Who are your friends?

It can be difficult to figure out who your friends, here’s a few pointers that make it easier for me to figure it out. I hope it helps you too.

1)Your friends hold space for you

This is #1 for me because this is precious! True friends hold space for us. They’ll listen to our crap for hours when we’re upset, they’ll reassure us when we need it, they’ll stop and focus on us, laser focus, and put their own crap on hold, for us.

It’s a hard thing to do, it’s rare, it’s precious. i invite to hold on tight to whomever in your life has that available for you, that stuff doesn’t grow on trees!2

2) Who’s prioritizing for you?

friends 2Do you remember that friend you used to drop everything for because you thought you had a great friendship but they didn’t do the same for you? Maybe they had something to do, somebody to see, something more important on their agenda. I’m not talking about dropping all responsibilities every time somebody needs salt, I’m talking about showing up for our friends. We all know how it feels when people show up for us and we all know how it feels when they don’t. It’s just a matter of being honest with ourselves about it, that’s the hard part.

We’ve all had at least one of those friendship. And it’s alright, things change, people change, it’s important to figure out when to cut our losses though. If there is a pattern of you showing up for somebody who doesn’t show up for you, it’s time to reevaluate where that person stands in your life. Life happens, martyrdom and abuse is optional.

3) Who’s talking smack behind your back? Or to your face?

True friends can be there for us in many ways. They sometimes tell us things we don’t want to hear because they care about us and they don’t want to see us hurt, disappointed or fall behind on our values. That’s what friends are for, they keep us honest, they help us grow into a better version of ourselves. The people that talk smack about you behind your back to others or put you down, to your face or otherwise, don’t have your best interest at heart. They may be all caught up in their own crap or simply don’t are about you that much. And that’s ok, as long as we know about it and connect accordingly. I invite you to keep close the friends that are ready to be on your side and show up for you, not use you as an emotional punching bag. It’s important to nurture balanced relationships.

cup4) True friendship is in the small things.

My roommate does the most powerful thing to me. She leaves a light on a night when I come home late. She did that from the get go when I moved in last year. Between my separation with them husband, moving, switching job and nurturing two business, I was hardly home. I left before sunrise and often came back close to midnight. Seeing that little light coming home meant the world to me. It meant that I was seen, expected, welcomed in that sacred space. True love is in the little daily things, it’s not always in the diamonds and expensive  vacations. Who are the people in your life that lead you feel seen and relevant?

Today I invite you to make a list of the people in your life you spend the most time with and how do they show up in your life. Invest in the ones that offer true friendship, cut back on the ones that don’t. By saving time on the ones that don’t, you’ll have more time, and joy, to dedicate to the ones that do. It’s basic human energy investment. Life is designed to be amazing, I encourage to spend as little time as possible with people that get in the way of that.

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Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself!

Paola

 

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Boundaries and sexual harassment

Anyone with somewhat of a presence on Facebook has seen the extent of the “#metoo” movement. I had a lovely conversation yesterday with a gentleman that reflected on all the times he may have been part of the problem and surely some times he saw a woman be mistreated and he didn’t speak up. It was a heartfelt confession and I’m grateful he felt safe telling me.

A lot of conversations went on this past week about the validity of such movement. Some people thought that there was a pressure for women, and men, to speak up about their abuse and harassment, some thought that men were being excluded from the conversation, some started to compare the level of pain and stigma per gender, some claimed their guilt, a lot of people opened up and expressed their pain. Another point of view I saw was the one of a woman demanding others to not victimize themselves, to stand in their power so they can recover from the trauma. I use the word “demanding’ very carefully and intentionally. I seldom think we can demand much of anyone really, especially not when it comes to processing painful experiences. I am a passionate supporter of inviting, modeling and being curious about others and that post wasn’t an invitation.

That campaign reopened a lot of wounds and teased people to ask themselves questions they didn’t dare to think about. At the end of the week, I see the conversation as a steady fire, burning strong, warming us up to others perspective. It’s no longer a spark or flame fighting in the patriarchal wind, this conversation, and the change with it, is here to stay.

What’s done is done, we can’t go back and rewrite hundreds of years of patriarchal culture and abuse. We can embrace the present and nurture each other and ourselves to the full extent of our ability. We can set new standards in place to build a future that is balanced, embracing and respectful. We can start today!

