Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Remember the Good, Part 2

I heard from many readers when I posted Remember the Good recently. It made me think more about how easy it is to take the past into the present with us. It’s a lot harder to leave it where it belongs—behind you! But you can. Whether you like it or not, always keep in mind that it’s YOUR choice to hold onto old memories and pain and let it affect your mood, decisions, confidence and ability to function as well as you could. It’s also YOUR choice to live in right NOW.

Awareness is the first step that brings your life and happiness into right now. I lived in the past way until years after I took the train out of DoorMatville. Before that, I didn’t realize how much I let the past affect me today. Looking back, I see consequences of not living for NOW that are common in many people, such as:

* People Pleasing: Growing up insecure makes you more likely to jump at doing favors and it’s hard to turn folks down, even when you greatly want to. Then you feel lousy like I did when people take you for granted or never support you. It also makes you tolerate unacceptable behavior, albeit unhappily, because you have a need to be liked.

* Paranoia: Insecurity makes you take blame for things you aren’t responsible for and wonder what you did wrong whenever someone doesn’t call on time or can’t see you. That was a big one to get over for me. Not feeling good enough makes you worry in a variety of situations that people don’t like you or that you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t.

* Fear: If something reminds you of a past incident or person that hurt you, you may get scared it will repeat itself. That’s a big reason why people sabotage a good romantic relationship. If you’ve been burned by love, you go into self-protective mode. It can escalate and make you misinterpret harmless words or behavior. Anything that brings up unpleasant memories can trigger you to respond inappropriately now. Fear also keeps you from quitting the job you hate, taking risks, and many other things that could enhance your life if you weren’t afraid.

* Limitations: In the last post I talked about how my kindergarten teacher made fun of my artwork, which made me think I couldn’t do art for over twenty years. You may have had a bad experience fixing something or screwed up a job interview—once—and feel in incapable of being successful at it. So you don’t bother to try.

* Poor body image: When you grow up thinking you’re too fat, thin, short, etc., that mentality can stay with you. Even if your body changes, it’s hard to feel good about it if you’ve felt like it wasn’t good enough for years. I’ve worked hard to let go of the cellulite blindness I had growing up. It made me unable to appreciate how hot and sexy I really am because all I saw was my cellulite, which most women, even slim ones, have.

* Bad habits: Incidents from the past can give you habits used to protect yourself or as rebellion against things you were made to do as a child. You may have lied to defy your parents and now still lie to people you care about to avoid trouble. You may have smoked or drank too much to calm earlier stress and now can’t stop. Bad habits can be broken if you focus on just NOW!

* Keeping your guard up: If you’ve been burned by someone you loved deeply and let your guard down for, you might keep your guard glued up to avoid being hurt again. That keeps you from experiencing the loving intimacy that makes a romantic relationship most special. You may shut down when things get good, to keep yourself from falling for someone and risking being hurt again. Or you may not allow yourself to develop deep, trusting friendships if a friend burned you badly.

* Sabotaging good situations: If you’re scared of getting hurt, you may do even more than keep your guard up. Sometimes people do things to ruin a relationship or situation before it can hurt them. I’ve dated guys who did stupid things to ruin the good between us. I knew they’d been burned and were or scared. I even asked one if he was doing things to tick me off so I’d push him away. He admitted he was. His willpower wasn’t strong so he wanted to annoy me enough to put distance between us for him. I did by refusing to see him again. Yet so many folks ruin something pleasurable to avoid repeating pain that occurred the past.

* Low expectations: When you’ve been let down a lot, you may not expect people to keep their word or help you. Since the Law of Attraction gets its cues from your expectations, you’ll continue to lament about not getting much if you stay in this mindset.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these? Most of us have some baggage from the past. It’s hard to get through life unscathed, even if most things go well. No one wants to be hurt. People wrote after my last post and asked for suggestions on how to leave the past behind and live more in right now. While there are no easy solutions, I can assure you that if I was able to do it, anyone can! History guided my present for many years.

At first I felt helpless to let go of old beliefs and behavior. I was conscious of what I did, but had no tools to deal with it. But I wanted to! You have to really want to let old thoughts go in order to do it. Not just kinda want to. It can be very scary to move away from what you’re used to, even if you don’t like it. That’s why so many people stay in abusive relationships.

One of my most profound lessons came from a session with a therapist who considered himself a tool giver. He didn’t give traditional therapy and most people just saw him once. Someone recommended him highly. I was just on the brink of moving forward. I’d been on my own for a while and was getting stronger. It was before I was published. As we talked, he picked up on things I said and challenged me to think about my words. I learned a lot of great tools for living from him in that hour. But one blew me away, and helped me leave the past.

