embrace your Quiet nature Archives - Page 2 of 4 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "embrace your Quiet nature" Category — Page 2

Leaving the School of Judgement

I can say “I like going to Whole Foods” kindly and simply, because I like looking at pyramids of lemons whilst picking up my citrus fruits.

Or I can say “I like going to Whole Foods” with disdain, as if your choice to not be at Whole Foods right now makes you lower than cockroach scum on the food chain. As if to say: My choices? SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS.

I used to judge everyone I met before they could judge me. It was a game I played in real time, passing people on the street:

Fat.
Bald.
Jiggly.
Those shoes.
Those teeth.
Hair.
Loud.
Rude.
Redneck.
Mullet.
Republican.

…on and on, thinking of all the insults I could give in case those strangers insulted me first. I was beating them to the punch! Go me!

Only.

No one ever insulted me. No complete stranger ever appeared out of the blue to call me names or question my fashion choices.

When people hurt me, it was those who knew me well, and it had nothing to do with something as simple to spot as a mullet or unfortunate shoes.

I was kindly called onto the carpet for this judge-first-lest-ye-be-judged attitude at a business retreat. I was invited to examine the sidecar message I was sending with everything I said: “My way is better than yours.”

And I wept. You can see that judgement? Worse yet, you can FEEL that judgement?

The coping mechanism I thought was invisible to everyone around me a.) wasn’t invisible and b.) wasn’t working.

In fact, it was screaming at every stranger in my path from a hundred yards off. I didn’t want to send that message any longer. I wanted to be sweet and kind, vulnerable and open, without assuming everyone was out to get me, judge me, insult me, or say my way was wrong.

Something fell away that day.

Sure, I still think some t-shirts are ugly and some haircuts are unfortunate. But I’m able to quickly put those in the ‘opinions’ box in my head without making the other person wrong for wearing a Creed t-shirt or reading an Ann Coulter book. Different strokes for different folks.

If you’ve ever done the defensive game of hiding behind judgement, snark gun loaded and ready to fire, I dare you to put it down.

Pick up your kinder tools of connection and see how they do.

Eye contact.
A soft smile.
Seeing without making any simple choice wrong.

Jeans don’t have a code of ethics.
Flip flops aren’t a political statement.
No one is writing a list of your wrongs at this moment.

When you see people as people — not as insults waiting to happen to you — everything changes. You open in ways you couldn’t have imagined. You soften.

When your brain gives up the offense, you can see people clearly. Maybe for the first time.

Sure, they’re wearing socks with sandals and they’re plagued with awkward tan lines in the middle of summer.

They’re also glorious and beautiful, ripe with potential connection.

They aren’t out to get you. (They aren’t.)

When it comes to business, this whole seeing-people-clearly thing means you’re better able to see the needs you can meet. You’re also able to see the problem behind the problem: the real reason someone is having a meltdown or putting off buying or otherwise engaging in behaviors you would have preemptively insulted just a few days or weeks or months ago. Without the judgment, you can see it and address it. Gently and gracefully.

Further. You feel different. To yourself, and to other people.

Your clients are willing to let you stand beside them, shoulder to shoulder, instead of across from them like some business version of Mortal Kombat gone wrong. You’re privy to secrets no one would have told you before. They’ll lean in where before they would have walked away. They’ll buy where before they would have run screaming without saying a word.

This habit change is a subtle one. It’s won’t be touted in all those 7 Steps to Business Success books or 83 Days to the Next Level for Your Business programs.

It’s an internal armor, falling to the wayside. It was designed to protect your tender bits, and instead it cuts off the blood supply keeping that keeps those same bits alive and feeling.

When you take the armor of judgement off, your humanity steps forward. And oh my word, is it beautiful.

P.S.  What do you want to want?

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Are you an empath?

