Flowing through Times of Turbulence

I am headed off for our annual rafting trip on the wild and scenic Rogue River. I am so excited that, for the first time, I’ll be able to provide this incredible experience to my nephew (son really) who is finally here with me after a lengthy prison sentence. This will be his very first experience of the freedom and majesty of wild nature.

John and I do this trip every summer. He rows a raft and I row a raft and we take a few family members and dear friends on a magical journey.

Rowing a raft reminds me so much of the work I do coaching people who are navigating major life transition and reinvention.

If you wind up in turbulent water you are most likely to get hurt or even drown if you fight it, try to get to shore too soon or try to cling to some solid object. That is how you are most likely to get battered and tossed around. The key is to keep your feet in front of you, eyes open and let the current carry you through the rapids and into calmer water.

The tough times in our lives are like that too. Resisting the change and clinging to old, familiar ways just increases the turbulence. The key to finding peace and power in the midst of life-altering periods of change is to open our hearts, let the emotions wash through us and allow ourselves to flow with the uncertainty. There will be rapids, and eddies that feel as though we are stuck in place, and even some calm still pools that allow us to float gently for a time. Every piece of the transition process has a purpose as we move through the space between our old life and our new one. As we open our hearts and our minds we allow the ever-present current of change that is life to flow us into the new, expanded versions of our work, our lives and our Selves.

If you are in the midst of transition and reinvention I would be so happy to speak with you. I currently have openings for 6 complimentary Reinvention Breakthrough coaching session. Just click the link here and pick a time that works for you.

There is a river of opportunity, peace and life flowing to and through you right this moment.

Love,

Cylvia

 

 

Giving Birth to Self

I had a powerful dream recently. I gave birth to myself! Literally.

In the dream I give birth and I know the tiny infant is me. I am flooded with love for her and wrap her in a snuggly blanket.

But then, I put her down inside my large purse and lean it up against the outside of a building. I go inside and start working on some project with a team of people. After a little while I realize, “Oh my God, I left the baby out in the cold!”

I rush out and find the bag with the infant me in it. The little one is basically OK, but cold and I hold her against my body giving her warmth and love.

And then, I put her back in the bag and go back inside the building to work!

After a while I remember her outside and in a panic, afraid I will find her dead, I rush back out and pick her up. I hold her close, rock her gently and promise never, ever to abandon her again. I am flooded with love as the dream ends.

I think we do some version of this to ourselves over and over, when we put aside our true glorious Selves and opt to be something less than we really are.

We do it when we change our true nature to conform to someone else’s idea of what we should be.

We do it when we compare ourselves to others and believe we are coming up short.

We do it when we act with less integrity than we know we have.

We do it every single time we choose to believe we are small, powerless and alone.

The good news is the real us is always there just waiting to be remembered, nurtured and valued.   Always there ready to grow and shine.

Here’s to never abandoning our True Selves again.

With Love,

Cylvia

 

Love is Never Wrong

In three days I will be halfway across the country picking up my nephew as he is released from prison. I say nephew, but we’re actually more like mom and son at this point. We’ve been through a lot together. Twice before I tried to offer him a stable base, once when he was a little boy and once as a very damaged teenager but at those times neither of us had the maturity or depth to make it work. This time is different; he and I both have been through a good deal of refining fire and love has grown much stronger than fear or frustration.

At the beginning of 2018, knowing I had about a year to get ready to bring him into my home and help him launch the rest of his life, I set a goal to have the resources in place to do the very best for him. Last year didn’t go quite as planned on the financial front as the legal battle with the Oregonian dragged on and on and extra, unexpected expenses popped up and yet, I leave in three days with the resources I need.

It doesn’t look like I’d envisioned, with me making a ton of money, having a chunk in savings for my nephew and having the drain of legal battles being behind me, etc., but I have what I need to offer love and huge opportunity to this young man. My life partner has been unbelievably supportive, with his time, big-hearted acceptance and a sense of humor about the complication this is no doubt going to add to our lives. He even purchased our airline tickets. Bless you Beloved — truly, I am such a lucky woman. Friends have stepped up out of the blue with financial help, enthusiasm and offers of mentorship. My mom has been saving money for my nephew to purchase clothes. My spiritual community has held this journey and transition in prayer every single day for several weeks now.

