Last Spring I took a vacation with my family in the desert of southern California. By mid-March, most of us living in the Pacific Northwest are at our wits' end with the grey, the cold, and the relentless rain. Migrating to where it's hot and sunny for a week felt a little like a pilgrimage: we took a journey into the desert, seeking rest and renewal.Read More
I hear from a lot of people who feel tired, stifled, belittled, overwhelmed, and patronized at work. They feel disrespected in meetings, put down by their "teammates," or are just exhausted to their core. So many of us put up with jobs and organizations that diminish who we fundamentally are. We feel bad, heavy, or mixed up at work but tell ourselves that it's just because we're not tough enough to "hang." We become convinced that since we feel badly, something must be wrong with us.Read More
About a week ago, I had a dream that I was being chased through a garden by a snake. It wasn't a large snake, and it didn't have fangs, but I was still terrified and was running like hell to get away from it. Finally, a kind person (I don't know who) caught the snake and, at my request, promptly cut its head off. In the dream, I was relieved that it was dead, but when I woke up, I felt horrible. Why would I kill this sweet little thing that didn't seem to want to hurt me? Maybe it was chasing after me because I needed to stop and actually pay attention to it.Read More
As a young Psychology student in college, I was taught that researchers still don't really understand dreams, but the predominant theory was that they're just how your brain processes information from the day - tossing out what's useless and keeping the knowledge you'll need in order to function tomorrow. No hidden meanings, no prophetic qualities - just an overnight update like the one your computer makes.
I felt sad and conflicted to learn this, and yet, I believed it for a very long time. I'd have dreams and hardly even pay attention to them because I figured that they were just nonsense.
That's unfortunate, because I think I could have avoided a lot of pain and heartache had I paid attention to this vast resource that we have access to every night.
I don't believe that every dream I have holds some major "aha!" moment, but for me, it's this amazingly easy, simple way to stay aware of what's going on for me at a level below my consciousness.
Carl Jung, one of the most incredible thinkers (and feelers) of our time, believed that dreams were the process by which you become conscious of unconscious thoughts and feelings. He taught that dreams reveal much more than they conceal, and that their interpretation is highly personal - no one can tell you what your dream does or doesn't mean for you.
I think this is why we've poo-pooed dreams in our modern culture. Since we couldn't categorize, measure, and standardize their meanings, we tossed them aside as neurological waste.
That's nonsense, and I believe it's high time we included dreams in our personal and professional development work.
Since I've reconnected with my own dream life, I've been able to understand personal changes I'm going through, have gained insight into my business, and have been able to process old pain that was keeping me stuck, all of which is pretty amazing.
At this point, I should note that for some people, dreams just don't really resonate with them, or they never remember their dreams when they wake up. That's totally fine, and those people have other ways to access their subconscious, intuitive sides. Jung taught that even if we don't remember our dreams, they're still working their magic and helping us become aware of what's going on beneath the surface.
If you're curious about the dreams you have and are wondering how you can start tapping into their wisdom (your wisdom), I've got one trick that I've found incredibly helpful.
The technique is attributed to Carl Jung's dream analysis method, but I wasn't able to find any hard evidence of that online (fear not: I've reserved almost all of his books at the library and will let you know what I find out later). Luckily, papa Jung encouraged people to just figure it out on their own and not overthink this, so here goes:
My version of a "cut to the heart of the symbolism in your dream" analysis technique:
Step one: When you wake up from a dream, it's helpful to do something that solidifies it in your consciousness since so often we fall back asleep or go about our day and forget the details that were so vivid while we were sleeping. Some people write in a dream journal that they keep by their bed, put a note in their phone, or just try to remember it once they're awake. Do whatever feels easy and light to you.
Step two: As you remember the dream, take any symbol or character from it (it can be a person, animal, stone - whatever interests you) and pretend you are that symbol.
As you take on that symbol's persona, pretend that symbol has a message for you, the dreamer. What does this symbol want you to know? What does the symbol say? What is that symbol trying to make you aware of?
That's it. That's the trick. And it's revolutionized the way I understand my dreams.
I'll give you an example that helped me understand where I was getting stuck in my business:
A few months ago, I had a dream that I was in charge of a downtown revitalization project, and one of the larger art pieces for the downtown square was an iron sculpture of an Orca whale. I watched sadly as workers welded on its rusty fins and tried to make it appear alive and majestic even though it was a sorry representation of the whale's true beauty in its natural state.