I’m six, high on sugar and singing Jingle Bells with my church group, when we walk into the nursing home. She reaches out to touch my face and all of a sudden, tears stream down my cheeks. I look into her eyes and feel the weight of the sorrow that surrounds her like a shroud. It’s heavy and hopeless, a familiar cloak to the woman before me. For a handful of moments, I know the many facets of her sadness, even as she sits listening to the these well-meaning Christmas carolers singing in her cramped living room.

This is my earliest memory of feeling someone else’s feelings. We had visited private homes and nursing homes like this one on our caroling rounds. I wasn’t expecting this one to be any different. But then I met that old lady, reaching forward with such joy and transferring such sorrow to me.

The memory of it still brings tears to my eyes and feels a bit like I’m choking. It’s my first clear experience of being an empath.

Being an empath means you’re capable of feeling what another person is feeling in your body.

For each YES you answer, you’re one step closer to being an empath.

+ You find emotions contagious. Someone’s laughing, you’ll feel happy; someone’s crying, your own eyes are welling up with tears. You don’t have to know or love the person who’s emoting to catch their emotions.
+ You often feel overwhelmed in big box stores when they’re crowded. Give you an empty Target, and there’s no problem whatsoever — it’s not shopping for toilet paper that gets you, it’s shopping for toilet paper with hundreds of other people on a Sunday afternoon when all those people would rather be anywhere else.
+ You have trouble watching violent films or playing violent video games. They disturb you in ways you can’t quite articulate.
+ You hate certain commercials. Dammit, the aaaarms of the angel song makes you cry every time you hear it now. Same goes for the starving orphans in Africa commercials, and any wounded animal commercials…the emotional manipulation is off the charts, and you resent it. Big time.
+ You avoid watching the news. Local news, world news, nightly news…all of it. News drains you. You feel slightly guilty about failing to keep up with the state of the world, but it costs you too much energy.
+ You realize arguments take place on two levels: what’s being said, and the emotions that are being thrown around. An argument about whose turn it is to change the kitty litter can be innocuous, or it can be a deeply painful experience. All depends on the energy involved. This baffles the people you have conflicts with, since “they didn’t say anything that bad,” or “they didn’t even raise their voice.”
+ You’re used to people telling you things they’ve never told anyone before. It happens all the time. People naturally trust you and confide in you.
+ You can “feel” the truth as easily as others can feel that pen in their hands. It’s easy to tell when someone is lying, hiding the truth, or trying to manipulate a situation to his or her benefit.
+ You take on other people’s energy as your own, meaning you can feel the impact of a person’s presence even after they’ve left the room. The stronger the energy, the longer it takes for it to dissipate. This can be great if you’ve just met the Dalai Lama, or terrible if you’ve just run into a foreign dictator. (Like you do.)
+ You don’t have all these energy and emotional issues with animals, which is why you LOVE them. Give you a kitten or a dog or a monkey or a guinea pig and you’re so, so happy to be alive. Animals are your least complicated friends, and you love them for it.

Got 7 yes’s or more? Congrats! You’re an empath.

It is both a great gift and a massive liability. Get close to a person who’s having a great time, drunk or high or otherwise enjoying life, and you’ll also feel great. Let an old lady reach out to touch your face during an otherwise ordinary bout of Christmas caroling as a child and you’ll be crying in front of all your friends in no time.

I was flooded with great shame on the van ride back to church when our caroling finished. I had cried for no reason! I was supposed to be cheering people up! I didn’t even SING for her, and that was my job! (Even at six I took jobs seriously.)

Worse, everyone had seen me cry and now thought I was weird. I was already painfully shy. This made it worse.

Emotions are contagious. They’ve always been contagious in my world, like the common cold or the Great Thanksgiving Stomach Flu of 2002.

I’ve always been able to feel when someone is upset, anxious, nervous, tired, sad, angry, peaceful, happy, joyful, or embarrassed. Emotions are communicated to me as clearly as others might use sign language to tell stories or make funny faces to get another person giggling incessantly. They’re simple to dissect and quite easy to navigate. They’re familiar waters.

