Having a Big Heart Can Also Mean Big Exhaustion. Start with Grounding.

My clients and I have big hearts (naturally empathetic), which means we automatically care about people and how it’s going in the world all around us. It’s a gift, and… sometimes it can lead to taking on more stress or responsibility than one body can handle.

We can be at risk for overwhelm from others’ energy or the ever maddening news. Well, let’s be honest, overwhelm can come just as easily from the inner critic (which says things like “You’re not good enough”). This week it was the national news that got to me.

But we have things to do here on earth. Ya know? People with big hearts are needed!

So, I’m thinkin’ we have to find a way that works for us. We need to manage our outer and inner roadblocks as job #1. We won’t be able to live our purpose if we don’t. The solution is not to shut our hearts down. It’s to stay open but add in effective grounding.

We need a giant Pause button so we can find solid ground and start from there.

Persephone, sculpture by Valerie Gilman

She’s saying to me: “Stop, let me take a pause!” Sculpture artist: http://www.valeriegilman.com

As a highly sensitive introvert, I’ve had to find good grounding methods so I can keep living my purpose without exhaustion. I know we can do this.

In this post, I’m including:

  • what I mean by grounding and why it matters so much,
  • what works for me,
  • a self-assessment to help you choose your best grounding methods.
  • a way to learn a simple method that’s especially good for calming during tough moments.

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What Do I Do with All These Emotions?

One of the most essential lessons for my well-being has been what to do with emotions. Whether it’s the ones that seem to have no reason, or from big tragic causes, or in joyful moments, it all comes down to some simple understanding of what emotions are and what to do with them.

resisting emotions

The topic of emotions keeps coming up in conversations with friends and clients.

In this crazy culture of ours, the topic of emotions, a simple universal internal system, has become foreign to us, and something we hide in the closet.

And yet, it is discussed frequently… in private. Or at least when people talk to me.

An acquaintance recently asked me on the sidewalk:
“I hear I’m supposed to allow emotions, but how does that really work when I’m afraid it will just swallow me if I look at all this grief?”

Good question! I know that feeling.

I’ll tell you about our conversation and how I’ve learned to understand and manage emotions as a highly sensitive introvert. Along the way, I’ll explain some simple truths about emotions that can bring you so much freedom and joy.

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My View from 10 Years In as a Self-employed Coach

You know how they say you can call yourself an expert after ten years of doing something? I’m right here at the ten-year mark since I had my first paying coaching client in November 2009. I’m taking this moment to look and see what it feels like at this stage, at the end of a decade.

Val Nelson

I’m looking calmer than I used to feel. Haha.

There is certainly an interesting and different feeling at this stage than even a couple years ago, and a vast difference from the early days.

One thing for sure, ten years in feels amazing for me.

There’s a level of security, ease, and trust in my work life that I’m so appreciating. A settling in. Leaning more and more into a natural flow.

I think that ten-year mastery idea, and part of why ten years in feels so amazing, is about the concept of Flow.

When you’ve done something you enjoy for a long while, you are more likely to get to a state of delicious flow, where things “just happen,” or move through you, and you barely know how it’s happening.

It just feels.. natural.
Like I was born to do this.
Like a spiritual experience that I can’t explain in simple terms.

I call this feeling “natural flow” and when you get to know me, you’ll see that natural flow is a favorite topic. I want everyone to have this.

There’s a joy, a trust, a deeper knowing beyond what’s right in front of your eyes… if you allow this energy to move through you. It’s a mindfulness practice whose internal benefits build on itself year after year.

I don’t think it’s about “expert” or not (and I have issues with most uses of the word expert).

The ten-year mastery idea is about being able to fully rely on your wisdom and heart to lead the way, and even let yourself stake your livelihood on that! That’s a big trust. One that now feels easy. I feel so much gratitude for that ease as I write this.

It wasn’t easy at first. I had to learn to live on faith, and self-employment is a great teacher.

I’ll explain how it has evolved and continues to evolve, such as what I’m learning now. I even wrote a poem about it, in this post. It just showed up. Continue reading

The Joy and Challenge of Finding Your Purpose

I love this article (below) on the secret to a long and happy life… which, to paraphrase the article, is…. To do what you love, or more specifically what brings a sense of meaning and purpose. It seems like a simple equation: Do what makes you happy in order to be happy.

But somehow this gets all complicated for us, doesn’t it? Worrying what others will think, how to find what you love, how it all fits with making a living, and all that practical stuff.

The article has some good hints and inspiration. They talk about a Japanese philosophy called “ikigai” which loosely translates as sense of purpose, or doing what you love, or following the call of your heart. The article contains some fruitful yet simple questions to ask yourself to help you find your purpose in life. I’ll provide some tips below too.

A helpful excerpt from the article:

It’s not as easy as that sounds, of course. ‘Modern life estranges us more and more from our true nature, making it very easy for us to lead lives lacking in meaning,’ García and Miralles write. ‘Powerful forces and incentives (money, power, attention, success) distract us on a daily basis; don’t let them take over your life.’
Instead, they advise, follow your curiosity and intuition, which are the paths back to ikigai, as is self-awareness. Find the activity you love, surround yourself with people you love, and stay true to that internal compass.
~ David G. Allen, CNN, in “Ikigai, the Japanese path to live longer, happier”

I know what they’re saying is true. But it’s not so simple, is it? “Internal compass,” huh? I’ll explain. That’s one of my favorite topics.

image - happiness

Happiness is not all about rainbows. But in this case, a rainbow did make me happy, and I danced with it. For me, following the happiness that appears is so key. Those moments of trusting and following instincts add up.

“How do I get one of those Internal Compasses?”

From what I’ve seen up close and personal as a coach, most people, in Western cultures, have a very hard time understanding what is their internal compass and how to hear it.  Continue reading

Self-employment Myths and Reality. It’s OK To Be Wobbly.

When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:

  1. “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
  2. “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”

Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.

Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.

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