That was basically it - the rest didn't really feel important to me, so when I woke up, I just focused on that image of the steel Orca and how sad it made me feel (we don't have to conduct a 5-hour analysis on our dreams, we can just take the snippets that really speak to us).
As I sat remembering the dream, I pretended to be that iron Orca. I pretended it had a message for me, and the message came through clearly: the Orca represented my worklife, and while it wanted to be wild and alive, it was becoming a mechanical, stiff shadow of its real nature.
Message received: it was time to loosen the reins, step aside, and stop trying to force my career into a small, lifeless box. This totally resonated with me at the time, and it was exactly what I needed to be made aware of.
Now, on another day, maybe the Orca would have meant something different to me. Maybe Orcas represent something else entirely to you. And that's all fine and well. You can scoff at this entire idea - part of me does sometimes, too - it goes against what we've been taught about external, "objective" truths, and it can feel silly to try and bring our dreamlives into the professional arena.
But give it a try - even if it's just once. Play around with analyzing a part of a dream you had and see what you find.
Learning how to remember and interpret your dreams is a skill, but it's not one you need to fret over or feel any sense of "not good enough" about.
Your dreamlife is yours, and it's simply a resource that's available to you if you want to tap into it. It will always be there, and if you can just be soft and playful with it, you'll gain the insights your consciousness needs. Trust yourself with this process - whatever feels like the right interpretation is the right interpretation...with one big caveat:
The right interpretation, the one stemming from your intuition, will feel good - it will feel peaceful, clarifying, and calming, even if you get the sense that you need to make some changes, like I did with my Orca dream. Interpretations that make you feel afraid, bad about yourself, or fearful are coming from your ego - the part of you that hates any kind of change.
So trust the sense you're getting, but try to make sure it's from your growth-oriented deeper self, not the fearful part of you that wants to stay exactly who and where you are forever.
I hope you'll give this a try if it fits for you, and I would love, love, LOVE to hear from you if you gain any insights about your career by using this technique!
Have you ever had something come up in your life that feels eerily similar to an issue you've dealt with in the past?
A while ago, I entered into a business partnership that was all wrong, and while my intuition was sending me alarm signals the entire way, I chose to ignore them. Sure enough, the partnership had to end, and it wasn't a pleasant experience.
Something came up recently within a completely different context, but it had the same icky texture. Since our brains like to find commonalities and make sense of new experiences, my brain immediately declared, "This situation is just like that other one was, which means it's horrible and you need to get out!"Read More
In honor of Valentine's Day (and every day, really), I want to share some ideas for how you can demonstrate care to those around you without looking like you're trying too hard. Whether you want to use these tips on a love interest, colleagues you normally can't stand, or your office BFF, they're guaranteed to give you and the recipients the warm and fuzzies. You'll see them in list form, but I've also included a fun infographic below that for your viewing pleasure!Read More
I've been hearing from a lot of people lately who feel completely undervalued in their jobs. They use words like "under-appreciated," "replaceable," "a cog in the machine," and their hearts are heavy. It's a pretty depressing state to be in. You know you've got good ideas, you know you can contribute more, but you feel stifled. Overlooked. Dismissed.Read More
Have you ever watched two dogs fighting with one another who separate, shake it off, and then go about their day as if nothing happened? Or how about one of those National Geographic videos of a herd of wildebeests escaping an attack, slowing down, and resuming their search for grass to eat?
Doesn't it seem like they get over that cheetah attack a little too quickly? That's because animals - humans included - have instinctual methods of discharging stress and trauma almost immediately after it happens. They literally shake it off.Read More
This post goes out to all you spiritual woo-woo types who, like me, are finding ways to blend ancient wisdom with modern-day professionalism. I've got my flower child headband on, my kombucha to sip, and my Birkenstocks are close by in case I need to run out and hug a tree. Here's what I'm proposing today: your energy (or vibe) might be making work a lot harder than it needs to be.
It's something I think about and am attuned to personally in my work, and I want to expand upon a scientific concept that I learned about on Jess Lively's podcast, which you can check out here.
The concept that got me thinking about all of this is quantum mechanics. On Lively's podcast, she tells us about a groundbreaking experiment that Einstein did that I'll attempt to put into very simple lingo below:
- He wanted to find out what got electrons moving
- He used light and found that the intensity of the light wasn't what got things working - it was the frequency
- If the light was of a low frequency radiation, it would take way more intensity to get the electrons to move
- But with a high frequency light, he only needed a little intensity
Now, for this to make sense or even matter to us, we have to buy into the belief that all matter emits vibrational frequencies. To quote physicist Don Lincoln, "Everything—and I mean everything—is just a consequence of many infinitely-large fields vibrating."