It’s just amazing and more than any other experience in my life proves that we really are all in this life together. Whether we notice it or not we are all supported by a vast matrix of people who touch our lives in a million ways big and small. Everywhere I look in this situation I see where other people, even strangers, have supported us. Not just the obvious examples, but also the teacher who delivered the GED program at the prison and the voc-tech director and trainers who helped my nephew navigate through his electrician’s apprenticeship and even other inmates who were rooting for him and helping protect him as he neared his release date. Beauty sometimes shows up even in the darkest of places.

So many times these past few weeks I’d have a little stab of nervousness about the disruption of bringing this big guy into my little home and all the changes that will come with it. But each time that little flicker of fear would slither in, it was instantly replaced with the words, “Love is never wrong.” Over and over again those words ran through my mind. I don’t believe I’ve ever more genuinely just expressed and embodied love for another human being. The ripples go beyond our direct relationship and even beyond those still living.

A few years ago, as I was going through an extraordinarily challenging, traumatic time I was working with a therapist and was surprised to be having a lot of difficult, regretful memories and emotions around my late sister (my nephew’s mother). I found myself wishing I had been mature enough to be there for her when she slipped further and further into drugs, depression and despair and our family pulled away.   The therapist suggested I write a love letter to my sister and as I worked on that I realized the best love letter I could offer her was helping her son make it through the horrific ordeal of prison and launch a healthy life on the other side. “Sis, if you’re listening, and I believe you are, your boy is in good shape and he’s about to be safe and in a stable place with a really good job.  He is full of  hope, gratitude and promise.  I hope you are smiling.  I love and miss you. Thank you for all the kindness you showed me.”

I guess it’s fitting that I keep thinking of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, and especially the scene near the very end where Red has finally gotten out of prison and is in a bus headed to Mexico to join his friend Andy. Red says, “I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.” Red felt that way from finally realizing freedom. I’m feeling that way in anticipation of witnessing a loved one leave a horrible situation and finally land in a safe place where he can spread his wings and soar.

I didn’t consciously choose it, and I couldn’t see the full pattern of it until very recently, but my nephew and I are on a sacred journey together and if you’re reading this I guess in some small way you’ve joined the adventure.  I share this in part just to express my excitement but also, hopefully, to provide a little inspiration to those of you who may be having a hard time, struggling, and who may feel like the circumstances swirling through your life are keeping you imprisoned. I know how hard that is and I also know no storm lasts forever.   We are always swimming in a matrix of support, new opportunities are endless and freedom really is a choice. And, maybe most importantly, genuine love is never wrong.

We really are all in this together. Thanks for being part of this journey. Stay tuned and YIKES!!

Love,

Cylvia

Yes DO Deny It!

Denial is a powerful tool

Are you working through some big challenges just now? Has life smacked you right off your feet? Does what’s before you look big, tough, overwhelming? Well it might be time for a little well-placed denial.

Denial gets a bad rap in pop culture and psychology. It’s usually used to say someone isn’t facing reality. I’ve a whole new powerful take on denial. It’s about looking at the situation in front of you, taking control of your thoughts and choosing not to give the challenge more power than it really has. The more we feed into the seeming problem the bigger it appears. Denial can cut it back down to size.

I’ll give a couple of examples that I am personally dealing with right now. I’m going through some significant financial issues and it’s easy to slip into a lot of uncertainty and insecurity around it. However, when I really look at the situation, yes, I have some income and cash flow challenges and the remnants of some big legal proceedings, but I ALSO have a tremendous amount of actual resources flowing to me – supportive people, new business opportunities, paid business travel.

So, each time I start getting wrapped up in worry I just gently deny the fear with, “The illusion of scarcity has no power in my life.”

This helps me stay calm and focused on the tasks that need to be done to actually deal with the financial issues.

A powerful one, two punch is to follow a focused denial with an empowered affirmation statement. I am working with, “Resources of all kinds flow to me in joyful abundance. I am a powerful prosperity generation and distribution center.”

