different.

Systemic Questioning Exercise

  • Think about a time when you have wanted to do something new or exciting and identify the fearful thoughts that have stopped you from trying.
  • Write down your deepest fear(s), any fear response and the uncomfortable feelings, and physical symptoms they produced.

 Now ask yourself the following questions:

  • When did these feelings first begin for you?
  • What was happening in your life at the time?
  • What did you make these fearful thoughts mean about you?
  • What did you make them mean about others?
  • Does anyone in your family have a similar pattern?
  • Did their anxiety symptoms begin for them at roughly the same age as they did for you?
  • Was there a triggering event?
  • Have you always felt this way?
  • Do these fearful thoughts belong to you, or did they begin with someone else?
  • What actions have you taken around these fearful thoughts?

Create a Constellation Around Your Deepest Fear

Constellations are a three-dimensional process that enables you to take your thoughts, issues, feelings, etc. and literally set them all out in front of you in such a way that you get to see, hear, touch, feel and walk through what goes on inside your system and inside your head.

You can do the following exercise at home using index cards, paper, Post-it Notes, whatever takes your fancy.

Issue Constellation

  • Write your deepest fear (for example “fear of failure”) on an index card or piece of paper.
  • Create a separate card/paper for every family member
  • Write your own name on a card/paper

Place the cards on the floor in an open area—or on a table top if you don’t have room—in any sort of arrangement that feels right to you and just notice the way the cards are placed.

  • Who is close to you and who is further away?
  • Who is closest to your fear? You? Other family members?
  • What does it feel like to see your “issue” out in front of you like this?
  • Stand on your own card and look around. What do you notice? What do you feel? Are any emotions coming up around your fear? Any insights?
  • Really take the time to listen to your thoughts and feel your feelings. 

It is quite amazing the kind of information that can be gleaned from being able to literally see and walk through the energetic relationships involved around a specific issue. Once you can experience your deepest feelings of fear in a larger context outside of your head, it stops being so personal and stops beings such a painful experience. If you can trace your issue to its source, it no longer belongs to you and you can let it go and be free.

 I look forward to showing you how to release your fear DNA and unleash your fullest potential. For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Four Principles Behind Emotional Triggers in Relationships

Triggers in Relationships

Four Principles Behind Emotional Triggers in Relationships

Systemically, if we look at emotional triggers in relationships and the accompanying emotional reactions we have, we find ourselves back at the principles that govern all systems: belonging, order, and balance of give and receive. But how do we create a healthy relationship with someone and generate positive emotional responses that support us?

Raw Spots Around Belonging

The first step is to understand our need for belonging. If we look at belonging, we often find ourselves triggered by specific events into various negative reactions and coping mechanisms when we don’t understand how to belong or figure out if we even do belong.

Fear around not belonging—often based on childhood experiences and past events—is a big emotional trigger. This major trigger takes on various shapes and forms, such as I’m not good enough, smart enough, big enough, small enough, rich enough, humble enough, etc., to belong.  

We tell ourselves stories about all the above and interpret peoples’ actions and reactions through the lens of an old traumatic event. 

For example, a classic is when we send an email or a text and receive a quick, bare-bones reply. Immediately, our subconscious mind comes into play, and our brain associates the terse reply with traumatic memories, stirring up our own triggers and defensive behaviors. We start thinking things like, “Oh, my goodness, I’m in trouble.” Or “I knew they would think that was a stupid idea. Will I get fired over this? Maybe I should just resign.” 

Only to find out 10 minutes later that the person on the other end of the email was flying out the door to the dentist and simply wanted to be sure they responded. That critical inner voice beat us up for nothing creating an intense emotional reaction, as the trauma triggers shot our cortisol levels and maybe even our blood pressure through the roof.

Good Idea

Of course, there is an antidote for this situation. But we are woefully bad at applying this good idea, which is: 

1) Quit making assumptions and assuming ill intent and 

2) Actually have the courage just to ask “Hey, what’s going on?” Don’t you know we could save ourselves a bunch of unnecessarily negative reactions and painful feelings doing that!

However, that kind of open communication in itself is a trigger with its own set of traumatic event trust issues based on past experiences. If you’ve never experienced open communication in a supportive environment before, a whole new set of fears and painful feelings show up at the very thought. “They’ll get mad if I question them!” Or “Who am I to question?” Or “They’re going to think I’m pushy. I definitely think I should leave. I just can’t handle the conflict.” 

Making a Huge Deal out of Nothing

The next step is to notice how we often think of what could be a healthy emotional discussion as “conflict” and how this kind of association (the root cause of which is often based in childhood experiences) can trigger an immediate flight response? 

Surprisingly, once we learn to have such discussions in a safe space, get beyond our trust issues, and discover we don’t die engaging in open communication, we actually begin to get closer to the people around us. We find out more about them and let them get to know us and thus build healthy relationships and support groups around us wherever we go. We begin to feel that we belong. 

Building strong and healthier relationships through open communication is especially healthy for adoptees who sometimes find themselves permanently triggered by their need to belong, thus subconsciously setting up similar situations over and over again that prove to them (in their own mind) that they’re right—that they don’t truly belong. What a setup!

Adoptees who do well know how to hold the space for and acknowledge their biological parents, even though they don’t know them. They can also turn their fear, based in their childhood experiences, into a superpower. Being so sensitive to the negative emotions around belonging, and the root cause of those negative emotions, they often turn out to be social connectors, making sure there is a place for everyone around them. They become known for their ability to give everyone a place.

Order

If we look at the principle of order, it tells us exactly where we belong in our family system. It’s literally a matter of which family members were born first, then second, then third and so on. Being born first isn’t “better” than being fourth or tenth in line. It’s simply the natural order in which people in your family “showed up” on planet Earth.

When it comes to the principle of order, our exact place in the lineup is where we are the most capable and innately feel the most comfortable. Which means if we find ourselves “out of order,” we can become emotionally triggered by the situation and other similar situations when we are asked to be too big or need to step up in a difficult situation.

For example, say your parents have serious alcohol or drug problems and you’re required to act as the adult in the family—basically taking care of them. Or perhaps both your older siblings have gone off the rails and as child number three, you feel the need to step up and act like the eldest “responsible one,” making your parents proud. In both cases, you are definitely “out of order” and may have to carry a bigger load than you should.  

