Softening the Skeptic

As the saying goes ...

Death and taxes are the only two certainties we have in this life.

I’d challenge that for many, another is: stress.

No matter our family or phylum, position or experience, choosing stress has the potential to overwhelm each and every one of us at some point in our lives, no matter how hard we try to resist it.

Like an animal who protects itself from enemies and natural elements, we each have our own way of unleashing quills, shells, and fangs when we feel threatened by circumstances beyond our control. When we’re under the gun, we tend to fold in rather than stretch out, hoard out of scarcity rather than give out of generosity, and watch our creativity turn to ash with little knowledge of how to rekindle the fire within.

Softening the skeptic starts with creating a fortress of confidence.

I work with many people who, despite its foreboding discomfort, are proud of this “armor” they’ve built for themselves. “It’s how I protect myself,” they say, delighting in being the token skeptic or cynic in any situation.

However, these illusions of thought limit your potential for possibility, keeping you small and frightened rather than expansive and abundant.

There’s no one-size-fits-all process to removing this armor. Deep coaching conversations, inviting self-awareness of habits and blind-spots, journaling, and custom practices are a few of the most effective ways I help people open their mind and heart to what could be, rather than accepting what has been or what is.

No matter who I work with and no matter their life experiences thus far, I honor the fact that they’ve arrived to this conversation.

Softening the skeptic also means offering permission to explore, so that you can be free to challenge your thought patterns, limiting beliefs, and history of stressors for the first time, in a safe space where vulnerability is a strength rather than a weakness. Building an environment of support that says, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be in this moment,” helps the skeptic sink into themselves rather than prepare to crush defeat or brush struggles under the rug. Here, I also propose provocative questions that have the power to undo years of narrow thinking.  Along the way, I remind the self-described skeptic to trust in themselves, and commit to playing in this space, ultimately exploring and learning from it.

 

@@Inviting ease into the everyday starts by paying attention to your intention.@@


 

I’m a Possibilitarian® by trade, but I’m also a yogi by choice. I greet the mat each morning, stretching my body and opening my mind in an effort to serve people from a place of compassion and patience. When I’ve come to the mat barefoot and ready, I set an intention for the day’s practice.

As a former marathoner, cyclist, and competitive athlete, I delighted in the rugged sportsmanship that defined my 20’s and 30’s. It matched my go-getting personality to a tee and I loved the rush of chasing the finish line. But a few years ago, my body told me it was time to slow down and find other, less high-impact, ways of getting in my workouts. So I turned to yoga.

Initially, the transition felt awkward, it required patience and an attitude of gratitude. Repeatedly, my instructors encouraged me to set an intention each time I got on the mat, after much fine-tuning I chose one word: ease.

By choosing ease, I invited ease to choose me.

Today, I still ask ease to join me in my flying crow pose, but most of all, I ask the people I work with to access their own type of ease in their possibility practice. Choosing ease is a sacred act, one that’s as unique as each individual, and possible at each intersection of thought, word or deed.  Whatever choosing ease looks like, it’s not to be confused with, or judged as “easy,” ease is neither hard or easy, it’s a softening somewhere in the middle that liberates one from the self-imposed trappings of stress. 

It might just look like giving yourself permission to put goals aside in exchange for seeing, feeling, and envisioning the big picture you’re after.

 

@@To get ease, give ease.@@


 

Perhaps one of the most important ways to access ease is to allow others to have a piece of it for themselves. You might notice a colleague who doubles as a busy mother, trying desperately to keep it all together. Rather than pushing her to do more and be more, what if you said, “You’ve worked hard today – why don’t you take off early to beat rush hour?” Or, in your email signature, what if you added a note that said, “I only answer emails during the workday and won’t be answering them after hours. I don’t expect you to, either, and value your opportunity to rest.”

It’s in the turning in, the opening up, and the gentle push-pull that you can remove yourself from the whirlpool of stress, inviting ease into the everyday and ultimately bringing flow to your work.

And if I know one thing to be true, it’s this: flow is where the greatest potential for possibility lies. It’s up to you to reach into your depth of potential and retrieve it for yourself.