Other people freak out when someone cries or someone is busy having a tantrum or someone is off dancing in the corner for what appears to be no good reason. The older I get, the more easily I can feel the mirroring emotions in my body and use the information to decode a situation.

If you’ve ever been in the middle of shopping at a big box store and felt like you couldn’t breathe, like you were being squished from the inside, like you were being overwhelmed by a wave of uncomfortable and terrible emotions, or you were trapped with an incredible pain you couldn’t explain…you might be an empath.

To those who aren’t empaths, you’re a real weirdo. Like, “What do you mean you can’t shop at Target on the weekend?” Or “Why do you hate grocery shopping so much, it’s just…groceries?” You might have heard, “But you like concerts…so you’re okay with crowds. What’s the big deal?”

It’s a big deal because you can feel others’ emotions as your own.

This isn’t any more weird than being able to identify the leaves of an oak tree appropriately or knowing the recipe for three different pies without having to glance at an index card scribbled with instructions. You know things, so far down that you no longer remember how or where these abilities started.

Because you can feel others’ emotions as your own, you’re incredibly sensitive to changes in others’ moods, feelings, and energies. No one who’s about to cry around you can get away with the ol’ “I’m fine! I’m fine!” because you know better.

Very few people who are in a great deal of pain can hide it, because you’ll be feeling it as your own in some cases. I regularly ask Doey to take Ibuprofen because her chronic neck and back pain are so bad that they affect me when we’re together.

So…what do you do with this information? How do you view it as something more than a curse — because holy crap, the emotions most people are feeling aren’t usually sunshine and roses, especially while trolling around the local Wal-Mart?

First, acknowledge that it’s real. You feel others’ emotions.

You know things about what other people are feeling, both in their bodies and in their minds. You are keenly aware of changes in emotions and in mood. Even if a person were to be visually separated from you, you’d feel the same things. You’re not merely good at reading body language or facial expressions. Being an empath goes far beyond those skills.

You’re not crazy, though you might feel crazy.

You might feel like you’re at the mercy of the world, unable to control your own feelings. You’re especially prone to strong emotions overtaking you when you’re minding your own business, oblivious to your fellow humans until their emotions come creeping over to say “hello.” The homeless guy holding his dog tightly while napping can cause you to weep with overwhelming despair. The kid flitting around pretending to be a butterfly in the park can lift your heart higher than the top of the sliding board.

Those who aren’t empaths won’t understand why you’re so affected by the presence of other people who enter the room, how you’re so careful to manage the emotions of everyone you encounter as best you can, and why you’re sometimes given no choice but to hole up in a room by yourself until you can feel your own emotions again. (When your body seems to be going haywire with emotional information, sometimes this is the only option.)

Second, know that it gets better. The minute you realize that what you’re experiencing has a name and that you’re not a crazy-ass freakshow — that there are other humans like you, for whom emotions are contagious — you’re ready to start managing your gifts.

My sense is that you do one of two things when faced with your empathic nature.

Option one, you turtle. You notice an onslaught. You notice that you’re feeling all the feels. You quickly withdraw and allow the emotions to hit that hard shell you’ve built up. Safe in your shell, you can feel nothing but your own emotions.

Trouble is, that shell is heavy. And lugging it around is tiresome. When you DO come out, you feel disconnected from your fellow humans. It’s exhausting.

Option two, you deer. Okay, so ‘deer’ isn’t a verb, but whatever. You allow the emotions to hit you so hard that you end up spinning around like Bambi on ice. Your knees buckle, you feel overwhelmed. You laugh, you cry, you want to throw things, you feel like a victim of every human you encounter.

Trouble is, feeling like a victim is terrible. You don’t like feeling powerless, nor do you like wishing every human on the face of the Earth would vanish so you could have your emotions to yourself. It’s exhausting.

There is a third option, and one we’ll discuss at great length in the new Empaths, Inc. workshop: the porcupine.

You maintain your soft underbelly, but you also have defenses. You prepare your quills to do battle when you push yourself onto the subway, go through the lines at Target, or navigate a crowded coffee shop.

