Strategies and Behavior

Did you know that you have a strategy for how you do everything?

You may not know this but I once had pretty severe test anxiety. I was always a pretty good English student when I was in high school but then I went to college and I failed my first English class.

We had a grammar test we had to take weekly and I failed it each and every time.

In fact, I got worse with each subsequent week.

I knew I had to pass to pass the class. It didn’t matter how well I did on the other tests, or how well I wrote. Passing that test was a requirement.

So, I thought about it a lot.

I pictured myself taking it and how nervous and anxious I would feel.

I imagined red marks on the wrong answers and big red F at the top of the page.

I saw my mind going blank. I told myself I couldn’t learn grammar, that I was stupid, that everyone else would pass.

My hands would get all sweaty.

My guts would tie in knots.

That was my strategy to fail my grammar test and eventually my first English class. It worked really well too although that wasn’t the outcome I wanted.

And the key is, it all happened beneath the surface of my total awareness. All except the resounding sense of anxiety, fear and dread of taking tests.

Don’t worry, I later found a class that didn’t require a grammar test and I got an A. But I had already left that first experience with a strategy for test anxiety that because I did not know I had the strategy, it took a really long time to overcome.So, why is it important to know about strategies?

Because normally they run unconscious in the background creating all kinds of behavior.

Sometimes we label that behavior with words, as I did, like anxiety, which then limits what’s possible. Test anxiety created a box around what I thought was possible. I ran my test anxiety strategy for a long time and eventually, I became anxious going into classrooms, which impacted my college experience. It created new labels I gave myself and those labels created limits. It impacted my self esteem and what I thought was possible.

Now I know different. I can unpack my strategies, learn how I do them and make changes not only in how I label and respond to them but the meaning they have and whether I run them or not. To be honest, just having the awareness changes everything.

Some strategies can be helpful but others, like my test anxiety aren’t. Imagine if you overspend and could identify your shopping strategy. Or maybe you want to spend more time being creative and finish your novel or paint that painting but you find you always put it last on your list. There’s a strategy there keeping you from taking action.

This is one of the powers of coaching; unpacking unconscious strategies that are impacting your behavior and leading you away from what you consciously want for your life.

What is a Breakthrough?

When seeking coaching, one of the things you will notice is how different coaches approach and package their work. Some coaches work with a time commitment such as you may commit to a three month process. This could be either individual or group coaching.

Another option is to approach resolving a particular problem. This may happen in a singular session of several hours, or perhaps over a few sessions. One way to describe this is with the term Breakthrough.

In a Breakthrough a singular issue or problem is addressed and resolved. There is a thorough intake where the coach listens, not to the content, but to the structure beneath the content.

You see how you talk about a problem you are experiencing can be more important than the content. The way we use language gives hints and clues.

During a Breakthrough, it’s the structure that is most important. Say for example, you struggle with consistency in working on your business, or in following through on exercise, or maybe it’s how you relate to money.

In listening to how a a client answers questions about the situation, I listen for what is underneath the presenting issue, the thing the client may not be able to see themselves.

That’s where the real issue lies. It’s the part they can’t see, the unconscious part that is driving the behavior and the results they are getting that have become a problem in life.

Maybe the inconsistency issue, or not following through, or how the client relates to money really has to do with being seen, or showing up in the world, or even how the client sees their own value in the world.

Example of a physical breakthrough
when I learned to break a board with my hand.

When that reality shifts, changes happen throughout life.

When you have a problem, something you just can’t see your way through, a Breakthrough might be just the answer.

When the structure is changed, your whole world shifts.

The rest is clearing up emotions from past experience, eliminating limiting beliefs, integrating parts and coming to wholeness. Once you know the real problem, the rest has ease.

Then setting some goals to move you into your future.

This is why I am offering Breakthroughs in my coaching practice. Identifying the problem underneath the problem, addressing the subconscious, and changing the pattern, changes the behavior. It changes the need for ongoing support and accountability, although that can happen too if desired.

The Breakthrough though is where the deep work takes place and it can happen over a few hours and/or weeks. There is usually a quoted amount of time in which a Breakthrough can occur. It may be shorter or a bit longer and there is an opportunity for follow up with in a certain amount of time.

Accountability in a Breakthrough comes in the form of homework between sessions, or sometimes even before the work begins. It can be intense but the results are worth it as the shift in your life becomes apparent.

The Sweet Potato Who Taught Me About Business

Several months ago I discovered a forgotten sweet potato in a bowl on my counter. It had started to grow roots.

