The Right To Be In the Room

The room was filled with a variety of men and women and bustling with energy. I had been invited to talk to them about how good communication skills could increase the visibility of their businesses. During my presentation I laid out a series of actions steps ranging from speech crafting, to customization of topics, to where they could find speaking opportunities. The audience was enthusiastic and very invested in making their businesses a success.

At one point, I asked if anyone wanted to receive on the spot coaching for a particular visibility issue. A woman raised her hand and shared that she had recently completed a 3 year training program and received certification as a health coach. She went on to say that prior to this she had worked in the health care field and after her children became of school age, began her training.

After asking what kind of support she needed, I began coaching her on how she could funnel her passion into a variety of presentations topics. At some point during our coaching, she seemed to freeze and I could tell she had checked out. When I asked her what she thinking, she said, “I don’t have enough experience to talk about what I do. I just graduated and there are people who have been doing it a long time and I haven’t.”

As I switched to my therapist hat, I took a moment and then said to her, “You have a right to be in the room.” I paused again and said,.”You have the right to be there. You may want more experience speaking, you may want more experience coaching clients, but you have the right to be in the room.” As she stared back at me I asked her a series of questions about her background in health care, the amount of hours that went into her training program and all the life experience she had being a mother and spouse. We figured out together that it added up to quite a lot.

As a therapist and coach I have repeated that phrase to many of my patients and clients. They want to write books, ask for a raise, start a new business or simply let themselves be seen and noticed. They feel ashamed because they can’t “just do it” no matter how much they want to. Most of the time it’s due to the negative beliefs they have about who they are and what they have to offer. When they share those beliefs with me, I never dismiss their fears no matter how illogical. However, I do ask them to explore what is really holding them back.

In my experience, people shift when they understand where their fear started, challenge it’s validity and get support for a new way of thinking. Only when their outdated view is understood and dismantled, can they catch up to who they are in the present. And when that happens, the relief I witness is palpable. Not only do they discover that have the right to be in the room but also get to take up as much space as they need.

Here are some questions to consider when you find yourself wanting to shift your perspective:

What would you notice or feel if you had the right to be in the room?

How would you be standing, sitting or speaking if you had the right to be in the room?

What is one step you could take today if you knew you had the right to be in the room?

Who is one person that would support you if let yourself believe you have the right to be in the room?

Remember, when you are ready there are lots of rooms out there waiting to be filled and you too can be the one to fill them.

Have any thoughts about the right to be in the room? I’ve posted this article on my public Facebook page. Please feel free to share your comments.

The Rush To Recover

We are at the beginning of recovery here in New York City from Hurricane Sandy and along with our neighbors in Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and the Bronx, we have a long road ahead. Other parts of the country have and are still being affected due to this powerful and devastating storm. And it has been devastating, which takes time to absorb-often more time than we realize.

As a trained therapist I have seen the remarkable ability we have as human beings to pick ourselves up and forge ahead despite the odds. We throw ourselves into fixing our homes, helping our neighbors and finding ways to get back to work. These are all admirable qualities and make us who we are. However, in the rush to recover, to feel that things are back to normal, we sometimes bypass the necessary space to feel what we have gone through and continue to witness. From my psychological experience, I have seen that we sometimes fear that if we were to express or share with others what we feel now or have felt during a time of tragedy, that it’s a sign of weakness or will hold us back from doing what we need to. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

It’s more than okay to say, I am afraid, or what I am witnessing makes me sad, or feel powerless. The acknowledgement of feelings does not trap you in your feelings. To admit to the very human reaction we all have when we experience something beyond our control, keeps us in reality. Being in reality allows for both deep feelings and the ability to take necessary action. Sometimes the actions happen first because we need to take them in a hurry and that makes sense. Yet when the immediacy of danger is over, we may feel other things and that is normal. We don’t have to pretend to feel upbeat if we don’t feel that way. We don’t have to be positive if that’s not our state of mind. And we certainly don’t have to be ashamed that we were or are scared for ourselves and others.

We need to emotionally step through this recent disaster knowing we have the capacity to be strong in body, mind and spirit. The more we give ourselves the permission to feel what we need to, to take take action as we need to, the more we will have our inner selves to rely on. So share your thoughts and feelings with people you trust and get the emotional support you need when you need it. When you do, the rush to recover will be more of a healthy stroll than a sprint.

Here are some ways to provide self-care:

Media Diet-Limit the amount of time you spend absorbing images and information that upset you. Watch for important news but give yourself a break from the constant barrage of information.

Move Your Body-Release stress through some form of movement if possible. Walk your dog, go to the gym, play with your kids out doors, stretch, or jog-anything that makes you feel a release.

Quiet Time-Take some personal time to write, meditate, pray, or do something personally creative that feeds your soul.

Connection-Stay connected to the friends, family and community that offer you the most support.