Mental health professionals see children becoming overly responsible all the time, picking up a crucial role in the family that requires them to be too big. This kind of effective coping strategy can trigger feelings of being burdened or having to take care of everybody—a strategy that can easily become a habit and extend itself into similar situations in the workplace. If the trigger of always having to step up into roles larger than you is severe enough, you can easily end up collapsing when the burden(s) are removed because they have become your identity and whole purpose in life. 

The complex world of emotional triggers is…well, complex. For example, the exact same kind of dynamic can occur if you’re required to be too small. Perhaps a sibling needed a lot of attention growing up and you stepped back to take up less space. Other family members supported this action and you ended up subconsciously believing that being small and invisible was the best way to handle similar situations.

Or perhaps a teacher tells you “Nobody likes bossy people.” Or maybe a friend accuses you of being an unlikeable “know it all.”  Humiliated, you may not recover from this kind of traumatic event. And even though you know how to lead (perhaps you were born the oldest of your siblings), your nervous system may require you to stay small for safety, melting into the shadows, not wishing to be labeled unlikeable or bossy ever again. 

NOTE: In both cases the emotional triggers around order often still revert into whether we feel like we belong or not. We are so tightly wired as human beings to belong that any lack in that area can make us feel like we’re dying.

Balance of Give & Receive

In our personal relationships, the one who gives too much gets too big, and this often destroys relationships. The other person can never measure up and is emotionally triggered. Feeling small, they feel compelled by a flight response to remove themselves. On the flip side, the person who takes too much (including taking up too much energetic space) can end up feeling entitled, and end up being perceived as arrogant and selfish, triggering emotions of resentment in other people.

Relationships work best when the balance of give and receive is consistently achieved with healthy boundaries. A good balance of give and receive with a clear intent to build a relationship tends to trigger emotional health, continual growth and positive change. The relationship becomes a dynamic adventure where bumps and hiccups are worked out in a safe space due to the abundant currency of goodwill. 

Balance in the Workplace

In our jobs, most often the dynamic is “We give our work and we receive pay.” There is a balance of give and receive that is implicitly understood. Yet even here there can be echoes from previous relationships that were out of balance that can cause emotional triggers in a current situation. 

When the balance of give and receive is off at work, you commonly hear things like, “I’m overworked and under appreciated.” Or “My whole life belongs to this company.” You can see and feel the resentment. Rather than address the imbalance, people tend to revert to past avoidance behavior and arrive late and leave early and call in sick a lot. 

Many of the emotional triggers we have, either at work or at home, are also meta-patterns or multi-generational patterns. They are the result of unaddressed intentions and assumptions or unresolved events and patterns in the past that we inherit—in other words, emotional DNA. 

A Healthy Way to Achieve Personal Growth

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to explore your emotional triggers and understand where they came from. They are gold. For every emotional trigger there is an antidote and a path waiting to take you to a higher level of expression. 

The adventure is to spot them and create opportunities for new patterns. Every emotional trigger is a clue asking you to decode and recode them. Once you understand what to do with them, you can use one new thought, one new feeling, and one new action every day to rewire your brain and change the patterns of the system. Here’s how:

  • Pick an emotional trigger.
  • Write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions around it.
  • Which of the principles is does this trigger belong to?
  • When did it first begin for you?
  • What was happening in your life at that time?
  • What assumptions did you make? 
  • Did you ever check those assumptions out?
  • Do you still operate under those assumptions? (A client of mine had to rethink his entire life once he discovered an assumption he’d made was completely incorrect.)
  • What would happen if you checked those assumptions out?
  • What would happen if they weren’t true anymore?
  • If they are true, how can you think, feel, and act differently around them?
  • How can you change that emotional trigger to an emotion that serves you better?
  • Now, take action and follow through on those changes!

The most important thing about emotional triggers is to understand that you are the master, not the triggers. You are not at their mercy. You can choose to have them serve you as you finally understand their source, take charge and choose positive change. When we are mindful, we can turn triggers into transformers and create deep emotional support for ourselves!

To find out more about how to grow your emotional DNA, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Manage Emotional Triggers in Relationships

How to Manage Emotional Triggers in Relationships

Emotional triggers in relationships and the negative reactions that result often stem from multi-generational patterns around events or events about which we have made decisions in our own lives. They are strong, hypnotic, frequently irrational, and can seem almost nonsensical until we look at them systemically, and then everything swings into focus.

To the one whose raw spots are triggered, they may make complete sense. On the other hand, their painful feelings and emotional reactions may leave them bewildered and confused, wondering why on earth they reacted to something that often seems fairly innocuous.

With intimate relationships, we quite often bond in the wounds of personal histories, past trauma and childhood experiences. In other words, we expect a spouse or current partner to make up for what we did or didn’t get growing up.

We suffer together in what should be a healthy, supportive environment, and it seems to work until one of the couples matures past the coping mechanisms, and then everything changes. Suffering is no longer attractive, and they have to move away.

Good News

The wound is a very powerful source of negative emotions and limiting patterns. But we don’t have to keep being run by these painful feelings and raw spots from our past.

Negative reactions, trust issues, and painful feelings are indicators that the negative emotional patterns are trying to stop and become the pivot point for healthy patterns trying to start.

By diving into and exploring these patterns in a healthy way, we can see where they limit our ability to connect and bond.

We can see where our lack of healthy boundaries came from, the root cause, and then what relationships could become if we use the trauma triggers to transform rather than to suffer. In other words, this is an area where you can thrive and grow if you just know how to look at the situation.

Complexities of Our Emotional Triggers

So what, really, is an emotional trigger? Why do they happen, and what can we do about them?

The origins of common emotional triggers are often a response to a decision we make about an event. It’s not the event itself. We stand up to speak at school and the teacher tells us we did a terrible job and we make that a huge deal and turn it into a traumatic event that creates a negative truth about our public speaking ability.

We eventually develop a huge emotional trigger about public speaking in general, never speak up ourselves, and wonder why we are not called upon to be leaders. Thus, we create our own jail cell. The teacher casts the spell with their critical words, and we swallow it whole, making it mean something awful, and then live our lives around the awfulness.

Emotional triggers happen because we have created a certain mindset around something. Then, when that something shows up in our lives, just like AI, we automatically start to spew out our already-cemented-in-place beliefs, judging it good, bad, scary, evil, exciting, horrific—emotionally reacting according to this fabricated truth in our minds. Only it’s not the truth, it’s just a concept we have created and labeled the truth.