You let your quills relax and enjoy your true nature when you’re in the company of humans you love. You give strangers the benefit of the doubt, but protect yourself the moment they give you reason to believe they’re ticking emotional timebombs.

It’s not an easy balance, and you can easily shift from turtle to porcupine to deer in the course of a single day, but it gets much easier with practice.

Up next: how to feel the shit you’d rather avoid without gaining twelve pounds.

The first choice. (You know, the one that affects all your other business choices.)

For years, my best friend Doey’s corporate work meant she came home five days a week with her brain turned to mush and preeeeetty much all her energies sapped. She flopped on the couch before she could talk to Marty, even though they were newly married and she loved him more than anyone else on the planet. Those few minutes of rest could stretch into hours, simply because she’s a total introvert who had to expend all her extroverted juice (and then some) throughout the course of her day job.

I guarantee you’re not reading that like, “Doey sounds like a real ASSHOLE.” You’re nodding in agreement because you’ve been there. We’ve all had jobs that pretty much drove us crazy and that seemed to leech our energies from us without our awareness. We’ve come home with absolutely nothing left to give.

But nothing changes if you don’t.

It’s your job to fill the well. It’s your job to recharge your batteries.

That’s why both Doey and I advocate creating a rhythm for your extroversion. Whether you’ve still got a day job where you use all your extroverted juice or you’re a full-time entrepreneur, it’s your job to begin scheduling Disciplined Introversion.

It’s your job to fill the well. It’s your job to recharge your batteries.

When you’re pulling energy from an empty battery, nothing works. Not your family, not your personal life, and certainly not your business. They’re inextricably linked. Further…

What you might identify as failure, procrastination, slacking, stupidity, or other horrible things (because your brain is an asshole) might actually be profound exhaustion.

Have you taken a break for a bit of solitude? Have you actively recharged your batteries by being alone?

I barely got to freaking pee by myself at the 2014 Brand Camp event. I totally understand. Sometimes you’re with people all day every day for days on end. How are you compensating for all that extroversion?

Quick ‘n dirty ideas for nurturing your introversion! Take a long walk or run in the park all by your lonesome. Sneak away to the library or bookstore in the morning. Draw yourself a bubble bath once the kids are in bed. Order takeout and make something with the time you’d normally be using to cook. Read. Paint. Draw. Strum your guitar. Lie on the floor and listen to music as loud as you want. Play in the dirt. Sew. Meditate. Pray. Write. Snuggle with the cats. Or dogs. Or sheep. (Whatever floats your boat.) Get coffee at the local cafe and do absolutely nothing else. People watch. Drive. Work out. Stretch. Nap.

We’ve got to monitor our energy levels and plan accordingly.

Three holiday parties in a row? Gonna need some extra introverted time.
Nothing on the calendar for the next week? Storing up extroverted juice for future needs.

Your energetic choices affect your business just as deeply as your selling, marketing, and financial choices.

No energy? No selling.
40% less energy than usual? Lackluster performance for clients.
Consistently poor energy? Fewer clients, less income.

This is, perhaps, the ultimate lesson in boundary making: learning to manage your own energy and to prioritize it above the other demands of your life.

There’s no shame in saying you’re tired and taking a nap with the kids, or in canceling a commitment because you need a breather, or in paying a sitter so you can have two hours to people watch. I know you’ll disagree and tell me you don’t have time or don’t have a choice or can’t afford it or hate me for suggesting that a sitter can be “wasted” on mere people watching at the local cafe, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

There’s no shame in recognizing and meeting your own needs.

It makes you a better business owner, a better partner, a better parent, a better human. When your cup is full, you’re free to fill the cups of others lovingly and willingly, instead of begrudgingly and with a careful eye toward conservation. (Because you’ve got 3 drops of “Yes, that would be great!” left, and you’ve got to use ’em sparingly.)

Which introverted activity can you commit to completing weekly? Add that puppy to the calendar and begin.