I spoke about boundaries before when it comes to time management and emotional productivity, it obviously would apply to sexual harassment as well. Do you think people would behave a certain way if they knew it was culturally forbidden and disconnecting?

We don’t have to speak up about our past to set ourselves up for a successful future. Setting boundaries is one of the easiest and most productive habit we can develop for ourselves. I invite you to contemplate an answer or action for each case scenario so that by the time it happens, you can be empowered and ready. Yes, it’s exhausting just thinking about it, I’m right there with you. Change is scary, and tiring, and we’ll loose friends in the process. And we don’t have to change if we’re comfortable with the Status Quo, but what if you’re not?

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Imagine somebody making an advance to you at a job interview, what would you do?

Imagine somebody catcalling you on the street, what would you do?

Imagine your friend telling you they were touched in a way that felt like a violation, what would you say?

Imagine somebody touching you in a way that you feel slimed, what would you do?

Here’s a 3 step action:

  1. Observation
  2. Expression
  3. Request
  4. Reaffirmation, as needed

What does that look like in real life?

People have been touching my hair since I was a child, without my permission nor my request, they just helped themselves. Hair is a body part, it’s connected to my nervous system and I prefer people staying away from it especially if they are touching it to give themselves pleasure. A gentleman touched my hair a few months ago. I’ve known him for a while, he’s a nice man, I don’t have a single bad thing to say about him. He was behind me and he yanked my ponytail, in play, I assume, the way you would a 5 year old child. I turned around immediately, called him back to me in a room full of people and said: “Hello Darling, you pulled my hair, I don’t like it, I prefer you wouldn’t.” He looked at me completely stunned so I reaffirmed: “I prefer people don’t touch my hair, it’s a boundary issue for me.” He agreed and walked away, end of story.

That’s a scenario when you can have the opportunity for a conversation. I’m not a violent person but I do believe in self defense. I invite you to decide what line is not to be crossed for you with coworkers, friends and strangers. Set your boundaries and be ready to fight for them. It may look like a loosing fight right now but I promise you it’s changing. People won’t stay on the sideline any longer, women, and men, won’t be silent as much any more.

People that abuse were abused and/or find cultural validation in their action. We have the opportunity to offer compassion as well as to model the behavior we desire from others. We change the world one small action at a time, one small step at a time. And it will take time, but we can start today. Change comes when we speak up.

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Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself

Paola

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What’s tolerable to you?

I’m not going to hold back on that one and give it to you straight: You get what you tolerate.

If we tolerate our friends being late and wasting our time, they’ll keep doing it.

If we tolerate our coworkers taking us for granted, they’ll keep doing it.

If we keep being passed on for a promotion and say nothing, it will keep happening.

If we let our partner treat us unkindly, it will keep happening.

All of it can keep happening, or worst, escalate in intensity.

What I invite you to contemplate today is your area of tolerance. What are you comfortable and what are you not?

For example, my definition of ‘late’ is 15 minutes after agreed meeting time. I prefer a message mentioning the delay by meeting time. Anything over 15 minutes after agreed time is officially late. Anything before 15 minutes is a delay that can be easily due to traffic, missed turn, wardrobe malfunction, long line at the coffee shop, etc.

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That’s my area of tolerance when it comes to time and meetings. I put that system in place years ago, that’s what I’m comfortable with, that’s the level of productivity I want in my life, therefore, I collaborate with individuals that match my needs which is a source of great joy.

That’s the point after all, we want to feel happy and purposeful, it will happen with individuals we invite in our area of tolerance.

Another example dear to my heart is when someone projects their anger unto others in person, through text, email or phone call. I consider all emotions to be valid and we can experience all of them freely. I draw the line at projecting negative feelings without consideration for others. Taking it out on others is not ok in my book. Some things need not be shared, we can be pissed on our own time and process it at our leisure, that’s what adults do. Children have tantrums, adults manage and process. Which will you be?

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I therefore draw a very obvious line in communication and any misdirected negative emotion is addressed in a firm and kind way. I don’t want that in my life, period.

Not tolerating certain things in your life doesn’t mean we don’t accept others. It means we choose what we allow in our life, and what we don’t. We can accept that people get angry and not allow them in our experience. We can accept that individuals are at a different stage of growth but we don’t have to be close friends or collaborators.