Family Trauma Triggers

In families, we see this all the time. We swallow bits and pieces of sayings, beliefs, feelings, actions, events, and conclusions passed down to us that hold strong emotional responses to a particular situation—whether it’s about sex and marriage, what kind of work we should do, or religious beliefs, etc. We hold onto traumatic memories. And then think these triggering sayings, beliefs, feelings, actions, events, and conclusions are ours.

We do this unconsciously in order to belong. But here’s the thing: You can change! You, believe it or not, can play a crucial role as the antidote to these triggers. They are in your hands, waiting for you to evolve yourself—and humanity—beyond them in a healthy way. (Haven’t you wanted to help change the world for the better?)

Personal Growth: First Step

When you’re in emotional reactions to past experiences and patterns, if you can look at what’s happening and learn to be consciously aware of what you’re feeling instead of staying in the intense emotional reaction, you can make a choice about how you process emotional triggers. Instead of being at their mercy, you can use them to grow and thrive. It’s all about being conscious, aware and at choice.

I can see you shaking your head, but it’s true. How often have you heard someone say after some difficult illness or other traumatic event, “That was the best thing that ever happened to me! I learned so much! It jolted me out of my complacency and forced me to grow up!”

What’s happening is they’re doing something they were born to do—expanding and creating positive change while breaking negative cycles! And when they have done that once, they know they are no longer at the mercy of emotional triggers and that if they continue to choose wisely, they will evolve and grow.

Passing the Buck

Patterns (including emotional triggers) have a relentless way of resurfacing until you see what they are trying to show you, and do what has to be done to stop a pattern that needs to stop and start a new healthy pattern of your own that serves you and the world around you.

If we don’t step up, then we pass the buck to future generations and force our children and grandchildren to have to deal with them. Sometimes this takes generations because, as humans, we have been programmed to believe that playing and being small is sacred and wonderful. That we are helpless victims of circumstance. And we are not!

A Story of Positive Change

Emotional triggers in relationships are keys to an incredible life. Learn to use them and you will be investing in developing deep, rich and healthier relationships. You will be investing in your own life adventure. So, let’s take a look at one example together.

“Lena” attended one of my events and asked to do a constellation. As we sat together the first words out of her mouth were: “I’m about to get a divorce from my idiot of a husband.” (Her husband was in the room with her and I remember thinking, “Wow this is going to be interesting.” I even had visions of physically wrestling them apart!)

Now, early on in my career that might have thrown me or perhaps I would have rushed to make peace and restore order, but as I have evolved within my practice, I remained curious and silent, letting her proceed.

“This is the third idiot I’ve had to divorce,” she continued. Really? Now that piqued my curiosity. “We are not good at selecting good husbands,” she sighed.

“Who are ‘we’?I asked.

“My mother and grandmother had the same problem,” She said. “I don’t know why I thought I would be any different.”

“How about your great-grandmother?” I asked curiously.

“Oh, she had three idiots too.” Lena responded.

“Tell me about them,” I asked.

“Well!” she huffed. “The original idiot was the one who took great-grandmother’s fortune and lost it all on a business venture. It was risky even back then and great-grandma had to divorce him. But she learned her lesson.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, with the other two as soon as there was even a whiff of financial stupidity, she divorced them. She didn’t marry again after the third one and wound up becoming a successful business woman in her own right. Something unheard of back then.”

I asked her if we could place representatives for each of the men and women involved in her family lineage and so began her constellation. As we placed family representatives all over the room she turned to me and asked “So, is there a pattern here or something?”

The participants in the room began to laugh while she looked plainly confused. Then we added a representative for money, and when I asked the money representative to find its place, it tested several spaces before standing right next to the representative for her great-grandmother’s first husband. Then the representative moved across to her great-grandmother before finally moving to stand between Lena and her current husband’s representatives.

“Were there any sayings about men and money in your family?” I asked.

“Oh, sure,” she replied. “A man who risks money is an idiot. Divorce him before he loses it all. Also never trust a man with your money.”

“And how does that affect you?” I asked.

“I take care of my own money,” she said. “And if I see a man putting his pwn money at risk, then it’s time to divorce him.” She looked pointedly at her husband who just shook his head.

“So, all the women in this system learned to become financially responsible?” I queried.

“We’ve all made sure our money is in the bank and not at risk,” she agreed proudly. Then she went on to share that she was so risk averse she wouldn’t even put her money in high yield savings accounts. Her money didn’t grow. But it was safe.

“So, aside from being an idiot, what’s your husband like?” I asked.

“Well, he’s kind, intelligent, funny and warm. All the things I could want in a partner. But the whole money thing outweighs all that.”

When I pointed out that these thoughts and feelings didn’t come from her and didn’t belong to her—that they had begun and belonged with her great-grandmother, she looked confused. I pointed out those words and situations from the past had triggered a flight response in her.

It took awhile, because the major trigger was so ingrained, but eventually she saw that those triggers and sayings were costing her healthy relationships and her emotional health —not to mention the possiblity of financial growth.

Suddenly, she started to laugh and looked at her husband and then at me with better understanding. “My husband is actually a very wealthy man,” she said, thoughtfully. “He knows where to invest and how. He’s offered to teach me, but I didn’t trust him not to crash it all and send me away with nothing. I had no idea my thoughts and specific actions were defensive behaviors and that a pattern was triggering them, running the show. I thought it was all real and true!”

As is so often the case, what was once a solution for the great-grandmother had become a problem for the great-grandaughter. Once solutions outlive their usefulness they often become problems or limitations that keep us stuck, going nowhere.

Personal growth exercise

Take a moment to sit down and write about a relationship or a situation where something really upsets, annoys, irritates, frustrates, frightens, or angers you. It could be a personal or professional relationship or a specific event that consistently triggers strong emotions.

Write down all your thoughts, feelings, and actions about that relationship or situation that triggers you.

Ask yourself, “Where did this reaction start or come from? Did something happen to me? Or did something happen to my family members that set this reaction in motion?

Then ask yourself what might happen if you consciously changed your reactions to those triggers.

Ask yourself what you could do differently. (This doesn’t mean you suddenly have to love what you have hated or feared. I am simply asking “What could you think, feel or do differently?)

Take steps to put those different responses into action.

It's Not About You

Seriously, I’ve had to teach myself as well as clients that “Ninety-nine percent of the time, whatever is triggering you is not about you.”

For myself, a big trigger used to be if someone gave me the cold shoulder. Even if someone didn’t respond to my emails I could quickly get sad, frustrated, nervous and put some intense negative energy into the situation. Then, over and over, I would discover they were busy or simply hadn’t received my message in the first place!

