Say Yes to Yourself

paulocDepending on your personality, the way you were raised, your response to confrontation, your possible tendency toward people-pleasing, your desire to be liked, and many other factors, you may have a difficult time saying no when you need to, or setting healthy boundaries when that becomes necessary.

You can’t be all things to all people; you will never make everyone happy all the time. Some people will not get you, or dig your vibe, or want to take a spin around the dance floor with you, and that is okay. Rejection never feels good, but it’s not ever your job to chase people down to convince them of your worth. If you suffer from low self-esteem, that’s something you really want to address, otherwise you will likely find yourself saying yes to things when you’d much rather say no. You may devalue your own needs and wants in an effort to be liked or loved or cherished, but that never works, because if you aren’t being yourself, you’ll know that. Maybe you’ll “fool” the other person, but you won’t fool yourself, so even if they think you’re just awesome, it won’t relieve your feelings of being unseen.

Some people would rather drown than ask for help, and others have a funny sense of entitlement, and no qualms about asking you to extend yourself on their behalf, even if they barely know you. You are not obligated to comply. Your time is precious and finite, and so is your energy. These are the most valuable gifts we’re given, and they’re also the most valuable ones we give away. Squandering those gifts is a real shame. In order to survive and thrive in this world, you have to be strong. You have to find the tools to heal any raw places within you that may need your kind attention, so that you aren’t driven by unconscious forces. You don’t want to be leading an “unexamined life”, because not knowing yourself is the loneliest thing there is. It’s not a luxury to take “you time”, it’s a necessity. Healing requires energy.

I remember the first time I flew, listening to the flight attendant directing grown-ups to secure their own oxygen masks before helping their children, and as a kid, this made me uneasy. As an adult, of course I get it. If you pass out, you can’t help anyone. If you deplete yourself and neglect yourself, you really can’t be surprised when life’s storms knock you down. Anything you starve is going to weaken, whether we’re talking about your houseplants, or your relationship with yourself.

Maybe you grew up in a house where your needs were not considered. Perhaps you’ve grown into an adult who believes it’s selfish to think about what you need to be happy, but it’s actually selfish to avoid that work, because if you’re miserable or lost or confused, you bring to the world around you much less of what you could be sharing. We each have a particular spark, and our job is to turn that spark into a flame, a fire, a passion of any kind for something. Your passion can be helping other people; that’s beautiful, but you’ll find that the best way to be of service is to clear anything that might be blocking your ability to shine. The more you care for yourself, the more you can give.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Make Better Mistakes

failureexperienceOften people think of their weaknesses or mistakes as failings or short-comings, when really, they’re just places where there’s still some healing or growing to do. If you notice patterns in your life, repeated choices you’re making that aren’t serving you, it’s actually a good thing, because we can’t change anything that’s happening outside our awareness, and many habits fall into that category.

A habit can be a habitual way of thinking about yourself that weakens you, such as, “No one likes me.” This idea may be so ingrained, you’ve come to accept it as the way of things, but if you dig a little, and get yourself some support, you’ll find you can choose a completely different thought. You could flip that idea around and say, “I’m longing for connection. I want to be seen and known and cherished, and that’s a beautiful and natural thing to desire.” Or, “I have deep doubts about my worth, and it’s time to figure out when and why that began.” Then you can get to work figuring out how to let down your defenses and reach out more. How to move outside your comfort zone, and let some love in.

The thing is, when we look back and try to organize our lives into lists of successes and failures, we really lose an opportunity to grow. I hear people describe shame when they get divorced, for example, because they feel like they failed, but usually, so much growth comes out of a situation that falls apart. Obviously no one would ask for heartbreak like that, but it isn’t a failure. It might even be a triumph, if you looked a piercingly painful situation in the eye and decided to release your grip on a story that wasn’t and isn’t yours to write. Perhaps you and your ex needed to release each other, so something beautiful and truthful could emerge. That isn’t a failure.

Maybe you quit a job with financial security to pursue your dreams, and everyone told you you were nuts. Maybe you had to downsize and simplify, but now you’re happy. Now you wake up excited about the day, and grateful to be alive. Not a failure.

Maybe you’ve had a series of romantic relationships that have ended badly. Maybe you have intense fear of commitment, or you find it hard to stay with one person because the grass always looks greener. Maybe you’ve hurt people because you’re in pain. The real issue isn’t what’s happened, it’s what you’re going to do about it. As long as you keep learning and growing and understanding more about yourself and other people, as long as you’re doing the best you can to be true to yourself without hurting anyone else, you’ll do fine. I think it’s a realistic goal to try to make better mistakes as you go along. It’s not that you’re looking for this moment when you’ll be “done”, because that doesn’t happen until your final exhale; it’s that you’re taking the information from each situation, regardless of the outcome, and learning from it. If you’ve hurt people in the past due to your fear or your anger or your confusion, you grapple with all that stuff, so that you don’t continue to hurt people out in front of you in those same ways.

