Don’t Chase Love

chaseloveWhenever you find yourself trying to force or control an outcome, it’s time to perk up and take a look at what’s happening within you. We’re all going to be attached to certain ideas; this is the nature of being human. For example, we’ll all want our loved ones to be happy; perfectly understandable. But if we start to assume that we know what will make someone else happy, then we’re in trouble. The minute you try to manage someone else’s path, you’re losing a chance to keep your own side of the street clean.

A lot of the time, we’re taking things personally. Maybe there’s someone we really care for, and we’re chasing. Right there, it’s a problem. You don’t chase love, you open to it. If you have to take off after it, that’s a huge red flag. Instead of spending your time and energy wondering what you can do to be perfect for this other person so you can get their attention and make them fall in love with you, you could be examining why you’re feeling so badly about yourself you’d tie up your Nike’s and chase your worthiness. You’re worthy. You’re the only one of you we get. You think you aren’t worthy of love? If someone isn’t offering it to you fully and openly, what are you doing? Have you ever talked to a couple who’s in love, and has been for thirty, forty, fifty years? I have. I make a habit of it any chance I get. I love to see couples who make it, and not once, in all the conversations with all the people I’ve met over the years, has any couple told me a story about a beginning that involved one person feeling deeply insecure all the time, and the other not treating them well. That’s not a solid foundation, and it won’t lead anywhere good. Also, it isn’t loving to race after someone who doesn’t want to be caught. If you love someone, you have to want for them what they want for themselves. If someone is making it clear to you that they aren’t available the way you want them to be, it’s disrespectful to refuse to accept that. It’s not just disrespectful to them and their feelings, it’s disrespecting yourself to keep trying.

It can hurt like hell when people we love don’t want what we wish they would want. This happens when we relate to the world and the people around us as if it’s about us, as if we’re in the center of this thing, and everything is happening around us or to us. When you can remove yourself from the center of the story and look at it from the sidelines, you’ll see it usually has very little to do with you. People want what they want. They are where they are. They have the tools they have. They may not want you, or anyone else the way you wish that they would. It’s also a bit nuts of us to imagine we can ever know what’s right for someone else. Isn’t it hard enough to grapple with what you need for your own inner peace? As long as a person isn’t intentionally hurting you or anyone else, you really have to assume they’re doing the best they can to work life out in a way that will feel good to them. Sometimes people don’t know what they want, and that can be hard to watch and hard to walk away from if you’re hoping maybe they’ll finally realize they want you, but you aren’t here to wait, because there’s not enough time for that.

When we start to try to control situations or people, when we find ourselves attempting to manipulate or cajole, or dance like a monkey to get what we want, it’s time to stop and check ourselves. Life is not about forcing the picture in your head onto the people around you–that picture of “how things should be.” No one will thank you for trying, and not many things cause us more pain than our attachment to that picture. It can be so hard to let it go, I really understand that, but grasping and waiting and hoping and struggling and doubting and obsessing….that is no way to live.

It’s brutal to have to release an idea, or another person, or a hope we held close, but you can’t cling and fly at the same time and you don’t have all the time in the world. I wouldn’t spend too much of it refusing to accept and open to things as they are; there’s so much power in that. Your self-respect is in the mix. So is your self-esteem. This is the stuff that has far-reaching consequences for your life, the way you move through the world, and the way life feels to you, day in, and day out. Let life feel good. It might hurt a lot in the short-term, but intense pain for a little while is so much better than a lifetime of suffering.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Ways That Life Will Feel Good

innerguidanceWhen you start to live in alignment with what’s true for you, life becomes so much simpler. It’s easier to say no when you mean no. It takes away the murkiness between people and around situations that might have left you scratching your head in the past, because now, you can just open your mouth and say, “I feel really weird. What’s going on?” It gives you the power to direct your energy, because you know what you want, and so do the people in your life. You don’t have to waste time or energy making excuses for yourself, or anyone else.

It’s not always easy to get there, and you can multiply that by nine million if you have certain tendencies, like people-pleasing, or feeling you aren’t supposed to be taking up any space. There are genuine problems in life; all we have to do is read the paper for three minutes to verify that, but a lot of the problems people grapple with are self-created. Not all of them, so let’s be clear. There are heartbreaking, piercingly painful losses we endure sometimes, and some people more than others, but I’m not talking about that right now. I’m talking about a loud inner critic you may have been living with your entire life. A relentless voice inside your head that is unforgiving and full of should. I’m talking about ideas you may have about yourself that are blocking your ability to be happy, to be at peace.