When I did the above exercise and tracked the emotional trigger back in time, I remembered a teacher who told me as a kid that I was annoying and that she didn’t like me because I smiled too much. You should have seen how fast that smile disappeared! Afterwards I became nervous about my smile and my right even to be happy for a long time.

Doing this exercise helped me have a deeper understanding and realize what had really happened. That teacher probably had had a rough day and I represented someone she really wanted to yell at!

After I reframed the situation, now, instead of thinking I’ve automatically done something wrong and am in trouble when somebody doesn’t respond or acts cold to me or is outright angry,

I remind myself that it’s most likely NOT about me. I can exhale and give them grace. That allows me to remain open and receptive, giving me emotional support and the difference is remarkable. I don’t get emotionally triggered and usually the situation is resolved in a matter of hours.

Previous relationships and future relationships are our teachers. In the next blog I will share some relationship dynamics that shape your emotional DNA and tell you how to use them wisely.

To find out more about how to deal with emotional triggers and how to grow your emotional intelligence, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Think about the business world and your workplace for a moment. Is it hierarchical? Flat? Structured? Family oriented? Entrepreneurial? Self-driven? Or something else? Now let’s bring in the concept of emotional intelligence by thinking about two things: What is your workplace like during a crisis? And what is it like in terms of opportunities?

In many companies, difficult situations and crises bring out the worst in leaders and associates. Without emotional intelligence, the politics come out to play, and it can be a dog-eat-dog or blame-game situation. Constructive criticism is taken the wrong way, emotional responses can get heated, overall performance suffers and conflict management is ineffectual.

The modern workplace

I see so many companies constantly operating in crisis mode where stress management, conflict management and effective communication between team members are almost nonexistent. Where workplace politics tend to be the rule rather than the exception. And these companies always tend to produce lower level/ insecure leaders as well as limited business performance and less than average customer service.

Then there are companies that thrive and shine. Associates can’t wait to get there in the morning and be a part of whatever is happening. Job satisfaction and overall performance are high. Workplace conflict is at a minimum. And we wonder what makes these companies so special.

Importance of emotional intelligence

One enormous answer to that question is emotional intelligence where leadership positions are filled with people who have cultivated emotional intelligence skills—soft skills like sincere listening and projecting a genuine interest in co-workers;, people who can relate on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level; who can pick up on nonverbal cues, body language, and emotions of others; who can relate in a positive way and provide constructive feedback while supporting strong relationships between co-workers.

This kind of high emotional intelligence takes care of the unnecessary politics and puts the sparkle in the company. People actually care about the work they are doing. They care about each other. Even more astounding—they genuinely care about the company they work for.

A powerful investment

Companies increasingly realize that professional success means attracting intelligent people and retaining top talent. Savvy leaders also realize the importance of investing in training employees in soft skills and talent development. They know this is a crucial first step to improving the company’s bottom line, because they understand that technical skills only go so far. They know an important secret: That appreciation, inspiration, and validation are as important to people as a paycheck. They know that when people know they matter at an emotional level, you unlock their discretionary energy—their passion. And passionate employees make good companies great.

People need to know they matter and the younger generations absolutely demand it. Companies with good emotional intelligence tend to have good professional development plans in place. They know that goals and achievements are important to intelligent people and necessary to keep their emotional state high while igniting great performance. A certain amount of autonomy is also required, and powerful business leaders encourage people to play their own game within the company’s game. In other words, they address “what’s in it” for their associates.  

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has a number of benefits. People learn how to grow their interpersonal skills and:

  • They learn how to give and receive constructive feedback
  • Conversations and positive emotions are encouraged. Gossip is discouraged,
  • Instead of being risk averse, staff members and team members are taught to embrace risk
  • People respect rank, but don’t pull rank
  • Everybody feels seen heard and valued
  • Discussions and contributions are welcomed
  • A healthy sense of accomplishment is prevalent

Now, let’s look at some of the benefits I just listed in more detail:

Learn how to give and receive constructive feedback

Many companies pride themselves on being “open.” They feel that people giving feedback, sometimes spontaneously in the moment rather than waiting for the “right time,” is appropriate. Unfortunately, woefully few in leadership positions and in human resources know how to do this properly. All too often these become impromptu “dump sessions” with hurt feelings exposed in a raw manner. People are blamed and accused rather than conversed with, or they are minimized rather than encouraged.

There are two types of feedback, constructive and destructive. Obviously. coming across with an attitude and words that convey the sense of “Hey, stupid! You screwed up. You should have done it THIS way,” is not constructive and only causes shutdown, defensiveness and resentment. (You’d be shocked by how often I see this. All unknowingly, CEOs, team leaders and people in management positions end up playing out unhealthy family patterns in the workplace. Without training in the importance of emotional intelligence, they fail to see what would seem to be obvious, but is not: That negative feedback and harsh criticism are how they were taught. This is the kind of feedback they received. And they’re simply passing on the negative pattern.

On the other hand, “feed forward” is a method of relaying constructive feedback in a way that equips the receiver with insights and a potential new skill. From the outset, the intention is to elevate the recipient, validating their potential and encouraging change. Feed forward establishes belonging, while harsh feedback can isolate and exclude. Feed forward takes the recipient into account in a healthy with no shaming or blaming.

Gossip is discouraged, mindful conversations are encouraged

In companies with low emotional intelligence, stressful situations are epidemic and so is gossip. In companies where good relationships haven’t been built and stress management is unheard of, gossip gives people a sense of weight, importance, and credibility. Of course, it also creates discord and a deep sense of mistrust between team members, staff members and upper management and on and on.

For example, I recently worked with a client whose line manager actively encouraged all members of the team to come to him with any complaints or concerns, rather than addressing them directly with the person(s) involved. This created a nest of nastiness, as people quickly learned to literally tattle-tale on each other in order to gain weight in the eyes of their leader. 

By contrast, I have worked with leaders in professional settings who actively encourage crucial conversations within their teams. They invite team members to explore new ideas and resolve issues without it becoming personal. I show them how to use invitational language and curiosity to invite participation and create a safe, solution-focused climate.

Issues are discussed, not people. If there are problems with business performance or issues between associates, intentions and assumptions are identified as well as wants and desires. Resolution tends to come pretty quickly. Such teams learn to know each other well and have each other’s backs. Work becomes a safe space.

