Category Archive Blog

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

My Personal Story: The Courage to Change

courage change abuse leadership development emotional intelligenceChange is difficult, no doubt.  I’m hoping that by giving you a glimpse into my life, you will feel motivated to make a change in yours.  There is a saying that you will change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.  If you are turning to substances to help you feel better, eating too much, becoming a miserable person (jerk) or starting to slowly “check out” by just going through the motions every day, know that you are currently in the fight of staying the same.

I’m going to advocate for change because my pain got to the point where I had to change.  Through the process, I learned I had the resilience I needed and was able to develop my character and integrity at a much more meaningful level.

Napoleon Hill hit the nail on the head when he said, “if you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.  You may see at one and the same time both your best friend and your greatest enemy by stepping in front of a mirror.”

In my 20’s and 30’s, I was of the mindset that nothing productive was going to come from dealing with the emotional pain I carried inside from my childhood.  I thought if I just pushed through, worked harder, read more, achieved more, that everything would be okay, and it would all work itself out in the end.

It didn’t quite work that way.  Life kept throwing me curve balls in the areas of failed relationships, financial struggles, health issues and a deep disappointment in how my life was compared to how I imagined it would be.  I was being “conquered by self.”  I finally had to step in front of the mirror to see who this “enemy” was that I was dealing with.  This is what I saw…

I grew up in an environment of domestic abuse, physical abuse and emotional and physical neglect.  By age nine, I had been repeatedly sexually molested by two different male relatives.  By the end of 6th grade, I had moved seven times and attended five different schools.   At the age of 15, I was admitted to a treatment center for Bulimia and was assessed as being in the late stages of adolescent alcoholism.  By age 18, I had moved a total of 16 times, four of which included temporary foster homes, and no, I did not grow up in a military family.

What I didn’t realize was that I was unconsciously reliving the wounds from my childhood over and over again in my adult life.  You can imagine how I felt about myself growing up in that kind of environment.  I didn’t feel loved, supported or appreciated.  In fact, I felt unloved and worthless.  And even though I had every intention of working hard, making a good life for myself and being successful, these underlying beliefs kept holding me back.  It wasn’t until I was hurting enough from this cycle that I realized I needed to figure out what was going on.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does this keep happening to me?” or “why do I keep doing that?” it is a clue that your past unhealed emotional pain is calling the shots in your life whether you want it to or not.  The suppressed emotions are trying to get your attention and need to be healed.  And that’s okay.  It’s what needs to happen.

Since I have lived through facing my “greatest enemy,” I want you to know two things.

  1. If I can overcome the emotional pain and adversity I experienced in my life, so can you.
  2. If you think that you don’t have to deal with the emotional pain that’s underneath those unpleasant memories from your childhood, that is simply not true. I know.  I’ve tried it.  At some point, what you resist, persists.  You can only go so far on will power.  The emotions need to be felt, healed and released in order for you to be authentic and live in integrity.  Otherwise, it’s just a smoke screen.

The process of making a change in your life doesn’t have to be mysterious or frightening.  In the beginning, it involves lifting the valve on the pressure cooker a bit.  Once that is done, the rest becomes a series of action steps to move you forward to the life you desire.  It’s definitely worth doing, and I think you’ll be glad you did it.

This article was written by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C., Owner and Leadership Coach at Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  If this article has inspired you to make a change in your life and you’d like to discuss the next step, please email me at cindy@aleadershipcoach.com to set up an initial consultation.  Please note that coaching sessions can be conducted in person or over the phone.

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: The Role of the Ego

emotional intelligence coaching leadership development egoWhen our emotional dependency needs (emotional intimacy; nurturing; unconditional love & acceptance; and boundary-setting) are not met during childhood, we live with constant underlying feelings of fear and insecurity.  We lack a solid foundation from which to operate.  This results in becoming preoccupied with the need to continually search outside of ourselves for love, approval and validation in order to feel safe and secure.

Enter the Ego… Think of your Ego as an invisible bodyguard that is with you 24/7.  Its sole job is to keep you safe and secure.  It is a survival mechanism.  Although it is very proficient at what it does, it is not without faults and limitations.

Here are some aspects of the Ego that you need to be aware of:

  • The Ego treats you as though you are a small, fearful, helpless child.
  • It will do anything to keep you from experiencing something that it thinks may harm you.
  • The Ego is fear-based and can only draw on information from your own history. It will base its “advice” to you on your past experiences. Its solutions are outdated and irrelevant to what is going on today.
  • It will supply you with any evidence that you need to convince your psyche that all your actions are justified.
  • If necessary, it will create false, half-true or imaginary illusions to keep you safe from what it perceives to be harmful.
  • The Ego is addicted to excitement and drama.
  • It loves confusion. It likes to make the unimportant things important and the important things unimportant.