Being intolerant of others’ differences is being scared of them. I’m not scared of angry individuals or people that run late more than I can take. I just don’t like it and I have a choice to keep it out of my life. We don’t have to like and understand everything and everybody, we do have the choice to accept our differences and surround ourselves with individuals that are a source of joy and comfort.

So, what will you tolerate today?

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Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself!

Paola

 

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It’s not about the butter knife, Netflix or the toilet seat

What do the butter knife, Netflix and the toilet seat have in common? They’re the disguise of something much more profound that can destroy relationships.

The toilet seat, up or down, used to be the number one reason stated for a divorce. Some people would justify either which way a toilet seat is supposed to be, at the end though, it was a disconnect ending with a divorce.

The top reason for a divorce was soon replaced by Netflix when some couples shared a queue for DVD delivery and the queue would be rearranged without communicating with the other party. The choices for the upcoming movie could have been negotiated, again, a disconnect was created.

I’m in the business of human dynamics and connection so I pay close attention to things that may go unnoticed by others.

So what about the butter knife?

I was visiting a friend one evening and we had decided to stay in, cook dinner and catch up. My friend offered to play some music and asked me for my preference, I said blues, I love blues music!

As I began cooking, I soon heard yelling and a raging crowd coming from the speaker, not blues music. My friend was watching a political rally and the crowd was mad. The noise bothered me but I said nothing wanting to brush it off, and telling myself the music would be on shortly. But the music didn’t come, the yelling got louder and I lost patience. The noise was feeling like an aggression to me and I snapped at my friend harshly asking for it to stop. My words were along the lines of: “not now, I’m sorry!!” And I’m pretty sure it was accompanied with hand movement and cooking utensils.

My friend obliged and soon after turned on the blues music which lowered my blood pressure.

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We sat at the table and as a good French girl, I put the butter on a small plate, with a butter knife. We started eating, my friend used his knife already covered with food and dug into the butter. I made a sarcastic joke: “Would you like another butter knife?” which didn’t go over well. My friend got mad at me, I was blindsided and the atmosphere in the room got really heavy.

We could argue the relevance of the use of the butter knife, how dirty my friend’s knife was/wasn’t or how relevant it is to be French while leaving in the U.S. We could do that, and then what? It wasn’t about the butter knife.

By the time we sat for dinner, my friend was still triggered by my reaction about the political rally. He needed to feel seen and heard about the political climate at the time. Instead of checking in with him I reacted in an emotional manner and created a disconnect. My friend didn’t sense he had a safe space to express himself so he bottled his emotion up, the same way I had done earlier. That’s a very counterproductive thing to do.

My friend and I talked it out, figured it out and developed a system to be aware of ourselves and each other’s trigger. It’s all about awareness and being there for others. It’s not about the toilet seat, or Netflix, or the butter knife after all.

I invite you to develop that awareness of emotions, triggers and our reactions. They can show up in counterproductive ways and create disconnects. Connecting is a lot more fun!

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                  Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself

Paola

 

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To Should or not to Should, there is no question

When was the last time you enjoyed someone telling you: You should do this?

Chances are, it’s been a while, if it ever took place to begin with. We don’t typically enjoy being told what to do or being advised, in a superior way. The Should-er comes across as the person that knows more, knows better, telling a person who doesn’t know and ought to know better. The reason why I point this out is because I’m in the business of human connection and Should-ing someone is disconnecting.

I’m not saying the intention is always to feel superior or that the individual is not looking after you. Sometimes a Should is a warning or a word of caution.

For example: “You shouldn’t put your fingers in the electric socket”. I’ll validate that. Although I prefer the form ” I would keep my fingers out of the electric socket if at all possible.”

What I’m mostly referring to is the self-righteous position that takes place more times than needed. It’s the quick way to making someone do something with the supposition of a threat, punishment or negative consequence.

For example: “you should stop tapping your pen against the desk if you know what’s good for you.”

It’s the speculation that the other person knows less or doesn’t know enough to do the “right” thing.

For example: “you should donate to that charity if you want to call your self a community member.”