What stops us from listening to our hearts, and calmly but confidently moving in the direction we know we must if we want to rock it out in this life? Fear. Fear that we aren’t enough. Fear that our deepest desires may not be in line with what others had hoped we would want. Fear of hurting the people we love. Fear of trying, and failing. Fear of change and of loss. Fear of proving to ourselves that we aren’t able to do it, after all.

Here’s the thing. You’re alive. You’re living this life, and it’s going to feel good, or it isn’t. Ways it will definitely not feel good: If you let your shoulds rule your life. If you don’t try because you might not pull it off. If you allow yourself or other people to talk you out of your dreams. If you never act on your own behalf because you don’t feel good about yourself. If you believe everything you think, especially the nasty, mean-spirited stuff. If you marinate yourself in envy or bitterness or rage. If you keep a mental list of every way you’ve ever been wronged, betrayed, abandoned, and disappointed. If you never let anyone know you, really know you because you’re so caught up in worrying about what people would think if you dropped the mask. These are all ways life will feel very long and painful.

Ways that life will feel good: If you take ownership of the one thing you can, namely, how you face what you’ve been given. If you look your pain, losses, heartbreaks and betrayals in the face and say, okay. That happened. That hurt. Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences, here’s how I’ve grown, here’s how I’ve become more empathetic and compassionate as a result. If you remind yourself every single day of all the things you do have, right now. If you remember to let the people in your life know how you feel about them. If you feel the fear of not being enough, but go for it, anyway. Because you’re going to be here, right? You’re going to be living these days, and living truthfully feels a lot better than living in fear or blame or powerlessness. Maybe all your dreams will come true, and maybe they won’t, but you’ll feel a lot better about yourself if you’re following your heart. It’s not like tomorrow is promised, or that life is going to start somewhere out ahead of us after we get everything figured out. Life is happening right now, this minute.

If you’re stopping yourself from following your intuition, it’s time to get some support. We all need that sometimes. It might be a teacher who inspires you, or reading something that raises your consciousness, or it might be a good time to try therapy, but I wouldn’t just wait for things to get better magically. You know the saying right? If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working out so well, it’s time to try something else.

There’s only one of you. I really do not believe you’re here by accident. You have something to offer only you can, but you won’t be able to do that if fear is blocking you at every turn, or if that voice inside your head tells you you can’t. I can share with you that for me, personally, yoga was the way I eroded that inner voice that was so harsh and critical and relentless. I got on my mat, and I just didn’t feed that. I didn’t heed it, either. I kept feeding a loving, patient kind voice. For me, I needed an experience that was happening in my body. I needed the visceral feeling of hitting a challenge and seeing what came up for me. It wasn’t pretty or easy. It took a number of years, but knowing yourself and accepting yourself is certainly worth the investment of a few years, right? Developing a healthy, happy relationship with yourself is the thing, wouldn’t you say? I can tell you it feels a helluva lot better having a voice in my head that roots for me, than one that tears me down and says I’m unlovable at my core. Life does not have to feel that way, but you have to meet yourself where you are. It won’t get better unless you get off your a$$ and make it better. That’s the truth. You have to work, but what better use of your time is there than to make the world within you a more peaceful, loving, kind, compassionate place to be? So you can make the world around you, and between you and those you love, a more peaceful place to be; what’s more pressing than that? If you need help along these lines, try this series, or if you’re looking for community, interaction and support, you still have 48 hours to sign up for my next online course! See if that sparks something within you, but don’t let life go by for too long feeling stuck. We don’t have forever.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

Take the Road Inward

dalaiactionsThe desire to be happy drives all of us, but sometimes it drives us in the wrong direction. Anything we do, we do because we believe it will bring us peace or contentment or feelings of joy or gratitude, even things we do for other people. I teach because I love it. I love the feeling of being in a room full of people who are breathing and sweating and focusing and looking at themselves in an honest way, in a safe space. I love the co-creation of that space, and I feel grateful that I can offer ideas that might help someone to heal, drawing from my own healing journey over the last twenty years. It feels good. Doing things for my kids makes me happy, even if I’m exhausted and have answered nine million “why” questions by the end of the day. Folding those tiny tee shirts, or pairing up those little socks makes me smile, because it’s so fleeting. Soon my son’s socks will be bigger than mine, and my daughter will be rolling her eyes as she heads out the door with some guy I’m going to vet like I work for the FBI.