He asked what motivated me to go after success. I said I wanted to succeed for the helpless girl I used to be, who was pushed away from majoring in business by my high school counselor. She insisted I should major in Liberal Arts and get a husband to take care of me. It prepared me for nothing. Being the consummate Good Girl back then, I did as told. When I married a teacher at 20-years old, I became a teacher too. And hated it! I loved the kids but felt so unstimulated.

So I was determined to help that little girl who didn’t know any better to develop a fabulous career, despite new warnings to stay in teaching since it was too late to reinvent myself. Peter immediately jumped in to explain that was poor motivation. Living for the child I used to be kept her old hurts and limitations with me. What a profound wake up!

When you live with memories of who you were or what happened earlier in your life, you keep t
he old baggage with you too!

Peter suggested I remind myself I’m not that little girl. I’m older, have better self-esteem and more experience in handling situations. He’s so right! It jolted me into the present. I had to live for the terrific woman I am now, not the scared, insecure girl I was. A few days later, I put it to the test. It may sound silly but when I was five years old, I was sick and had to swallow my first pill—an aspirin. Prior to that Mom had always melted them. I was healthy and rarely needed medication. She gave me the pill and I was scared.

You know what happens when you’re scared! My throat closed up and I began choking and it all came up . That a traumatic experience made me unable to swallow a pill—not even a teensy one.

Shortly after meeting with Peter, I bought some Quercetin capsules that a natural pharmacist highly recommended for my allergies. I opened one and tried to take it with applesauce. But, it was very bitter and I couldn’t bear to take 2 each day like that. I sadly put them away. Then I remembered what Peter taught me. I reminded myself that I’m not that five-year old who choked. I’m an adult and perfectly capable of swallowing a pill. After repeating it over and over, I looked in the mirror and told myself as an adult I can swallow the pill. And I did!

NOW I can swallow huge pills. All because I reminded myself I’m not the girl who choked on an aspirin. I’m a capable woman and can swallow pills like other adults. I’ve used this lesson to handle many other situations. Without it, I’d still be lamenting about how I wish I could swallow pills.

Instead of holding me back, my inner child’s job now is simply to keeps me playful and smiling, not living in the past.

Later in the week I’ll have part 3 of Remember the Good. For now, think about where some of the baggage that holds you back comes from. Consciously remind yourself that you’re not that person in the past. Consciousness about your behavior and why you do things is the first step for stopping them from affecting your life NOW.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Advice from the Corporate Trenches

For my Embracing SUCCESS series, today I have advice from Tom Northup, founder of Leadership Management Group and author of the new book, Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make: How To Unlock the Secrets That Drive Growth and Profitability (Solutions Press, 2008). He believes that to realize their visions of the future, successful leaders must strategically transform how their companies operate at all levels, from leadership ability and people productivity to planning processes and even the underlying culture. A former CEO of three successful businesses, Northup says, “Attitude is everything. Right now, your company gets the results—good or bad—that it was designed to get. If your vision of the future differs from your current situation, if you want to get better results, then you must change the way you do things. If you don’t, how can you expect results that are any different from what you’ve already achieved?”

This book is written for leaders but the tips can be applied to many areas of business, and even in your personal life. So even if you’re not in the higher echelons of a corporation, or seeking to pursue getting there, these tips can still help you achieve the SUCCESS you want.

Advice from the Corporate Trenches
By Tom Northup

You will achieve higher success when you look for ways to accomplish your goals rather than make excuses. Here are several of the highest pay-off areas he sees as necessary for CEOs to focus on:

Develop strategically with purpose. Grow profits and revenues year-to-year. Build an outstanding company that is proactive and able to identify, develop and realize opportunities – regularly year after year. Do this by implementing “strategic development.” For effective strategic development there needs to be both a clear definition of a desired future and effective operations. Break your operations down into people productivity and leadership culture. Realize that over time the sum of strategy, productivity and leadership will result in an outstanding company.

Focus on your core competencies first. Understand the key success factors that drive your marketplace and develop those into core competencies in your company. This requires developing a comprehensive strategy and then executing it. Pay attention to the details and document the processes you use well.

Get in control and stay in control. Is the company running you or are you in control? Do you have a strategy and operational initiatives that your management team fully supports? Do you hold your self and your team accountable to meet the milestones you have set for yourself? Evaluate operational performance using metrics that matter. Use systematic improvement to increase the performance of the things your people do to succeed.

Target opportunities intentionally instead of reacting to problems. What do you think about when driving home at the end of a long day; problems or opportunities? The difference between these two approaches is the difference between a weak organization not meeting its performance objectives and an outstanding organization that is a profitable, growing market leader.