After getting some input from others, I took the potato and using some toothpicks suspended it in some water and soon it grew leaves.

Then I decided to plant it in a planter and set it where it could see the sun.

It grew and grew.

I shared it on social media a couple of times; this potato that became more than it might have been.

Some, like me, delighted in it.

One friend discovered her own and was inspired to aim for growth but sadly, it did not survive.

Another friend said, “You’ll never grow big sweet potatoes in that little pot.”

I decided to wait, to nurture it’s root system, for me it wasn’t so much about the edible yield that might come but abundance of joy that it brought.

Today, I transplanted my little sweet-potato-who-could into an outdoor pot, so it could receive the sun directly on its leaves and have a greater space to grow. There are lessons in this experience that are true for business.

Sometimes a business happens when we don’t expect it.

Some businesses won’t make it.

Others may not understand our approach and that’s actually a good thing because it means they weren’t meant to receive the gift our business has to offer and that leaves space for those who do.

Businesses have stages of growth. Sometimes that growth happens faster and greater than the structure we have built to sustain it and sometimes growth happens slower than we would like or believe it should be.

Businesses need support. They need to be fed, to be nurtured, to be attended to and to shift when they are ready; just like my little potato.

At every stage of growth, there are risks. My sweet potato may not survive being transplanted.

Early in the process I jokingly called myself a farmer but I really do not even care well for houseplants. It’s a skill that I have yet to develop but if I choose, I can. Or if it chooses me, I can decide to step into that role.

Sometimes we don’t start out wanting to have a business, or seeing ourselves as business owners. This is often true in alternative healing practices but then there is an invitation to step into that role. It’s a learning process, an initiation, and can be a spiritual practice all on it’s own.

Business requires a lot of skills, especially if you are a solopreneur or a small business owner, and it can be the biggest mirror to ourselves; showing us every place we still have to grow.

Sometimes the best thing you can do, is get some help.

That’s how my sweet potato has turned from surviving to thriving and honestly, it’s true for my business as well.

Questions Can Be More Important Than the Answers

My first professional tarot card reading was from a reader named Matilda.

She had long, dark, hair and a bohemian style with silver jewelry that matched the streaks in her hair. She was exactly what a tarot reader should look like. I, on the other hand, was burned out working in tech support and longed to make websites and jewelry.

“What am I meant to do in my life?” I asked.

I kept my notes from that reading for years, I might still have them somewhere. Little chicken scratches of incomplete notes because I was so at odds with what she said.

“You are a teacher.” She saw it in my cards.

Readings can be like that. Vague questions bring answers without timelines.

I had no desire to be a teacher. It would be many years before that changed. Ironically at a retreat following psychic training.

“And now Rebecca’s going to teach us about Human Design.”

What? I wasn’t going to teach. I prepared a hand out and brought charts for everyone but had no forewarning and no idea I was going to teach. I wasn’t an analyst after all. And yet I did teach it. Without preparation, I just sat down and I shared what I knew, what I could.

It felt good, it felt right.

Then a few years later a client said to me, “Why don’t you teach what you do to be so calm.”

The coursework downloaded right then and there. I knew exactly what to teach. I started teaching meditation courses soon after and remembered that reading from long ago.

“Oh, that’s what she meant!” I wasn’t to be a school teacher, a teacher of another form, and it’s slowly coming true. I enjoy sharing, initiating, teaching.

One of the things I know now and teach, is that how you ask the questions is often more important than the answers you receive. It’s a part of skillful practice, knowing what questions will yield the best results for what you want to know.

Especially when learning. It takes an easily trackable question, so you can follow over time what the result was. Whether it is what you saw or not, over time you will learn more about how your tools speak to you. Then at other times a more vague and open ended one is beneficial. In short, you want to learn how to have a conversation with your tools. You can vary your reading and get way more depth through the use of both open ended questions as well as precise, simple, time pertinent ones. Of course you also have to consider your tools as each usually has a strength one way or the other.

Tarot cards are great for open ended questions because they have such a depth of response. Pendulums are best for yes and no structured questions. But if you know your tools, you may learn there is room for this to not be a rule.

I’m teaching divination now . . . much more simple than tarot cards and yet, it’s a system you can use in a very practical way and it can grow to include greater complexity. It has the capacity for a bit of both.

It came out of a challenge by a mentor of mine. “Teach it in 90 minutes,” he said.

That’s not possible I thought. And then what do you know, the next morning, I downloaded exactly what I needed to do and the steps to teach it.

But it works and it turns out that Mitilda, all those years ago, was right. I am a teacher.