Anyway, my point is, if you ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, or why you want what you want, I can almost guarantee you’ll find it’s because you think this course of action will lead to your happiness. If you’re on a diet, maybe it’s because you haven’t been treating your body well, and are now trying to make friends with it again, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water, and tuning in to your body’s needs and desires. Or maybe it’s because you’re buying into the insanity that you can never be skinny enough, but if only you could, you’d meet someone fabulous. See what I’m saying? Whether it’s a healthy or unhealthy motivation, you’re doing it because you believe it will lead you somewhere good.

If you’re working a ninety hour week because you think a lot of money will make you happy, and someday you’ll be able to retire and enjoy yourself, I’d say that’s not a good course of action because tomorrow isn’t promised. If you’re chasing someone who isn’t really giving you the time of day because you believe if only you could “have them”, then you’d be happy, I’d say you’re also on a thorny path, but sometimes we’re in pain, and that’s what’s motivating us. We’re coming from a place of lack, and we attach our happiness to external things, people, events or circumstances, and so here we are on this quest to be happy, but we’ve taken the road to misery. I think a lot of people are living this way.

Ask yourself why you want the things you want. It’s a good exercise, and you don’t have to share your findings with anyone (although a great therapist can be very helpful in this regard). Make a list of those things or people or brass rings you’re chasing, and hold them up to the light, because you don’t want to spend too much time racing down Misery Lane. You really might need to recalibrate your GPS, and set a new course. Happiness is inside us. You don’t have to run or race or travel to find it. You really have to get quiet, so you can hear the voice of your intuition, so you can tap into that inner knowing. It’s got a very clear voice. It will tell you “yes, this”, or “no.” It’s just that sometimes we’ve drowned it out with a lot of shoulds.

It took me a long time to be happy. I spent a lot of my young adult years convinced I’d be happy, when…and you can fill in the blanks with so much stuff. I also spent a lot of time blaming other people for my unhappiness. Those are flip sides of the same coin. If your happiness lies in something or someone outside yourself, your lack of this person or thing or event becomes responsible for your unhappiness, but the truth is, no one is responsible for your peace of mind, or lack of it, but you. We each have our own work to do to unearth our joy, our passion, our gifts, those things that light us up, or terrify us, or inspire us. We all have to look at what’s holding us back, where we might be blaming, where we might be stopping ourselves with self-limiting beliefs. You have to know yourself if you want to be happy. A huge house isn’t going to help you with that, and neither is the “right” person. You’re the right person. Knowing yourself and accepting yourself is inside work. So if you’re looking for a road to get you there, pick the road inward.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Say Yes to Yourself

coelhoIt’s really important to be conscious of where you direct your energy. It’s easy to get caught up in all kinds of mental gymnastics that will do nothing but exhaust and deplete you. For example, you really don’t need to spend your energy on anyone else’s drama. You may have friends who always have some urgent thing happening—a fight with their neighbor, a disagreement with a friend or colleague, an ongoing frustration with their partner—that they want to discuss endlessly with you. You might also realize you’re drained when you walk away from these interactions. Or, maybe you’re allowing yourself to obsess about things over which you have no control (that would include most things). Perhaps you’re spending an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and fantasizing about a person who would be with you, “if only they could.” You only have so much energy, and you only have so much time.

Sometimes we overextend ourselves and say yes to everyone else, sacrificing our own needs and wants in the process. If you’re miserable, you’re not going to have a lot to offer anyone. Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary. If you’re someone who’s a natural giver and helper, you really have to watch your tendency to leave nothing in the tank for yourself. You might be able to show up for other people, but you’d have so much more to give if you took care of yourself, too. If you’ve ever ridden on a plane, you’re familiar with the directive in case of a “water landing”—you’re supposed to secure your own oxygen mask first, before you try to help anyone else, including your children. If you pass out, after all, then they’re really in trouble.