Sometimes we set completely unrealistic goals for ourselves, or we have some very definite picture in our heads of how things should be, or how things should look or feel. Things are as they are. You can’t change what other people will do or want or say or need, but you can certainly work on how you respond. Getting down on yourself won’t get you far. Beating yourself up, or putting yourself down are two sure ways to stay right where you are, feeling awful. Apologize when you have something to be sorry about, be strong enough not to use people for your comfort, and move forward with the intent to take what you’ve learned and show up for yourself, and the people in your life, in a different way. That’s a realistic goal.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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Make the Shift (Take the Challenge)

Wherever-you-go-thereWhen you feel the need to make a shift in your life, you really have to start by making a shift in your thinking. And in order to change something, you have to be able to see it clearly. Sometimes a way of being or thinking, or moving through the world has become so ingrained, we take it for granted. We assume this is “how things are”, and this is , “the way we are”, and that how we perceive things is accurate. Creating some space between yourself and your thoughts, so you can take a good look at them, is really the beginning of any change.

Our experiences shape us. We can only know what we know, after all. And sometimes what we know is based on lies. If you grew up in an unsafe environment, then what you “know” is that people can’t be trusted, and how you feel is irrelevant, and the best you can hope for is just to survive. If you’ve been betrayed, disappointed, neglected, abused, or made to feel that you have to earn love in order to be worthy of it, you have some serious unlearning to do. But if these beliefs are so much a part of you that you don’t even question them, it’s impossible to unstick yourself. You’re trying to work within a false paradigm that’s been built around the idea that you are not good enough, not strong enough, not lovable enough to have life look or feel any other way. So the first step toward liberation is simply to recognize that you have a perspective, and that your perspective may be really bent.

Also, for many people, the ideas that,” you are not your thoughts, and you are not your body”, are totally new. You do not have to believe everything you think, as the saying goes. You do not have to identify with, or act upon every feeling you have. Like anything living, feelings arise, peak and subside. They don’t go on and on interminably. But many people are so reactive, they feel something, and act out. There’s no space between the event of the feeling, and the response to it. There’s no room to be curious, to observe, to reflect, to consider, and then to act. Or to not act.

Creating space between your thoughts, and between your feelings and your responses to them, is a life-changer. Knowing yourself is at the heart of any spiritual practice, and it’s also the key to living your best life. How do we know people? We spend some quality time with them, yes? We observe them, we listen to them with an open heart and an open mind and a desire to examine what’s real for them, what’s true for them. We ask questions when we’re confused. We trust, we nurture, we embrace. This is how we get close to people. You are a person. If you want to know and understand yourself, you need to spend some quality time with you.

It’s good to think about looking at things in a different way, or to consider whether your thoughts are weakening you or strengthening you. But if you really feel the need to make a change, if you’re deeply unhappy, feeling stuck, frustrated, or paralyzed by fear or a lack of confidence or self-esteem, of course you’re going to have to get to work. You have to deal with your particular mind, your specific way of being, your personal way of moving through the world and interacting with other people. Your own history, belief systems, struggles with intimacy, or difficulty acting on your own behalf. If you feel cut off from your own intuition, if you’ve lost the thread, you have to find tools that work for you so you can start again. Until you exhale for the final time, it’s never too late to do that.

Your Homework

Above is a link to a class. Let’s say doing this class is your homework. There’s a three-minute talk about making a shift, a five-minute seated meditation, and a short yoga practice. It would be great if you had some paper and a pen handy. The meditation is designed to help you take a look at the current state of your mind, and the quality of the relationship you’re having with yourself. You’re not trying to change anything at this point, you’re just looking for a baseline. You want to observe your “default setting”. Doing this once won’t get you there. It’s meant to be done every day for a week, so you can see how things are with you in general, not just on one random day. The practice is designed to get you breathing, and beyond that, to breathe in a conscious way, so you engage your mind with something that’s happening in the now. You train your mind on the present moment. If you observe during your meditation that your mind is loud, redundant and obsessive, you use the breath, and the physical practice to quiet the storm. If you find that your inner dialogue is harsh and unforgiving, you use your practice to feed a loving voice. If you struggle with a pose, that’s wonderful. You get to see if you can face the challenge calmly, and with compassion for yourself. If you can’t, that’s what you work on all week. If you fall out of a pose, you see if you can practice falling calmly (Type A personalities and perfectionists, take note).

You have to work with your own inner dialogue, your own personality, your own tendencies. At a certain point, it can’t be conceptual anymore, you need the visceral, raw, personal experience. Meet me back here in a week for another class that will build on this one. If enough of you participate, we’ll turn this into a 30-day challenge to make a shift. There’s no winner, or rather, everyone wins. You can email me ( all week and let me know how you’re doing, and what challenges you’re facing. Please be patient, I will answer everyone. If you’re serious about healing, I really want to help. Sending you love, as always, Ally Hamilton #timetogetbusy #toolsforhealing #dothework #noexcuses #letsstarttheparty #lifeisgood

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