Everybody feels seen, heard, and valued

One of the best ways to develop positive outlook and ensure high engagement scores and buy-in from team members and associates is to let them know they are seen, heard, and valued. A great way to achieve this is to close loops. Closing loops also grows emotional intelligence.

So, what do I mean by that? Systems like to know who belongs where and people like to know that they belong. When an associate brings an idea to the table, a very quick way to validate them is to let them know that they have been heard and then eventually circle back and tell them the outcome that results from their input. That way they know they have been heard and this encourages them to give the best of themselves.

Good leaders in the modern workplace don’t just takes notes and move on, leaving the associate wondering if their suggestion landed, was heard, or will be implemented or ignored. They make sure that the input is acknowledged—which makes the team member feel seen as valuable. But then they also follow through and relate how that input might change a given situation. And then they follow that up with a report on the actual outcome.

Failure to close loops can look dismissive or send a message that management is not interested. In companies where ideas and input do not get follow-up, associates become disengaged, negative emotions are generated and a great chance to create validation and buy-in is often missed this way. Additionally, this can create a sense of frustration with management. You will often hear statements in the workplace like, “Management doesn’t care,” or “I don’t know why we attend these meetings because nothing ever happens,” or “Nobody cares anyway. You tell them what is going on and they just ignore it.” What stressful situations that kind of lack of social awareness creates! What a terrible work environment to be caught in.

Quick affirmations

A quick and easy way to let people know they are seen and heard is to respond to the idea by quickly examining the possibilities and potential applications. Even if it is just a couple of well thought out sentences, the associate knows that they have been heard and that their ideas matter.   You can also specify a certain amount of time—establish a timeframe—within which you will definitely circle back to the idea and examine it more closely. And then follow up on that and let your associate know what the final outcome/result is.

Pro Tip: If you are sending a response to a suggestion via email, (not the best approach but unavoidable sometimes) smiley emojis often signal positive intent and recognition. People will read your email and whatever emotional state they’re in—maybe they just received some bad news— if you add that smiley face, there is less of a chance that your message will be misinterpreted and more of a chance that it will land well

People respect rank but don’t pull rank

I work with leaders all the time who get things done in a way that commands respect and admiration. They come across with a combination of charisma and inspiration that makes people admire them. They effectively get things done—but they do it in such an emotionally intelligent way that they bring people together and get them invested in their work. They don’t pull rank or make others feel small. Instead, they empower. They have a great sense of the emotions of others, and have the vital skills necessary to be able to read body language and pick up on nonverbal cues.

They have a deep awareness of others, and are present with everyone they encounter. It doesn’t matter whether they’re dealing with another CEO or a junior sales representative. They listen to even the least senior voice and find value.  Yet, at the same time, they have absolute respect for structure and order and get that feeling across. Systemically, you would say that they know their place, respect it, and respect the place of others. They also have a good sense of the balance of giving and receiving and they create belonging. Not surprisingly, you often hear people say about them, “I want to be like that when I’m head of a company one day!”

Discussions and contributions are welcomed

Experiencing a sense of belonging is one of the most sought-after emotional experiences of any human being. When we have the sense that we are where we belong and safe where we belong, we quickly develop the desire to contribute to our environment and to shine in the eyes of those around us.

It’s fun to be recognized and achieve. It’s a bit like a big game. Good leaders understand this and open up the floor for contributions and robust discussions, encouraging a closer look at new ideas. They are not afraid to not know things, and they are willing to let others shine by stepping up and educating them on some aspect of business performance. Talk about building good relationships and a positive work environment!

Some of the best leaders I know have the emotional intelligence to know that learning never stops and that great ideas can come from any and all sources. If they’re really savvy in their interpersonal skills, they can teach others around them to be open-minded and receptive like this as well. And don’t you know that is the kind of work environment where career success and the bottom line can positively explode!

Pro tip: Over and over again I have watched business associates light up when a leader responds positively to an idea and acknowledgment is given. In fact. I teach clients to take notes of what is said during a meeting and by whom. When it comes time to close out the meeting, they take a moment to directly address each person who has contributed regarding their idea. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.

Unfortunately, on the flip side I have also seen the opposite where slide decks are prepared, presentations are made, constructive feedback and knowledge are shared … and then the not-so-emotionally intelligent leader takes all the information and runs with it as though it were theirs. They do not acknowledge their contributors. Sometimes they don’t even allow them to present their own work.

Such behavior steps all over the emotions of others, shuts down discussion and destroys intrinsic motivation and inspiration. Often you will see those leaders say they don’t have the time to acknowledge and include others. “Time is money!” they say as they rush out the door. Just as bad for building positive outcomes, they will pull rank and posture when they feel threatened.

Obviously, in business situations such as these, there is not a sense of belonging. Instead, people feel used and abused and devalued. As well, there is no sense of a balance of give and receive. Politics gain momentum and even the most capable associates do not feel safe. The leaders make themselves big, taking the new ideas and constructive feedback of others, making their associates feel small, resulting in withdrawal and resentment and other negative emotions, which quickly lead to difficult situations, high turnover rates, poor customer service and a drastic reduction in a business’s overall performance.

The bottom line

With emotional intelligence in the workplace comes a sense of wellbeing and excitement. Associates don’t feel like they have to fight for recognition or guard their ideas. Everyone receives liberal helpings of acknowledgement and that creates a sense of collaboration. 

If you are part of a winning company, a healthy sense of accomplishment is prevalent. You walk into the office every day with an advantage – a good sense of accomplishment already created. And don’t you know that opens the door for even more accomplishment!

As part of a positive winning culture and modern workplace, you will likely find yourself doing more and being more because this is expected and appreciated. And what an amazing gift that is!

When a company understands its goal and purpose and fulfills it consistently with high levels of emotional intelligence, this positive organizational DNA seeps into the bones of its associates. They in turn know what their purpose is and desire to fulfill it positively and well.

The power of purpose

Clear purpose inherently creates appetite for life and career, and with that comes the realization that we need to grow our understanding of ourselves and others. We recognize that emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than straight smarts.

In this kind of positive environment, relationships move from transactional to deeply relational and our personal connections and our network truly becomes our net worth. We belong, we give others the space to belong, We pay attention to the balance of give and receive and we take our full place while acknowledging the place of others.

To bring it all into perspective, emotional intelligence in the workplace is the foundational difference between having a job and enjoying a fulfilling career.