P.S.  Pick up a copy of Introverts at Work if you want to explore marketing and sales techniques for Quiet-with-a-capital-Q peeps like yourself.

Photo // Jon Canlas

How to find your voice. With examples and easy activities.

Here’s the thing. The thing about finding your voice and then expressing it. We can make it into a big, complicated search with much wringing of hands and lamenting of life circumstances, or we can do some activities and fill in some blanks.

I’m a fan of the latter, so let’s get your voice out into the world. I call finding your voice being a flavor, because hey, that sounds less cliche. And I call the most distinct flavor ever ‘cilantro,’ because people either love it or hate it.

Be a Flavor rule #1: Like stuff.

Any stuff. “Stupid” stuff, embarrassing stuff, petty stuff.
Guilty pleasure stuff.
Political stuff, religious stuff, hipster stuff.
Quirky stuff, funny stuff, nerdy stuff.
Geeky stuff, pretty stuff, new stuff, used stuff.

You already like what you like, but you probably haven’t made a habit of sharing your likes with the world. Sure, you’ve filled out those obligatory slots on Facebook for movies and music you like, but you haven’t explained the ways your love of Wes Anderson movies affects the color palette for your interior design clients, or that your undying love of Stephen King means you’ve never actually stayed in a motel, lest it turn out to be similar to Bates Motel.

Sharing the stuff you like brings people closer to you or pushes them away. It’s subtle, but it’s cilantro.

If you tell me you spend one day a week getting your mani/pedi updated, caring for your lash extensions, shopping for new Louboutins, and eyeing up the latest runway looks on fashion blogs, I can assure you that we shouldn’t work together.

Your likes are a window into what you truly value.

Without having to say “I value my physical appearance and wouldn’t hesitate to get plastic surgery if a situation required it,” your likes have spoken for you. I’m not as into maintaining my looks. It’s not good, it’s not bad, we’re just not a flavor match.

What would you walk a mile to eat, see, or interact with? Two miles? Ten miles?

If you could have only one recreational activity for the coming year,
what would you choose?

Which shows or songs clog your phone and make it slow down or act funky?

Which topic could you talk about for hours and hours, even with a complete stranger?

What fascinates you?

What would you like to learn more about?

I know it’s easy to skip those questions or promise yourself you’ll come back later, but I urge you to answer them now.

Be a Flavor rule #2: Dislike stuff.

If you’re anything like me, you have stuff that drives you absolutely fucking bonkers about life. I tend to have strong opinions, but holy hell do I lose my shit when: people stop in the aisles of grocery stores and block the traffic of everyone in the store with their carts, or drivers are too busy texting to follow traffic laws, or customers are rude to perfectly kind waitresses, or people get really, really specific with their questions about food at a restaurant. “Uh-huh. Was it grass fed? On a hill? Did this side of beef have a name? And was Gertrude petted each night before bed? Did anyone read her a bedtime story? Does she taste better with the alfredo sauce or the pesto?”

Most of my dislikes have to do with having respect for those around you on a consistent basis. If you’re likely to block aisles, text constantly, berate waitresses, and ask 15 questions about a meal before you eat it, these dislikes will push you away. If we’re like-minded, you’ll come closer and pull up a chair at my table.

Some questions for mining your dislikes:

What frustrates you on a regular basis?

What makes you crazy about your industry?

Which of your colleague’s behaviors makes you cringe?

What do you wish your industry would do differently?

What do you wish humanity would do differently?

If you could change just one thing about life on earth, what would you change?

Be a Flavor rule #3: Share your quirks.

Your first instinct is probably to hide your quirks, but these babies are pure gold.

Ready? Sometimes I avoid watching a TV show during its regular time so I can bingewatch three or four episodes all at once a few weeks later. Sometimes I say I’m really tired, but what I mean is I don’t want to take a shower, because that would mean putting on make-up, which would mean leaving the house, which would mean talking to people. (So I say I’m tired instead.) Sometimes I eat ice cream for dinner and share it with my dog. Sometimes I start reading seven or eight books at once and struggle to read for weeks and at the point when I’m convinced I have ADHD and should really schedule an appointment with someone, I read nonstop and finish them all in a weekend. Sometimes I don’t clean for a week or two so I can have the satisfaction of seeing the house go from kinda gross to sparkling all at once, instead of doing that responsible incremental cleaning thing.