This isn’t just about positive thinking, it’s about disciplined thinking. It’s about flipping our focus and staying open to the much broader perspectives that always surround challenging situations.

Here’s another example. A business colleague of mine is being unreliable and failing to deliver on some important projects. I have a lot riding on this work and can easily feel out of control and fearful not being able to get a response from this person. However, the broader truth is this person isn’t responsible for my success. So when I start to feel those stress spikes I state, “ My friend’s unreliable behavior cannot harm me.” And, because I genuinely care for this person and know that some of the behavior is because they are having their own life challenges right now, I affirm, “The love and positive intention behind this work and our relationship ensures a positive outcome for both of us.” Next time, I may choose a different business arrangement but for now there is nothing to lose by staying focused on the intended outcome and waiting for the response to my attempts to communicate.

Our minds, what we focus on and how we frame our thoughts absolutely dictate our reality. Thoughts trigger feelings (and vice versa) which means even if they don’t create the circumstances of our lives, they definitely DO create how we experience those circumstances. You literally HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE YOUR EXPERIENCES in life! Let that sink in.

Your past has no power over you.

Old traumas have no power over you.

Attackers, abusers, abandoners and bullies have no power over you.

You are on an epic journey through some tough stuff. In all great struggles the hero faces a point in which she can either run away or face the villain and say, “You are not all that! You are not more powerful than I am.” Now THAT is a powerful denial.

You are more powerful than you realize. You got this.

Cylvia

 

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Write/ Re-write Your Own Story

Our lives are the result of the stories we tell ourselves. How we experience this life is absolutely driven by our core beliefs about ourselves, others and life in general. This becomes the lens through which we view everything we experience.

Do you believe you are smart? Not smart? Basically a good person? Lucky? Unlucky? Do you think most people are against you? Do you think most people are basically good?

THESE BELIEFS SHAPE YOUR EXPERIENCE of YOUR LIFE! And here’s the great news. The unexamined stories we tell ourselves are usually FAKE NEWS! And we can change our own stories.

Core beliefs often take root in our early years and around really intense experiences. They are often formed by the opinions and comments of the really influential (positive or negative) people in our lives – parents, siblings, lovers, teachers.

I’ll give you an example. My dad was a hugely powerful force in my life, in some beautiful and some really dark ways. I wanted his approval and praise. He praised me for being smart. He also praised me for being tough, for not crying, for being able to fight and win against boys. There is no question he loved me. He truly thought the nickname, “Worthless” was just in fun.

I’ve done a lot of core beliefs work over the years and I’ve always believed I was tough and resilient, a fighter. I’d always put those beliefs in the positive category.

And then, I started questioning. I remembered that many years ago, my dear late Godfather Whitney would often encourage me not to call myself tough. I didn’t get his discomfort then. Now I do.

My identifying with being “tough” kept me from really accepting help and grace. I took pride in being tough. Starting to question the value of this belief led me to a little bit of an existential crisis. So I dug a little deeper and realized the actual core belief was, “Life is hard, but by God I wasn’t going to let it beat me because I was tough and resilient!” Well guess what? I’ve created a life experience in which I’ve had to be!

So, lately I’m flipping the whole thing. I no longer want to fight my way through life – even though I know I can. I want to love my way through. I’m MOVING ON from tough. I am good, worthy, resourceFULL and have help and support everywhere I turn, which actually has been true my entire life.

Here’s a helpful tip. Take a look at your core beliefs. Pay special attention to those you feel a little uncertain about, the ones you’re not sure are positive or not – that’s the gold, the place to go deeper and get to the real core.

This is your growing edge. It is rich. You can flip every non-useful past story. You are the author of your own story, complete with edits.

Cylvia

#CylviaHayes #Empowerment

How to Stop Being What Happened to You

I learned something about myself recently that shocked me. I realized I had tied my identity to the trauma I’d been through. In other words I was presenting as a victim. I would NEVER have believed that about myself and I didn’t like seeing it.

I think it mostly stemmed from the “Elephant in the Room” phenomenon. Those of you who have gone through a really intense, traumatic experience that a lot of people know about will get this. When you show up at events, parties, whatever, afterwards and people see you for the first time, “post-trauma” they don’t really know what to say. They’re often uncomfortable and usually lead with talking about the traumatic event. This is especially true if the trauma involves deep loss, shame or humiliation.