Sometimes we spend a lot of our energy thinking about how we look, and that usually includes our dissatisfaction with where we’re at right now. And in the time it takes to berate yourself, you could have gone for a quick walk around the block, elevating your heart rate, and taking in the trees, or the sun, or the breeze on your cheek. You could have done ten minutes of yoga, which might have served as a reset button for your day, or might have brought you into alignment with what’s in your heart. Ten minutes to connect to your breath and open yourself up is more powerful than you might imagine. It sure beats ten minutes of staring at a “beauty” magazine, which is not about beauty at all.

Everything you eat, read, watch and think about is food for your mind, your heart, and your body. They work together, and the more you feed yourself well, the better you’ll feel in all these areas. If you gossip about someone, you’re going to walk away from that exchange feeling crappy about yourself, because you’ll know you fed a weak part of who you are. You really want to choose the thoughts and activities that will strengthen you and fill you up with yes. Then you can take that yes, and spread it all over the place.

Carve out some time in your days that’s just for you. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but let it be enough that you can hear that inner voice. Without that, you’ll really be lost at sea, and may find yourself saying yes, when you really mean no. You may find you’re running on empty at a time when you need to be able to fire things up (which is most of the time). You’re precious, and you have gifts to share that only you can. In order to do that, you need to direct your energy. Don’t waste it on the meaningless stuff.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Check out my books here, and please send me love as I work on book number three 🙂


regretfearMost of us spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror. It’s always good to examine our choices and behavior, especially when we’ve landed ourselves in situations we never intended and didn’t want, but once you’ve looked at what happened, once you’ve plunged the depths of what was motivating you and what went wrong, it isn’t productive to swim in those waters.

Most of us can look back on our lives and point to choices or decisions we’ve made wishing we could go back and do things differently, but screwing things up is how we learn. Maybe you didn’t show up for yourself the way you wanted to; maybe you weren’t able to act on your own behalf in a timely fashion. It’s possible you participated in a situation that was very damaging to your tender and precious heart. If that’s the case, of course you want to get really clear on why you were feeling so badly about yourself that you allowed someone else to mistreat you, or felt unable to remove yourself from a toxic situation. The information you really need, though, has much less to do with the other party or the events around you, than it does with your own emotional and psychological drives.

So many people get caught up in the particulars. Maybe you wish the story went a different way, and you find yourself time traveling, going backward in your mind and rewriting conversations. Maybe you’re stuck on wanting to be right, or wanting someone else to embrace your version of events. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. It matters what you think about you. If you blew it, whether that means you let yourself or someone else down, I’d look at that, but I wouldn’t marinate yourself in regret and despair, that isn’t productive, and it keeps you stuck in a cycle of shame and self-loathing. You’re better off swimming with hungry sharks.

The best we can hope for is to learn and grow. We start with the tools we develop as kids. We enter young adulthood armed with information, some of it good, some of it really, really off-base. We do the best we can with what we know, and most of us make plenty of mistakes. We get hurt. We unintentionally hurt other people. We try to figure out how to be happy, and for most people it’s a messy process because we’re sent on so many quests that lead nowhere. Starve yourself and you’ll be happy. Accrue money and buy things and you’ll be happy. Meet the right person and you’ll be happy. None of that works, and in the meantime we’re walking in circles in the dark, banging into things and stubbing our toes or breaking our hearts.

The main thing is to learn as you grow. To make better mistakes every time until you find your way, and to do your very best not to hurt other people. Release the stuff that’s weighing you down so you can fly. We only have so much time. I wouldn’t spend too much of it kicking yourself.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you might check out the books for in-depth work!

That’s How the Light Gets In

Ring-the-bells-thatDo you ever find yourself in a situation and wonder how you ended up there? Maybe things are happening in your life in a way you couldn’t have foreseen, and if only you’d known, you’d have made different choices? Sometimes when we’re in the heat of a thing and every path looks full of thorns, it’s really hard to imagine any beauty emerging from all the strife, but the amazing thing about most people is our resiliency. We all want to be happy, we all have a song to sing, and the drive to withstand and carry on is strong.