The more specific I am with my quirks, the more likely they are to be universal.

And if it’s true for my quirks…it’s true for yours.

Start with what you find mildly to moderately embarrassing, and write away:

Sometimes I ________________ even though I should _______________ instead.

Once in a while, I _______________________________ when everyone thinks I’m
____________________________.

I think it’s fun to ________________ and then
_____________________________________, even if no one in my family agrees.

Enjoying this?  All that talk about being a flavor takes up much of Introverts at Work, which helps you communicate more clearly, as well as market and sell your work more effectively.

Pick up a print copy of Introverts at Work right here. Or grab the digital version here.

P.S.  Nab a sample chapter of the book here to see if this is your thing!

Kill your aspirational self.

You have an aspirational self. She has a thigh gap and eats like a champion. He has a six pack and is a stallion in the bedroom. All aspirational selves work out, don’t sweat, don’t fart, and don’t ever swing by a fast food joint for a late-night snack.

Inevitably, your aspirational self makes more money than you do. He or she is also fulfilled by life, never second-guesses a single decision, and is incredibly knowledgeable about every topic on earth.

Make no mistake: your aspirational self is the most interesting person in the world.

You’re constantly comparing yourself to your aspirational self and coming up short.

(Your house doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine feature. You haven’t made those Pinterest recipes or read those articles or implemented that advice. You ate a cookie. You missed a payment. You aren’t at Inbox Zero. You let that call go to voicemail.)

When compared to your aspirational self, you just plain SUCK.

(So do I. So does she. We all suck.)

Further, and based on this aspirational self, we all have a list in our mind of all the things we “should” do. The goals we should have and the activities we should be participating in to reach that aspirational future self.

My ongoing list pushes me to be an ultra-fit, super-social fashionista. It goes like this.

I should:

• drink one or two green smoothies a day
• run a few miles a day
• meet more strangers and make new friends
• buy whole outfits instead of individual pieces when shopping
• wear high heels instead of flats
• carry a purse
• use a blow dryer instead of letting my hair air dry
• watch less TV
• take more classes in person
• hire a maid service instead of cleaning the house myself
• read on my Kindle more
• answer my phone every time it rings instead of letting it go to voicemail
• send more snail mail to my friends
• do yoga every day
• cook unprocessed, whole foods three times a day
• read a wider range of books and get them from the library instead of buying them
• schedule more adventures for myself instead of playing it by ear

All the standards I want to place on myself from outside, as well as all the ways I want my thighs to be skinnier and my life to be more “normal” come out in this first list.

Now, I’ll take that list and replace “I should” with “I want to,” letting whatever doesn’t survive the switch fall by the wayside. Suddenly, my list is rather short.

I want to:

• take more classes in person
• send more snail mail to my friends
• do yoga every day
• schedule more adventures for myself instead of playing it by ear

Well shit, friend! Those things are totally doable! Instead of falling victim to the whispering voices in my head telling me I should be doing all sorts of crap I don’t actually care about, I’m limiting my energies to what I actually want to do.

Now, let’s refine those desires so they have numbers instead of the word “more.”

I want to:

• take a pottery class in person
• send one snail mail letter per week
• do yoga every day
• schedule a weekly adventure for myself

With those numbers in mind, I can schedule ‘em, add ‘em to the calendar, and go enjoy my closet full of decidedly flat shoes and mismatched articles of clothing.

Killing your aspirational self is the first step toward becoming the imperfect and lovely you we all deserve to meet.

P.S.  This is an excerpt from Introverts at Work.  Pick up your copy in print or digital format now. 😉

Want a sample chapter first?  You got it.