Change the way things get done systematically. Do you and your managers make regular improvements or are you just getting by? All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If you want a different future, you must change the way you do things. The definition of a rut – a coffin with the ends knocked out.

Be the Leader. Be the role model. Personal leadership means that you are the role model for your company. Everything you do and say counts. Your employees observe you and your traits. Your personal leadership is a reflection of you and your expectations for you and your organization. To be an effective manager you must exhibit strong personal leadership. Make it your personal goal to build personal excellence and develop an environment in which leadership qualities flourish in all employees because of your leadership example.

Control your strategic planning. Manage your strategic planning intentionally and intelligently with your management team so that you harness and channel the combined experience, education and perspectives that you hired them for. Effective planning focuses the team to drive organizational performance, improves sales results and achieve competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Let go of the myth of individualism. Don’t think that you are the only one who can do it all. Build your organization so that the organization performs without essential personalities and individuals. Trust your people and their abilities and instincts and see no reason to change what worked for them. Understand that their success depends on relationships and alliances with others as much as it does on themselves. Don’t let the idea that everyone succeeds or fails based on individual effort and ability, lead your people astray. Make organizational success a higher value than individual achievement in your corporate culture.

Focus on doing the right things. Many managers make the mistake of being efficient, doing things right, but not by being effective, doing the right things. Effective leaders and managers focus themselves and their people on the right things by hold holding themselves accountable for the company’s performance and future. To be accountable requires a solid foundation, a clear strategic plan, meaningful specific performance metrics, and regular progress reviews.

Embrace change. Real change is self motivated. It’s not that we do not like change. What we do not like is to be changed. Make the acceptance of change part of your corporate culture. Involve your employees in discovering the need for change and involve them in the plans for change so they don’t become “change plan critics” and change-resistant employees. People who participate in setting the direction of change and in developing initiatives to achieve change become intellectually and emotionally committed. Involve people in the solution, and they you will overcome resistance to change. People will welcome it. Change will become part of the fabric of the company.

Thanks to Tom Northup, for sharing
these great tips. Check out his new book, Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make: How To Unlock the Secrets That Drive Growth and Profitability (Solutions Press, 2008).


A client was recently discussing her progress for finding a new job. She’d rewritten her resume, sent some out, and studied online job boards. After a month, she felt discouraged after not getting any bites. I reassured her but she went on to call herself a failure. I immediately explained that she should actually be proud of her SUCCESS. She looked at me like I was from Mars. How could she be successful if she hadn’t gotten a new job yet?

Because SUCCESS isn’t just the end result. Getting off your butt and taking some action is SUCCESS, when you’re enlightened enough to recognize it as such.

When you don’t get instant gratification for your efforts, do you feel down or indulge in self-pity or feel defeated or all of the above? That’s typical, but unfair. Every step in your journey to reach the ultimate goal is SUCCESS. The hardest part of that SUCCESS may be the work you do to achieve it. Yet so many folks don’t acknowledge that as an accomplishment.

My ninth and tenth books will be out early next year so I’m not a newbie to publishing. People often ask how I manage to write them. How do I get the interviews for my music biz books? In their eyes, getting the book published is my SUCCESS. Yet for me, my biggest SUCCESS is writing the proposal that sells the book. I find that part tedious. It’s a sales pitch. Writing books is pure joy—the easy part for me. Once I have the deal and can write the book, I’m reaping the benefits of SUCCESS.

People judge my SUCCESS by all the TV and radio shows I’m on. I do get a lot of press. But for me that’s the process I need to go through to continue earning my living writing. The many fan letters from folks telling me how much my writing helped them is another big SUCCESS. Every day! That’s what makes what I do worthwhile. Earning money is good since I must pay my bills. But that’s not what I celebrate as SUCCESS.

It’s easy to sit back, do nothing and complain about not enjoying your life or getting what you want. Taking the first step to accomplish something is the first SUCCESS. Not giving up is SUCCESS. Making that call you hate making is SUCCESS.

I made my client do an inventory of all she’d done. Once she began to acknowledge her efforts as small SUCCESSES and cheer herself on, she began to get calls for job interviews. More importantly, she felt better. Slowly her perception of SUCCESS broadened with her opportunities.

In the first post of my Embracing SUCCESS series, I discussed some definitions of SUCCESS of my own and from other bloggers. Periodically I’ve posted more. I haven’t been as successful as I’d have liked about posting for this series lately. My schedule has been crazy with my plate overflowing with blessings of work.

Am I guilty about slacking off? NO! I consider it a SUCCESS that I prioritized my time to get my paid writing done while still getting some posts up here.

