Swagger & Staying in the Moment

Swagger. I just love that word! Words really are whatever we want them to be or mean. I’ve seen folks use “swagger” as maybe not always a good thing. I think it’s awesome.

I was walking around the Missouri State Capitol Building (the Mo Cap) this week. Spent two days there. Going back old school, a little like in my contract lobbying days. Yet different. Viewing it with different eyes.

As I walked around the building, I noticed how people walked. I noticed the swagger. We all have our own way of walking. And we spend a *lot* of time walking the halls there. Looking at our phones, twitching for our phone, waiting for the bells to go off, for something to happen, for somewhere else to run off to. Yet, we are in the moment, observing all around us.

I think in many ways, a good lobbyist stays in the moment. That moment where all the possibilities are and where anything can happen next. Anything. The best lobbyists aren’t worried about what’s going to happen next. They may think forward in strategy, but their mind is always on where they are and what they are doing.

Reminds me of a Yoda quote from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It was one of Yoga’s lessons where he said to Luke that his mind was never on where he was or what he was doing, and that was Luke’s challenge in life. Yoda was training Luke to stay in the present moment where all things are possible.

I talked in my last blog post, Unconditional Love in Lobbying, about the Mo Cap being like a living organism. I think that lobbyists, or the really good ones, feel their way through the moments. Lots of intuition in that building, going with your gut, your knowing.

This idea of the present moment is true in so many things in our lives. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in or what you do in your personal life. The moment holds such power. That is where your intuition, your knowing and your power lies. That is the lesson that Yoda shared with Luke.

What is the swagger? It is the confidence. It is the presence. It is being completely and fully in ones own power. Standing in your own power. Walking in your own power.

Body language can tell us so much. Notice how others walk or stand around you. Notice their posture. Then bring your attention to your own. Are you standing straight? Are your shoulders slouched? Are you hunching over like a turtle, trying to crawl into your shell?

Our body can tell us so much about how we are feeling. Are we worrying about what others think of us? Are we scurrying around in fear? Or are we, to borrow a quote from another favorite old movie of mine, Stripes, “walking tall and standing proud,” comfortable in our own skin? Standing in our own power?

If you find yourself trying to crawl back into your shell, talk to your body. Thank your body for its message, and then change your posture. Even changing how we physically sit, stand or walk can change the way we feel about ourselves.

It is honoring the body’s message to us, thanking the body for its message and recognizing the thoughts or emotions that the body just told us about. Then transforming those thoughts through work with our body. That’s something we can do wherever we are, whatever we are doing, in each moment.

Sure, there’s more that we can do. We can work with those thoughts, and that’s what much of life coaching is about. But just noticing our physical body, being present with ourselves and then through that, recognizing our thoughts, can make such a difference. From that place, then we can make a change, we can make a shift.

It’s the first step to embracing our swagger.

Whose stuff is this anyway?

stop2“Are you in your business or are you in their business?” Such a juicy coaching question. I *love* this question! It all of a sudden puts the brakes on, causes you to look around and just…stop. Wow.

Well, at least that’s what happens to me when a fellow coach tosses that cookie to me. I slowly chew every delicious bite and then ask for my glass of milk and pat myself on the head. Satisfying.

Sweet clarity. It provides a great way to pull yourself out of the muck and mire – what I like to call the “igh” – and get a clear look at a situation. Dust yourself off, hold that stuff in your hand and look at it. Be the observer. Ask yourself, “Am I in my business, or am I in their business?” “Is this my stuff? Or is this their stuff?”

We can only control ourselves and our own stories – our own business, our own stuff. Other people’s stuff is simply that – theirs. And newsflash…it really says nothing about you! Pause and let that one sink in. … I know, right? Powerful.

fourI’m sure that I will be writing more about The Four Agreements and related books by the family of don Miguel Ruiz, which gets into this concept of our stories. I also wrote about it in my blog post The Power of Story, Creating Your Life.

I know there have been many times in my life where I’ve internalized the stories of others – their views and opinions about me. And what did that result in? All it gave me was drama filled plot twists.

I carried around their stuff, their bucket of igh and made it mine.

Not so fun, right? Let’s take it a step further. Ask yourself some of these questions…

  • Are you one of those people who feels everything strongly?
  • Do you walk into a room and feel the mood of the group as if it were your own?
  • Do you find yourself sensitive to the emotions of others?
  • Do you cry – I mean *really* cry – at sad movies?

empathThere are a lot more questions I could ask, but if you answered yes to most of those, chances are that you’re an “empath.”

Empath.

By the word “empath,” I don’t mean “having empathy” or ” having sympathy” for someone – that’s not quite it. We all do that. Being an empath is like having empathy on steroids. It takes it to a deeper level.

As an empath, you actually feel what the other person is feeling. In fact, it can go so deep for some folks that they even feel physical symptoms when someone they are close to is sick. Have you ever had that happen? It’s a little less common, but it shows how many different ways you can be an empath.

As an empath, if you accept the stories and opinions of others as defining you, you also accept the emotions that come with it from other people. You internalize their stories and you internalize their emotions. Just toss some more igh into that bucket of stuff you’re carrying.

I recently taught a tele-class on this concept for fellow coaches and just had this conversation with a friend over the weekend, where you could almost see the light bulb turn on. Stunned silence. In my experience, when folks hear about this idea it results in silence, quickly followed by something like “Damn, really??! Omg, that’s me! It explains so much of my life!”

Quickly followed by, “omg, what can I do?” My first response is always, ask yourself, “Is this mine? Or is this someone else’s?” – a variation on the coaching idea that started off this post.

empath-a-blessing-and-curseBeing an empath is a huge gift. It helps you to understand others. It also comes with a burden – you lug around that bucket of stuff from others. That is before you know how to work with it.

Pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, I love that a-ha moment. I had a student I’ve been teaching for the last two years who says knowing this literally changed her life. It helped her relationships with other people and got her off of this emotional roller coaster. She set down that bucket of stuff she had been carrying for years.

She told me that she always just called herself a “New Yorker *itch” – she is NY through and through and loves it. But after her “ah-ha” moment, she realized that was never true – it was only that she was always overloaded with the emotions of other people. Can you imagine being in such a big city and not knowing your were an empath and feeling everything from folks around you?

I know that place well myself. It was years before I figured this out. I’ve been a lobbyist for 25 years. Imagine not knowing any of this and being a lobbyist working crazy hours on highly controversial issues surrounded by the strong emotions of others?

Yeah, this realization changed my life too. So I wanted to share it here with you. The next time you are in a situation and feel overwhelmed with emotion, ask yourself, “is this mine? or is this someone else’s?”

If the answer is no, set down that bucket of stuff.

With no offense intended to this cute little skunk! Sweet freedom!
With no offense intended to this cute little skunk! Sweet freedom!