Yesterday my seven-year old son took my 90-minute strong vinyasa flow class. He hasn’t done that in a few years. The last time he did he was four, and about halfway through he sat down and played with his Hot Wheels. Yesterday, he took the whole class. He was totally focused, and whenever I caught his eye he smiled at me. I have to say, it was pretty f&cking awesome. At one point I wondered what would’ve happened if I’d started practicing yoga when I was really little. It occurred to me that I might have made many fewer mistakes along the way, that I might have been in touch with my intuition on a much stronger level at a much younger age. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten involved with that guy who was 20 years my senior when I was seventeen. Maybe I wouldn’t have moved across the country with a man I’d been dating for only six months. Maybe lots of things. I bet high school would have been a lot easier, and college, too. But then I thought that if my life hadn’t unfolded exactly the way it has, I wouldn’t have that particular seven year old boy beaming at me from the back row.

Every experience we have, even the most heart-wrenching and confusing, gives us an opportunity to grow and to know ourselves more deeply. I’m not saying that everything happens for a reason, or that someday, everything will make sense to you. Some things are forever hard to comprehend. I’m saying we always have the power to decide how we’re going to respond to what we’re given, and we have the power to choose how much we’re going to work with our pain, and pursue a path of healing so that we can liberate ourselves from anything that is smothering that song we must sing. Also, you just never know what beauty might grow out of your heartache.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

People Aren’t “Against” You

foragainstSometimes it’s really helpful to understand that most people are not intentionally trying to hurt you. For the most part, people are doing the best they can with the tools they have. It takes time to figure out what your gifts are, and how you want to spend the finite amount of time you’ve got. Most people flail around in the process of getting to know themselves. We all have our pain, and our healing to do, it’s not easy. Timing has so much to do with all of this. The moment you arrived in your mom’s and dad’s world, for example, has so much to do with the parenting you received. If they were ready, if they knew themselves, if they were able to accept you as the miracle you were and are, if they were in a place to understand your needs had to come first, if they were prepared to make sacrifices when necessary, if they could embrace you and cherish you, nurture you, support you, and love you in all your amazingness, or not so much.

The same holds true for any relationship, whether we’re talking about family members, friends, colleagues, romantic interests, or people you encounter in passing on any given day. It’s funny that we can feel so separate from one another, when we’re really so much the same. At some point, we all have to grapple with life’s big questions, and work them out in a way that feels right to us. Unless you want to bury your head in the sand, or numb yourself into oblivion, there comes a time when you have to acknowledge and embrace the vulnerability of being human. I think we tend to make things harder than they are. You have seventy to one hundred years if you’re lucky. You have people in your life. You have the potential to figure out what lights you up, what sets your soul on fire, and you have the ability to choose how you’re going to spend your time.

Of course there are the practicalities of life; the keeping a roof over your head and food in your fridge kind of stuff, but you can always find beauty in each day, if you make a point to look for it. The laughter of someone you love. The opportunity to say something kind. The chance to offer a hug, or your shoulder, or a hand up if someone needs it. A moment to feel the sun on your face, or the breeze on your cheek, or an honest moment with the person handing you your cup of tea. It doesn’t take much to connect if you let yourself.

Sometimes we make a mess of things as we search to find meaning and purpose. Sometimes we reject essential parts of who we are because we aren’t ready to accept what we want or need. Maybe we feel ashamed or different or we loathe ourselves for not wanting what other people seem to want. There’s no formula. You are you, and there’s only one of you, and only you can figure out what your gifts are and how you’re going to share them. If you do that, life will feel pretty good. You’ll also need to figure out what you want in your personal life. Maybe you love being in a relationship, and maybe you don’t.  Maybe you find it easy to express yourself, and maybe you struggle to say anything at all about how you feel. We all have our stuff to work through.

If you cross paths with someone, and you get burned, you really want to consider that maybe this person is just struggling. That perhaps it has less to do with you, or anything lacking within you, and more to do with where they are on their journey — compassion for yourself, and compassion for other people, belief that you have something beautiful and unique to offer. The trust that if a thing is right, it’s going to flow, and if it isn’t, it’s probably for the best. These are all good things to consider and examine if you feel stung.

And by the way, people can be for themselves and also for other people. I think that’s really the idea. Honor yourself so you can honor the people in your life, and the people you meet as you move through your days. Take the time you’ve got, and light it up. Send love whenever possible, because this is no easy gig, and you don’t have to take someone else’s struggles personally. If you get hurt during an interaction with someone else, it’s personal inasmuch as you’ll now have healing to do, but everyone has to do her own journey. You can’t walk it for anyone else, and we never know what other people need to learn and grow. As Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Let’s enjoy the walk as much as possible, shall we?

Sending you love.

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here <3