Although the Ego is protecting you, it is at the same time keeping you emotionally immature and feeling helpless.  It relies on defenses rather than empowerment to keep you “safe.”  At some point, we have to ask ourselves, “what kind of way of life is this?”  It’s fine if all you want to do is survive.  Personally, I don’t want to live in a small box.  I want a better quality and quantity of life experiences.  I want to learn, grow and evolve.  The Ego doesn’t like to hear that because its existence is being threatened.  You can compare this to trying to take a banana away from an 800-pound gorilla.  He’s not going to be happy!

True power, safety and security comes from facing our vulnerabilities so that we can naturally feel safe and secure from within.  I don’t want to feel like I have to employ a bodyguard in order to go out and live my life.  But, in order to do it on my own, I need to shore up my unmet emotional dependency needs to such a degree that I truly feel loved, nurtured and accepted for who I am.  I’ll need to learn how to set boundaries with those around me in order to protect and promote my integrity.  Once I’ve demonstrated those healthy behaviors and know I can continue to protect myself in the future, I can thank my Ego bodyguard for his services and let him go.

If this blog resonated with you and you are ready to “reign in” your Ego, please contact cindy@aleadershipcoach.com to set up a free consultation.  If you’d like to learn more about the four emotional dependency needs, please go to http://aleadershipcoach.com/blog/.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: The Need to Set Boundaries

emotional intelligence coaching boundaries leadership development

Setting healthy boundaries is the fourth emotional dependency need.  Along with the three other emotional dependency needs (emotional intimacy; nurturing; and unconditional love & acceptance), it’s a need that ideally should have been met in childhood by our caregivers.  Setting boundaries is a crucial life skill.  But, how many of us really know how to do it?  Let’s look at what boundaries are and why they are important.

A boundary is a limit you set in order to protect and promote your integrity.  There are physical boundaries (your three-foot bubble) and emotional boundaries.  Emotional boundaries get violated when someone else tries to interfere with your ideas, beliefs, values and opinions.  Emotional boundary violations also occur when someone is verbally or emotionally abusive (name-calling, put-downs, eye-rolling, ignoring, etc.).

In childhood, we needed to learn that we have boundaries and the right to defend them.  We also needed to learn how to speak up for ourselves and set boundaries with others.  Setting healthy boundaries is a foundation for becoming emotionally mature and psychologically balanced as an adult.

Here are messages that we should have heard (or felt) in childhood in order to learn that we have boundaries and how to set them with others:

  • As your parent, I’m here to take care of your needs.
  • It’s my job to validate your feelings.
  • I’m here to protect you.
  • You have permission to explore your world.
  • It’s safe for you to look, touch and taste things.
  • I’ll make it safe for you to take risks and experiment with life.
  • You have permission to say “No.”
  • It’s my job to model for you how to protect your boundaries with the right person, to the right degree and in the right manner so that you will feel safe in the world.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes because that is how you learn.
  • I love watching you develop your own unique identity.
  • You have permission to ask for what you want.
  • It’s safe for you to be your authentic self, not what others want you to be.
  • It’s normal for you to cry sometimes.
  • You can trust your intuitive feelings to help you make decisions.
  • I’m helping you to fully accept responsibility for your actions and deal with the consequences of your choices.
  • You will always have daily “challenges” to overcome, and you have the power to overcome them.
  • You have permission to choose your friends, partner(s) and business associates based on how you feel when you are with them.
  • You have the right to have the things you want, become what you want to become, go where you want to go, live where you want to live, love who you want to love and to feel good, happy and healthy.

Adolescence is the time when we start to separate from our parents, which is totally normal, natural and necessary.  It’s part of normal human development.  As a teenager, we act out as a way to establish our own unique identity.  The ultimate goal is to be prepared with the life skills as well as feel self-empowered enough to leave home and live life as a healthy, mature adult.  Setting boundaries is a crucial skill in order to feel safe and secure in the world.  Once we learn how to protect our boundaries, we can safely pursue those interests and activities that feed our unique personality, needs and desires.

Next week, we’ll explore what happens when these four emotional dependency needs remain unfulfilled as we move into adulthood.  With these needs unmet, the Ego kicks in to protect us.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  If you are interested in individual coaching to increase your self-awareness, emotional intelligence and overall effectiveness, please contact cindy@aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: Unconditional Love and Acceptance

emotional intelligence love coaching leadership development

The third emotional dependency need is unconditional love and acceptance.  The degree to which this need was met during childhood will be a strong determinant on how emotionally mature and psychologically balanced we are as adults.  You are probably thinking that this is a pretty tall order to expect from parents who were doing the best they could just to put food on the table, a roof over your head and decent clothes to wear to school.  I absolutely agree.  I’d also like to add that over the past 2000 years, we still haven’t learned how to unconditionally love and accept ourselves and others.  This translates into most of us walking around feeling insecure and inadequate with a deep need to feel special, unique and wanted in the world.