I dealt with this reaction so many times I came to expect it. If the person didn’t bring it up I’d bring it up because I was sure they were thinking about it. Even with prospective clients I’d bring it up because I was afraid they’d Google me and see stories about it.

At first I think that was mostly true. But over the last many months each time this would happen I’d feel drained and uncomfortable afterwards. I’d think, “Am I ever going to get to where that issue, that awful thing, doesn’t have to be front and center?

Then I realized maybe I was the one making it so! So I made a conscientious effort not to mention it. After all, what was the worst that could happen if the other person was thinking about it but I didn’t mention it?

Most often the subject never came up. If the person I was talking with did bring it up I’d say, “Well it was certainly the most difficult thing I’ve gone through. And it has also been one of the most profound periods of growth in my life. Grateful that life is moving on.”   Then I’d move the conversation to other subjects.

This shifted my entire energy. It helped me remember all that I was and all that I had to offer.

It helped me remember that we are not what happened to us. The big traumas are just small pieces of the rich, beautiful tapestry that is YOU.

Here’s my advice for reentering society after a life-changing traumatic experience:

  • For a time, it will likely be the first thing that comes up in conversation and that’s probably healthy.
  • But after a while, it’s time to move on. In order to do that I recommend this:
    • Before going into any event that might include people who will know what you’ve been through remind yourself to be relaxed, remember your value, hold your head up and be natural
    • Make a point not to bring up the “Awful Event”
    • Develop a short, authentic, positive response to anyone who does bring it up
  • Even as you move on and make the Big Event a smaller piece of your story, stay open to real connection and concern, to authentic conversations. Healing from deep trauma is a process. Even as we reenter society and return to our old communities and normal activities we are often still healing. It is usually helpful to share the experience with someone who is genuinely interested and has gone through something similar.

And above all else, remember you are so much more than what happened to you.

Cylvia Hayes

I love working with people who are determined to reclaim their careers, lives and place in society after intense, identity-challenging ordeals.   If you are facing such a challenge and would like to talk with me please just send me a notice on the form at https://www.cylviahayes.net/coaching/.

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Reclaiming Your Worth

This story is for any of you who have been marginalized and are now ready to reclaim your truth, your worth and your seat at the table.

Reclaiming your place after you’ve been unfairly judged or marginalized by people who don’t even know you or derailed by events you just couldn’t have seen coming takes courage and is hard work. But if you want to really live you have to do it.

I had just such a challenge at the recent Peoples Climate March. When I realized my business travel schedule was going to prevent me from attending the big march in Washington DC I decided to help organize a sister event in my hometown of Bend Oregon.

I called a couple of fellow activists and joined in planning the events. I put in dozens of volunteer hours, mobilizing people, developing the message and marketing materials, sorting out various aspects of the event itself, even hanging posters around town. I also used my fairly significant social media platform to spread the word.

The organization that took the lead in the event was a local, all-volunteer climate action group. I deeply respected the hard work of their director and she and I worked together beautifully. The steering committee for the event was another story. All but one or two of them had never met me, but they had apparently made a decision about me based on ugly misinformation put forward in the media many, many months earlier. They were happy to have me do the behind the scenes work organizing the event but they didn’t want me to have a speaking role.

I was pissed! I was one of the first people ever to mention the issue of climate change in my hometown area and had been working and speaking as a professional on the issue since before most of those people had even moved here.

My first reaction was to lash out and call them to the carpet for their ugliness!

But I had a dilemma. First I didn’t want to tarnish the event itself – having a good showing as part of this historic action was too important. Second, I knew the director I’d been working with was in a tricky spot. She knew the steering committee was being unfair and counter-productive but she was caught in the middle. Even though I was hurt I didn’t want to cause her grief. Finally, even though it was tempting, I’d made a decision long ago not to fight ugliness that was shown me with more of the same in return.

And yet, I also was not going to allow myself to be marginalized and just sit back and take it. I had in fact been invited to have a fairly prominent role at the big march in DC but here in my podunk hometown I was shunned!