To find out more about how to grow your emotional intelligence, attend one of our events this year! For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Can You Be Addicted to Emotional Pain

addicted to emotional pain

Can You Be Addicted to Emotional Pain?

Is it possible that you can experience emotional addiction? Absolutely. Just like physical pain and physical symptoms can take us over, so can emotional addictive behaviors. As much as we dislike emotional distress, it’s such a familiar state stemming from traumatic experiences, including childhood trauma, that for many of us, it can act as a default drive and deeply impact a person’s life. Let me explain.

Many people suffer from cherophobia, which means the inability to be fully happy. Even when they’re surrounded by good news, they’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The brain chemicals from all their negative experiences keep circulating, plagueing much of their lives, blunting full enjoyment. Because their negative view and the particular emotions associated with that viewpoint are so familiar, the minute something good happens, they instantly start looking for something bad to follow.

Emotional Pain Addiction or Emotional DNA?

We call patterns of thoughts, feelings, actions, and decisions your emotional DNA. And in this case, we’re talking about your negative emotional DNA. But here’s where an interesting question comes up. Are we addicted to emotional pain like other addictive substances? Is our emotional response a conditioned inherited pattern? Or can it be both?

Emotional DNA is formed by human beings over many, many generations. We think we have free will, but not so much. Until we know what lives in our family system—things such as past traumas, emotional abuse, suicidal ideation, substance use disorder, and other negative thoughts and emotions experienced by ancestral family members—until we get a handle on the psychological pain of our ancestors as well as the results of the effects of emotional trauma experienced in our own lives, we are at the mercy of multigenerational patterns.

In other words, we are not really living our own lives. Often, we are repeating the patterns of those who came before us or the pain patterns we have unconsciously developed ourselves. Until we become aware of these patterns, we’re not fully present and have little control. Thus we create a predictable future. A future that is likely to be similar to the lives of those who preceded us.

Built over generations, these patterns and inherited painful emotions are often stronger than our desire to overcome them. A sure way to identify such a pattern is to look at where you do things that may not be good for you but you find yourself slipping into doing them anyway because they’re just so familiar. You know, like always getting into abusive relationships, or indulging in alcohol or drug abuse, overeating etc. This is known as being in a systemic trance, which looks very similar to an addiction. Escape from it requires a goal that is strong enough to ignite you to move past the family pattern and your current state into patterns of your own choice and making.

Traumatic Events

I once had a client named “Anne” who explained, in detail, what her emotional addiction and her life looked like. And it was basically a repeated series of traumatic events that created a cascade of feelings around those traumas that she actually enjoyed. Situations that had her heart racing, events forcing quick decisions, and dramas where she got to be the voice of reason all made her feel alive, vibrant and useful.

But when the trauma ended, she wasn’t sure what to do with herself or how to deal with the effects of trauma. Normal day-to-day life felt awkward and dull, lifeless and depressing. For her, traumatic experiences had created a new emotional habit and cluster of negative emotions. The emotional distress was actually acting as a reward system and was preferable to normal everyday life.

So, back to the question of emotional addiction or emotional DNA? At first, it looked like Anne was simply addicted to traumatic events and the emotional high they gave her. But investigating her family system, it turns out she was the only living child out of six. She often commented that life itself, let alone having a good time, didn’t necessarily feel that important. In fact, she found herself drawn more to those who were dead than she was to the living

It wasn’t until she had a serious car accident that she realized the only time she felt fully alive and awake was when she was fully engaged in trauma—moments in which she could choose life. Only in those moments, she was free of negative feelings brought on by the entanglement with her dead siblings and the survivor’s guilt she was experiencing.

Hard Work, Exciting Work

Understanding that she needed to choose life took time. It was a lot of hard work to find purpose outside of trauma. Her loyalty to those feelings (and her siblings) had been built over decades of daily life, and now she needed something more enticing, yet peaceful and non-life-threatening in order to rewire current patterns in her brain and nervous system. She needed to lay down new conscious neural pathways through awareness and commitment to creating and experiencing one new thought, one new feeling, and one new healthy action at a time.

Her first step was to start discovering things that excited her in a positive way—that stimulated thoughts, feelings and actions that created the desire and determination to have something or do something new and life oriented, no matter what. She had to learn how to tell herself a different story and create positive goals to focus on.

Once she achieved one goal, she needed to identify the next goal, and then the next, building forward momentum that would keep her from getting sucked back into the systemic trance of painful emotions and traumatic experiences. You might even say she had to become positively addicted to a new set of patterns that would start to create new emotional DNA.

Identifying & Flipping Your Script

There are several different strategies that you can use to help you flip your script. Here’s how you can identify if you’re experiencing emotional addiction and multigenerational entanglement.

1) The first step is to identify if:

– You always hit the same or similar batch of thoughts, feelings, and actions that keep you stuck.

– Others in your family have similar patterns of painful emotions and addictive behaviors. (meta patterns)

– You would like to do something different, but negative thoughts tell you this is just the way it is and you give up.

2) Next step:

Determine what you’re getting out of these patterns. What are they giving you? My client felt alive during trauma. What emotions do you feel when your patterns come calling? Do you like those emotions? Even if the emotional reaction is negative, are you still getting something out of it? Sympathy? Perhaps an excuse not to shine? Permission to give up? Permission to act out? Permission to freeze? Something else? In what ways are these “rewards” unhelpful/unhealthy?

Ask yourself what staying in your current emotional addiction/addictive behaviors/emotional entanglement is costing you and ask yourself what creating a different set of patterns will give you. Your answers may surprise you. You were built to be a champion, not an addict!

3) Tie your positive goal or outcome to a higher emotion.

Flip the script. Take a deep breath and have patience and grace with yourself as you go from lower to higher emotions. Ask yourself:

– What higher emotion (gratitude, joy, kindness, appreciation, excitement, appetite for life, ambition) is your ‘go to’ emotion when you want to accomplish something?

– Is it stronger than the patterns of thoughts, feelings, actions, and situations that pull you down?

– What will excite you off the sofa and into activity?

Can you identify a goal or idea or dream that excites you enough to stimulate at least one of those higher emotions?

Hint: This may well involve doing something completely different than what you are used to doing. And that’s great! You are reaching past old patterns and consciously wiring in new ones. Keep going! Neuroscientists understand it takes an average of 66 days to wire in a new set of patterns. That’s less than three months!

Be aware of what you tell yourself once you start to rewire patterns.

Change the story, change the language. Instead of bullying yourself, you are championing yourself. You are building resilience and a pathway that keeps you present and focused on the goal in mind.