For parents to “give you” unconditional love and acceptance, they have to act in such a way that you feel wanted and fully accepted for who you are.  In addition, you need to feel that you are truly unique and are being appreciated for your uniqueness.  We are all a little quirky, right?  Here are the messages that we need to hear, feel or see from our parents to know that we are unconditionally loved and accepted by them:

  • You are welcome.
  • You are loved.
  • It’s okay to feel what you feel.
  • It’s okay for you to want what you want.
  • It’s okay for you to see and hear what you see and hear.
  • It’s okay and also necessary for you to have lots of fun and play.
  • It’s important for you to know your own limits.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes because that is how you learn.
  • It’s okay to value your feelings and desires.
  • Other people’s feelings, needs and wants are to be respected and valued, but not owned.
  • It’s normal to have problems.
  • You are special, unique and irreplaceable in the world.

If these messages do not resonate with you, then you will need to learn how to meet these needs for yourself.  You can do this through reading self-help books, saying affirmations and prayer/meditation.  Every person deserves to feel loved, valued and appreciated.  If you don’t, you’ll need to shore these things up now as an adult.  Once you are able to feel unconditionally loved and accepted, you’ll be able to unconditionally love and accept others.  This does not mean condoning, excusing or rationalizing others’ less-than-perfect behaviors.  It just means that you are able to fully accept at a deep level that what has happened, happened.  It is part of our evolution.

If you feel you are ready to extend unconditional love and acceptance to others, I will leave you with this exercise from the book “8 Keys to Forgiveness” by Robert Enright.  It’s called Practicing Clearer Vision and Service Love.

Choose five people to focus on.  Say the following statements to yourself, not to the person directly:

  1. “This person is special, unique and irreplaceable in this world.”
  2. “This person may likely have been wounded in the past. He or she is carrying those wounds silently in his or her heart today.”
  3. “This person may already have encountered some injustice today and could be hurting because of this.”

After making these statements (silently), end the exercise by demonstrating an act of love at least five times randomly throughout the day.  This could be giving someone a hug, a smile or a “like” on social media.  It could also be being patient with a cashier, showing understanding to a colleague or comforting a child. You could also send a silent blessing to someone.

Next week, we’ll look at the fourth emotional dependency need which is setting boundaries.  Boundaries are a key component to emotional maturity.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

Emotional Intelligence: The Importance of Nurturing

emotional intelligence leadership development coaching nurturing

Nurturing is one of four emotional dependency needs that should be fulfilled when we are growing up.  (The other three emotional dependency needs are emotional intimacy; unconditional love & acceptance; and boundary protection.)  The degree to which these dependency needs are met largely determines our emotional maturity as adults.  It also influences how healthy and balanced our lives are.  Think of these developmental needs like the need to learn not to climb on the back of the couch or not to run out into the street to retrieve a ball without looking both ways first.  Those are developmental needs which help keep us physically safe.  Emotional dependency needs help us feel emotionally safe and secure.

What is nurturing?  Synonyms for nurturing include: cultivating, caring for, promoting, fostering, encouraging, cherishing, developing and supporting.  The opposite of nurturing is neglect.  Why is it important to a child’s development to be promoted, encouraged and supported?  It creates a sense of value within the child.  It creates self-esteem.  Without encouragement and support, a child feels unsure and alone which equates to feeling unsafe and insecure.  If we feel unsafe and insecure growing up, we will rely on ego defenses to protect ourselves rather than our own strong sense of self.  This is where defensive personalities and doormats are born.  They are opposite ends of the same spectrum.

If your emotional need of nurturing was not fully met when you were a child, you will need to shore this up in order to truly feel safe and secure with who you are and your place in the world.  You will need to take time to give yourself what you didn’t receive when you were younger.  These are needs, not wants.  If they were missed in childhood, some part of you is underdeveloped (a.k.a. immature).  The good news is that you can give yourself what you needed, but never received.

Nurturing means doing what is necessary to care for, promote and encourage yourself.  Again, it’s the opposite of neglect. In order to assess the degree to which you were/are nurtured, take a look at these questions…

  • Are you developing and supporting these key areas in your life, or are you neglecting them?
    • Health
    • Relationships
    • Career
    • Finances
    • Spirituality
    • Love life
  • Do you spend time alone to plan your future according to what is meaningful to you?
  • How well do you support your own self-care (getting plenty of rest, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, etc.)?
  • How often do you participate in meaningful activities like hobbies, social groups, volunteering, and/or taking classes, etc.?
  • Do you feel like you are promoting, supporting and encouraging yourself on a day-to-day basis by standing up for yourself and speaking your truth?

If the nurturing behaviors listed above were not modeled for you when you were growing up, you’ll need to learn how to provide this support for yourself.  With practice, these nurturing activities will help you to feel more in harmony with yourself.  You will ultimately feel more balanced, safe and secure in your life.  Next week, we’ll look at the third emotional dependency need: Unconditional Love & Acceptance.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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