In the past I’d have killed myself to do it all. Less sleep. More stress. And beat myself up if I couldn’t do everything. Since this behavior hurts my well-being, I curtailed it. So slacking off on this blog for a while is actually SUCCESS to me. I care about myself enough to respect limits. Taking good care of yourself SUCCESS. Others may not agree but I don’t care! I feel good because of it!

This series is intended to make you more aware of the many facets of SUCCESS. It means many things to many people. The more you recognize things that you should celebrate as SUCCESS, the better you’ll feel and the more you’ll manifest. Some points to understand are:

* Appreciating all the little things you do and have as SUCCESS is a good way to count your blessings. The more you feel gratitude, the better you’ll feel. Gratitude is a great tool for accelerating SUCCESS. Counting your blessings attracts more blessings!

* From the point of view of the Law of Attraction, the more you acknowledge as positive SUCCESS, the more successful endeavors you’ll attract. Bah humbugging the journey to your goals puts a bah humbug vibe on it. Patting yourself on the back for each little step you take, and appreciating the bigger picture of your life more, feels better than lamenting about what hasn’t worked out yet.

* Making SUCCESS less about external material acquisitions and more about intangible assets, like internal peace and satisfaction, will make you a lot happier—IF you let it of course!

Now for some more definitions of SUCCESS from other bloggers. I greatly appreciate their participation. Lorraine Cohen at Powerfull Living participated a while back, with a full post called, What’s your Definition of Success? While I linked to it then, I want to quote part of her definition, since it fits what I just talked about:

I see success as anything attempted regardless of the outcome. That’s how we learn and grow. So, I see every action as a stepping stone to bringing our desires to reality.

When you flow from one step to another, the goal you’re pursuing becomes clearer and more accessible. Dustin Wax, project manager at Lifehack as well as the blogger behind The Writer’s Technology Companion says:

Success for me is a kind of flow state. It’s not just that a project gets finished and that it meets your expectations but that one thing leads to the next. A successful project lays the groundwork for the next project, and so on, in a cycle of self-sustained growth. When all the parts of your life fit together and feed each other’s motion, that to me is a successful life.

I so love this definition! The last few months left me feeling a bit out of whack, rushing to interview people, transcribing, and writing—writing—writing, while I had to neglect activities and people. Now I’ve been expressing gratitude for getting my mojo back. It’s so true that when you’re in a good flow and life works for you, you’ve achieved the kind of SUCCESS that creates joy and satisfaction. The pursuit of money and power doesn’t! Colleen Wainwright at Communicatrix has learned the true meaning of SUCCESS and says:

For years, I measured my success by external yardsticks: money, power, lots of juice on a business card—even my status as the post-feminist version of Mrs. Somebody Else (without, you know, actually *changing*
my name, since the deed went down in a post-feminist era.)

Ironically, now I measure my success in how quickly I notice when I’m still measuring myself by those old, external standards. Because change, she is a mighty and slow process, and I’d be lying if I said I had the issue well in hand. I’m working towards being comfortable with whatever I define success as, which, at this point, is mainly being comfortable in my own skin. No external rewards for that, but the internal gratification is priceless…I think.

Internal gratification IS priceless! Colleen’s definition reminds me that my biggest SUCCESS is finding and loving me. To rip off a Master Card commercial—You might buy a house–half million, a car–40 grand, get a raise at work–$10,000. Learning to love yourself—PRICELESS! As a recovering DoorMat, I’ve come a long way from the hell I lived in when I hated myself and let people walk all over me to be liked. No matter what else happens in my life, I’ve found SUCCESS!

Being happy is SUCCESS. Sadly, I encounter many more people who aren’t happy. They may not be overtly unhappy, but they’re living without passion. MANY people pass time, like I did before I took the train out of DoorMatville, instead of grabbing life with both hands and jumping into joyful activities and people. As Jonathan Fields, at Awake @ the Wheel, says:

Success is the ability to spend the greatest amount of time absorbed in activities and relationships that fill me up, surrounded by people I cannot get enough of.

Yes! SUCCESS is having a life that fulfills you, that provides MANY reasons to smile each day. A computer techie I know works constantly. He runs from one person to another to charge his high hourly fee to help them. I asked him if he ever slowed down. Surely he must make enough money with all his long hours. He pulled out a bunch of tech toys and explained that there are more and more electronic devices being created. He has to have them all, so he needs tons of $$. I asked him if he’s happy. He looked confused. I know he’s not. He rarely smiles and is always rushing off to work or buy more.

You can buy lots of toys and clothes and other things, but you can’t buy is joy!