Be aware of how you feel and act differently as you change your thoughts from low to high.

Back to my client Anne. No, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for her and her life didn’t change overnight. She calls herself a “constant work in progress,” with a strong emphasis on the word progress. She’s quite clear that life is important and does everything she can to think and act that way. She’s also realized that appreciating and enjoying her life is the best way to honor her deceased siblings.

As a result, predictably, her life is a lot more fun and she inspires others around her. When the systemic trance/addiction/entanglement comes calling (and it does), she is not dismayed. She acknowledges the feeling and the familiarity, and then returns her attention to accomplishing her next goal, honoring even the most subtle changes and positive steps as she continues to build new, positive emotional DNA.

To find out more about how to grow your own positive Emotional DNA, attend one of our events this year!  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

Breaking Generational Patterns and Learning how to Enjoy Christmas Again

Breaking Generational Patterns

Breaking Generational Patterns and Learning how to Enjoy Christmas Again

Okay, maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas or any holidays. But the holiday season can still be filled with stress, rush, overindulging, disappointment, family conflict, and stress followed by a major sigh of relief when it’s all behind us. Even our holiday movies are filled with family catastrophes before they end in happiness. This is an ancient global meta pattern. But can breaking generational patterns help us to find joy at this time of the year?       

The holidays—whether you celebrate them or not—often times are when ancestral pain and multi-generational patterns are on full display. Yet, the potential for having fun during this time of year is enormous. All you have to do is take a look at things a little differently and learn how to deal with family stress and other triggers during the holidays

The happy mindset

In the West, the holidays are designed and expected to deliver a happy mindset and miracles. In fact, it is the one time of the year when a large number of people around the world—including non-Christians—are not resistant to great things happening. For example, soldiers putting down their rifles, crossing enemy lines, and joining one another in festive celebration for the day.

Why don’t we teach ourselves to take advantage of that?  If we tune into that energy—the energy capable of remapping the brain for peace and brotherhood—creating the rewired brain, we stand a really good chance of creating a great festive season and delivering some miracles of our own.

In place of glum duty, we can consciously create benevolence, generosity, fun, and laughter. Having to go to Aunt Sally’s house for a turkey dinner can turn into an adventure. Even if you’re a vegan, you can still create a special dish everybody can enjoy. (Including you!) Now, suddenly, by expanding yourself there is a little more happiness in you and in the world. You’ve had one new thought (the special dish), you’ve also had one new feeling (excitement), as you’ve taken a new action (creating and bringing the dish). 

The secret habits of happiness

Doing little things for ourselves and others is one way we evolve our happiness quotient. It isn’t about huge steps at a time, although it can be if you choose. It can be something as simple as noticing what’s going well even in the most difficult moments.

How to find happiness within yourself is a process starting with one new thought, feeling, and action at a time. Building on that step-by-step process, you begin to create strong relationships and joy. You begin rewiring and remapping the brain—your brain. Now a continuation of your sad or disappointing life is no longer the inevitable future.

Once you take this magical journey with commitment, it becomes very clear that you are not a victim, but a co-creating master of your own life and quite capable of unleashing the miracle of a happy mindset any time of year, any time you want, for any reason you choose.

Happily excited

The miracle of the holidays is that they call for the best in all of us to show up, take action, and offer a chance to make happiness a habit, not just something that happens at a set time of year. If you choose, you can make the entire year—your entire life—a festive season where you look forward to living every day, happily excited to be on this earth, capable of anything. Even turning a dreadful holiday dinner with Aunt Sally into a feast everyone can enjoy.

How to build a happy life

Want to know how to build a happy life? One way is to treat everyday like a holiday, a holy/wholly day where you unleash your joy and embrace life fully, simply because you can.

A good way to begin is by asking yourself what’s possible and “How can I make a positive difference?” There are opportunities every single day to be kind, to smile, to listen or to offer a helping hand. Most of these actions don’t cost a penny, but they make all the difference to others, to ourselves, to our own peace of mind, and to our relationships.

The more you invest in creating your own magic, the less entangled you are in multi-generational shackles. And this festive season is the perfect time to begin writing your own new chapter.

Quick exercise:

  • What one limiting thing do you say, think, or feel about the holiday season?
  • When did that start for you?
  • What was happening in your life at the time?
  • Is that still true?
  • Does it serve you?
  • Is it time to change that story?
  • What one new thought, feeling, and action can you take to begin activating a happy mindset no matter what time of year it is?
  • Contemplate the difference that will it make to you and those around you.

Remember, your happiness quotient is truly in your own hands. And it all starts with breaking generational beliefs and patterns—no matter what sets them in motion. 

This year I want to challenge you to consciously build your happiness mindset starting with this festive season. Notice what one thing you can do to contribute to the miracle of rewiring your brain to think your way to better patterns and a happier more fulfilled life.

I look forward to showing you how to unleash your fullest potential and discover the superbeing in you.  For more information about my 2024 events click here.

How to Move Forward in Life When you Feel Stuck

How to move forward in life when you feel stuck

How to Move Forward in Life When you Feel Stuck

Learning how to move forward in life when you feel stuck can at times feel overwhelming. Most of us don’t learn how to stop holding onto the past.  Something happened to us early in our lives that has us stuck, and we can’t move forward out of anger, fear, confusion, sadness or maybe bitterness. 

Or perhaps something happened to a family member in the past and we inherited family trauma. A high percentage of the time we have good justifications for feeling the way we do—especially if we’re dealing with ancestral pain. 

But here’s the one simple question to ask yourself about all this: “Am I really enjoying holding onto the past? Does it feel good being stuck?”

Chances are the answer is “No.” But you might feel safe in the misery because being miserable has become so familiar. And you might feel safe because you feel like you are fitting in by repeating family patterns. But none of it feels good.

Ghosts of Christmas past

Remember Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the miserable miser Ebenezer Scrooge? He and his family lost all their wealth in the Napoleonic Wars and he spent his lifetime regaining that lost wealth. But did he have to reject all happiness, warmth and generosity while doing so?

It took a near death experience for dear old Scrooge to realize how much life he was missing out on by carefully nursing his bitter miserliness. What is it going to take for you to stop holding onto things from the past and transform your own wounds? What is it costing you?

That person who wronged you is probably getting on just fine with their life. If you’re waiting for them to open their eyes and realize what they did to you, feel sorry about it, and apologize, you may wind up severely disappointed and embittered. You might waste many many beautiful moments and beautiful days and stewed and been angry over what is basically spilt milk—history—the past—done and over done.