And here’s a word of advice for those of you facing something similar. I really shouldn’t have been surprised by the hometown rejection. I’ve learned from personal experience and the many reinvention clients I’ve worked with, that when navigating coming back from any big, particularly public, trauma the most awkward, and often unkind, places of reentering the arena are those close to home. Sometimes it’s bumping into the very person who lied about or ostracized you. Sometimes it’s an old rival acting on lingering jealousies by kicking you a bit. Some people fear getting too close to someone who has been smeared. And, very often, it’s just plain human awkwardness in not knowing how to act around someone who has been severely traumatized.

It’s hard to face. But here’s the deal, if you want to really heal, you have to get back in the saddle. I’m an old cowgirl! I’ve handled rough horses and rougher character assassins and I know this for sure when you get bucked off you have to get back on! If you don’t the fear and self-doubt grows.

So, what to do with my current dilemma?   How could I stand up to the marginalization and still benefit the event? I reached out to local media. I knew they knew me, would be interested in talking to me and therefore, would give some coverage to the climate march (I also wanted to give some support to the March for Science and pitched that as well).

The plan worked and at least in some small way helped support both events. We had great turnouts for both marches. Here is a link to the interview.  The reporter asks how I could continue doing my work after all that I’d been through and I said

So, my fellow travellers in the journey of “Reentering the Arena after Trauma and Attack,” be brave. Don’t shrink into the shadows but at the same time don’t add to the ugliness. It may take some time but if you stand strong and kind you will find your way back into the sunshine again. Never forget, you are completely unique, with gifts only you and your one-of-a-kind set of experiences have to offer.

Cylvia Hayes

#CylviaHayes #ResiliencyMuscles

Note: Click here to get a free download of my gift, How to Breakthrough Instead of Breaking Down When Life Blows Up at this this link.

Rising Up, Emerging Strong — Love Easter!

A little Easter magic for all of us.

I love the symbolism of Easter. It’s not about Jesus’ death, but rather his example showing we all have the ability to rise again and choose life. I didn’t appreciate Easter nearly as much until I went through my own, very intense, identity-“crucifixion” and am coming out the other side with a much deeper spiritual awareness that adds beauty to every aspect of life.

This Easter is particularly special because I am on my way to Spain for the first professional international speaking gig since my “crucifixion” began. On top of that I’m also rolling out a brand new Hour of Power Activist Empowerment workshop that developed as a direct result of the pain and growth of the past two years. I am really excited about it and just shake my head in wonder at how magical life can be when we decide not just to go through, but to grow through the really hard stuff.

John was beautifully loving, encouraging and supportive in making this trip happen — right down to the sweetest send off at the airport. We’ve been through a lot together and my heart is very full and grateful to and for him. Colleagues helped me prep the new workshop. My wonder neighbors/ dog-whisperers are taking great care of Tessa, the rascally cats and my entire little home. I feel very, very blessed.

My prayer this Easter is that everyone who has suffered attack, deep hurts and the death of their old selves will tap into the beauty of the Easter story and their own inner strength to rise up, roll back the stones in their way and emerge strong and healed.

Happy Easter everyone! Here’s to beautiful resurrections!

Cylvia Hayes

 

#CylviaHayes #ResiliencyMuscles

Taking Your Power Back with Forgiveness

Me, Soraya Deen and Lawrence Schechter at Central Oregon City Club. Topic a Muslim Woman’s story of life in America.

Something extraordinary just happened. I had wanted to go to an event today but had expected to be out of town. My schedule changed so I hadn’t had to travel but I’d forgotten all about the event. Then, this morning, two hours before start time, a friend contacted me to say he had an extra ticket if I wanted it.

At first I was going to say no. I had other plans and work I wanted to get to, but something about the event and the serendipitous invitation pulled me, so I went and wound up listening to an extraordinary woman. Soraya Deen is co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Speakers Movement. She was in my hometown, Bend Oregon, to share her story of being a Muslim woman in America. Her message is one of peace, mutual respect, kindness and taking action to make our world a more peaceful and beautiful place.