I also know that even when a reading doesn’t seem right in the moment, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I’ve witnessed this with my own clients. I give them information and their first response is, “No way.” Then times goes and their lives shift in the direction I saw, or they explore that thing they didn’t even know was an interest back then.

Staying curious about anything you receive in a reading, or through intuitive information, is the way to get the most out of it. Curious about how it may unfold, how it may show up in ways you might never have expected, and be conscious about the questions you ask.

Leaning In to Leadership

To be a leader you must hold a willingness to have people not like you. You have to be able to take a stance and have opinions that will not be popular or received well by everyone.

You can’t always play ‘nice’ and you won’t always be ‘good’ as a leader. When there is a job to get done, sometimes you have to make hard decisions and take actions that may not be correct in the moment but may lead to the greater good. Or perhaps you may support things that are correct and necessary in the moment but detrimental over time.

A great leader will always have an eye on what they don’t see, or they will invite people in who can give them the perspective on themselves that they are blind to and they will be willing to learn, grow, and make amends.

In the big picture, you do not get to choose whether you are the hero or the villain in another person’s story. You have to do what you are called to do.

It’s not my job to judge others, although I am human and have judgements. It’s not my job to decide what other people’s lessons are or the acts they take that lead them to the final destination. It’s not even my job to decide what is right or wrong.

It is my job to stand up into my own leadership and own my power. It’s to use my voice and the leverage I have in my own unique way. And that way will not be for everyone. There will be people who will be hurt, pissed, and triggered and that may be exactly what they need.

One of the greatest acts I have done has been to recognize when there is someone who has hurt me and it caused growth in me that was far better than the pain the hurt caused. I can be thankful for the growth and not continue to subject myself to the pain.

One of the greatest gifts I have received was to be held in safe space while someone I was angry with witnessed but did not take on my pain, my triggers, or my experience. It allowed me to discover my part in the issue and to learn, grow, and trust that person more.

It’s disappointing to me when I see places where people I admire could step up and they don’t seem to but it’s not my place to judge their journey. It doesn’t mean I have to continue to participate. It also doesn’t mean I abandoned my path because their leadership has become wrong for me.

It means I am my own leader. I find my own way.

My light does not dim because I am able to see the flicker of someone else’s.

Neither does my light dim when I witness the depth and brightness of another’s.

Being a leader, to me, encompasses these things but this is not all. Leaders show us who they are more than they tell us how to be.

Coffee and Boundaries for Codependents

Boundaries are very important and often we think of setting boundaries as protecting ourselves but knowing, sharing, and enforcing our boundaries, no matter how small, can actually help to create safe space and trust for others.

One of the things I like to know about my friends is how they take their coffee. Having coffee with another is an intimate experience of getting to know someone that I truly enjoy and it warms my heart space.

“I will build your coffee but I won’t sit and drink it with you,” he said.

I’ve known him for ten years and this finalizing statement at first triggered some fear in me. If he wouldn’t have coffee with me, how can we stay friends? What if he was telling me that the long phone conversations we sometimes shared were no longer a fit for him? How could I fix this? What could I do to make this different?

All these messages, these stories I had about what he said and what it means happened in an instance. Almost too quickly to identify in the moment but I felt it in my body; the freezing and the tension.

But in the midst of my tense response, I also heard, “He goes for a walk.”

Oh yes, he does. I might sit and sip my coffee while we talk and he goes for a walk. I can hear the scuff of his boots and the crunch of leaves. He’s done it for a long time now. I felt myself relax in a new way, it wasn’t just the physical tightening of my body in response to the stories I had, I realized I could relax more because I could trust him to take care of himself.

It wasn’t my role to fix, figure it out, or decide how to make things different. I realized that his not wanting to have coffee with me wasn’t about his not wanting to spend time with me, in fact, it meant he really valued our conversations enough to find a way for it to work for him. It meant more that he was willing to do that than if he had capitulated and done something that was wrong for him just because it was correct for me.

The automatic messages I had from my mind were a result of my own filters and conditioning. It had nothing to do with his needs or desires. Had I acted in response to them, it may very well have hurt our long-standing friendship as I tried to make things better, or control, the situation.

I’m so grateful I have learned the skills I need to navigate my own behaviors and have had the realization that the only person I can change is myself. I’ve learned I can allow others to have their experience and that rushing to take care of things doesn’t always get me the response I desire. I value that I can help my coaching clients heal in a way that they can learn to do the same thing.