It's up to you to break generational trauma

If you find yourself holding onto the past and old hurts, it’s truly worth checking to see where that originated and what unresolved pattern is waiting to be seen. Once you can see it and give it a place, you no longer need to be stuck. Maybe something happened to an ancestor that was so offensive or traumatic that it created an epigenetic imprint on your family system.

Perhaps somebody cheated your great-grandfather out of the family farm and ever since then the whole family has been suspicious, rejecting everyone who offers assistance and everything that looks like a good deal when it comes along. Maybe there are disputes over land and nobody knows why. Maybe the inherited family trauma has passed down to you and you pinch every penny until it screams, never accepting help from anyone and wonder why.

Maybe that Scrooge pattern is looking for you to finally put down the ancestral pain and allow the happiness, finances, and land ownership to build and flow again. I remember a client of mine who came in near the holidays a few years ago, complaining about “stupid Christmas” and how much he hated it. How everyone in his family just went through the motions, exchanging awful gifts and eating a dreadful Christmas meal before they all, duty done, went their separate ways.

“Pain travels through family lines,” I said. “It’s up to you to break generational trauma. You actually can choose to enjoy Christmas..”

He frowned and said, “That isn’t allowed in my family.”

“Why not?”  I asked.

He had no idea, but after talking with his father he reported that his great-grandmother had died on Christmas Eve. The family had gone through the motions to give the kids a decent Christmas that year. But after that nobody ever enjoyed Christmas again.

Recognizing the pattern of pain and duty that had been passed down through his family system, he saw that he could, indeed, break the generational cycles and change the situation. He dove into Christmas preparations with determination and no small amount of glee. “It was the best Christmas ever!” he declared with a grin at our next meeting. “I did it! Three generations of misery were finally put to rest with a celebration for the ages. I’m already making plans for next year!”

Healing ancestral trauma

We all carry emotional wounds and scars that have traveled through our family line, passed down generation to generation. The thing is, each one of us has a choice. Like Scrooge and like my client, we all have the ability to search out and identify ancestral pain patterns and then consciously move beyond them.

If you truly want to make a difference in the world, it begins with creating your own happiness. And that begins with understanding what lives in your family system and unleashing its hidden potential. When you are willing to look, things are able to change. You are the one your family system has been waiting for.

May all your dreams come true this season, may your hearts truly be merry and bright. And may you finally realize that for that to happen, you must be willing to look, and then shift. Above all, I wish you good shift this holiday season and happy adventuring in the coming new year!

To find out how to move from stuck to happy and thriving, join me at one of my events in 2024.  Our mission is to make the unconscious conscious and the invisible visible, so that you can fulfill your destiny—a happy one! 

Using the Power of Higher Emotions to Accelerate Your Success

Higher Emotions

Using the Power of Higher Emotions to Accelerate Your Success

We all experience what I call lower-level emotions, low frequency emotions that seriously run us, and not in a good way. You know what I’m talking about. Those low vibrational emotions we have that twist our stomachs into knots and keep our thoughts buzzing in our heads like angry bees. 

They’ve been with us since we were small. In fact, both high and low emotions have been with us long before we were even aware of them. Some originated in our ancestral family members generations before us.

It’s the lower-level emotions that keep us sad and stuck, frustrated, afraid, and driven by stress hormones. And then, there are other times when life feels good. Everything flows smoothly. The trees look greener, the flowers look prettier, and we experience a general sense of wellbeing. We are living in the higher emotional states of joy and possibility. 

What causes high and low emotions?

What triggers one or the other? We quite often see that our stress hormones are activated when we are stuck in low vibrational emotions related to an old pattern. Our survival emotions kick in and we become reactive—and not in a good way.

Conversely, when we tap into our higher emotions, like joy, happiness, excitement, love and passion, the opposite happens, and we become creative. Interestingly, our positive inspirations quite often have their origins in the future. 

Visualization for success

We’re not only able to have memories of the past, but we are also quite able to create memories of the future. We call this imagining or visualizing. When we allow ourselves to really go there, visualizing a future self or doing a visualization for success, we unconsciously end up experiencing higher emotions because the imagined future creates emotional excitement inside us. And when we’re experiencing higher emotions, the elevated frequencies enable us to potently impact the quantum field. These are the times when we accomplish the incredible.

The magic of elevated emotions is that they tell the body a story it can believe that is stronger than the current limiting story that you’ve quite possibly inherited from your ancestors.

Elevated emotions provide the juice that takes you past excuses all the way to the finish line. 

Visualize your future self

When we repeatedly and vividly visualize a bright future utilizing higher emotions, we move beyond limiting ancestral patterns and voices that keep us stuck in low vibrational emotions. For example, family sayings like “You have to be practical” and “You have to be sensible” and “Don’t get on your high horse” or get “too big for your britches.”

These are all limiting ways of teaching  to switch our creative brain off and stay small within the confines of dysfunctional family patterns, which in turn allows us to belong to the family and repeat the same old dynamics. So often, when we grow up under disadvantaged circumstances, we are led to believe that this is all there is—that this is our lot in life (and usually somebody else’s fault).

Yet, if we continue to positively use imagination, visualization and higher emotions, our goals get bigger. And with each small or large success, we get bigger as we rewire our brains from limitation to possibility.

Watch talent programs

I’m always struck by those contestants on talent shows who come from harsh circumstances and how they use passion, commitment, and elevated emotions to overcome those obstacles.  Sometimes, when the contestant is asked to talk about their past, many of them crumble and go back into the sadness and struggle that has defined their origins. You can see it in their eyes and body language. The loyalty to the old system and way of being is still there. 

But then watch. It’s when they acknowledge their difficult origins without letting go of the future that the magic happens. They hold onto the positive vision of themselves, and the power of their higher emotions carries these people all the way to the winner’s circle. You can clearly see both old and new patterns at play. 

So, next time you’re tempted to stay stuck, remember that this is a choice. You can put positive emotions in play any time you want. It may take a few steps. It may even take many. But the price of staying stuck is so much harder than the work it takes to elevate yourself.   

Yes, identifying, using, and hard-wiring higher emotions takes practice. But when you make this an integral part of your own evolution, it gets easier and easier. And then it gets to be fun as you see the new changes happening!

Join me at one of my events to learn how to identify, experience and integrate your own higher emotions. To find out more, click here.