Me thanking Soraya Deen for her beautiful message of kindness, mutual respect and celebrating diversity.  

As I was listening to her powerful story and wisdom I realized that just a few feet from me at the next table were two people who had piled onto the media attacks against me. One had lied about me to reporters, trying to capture five minutes of fame at my expense. The other was his girlfriend who had also been unkind. Just a year and a half before this man lied about me to the press he had asked me, because I was in a fairly prominent position, to write a chapter and help promote a book he’d been working on. One moment I was good enough to help him write a book, the next he was publically maligning me.

As I covertly looked at him while he watched the speaker, emotions surged and my first reaction was to confront him, call him out on his nasty, dishonest behavior. Then I remembered all the hard work I’ve done these past two years to forgive and to avoid putting into the world the same ugliness I’d received. Just as I was experiencing this, a teenager in the audience asked Soraya what advice she had for the youth. She said, “Be kind. It’s the most important thing. Be kind even to people who harm you.

I snapped back into the present moment. I knew she spoke truth and I knew I was being given a chance to act on it. So I re-envisioned what I might say if the two approached me. I would not accuse or hit back. I would merely say, “I hope you’re doing well and that your wounds have healed.”

As it turned out as soon as they realized I was there, they got noticeably uncomfortable and took off immediately at the end of the speech. Half an hour later after a wonderful visit with Soraya and some of the other guests I was leaving the building just as another woman was coming in. I realized it was the girlfriend. She saw me and flushed. I held the door open for her. She kept her head down, avoided eye contact and mumbled “thank you” as she nervously scurried through. I said, “You’re welcome.”

One of my favorite metaphors lately is that choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness isn’t saying what they did was OK – forgiveness is choosing to take your power back.

My head was high and my heart light as I walked from the building into the sunshine.

Cylvia Hayes 

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Ten Rules to Reinventing Yourself

Oprah’s newest New You Just Ahead road signbook titled, What I Know For Sure, got me to asking myself what do I really know? After these past two really challenging years one thing I really know about is picking yourself up and starting over after things fall apart. I just turned 49 (amazing all by itself!). More amazing is that even now, I am, once again, reinventing my life and career.

This has been such a difficult time but also one of such huge growth that I feel compelled to share it. I know I am not alone in facing abrupt reinvention and I hope my own journey can be helpful to others SO ….. here are my Top Ten Rules to Strong Self-Reinvention.

1) Look for Deeper Meaning in the Mess

Two years ago when my life blew up, again, in spectacular fashion, I was freaked out, angry and absolutely terrified. I was scared to death that maybe I really was so flawed, so deeply fucked up, I was beyond repair and would never be able to achieve a sound, solid career and life.

But, despite the terror and exhaustion, I knew that in order to find a way out I had to go in, deep. The first step to breaking through the breakdown is taking a deep, honest look into ourselves at our patterns, the parts of us that need to improve AND the parts of us we know are good.

In the midst of my brokenness I saw how tormented I’d been by my feelings of unworthiness. I was horrified and embarrassed to realize how much that “not-enoughness” had driven a deep desire to be recognized and validated by others. This was wildly painful and embarrassing to face but as soon as I did I started growing again, and loving myself more. As I got to know myself better I started more truly believing in my own value.

In reinvention it’s important to examine the circumstances, feelings and reactions and stay on the alert for those Eureka! moments when a whole new realization pops into consciousness. It’s often in our most tortured moments we learn the really powerful truths that can transform and free us.

2) Make Conscious Choices

Sometimes life blows up and we have no other option but to reinvent. The choices then aren’t if you’re going to do something differently, they’re what and how you’re going to do it. For me, I just made the choice that I wasn’t going to allow my attackers to defeat me. That not only meant figuring out a way to get my career back on the rails. It also meant not allowing myself to harden, to succumb to the depression or the hate. It meant working very intentionally on my inner self and on forgiveness.

Other times the call for reinvention is more subtle. Things aren’t catastrophic but you know they aren’t what they should or could be. In some ways this is even harder because you have to throw yourself out of the nest! You have to overcome the human tendency to stay in the comfort zone even when it’s uncomfortable. Everything we do is a choice. Deciding to do nothing is a choice!