When we trust those we care about to take care of themselves, even if it doesn’t work out, we give them the opportunity to find their own way; to overcome challenges, to shift, and to grow. They also have to stop relying on us so much, which means we are free too. Change yourself and you change the world.

Today I was making my own coffee and as I waited for it to settle into my cup that says Trust on it. I texted him, “I was thinking of you while making my coffee and I thought about your coffee boundaries. I think I would take a clue from Ford for mine. I’d love to hear about your coffee preferences and I’d gladly make it for you, just the way you like it, as long as it’s black.”

“That sounds about right,” he responded.

Being Seen

This is one of my favorite pictures of me. Yes, this one showing all my lumps and bumps and curves. All the things at times I have disliked and unwanted.

Pictured: Me and the amazing
photographer Lindsay Miller.

Traveling to Sedona was scary for me.

I’ve always been larger in size and finding a balance between acceptance of my body and making change with it has been an ongoing journey.

Sedona had several challenges. 

First, the airplane. When you are larger, there’s fear about flying not based on crashing or the dangers of air travel but on the size of the seats, comfort and what looks you might get when you board.

Next, the heat and elevation. I’m a sea-level gal and I learned in Sedona how my breathing is impacted by the change in elevation.

But the biggest challenge was yet to come.

You see I’d been working hard at accepting my body for it’s curves and really learning to enjoy the way I can move when I dance. At that time it wasn’t uncommon for people to ask if I had a dancing background when they saw me move; despite my shape and size.

But here I was in Sedona facing one of my biggest fears: a photographer.

An amazing one at that and I found a lot of internal messages about my unworthiness of being seen.

I really started to doubt my own value. My own right to take up space. The knowingness I had of my body and the capability it held. My very own sense of what was possible quickly became dark and doubtful.

And I did it anyway.

I love this picture of me.

This was one of the times when doing something despite how I was feeling in the moment opened me to more freedom and self-acceptance but forging your way through challenges doesn’t always end that way. Sometimes the end result is cementing the very thing you feared.

To make it a experience like this different, it requires a shift in mindset around doubt and it’s purpose. Understanding doubt from a different perspective can help you to discern when going forth can lead you to your greater gifts and when it’s notifying you to change course.

Curious to explore more about doubt? Let me know.

Embrace the Problem

I was talking with a friend the other day and I offhandedly said, “I’m not quite sure what to do.”

“What you need,“ he said with a sudden laugh in his voice, “Is to sign up for another program. Definitely a year long program.” I laughed with him.

It’s a pattern or a strategy, a long standing one, we had both encountered. I remember the year that he made me pinky swear I wouldn’t sign up for another program or class without talking to him first.

You see, I’ve really done so much. I’m a bodyworker, an energy worker, an intuitive reader, a somatic practitioner, and now a coach. That’s a lot of education. There is nothing wrong with taking a class, or engaging in a program. Education and exploration are of high value to me.

The problem was the motivation behind my constant need to skill build or to learn more.

It was my constant drive to find something outside myself to shift the inside message that my skills weren’t enough; that I wasn’t enough.

I had constant doubt, low confidence, and a belief that I was broken and in need of fixing.

What really, finally, gave me relief was the realization that turning toward a new experience meant I was also constantly turning away from the old one and the old experience was really where the gold was hiding. I wasn’t going to become enough by constantly running away, by trying to become something new. I was simply proving to myself that I was never going to be enough because there was always more to learn.

Therefore, I was only going to shift by viewing the problem differently and turning to embrace it instead of running away, or pushing it away. But none of the things I was signing up for were addressing this pattern. They were just selling a new technique or modality.

The fascinating part is how I now have all this freed up energy that I once spent on hiding and seeking to actually be able to learn the things I want to. The things that matter specifically to me. I’m getting more depth in the practices I already have. I’m using my gifts more and showing up in the world in a more authentic way.

And I want the same for you.

A Home for Words

Living a life I love, for me, involves writing.

So, writing will be a piece of my website. Some articles may be about my work I do with others but likely most will involve more of the life I am dreaming and manifesting and what I encounter along the way.

I imagine that by sharing, I might give insight, clues, or cautionary tales to those who follow along.

At the very least, it’s possible this could become bread trails showing where I have traveled through the dark forest and where I find the light filtering through the trees because every life is filled with both shadow and light and it is only through knowing one that we find the other.

Chances are there will be days I write a great deal, and those times when months go by. One of the dances I take in life is that of acceptance and this ebb and flow will be one of those. In other words, don’t expect a great deal of consistency but delight in what is offered as I see my words as offerings.