Creating a joyful life is an inside job. When you recognize that being happy is true SUCCESS, your priorities will go in that direction. As Scott Young at Get More from Life says:

Success is having a reason to wake up with enthusiasm each morning. If you can do that, the rest will take care of itself.

Redefine SUCCESS so you can manifest more in healthier ways. Embrace every little things that you do that improves your life and every attempt to reach a bigger goal. If you look for small SUCCESSES to acknowledge, you can feel successful every day! David Bohl at Slow Down Fast posted earlier as part of this series and has some questions that can get you thinking about what SUCCESS is in What Does Success Mean to You? The more you appreciate as SUCCESS, the better you feel!

Thanks again to Lorraine Cohen at Powerfull Living, Dustin Wax, at Lifehack and The Writer’s Technology Companion, Colleen Wainwright at Communicatrix, Jonathan Fields, at Awake @ the Wheel, Scott Young at Get More from Life, and David Bohl at Slow Down Fast for participating. Gee, I feel a bit more SUCCESSFUL from having them share their thoughts! And there will be more definitions to get you thinking in future posts!

Thanks to these blog carnivals for including this post:
Personal Hack

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Remember the Good!

I recently saw someone I hadn’t seen in ages, who I’ll call Sue. We went through the usual pleasantries of “How are you doing?” She said she had a better job and had lost a little weight. I said I was glad that things are going well for her. That triggered her telling me a flood of things that had gone wrong in the last few years.

Sue’s Mom had been sick—two years ago! She’d recovered fine but Sue went on and on about how bad it was when Mom was in the hospital. Then she told me all the gory details about why she’d left her last job. I tried asking questions about the good stuff she had going on but she kept telling me about all the negative things she’d gone through in the past years.

Yet she was at a job she liked, in good health, with a Mom who was now in good health!

Too often we relive the past. Or should I saw wallow or grovel in. I did it when I was a DoorMat! Deep down, I think that I didn’t feel deserving of good things. So I held onto the past and suffered through old memories. When you’re in a negative state of mind, you tend to look back on the past more, remembering how people hurt you, feeling low, having promises broken, etc.

But living in the past has few positive benefits. It’s over. Done. Finito!

I live in the NOW. That means I focus on what’s going on right now. And now my life is fine. Actually it’s fabulous! I’d rather count my current blessings than recount past unpleasantries. I don’t worry about tomorrow since it’s not here yet. And yesterday is over. Yet we often keep yesterday alive:

* A romantic partner broke your heart once and now you’re scared to trust anyone.
* You were bit by a dog as a child but are still scared of animals.
* You didn’t feel loved as a child and continue to be needy for it from anyone who’ll give it.
* You mother said that you were worthless and you still feel incapable.
* You were a DoorMat growing up and still can’t get rid of the old messages.

My kindergarten teacher laughed at my paintings. I was five years old, very vulnerable, and wanting to please everyone. Miss Angulo looked at what I was happily making with paint and made fun of it. She joked that I had no talent. To this day I still can’t fathom how someone, no less a teacher, could do that to a child. Yet she was a nice lady, and she liked me. I took her criticism very personally and for the next twenty years was convinced I should stay away from art.

Yet I loved art! I’d draw with pencils and magic markers and hide them.

I was terrified to let anyone see what I made. I enjoyed doing art so much. But, I had no talent! It wasn’t till my mid-twenties that I took an adult ed art class and the teacher said I did some of the best work she’d seen. I said she was wrong and told her what happened in kindergarten. She looked at me like I was insane. One teacher told me at five that I had no talent and I’d made it my reality! That’s when I left the art closet and let people see my work. Now I’m proud of it and have exhibited in art fairs.

Stevie Wonder said, “The only time we should look back to yesterday is to look at the positive things that were accomplished to encourage us to do better things today and tomorrow.

That’s where I am now. Sometimes I look back as I count my blessings. Good stuff. Positive things people said or did. Remembering good things that happened reminds you that getting what you want is possible. Y

Our past is history. Leave it there instead of dredging it up as painful reminders of what you’ve been through, like Sue did.

I wake up happy each day, because what I’m thinking of is the good stuff I have right now. NOTHING someone said or did to you in the past can hurt you today unless you allow the memories to. Life is as lovely as you choose to make it. So CHOOSE to make it as positive as possible. Rehashing negatives doesn’t add one good thing! Watch your thoughts, what you say to others, and how much you complain. Stop the negatives!

You deserve to choose a happy life and have happy experiences! So leave yesterday in the past where it belongs and relish your life and the blessings you have in it, right now.

Remember the Good Part 2
Thanks for including this article in the Carnival of Positive Thinking.
If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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