3) Allow Yourself to Wallow in It – Have a Dirty Bathrobe Day

At the beginning of my ordeal I tried everything to fight back against the destruction seizing my life. I fought and flailed to keep my career moving. But at times the sheer weight, fear and hurt took me under. Then I would lie on the couch in my increasingly dirty bathrobe, binge-watch TV ALL DAY and drink too much beer at night. At first, I felt terribly guilty but as time went on I relaxed into these occasional escape days.

A couple of months into my unasked for life-changing mess I told my counselor about my Dirty Bathrobe days and, to my great surprise, she said, “Well, given what you’re going through as long as it’s only a day or so and not three or four and every week, it’s probably pretty healthy!”

When facing extremely challenging, life-changing phases in our lives we need to be gentle with ourselves and make some room every now and then to lay down the burden and take a break from the battle.

4) But Don’t Wallow Long – Get Your Butt Off the Couch!

The reason I was able to begin to relax into the Dirty Bathrobe Days was that I never stayed for very long. After one or two days of god only knows how many episodes of Game of Thrones, Heartland, Orange is the Next Black and countless Lifetime movies I would always pull myself up, reengage, get back to taking better care of myself and start moving forward again. I got to where I could really enjoy a wallow day here and there because I knew I could trust myself even in the midst of awful circumstances to drag my butt up off that couch!

It is critical to find your motivation, your catalyst, the thing you hook into to pull out of the despair. And this is NEVER something outside yourself even though it might look like it.

For me, this came in the form of my beloved dog, who after two days of laying next to my prone, zoned body would become restless and I knew she needed exercise. Or the cat pestered me for food. Or my fiancé really needed to talk. Sometimes it was that I just didn’t want to treat myself unhealthfully for one more moment. It was love that got me off the couch. Love for the dog, the cat, John and even for myself.

So go ahead and give yourself a break, wallow a bit, but for god’s sake don’t lie around until you get bedsores or can’t find a Lifetime movie you haven’t seen!

5) Get Professional Help

If you can’t pull out of your version of the Dirty Bathrobe Day get professional help immediately. And, even if you can, get help!

I am a big believer. The old stigma has it all wrong. It’s not the really fucked up, crazy people who go to mental health therapists; it’s the people who are sane enough and brave enough to realize they are in deep.

When my recent ordeal exploded it triggered so much pain from past traumas that I found myself literally flinching from old memories. I knew I was going to need professional help to cope with the attacks and my own frantic, stabbing feelings. I began working with a therapist, who luckily, was trained in Eye Movement Deprogramming and Reprocessing (EMDR). This turned out to be life-transforming. I am now absolutely certain that had I not leaned into therapy so early in the crisis I would have had a much harder time surviving it, let alone thriving on the other side.

Professional counseling can be especially valuable if your need for reinvention involves shame. Growing scientific evidence suggests that shame is one the most painful and destructive emotions. Guilt is believing that you have done something bad; shame is believing that you are bad. Shame means feeling worthless, rejected, cast out.

The professional counseling and deep dive inner work not only helped me survive the onslaught, but it actually empowered me to reach a place where I feel more enough than I ever have in my entire life. This feeling is SO WORTH the vulnerability of baring your soul to a trained stranger!

6) Remember You Still Are Even if You Don’t Still Have

In what seemed like a blink of an eye I lost my title, all my current clients, every single one of my active work projects, the home I had lived in for four years and, at least in some circles, my reputation. The sense of loss was devastating and, because I had always based so much of my self-worth on my work and doings, I felt utterly cast adrift and valueless.

The main thing that helped me weather the loss was realizing that even through I may not HAVE those things anymore, I still WAS everything I had been before my fall from grace. Every talent, every skill, every bit of professional and personal experience was still in me.

The same is true of everyone. You can lose things, positions, jobs, titles, homes, lovers. But no matter the loss you still are what you are and all your talents and experiences are right there ready to help you open up the next phase of your reinvented life.

7) Imagine that Maybe You Are So Much More Than You Thought – STRETCH!