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Each example creates an environment of instability. Connection happens in safe spaces. Belittling, shaming or threatening don’t create safe spaces, they create stress, fear and resentment.

Would you like people to do something? Invite them and share with them the possible outcome.

For example: “I’d love it if you would keep your fingers out of the electric socket because I want you to be safe”. Now how easy was that?!! I personally feel the love in that sentence 🙂

How about working on not using the word Should at all, ever again? Let’s make it a dirty word, one that shall not be spoken, one that will be replaced with invitations and intentions of well being and support. What say you?

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                  Reach for the Greatest Version of Yourself

Paola

 

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Perfect Timing

Perfect timing is something I came up with, and regularly affirm, with a certain dose of confidence and humor. I believe perfection is an illusion, I also believe we can get as close to it as possible.

Perfect timing is a system I put together to get as much done as possible while being as happy and content as possible. It’s part time management and part emotional productivity.

I notice that we often set ourselves up for failure building our to do list or planning our day. We may feel the pressure to accomplish certain things, or a certain amount of it, regardless of dynamics, priorities or energy available.

 

Perfect timing requires prioritizing, a lot! What are the top items of the day that will get you closer to your goal? Just pick a few, not 20. The dishes can wait until tomorrow, following up with a prospect doesn’t.

 

I encourage you to get rid of distractions. Do we really need to watch a Netflix for 4 hours each day? Do we HAVE to be on Facebook hours on end, or every 15 minutes? Focus is a big part of success and reaching our goals. Entertaining ourselves is valid, letting that stir us from our goal is not.

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I also encourage you to prioritize your human interactions. Who are your top personal and professional positive influences? Make a list and space out the time spent with the ones that don’t fit the category. We can have a vast network of wonderful individuals, there is no need to be in touch with all of them all the time, especially those that demand more energy from us than we get in return.

 

I invite you to make a precise schedule and stick to it. At what time we show up, late or on time, is a make or break in relationships. When was the last time you heard someone compliment an individual for being late? My point exactly! We want to create connection not, the opposite. I passionately encourage you to be on time to everything. For that to happen, we need to give ourselves time to get ready, get there, communicate to all parties involved what our schedule is. I closed meetings on several occasions because they were going on longer than I had planned. It was communicated and I followed up later, which let me be on time to my next appointment. We are allowed to be unapologetic about our priorities as long as it is communicated in a kind and confident manner.

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I hope this helps. I have been able to be extremely productive with this system, getting the important things done and not letting the small stuff get in the way. What’s helpful to you in your productivity? I’d love to know! Comment below 🙂

 

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

 

Paola

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Vault It

One thing that has served me a great deal in my personal, as well as professional, life is to share as little information as possible, also called vaulting.
I find it very productive, and kind, to keep some information to ourselves, especially if that information was passed to us by others. The two top reasons are to respect the privacy of some individuals and to create a space of connection and trust.
Would you trust someone who divulges your most personal secrets? Or even just personal information about your work or your lifestyle?
I’m regularly shocked at what some individuals say to me considering the low priority relationship status experienced at the time or the nature of the conversation. Let’s keep in mind that the way some people behave with you is the way they will behave about you with others. If they gossip with you about others, they will gossip about you with others.
I feel for the ones that need that sense of importance that gossiping or communicating hot details can bring. We all need to feel connected. The same way that misery loves company. so does insecurity. Individuals that divulge too much typically think very little of themselves and their life. It’s a shame! I’m firmly certain there is something special about every single one of us!
So what to say and not say?
If you wouldn’t want somebody to say it about you, don’t say it about them.
If you’re not sure, say nothing.
If you’re unsure and have the opportunity, ask the person involved in the story if you can share the details. Double checking facts is helpful too.
Or, tell the story if it is really significant, just leave out all details that could trace back to anyone in particular. No name, no place, no dates.
I find that very few shares, regardless how sensational they can be, are worth damaging a relationship or one’s reputation, starting with our own.
Discretion is a precious talent. In an environment where social media reigns it could be tempting to think that more is better. I believe that better is better.
Let’s also take in consideration that social medias are tools, we’ll get out of them whatever we build with them. We can connect, or disconnect. That is our choice!
I invite you to share a story or some information below that you would find connecting and productive to others. Go!
Reach for the greatest version of yourself!
Paola
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