This includes you and the emotions that you feel. Using techniques from the field of applied kinesiology, David Hawkins demonstrated that different emotions emit vibrations of varying frequencies. You can see his "Scale of Consciousness" in the photo to your left.
Are you still with me?
Do you wanna smoke some peyote and dance under the full moon? I kid. Mostly.
If it's true that everything - including our emotions - vibrates and that low vibrational frequencies are less effective in creating movement than high frequencies are, then it could also follow that approaching our work from a place of shame, anger, and fear is a recipe for suffering.
This has been absolutely true in my experience, and I can share a little anecdote in case it's helpful.
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Let the Pain of Not Knowing Lead You, I went through a pretty rough patch in my worklife last year. Business was slow, I didn't know what I was doing, and I was really worried about money. I definitely wasn't at my best.
Everything with work felt hard. I felt like I was trying to force something that just wasn't meant to be. I looked at job postings online. I almost signed a contract gig even though it gave me the heebie-jeebies all over. I felt desperate and lost.
Here are the two primary factors that got me out of that awful, no-good place:
Admitting how bad and ashamed I felt that my business wasn't really working, and...
Raising my emotional frequency by having fun and taking care of myself.
Nearing my 30th birthday, I'd had enough and decided to splurge on a trip to a cabin in the Mt. Hood National Forest with my sweetie. It was right along a river, had no internet connection, and it was quiet. So quiet.
I really enjoyed myself there - I read, we cooked, I laid in the hammock listening to the river bubble by.
And when I checked my email the day we got home, I'd made more money than I had in the past three months.
This hasn't proven to be an anomaly, either, I promise. My work resonates the most, whether it's through sweet emails from blog readers, workshop sign-ups, or opportunities that cross my path, when I a) set it up from a place of wholeness and inspiration and b) check out to go have more fun.
I never, ever, get the most exciting opportunities when I'm bummed out, desperately checking email or forcing the work.
There's a major difference between worn-out, raggedy ass hustle and aligned, intentional flow.
If you're finding that the electrons in your life aren't exactly moving in the right direction (or aren't moving at all), I'd encourage you to consider addressing your emotional frequency.
When you're focused on the thing you're trying to activate, whether it's a career you love, an intimate relationship, or anything you really want, notice how you feel.
Do you feel desperate? Do you feel angry that it's hasn't landed in your lap yet? Do you feel ashamed that you're so torn up about it?
Or do you feel excited about the idea? Do you feel like you can just assume it will show up? Do you feel light about it, even if it requires a lot of planning or action?
Your body knows the difference between forcing and creating. And luckily for us, we can change our emotional frequencies so that our actions are actually helpful instead of being rooted in those low vibes.
Here are five effective ways to amp up your emotional frequency so that you can do less pushing and more enjoying no matter what it is you're trying to make happen.
- Meditate. I know I harp on this a lot, and every guru in the world is telling us to do it, but there's a reason. If we can't get disciplined in our mind, it's harder to notice and shift our emotions. One of my favorite meditation apps, which all of my clients love too, is Headspace. It's free for the first 10 meditations. Try it out.
- Have more fun. I don't know what counts as fun for you, but having fun is absolutely the responsible thing to do. Do more of it. Most of us don't get enough.
- Treat your body right. If everything emits a frequency, and if higher vibes are generally more effective, how do you think that box of Pringles I just ate is gonna help? It's not. We're more able to do better work, quantum-leap work, when we're well rested, our gut is balanced, and we're moving our body regularly.
- Fast from social media and email from time to time. It's almost like there's an inverse relationship between how well my work goes and how often I'm online. At some point, the scales tip and all my fastidious checking and browsing becomes detrimental. Step back. For at least a few hours, or a day, or whatever you can manage. I promise it will up-level your vibe.
- Be careful about who you hang out with. Only the most "enlightened" among us can be surrounded by complaining, negative, toxic people all day and not be impacted. The rest of us are very sensitive and pick up all sorts of stuff from the people we're around. If you want to keep your frequency high, try to limit the amount of time you're with people who make you feel like shit.
Those are five of the things that have worked for me consistently and that continue to nurture my soul, work, and relationships.
Try some of them out the next time you feel like work is unnecessarily hard, or like you're pushing for something that's just not budging.
I bet you'll notice the movement kick in - movement that's graceful and light and that feels so easy you're not sure it's real.
If you're a working woman who wants more of this kind of ease and flow in her career, I'd invite you to check out my upcoming series of mini-retreats, A Wild New Work.