Because of the circumstances that led to the unasked for pause in my career my usual work channels were closed to me for over a year. This was so horribly painful. Who was I if I wasn’t a consultant, an advocate, if I wasn’t working on the issues I’d dedicated my life to?

At first I was resentful and terrified and my ego stung. I felt like I’d been demoted in life in general! I really had to scramble just to pay the bills. But I moved forward, took some risks, STRETCHED! I got a paid gig as a writer. I took on some research work. I started teaching personal development courses. I also started volunteering for causes I loved but had been too busy for. And, guess what? I LOVED it!

I realized that by fighting so hard to hold onto my old familiar view of myself I was actually limiting my full identity. Not only was I everything I had been before but I was also a professional writer, a wildlife healer and a great dog-fence builder! By clinging to the old image of myself, I was masking my bigger, fuller, more creative bad ass Self with a capital S!

You can either believe you’ve been lessened by the loss of the old, familiar way of things, or you can find fabulous aspects of a fuller, richer, more multi-faceted YOU.

8) Kiss People Off and Make New Friends

Sometimes one of the hardest things about self-reinvention is the need to cut loose the people around us. There is a reason the old cliché about learning who your true friends are has been around for so long. It really is in our darkest hours we learn who is truly there for us and who isn’t. I was staggered with the pain of abandonment by so many I considered friends and the terrible sense of isloation.

To reinvent strong you have to shed the people who undermine you. Don’t chase after the ones who flee. You can never lose a true friend and abandoners aren’t worth your effort. And don’t spend time with those who tear down your dreams or judge you unworthy. It is easy enough to fall into the trap of doing that ourselves – we don’t need reinforcements!

Instead be very intentional, spending time with people who are positive, moving forward and genuinely want good for you. Sometimes these are the old, dear friends that stick. Other times they’re new friends that appear at just the right moment – don’t overlook or undervalue either of these precious gifts.   And do not, for one more second, spend your precious time and energy on people who don’t believe in you and want you to be your very best!

And remember, cutting someone loose today doesn’t mean they’re out of your life forever – sometimes it just needs a big break. I “divorced” my biological family for years and now we are coming back together more healthfully and lovingly than I ever would have believed.

9) Keep Giving

When I finally let it sink in that it would be months before I could resume my career my self-value plummeted. Some part of me knew that I needed to find a way to feel like I was making a positive contribution. That’s when I started volunteering for causes I cared about. I joined a volunteer organization that builds fences for dogs who were living their lives on the end of a chain.

It was incredibly good for me. Watching a dog run and play freely for the first time in their lives in a fence that I had helped build I knew I’d done something valuable that day. Their canine joy and forgiving natures were infectious. And, being part of the community of fellow volunteers helped overcome my sense of isolation.

Giving to someone else is one of the very best ways to feel valuable and abundant because it proves you have enough to spare, you have something of value.

10) Develop/ Deepen a Spiritual Practice (I don’t mean religion!)

I am beyond grateful that I already had an established practice of meditation, journaling and spiritual connection before my big mess slammed into my life. However, what I was going through was so intense I knew I needed more. For a while every book I read was on the subject of spiritual growth in difficult times. Feeling a bit like the Prodigal Daughter I reconnected with the Unity church I hadn’t attended in ten years! I started working with a Course in Miracles. Not only have these steps helped me cope with the trauma, they’ve opened whole new vistas, opportunities and friendships.

Whatever spiritual path you choose be sure to include gratitude.  It is essential not to let the challenges blind you to goodness and abundance you already have. We attract what we focus on.  What we appreciate appreciates!   And there is nothing better for keeping a hopeful positive outlook than practicing gratitude.

Connecting to our spiritual aspects is essential to shaping a strong self-reinvention. These times of turmoil can break us down but they also hold the promise of breaking us open into deeper, richer more beautiful lives. Getting in touch with spirit, with our true inner selves is key to seizing that awesome gift.

To Wrap Up: Make no mistake, successful self-reinvention isn’t for wimps! But it is absolutely essential to living your fullest life. Here’s to empowering your inner Phoenix Rising and becoming the next awesome version of YOU!

If you fellow reinventors have other tips I’d love to hear them!

Cylvia Hayes

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