Tag Archives: life advice

Elephant in the Room: I’m Allergic to Being in a Realtionship

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.17.10 PMDear Cora,

I have been dating for a while but have never managed to commit to a serious relationship. I have friends who have found long time partners and it is something I really want. There have been several guys who I have really liked and put a lot of energy into pursuing something with them, but as soon as it starts to get off the ground I am suddenly turned off. It’s as if I’m allergic to getting what I want and run away. How am I supposed to get serious with anyone if I bail every time it looks like it’s about to happen?


The Runner


Dear The Runner,

You have a fear of the thing you want most? Welcome to adulthood! Someone gave us the idea that this would be easy, but I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that you only become more and more aware of what’s out there of which to be afraid. Don’t worry though, I’ve also found that the fear leads to the things that are most worth it in life. The trick is to not let it control you, which as you know, is easier said than done.

I used to be in love with my best friend (we’ll call him Olly). In fact, we only became friends because I tried to go after him before finding out he had a girlfriend. He liked me though and we somehow managed to create one of the closest bonds I’ve ever had with a member of the opposite sex. We talked every day, about everything. He was a writer too, and we used to compete between ourselves to find out who was better. We pushed each other to be better, built a safe-haven together. I never made an open move when he was with his girlfriend, but I guiltily couldn’t stop myself from imagining what it’d be like if we could be together romantically. Okay, I straight-up pined for him for over a year.

By the time he and his girlfriend broke up I was talking to another guy. He was nice enough, but if I’m being honest I knew even then that dating this guy was really a distraction from being head over heels for my best friend. So I was not prepared when Olly showed up on my doorstep saying he was finally ready to give us a shot. Here it was, over a year of desperately wanting and fantasizing and building up this bigger-than-everything-epic-romance, and he was just offering it to me. Someone call Hollywood because my life was officially the most cliché romantic comedy yet to be written.

But I turned him down. At the time I told him it was too soon after his break-up and I wasn’t in the mood to be his rebound. Not to mention I was seeing someone, a really nice guy who didn’t need a year to figure out I was worth it! Maybe we were better off as just friends – it seemed to be working just fine. I had all the excuses, but I never told him the truth, that I was terrified. What if we tried and failed causing us to lose everything? What if we got involved and it was nothing like I imagined? What if he hurt me? Would I be able to survive us not working? I didn’t think so.

We stopped talking shortly after that because it was too hard. I had to hear from mutual friends that he got back together with his ex some weeks later. To top it off, it never went anywhere with Nice Guy because my heart was obviously elsewhere. I thought I was protecting myself from my fears and inevitably caused them all to come true anyway. I am an avid fan of the mantra “everything happens for a reason,” but to this day I still wonder how things would be different if I had just given Olly the chance. I wonder what would happen if I had given myself a chance to have what I really wanted.

From my experience I can tell you Runner that the regret is far worse than the fear. I don’t want to see you have to carry that around. There is no way to make the fear go away, but you can train yourself to breathe instead of running. The key is not to rush, take it one step at a time until you can get comfortable and the desire to bolt lessens. The main thing I want you to take from my story though is be honest. If it is a person that you’re meant to be with in the long term, tell them you’re scared. Most likely, they’ll reveal the same feelings and it’s a lot less scary when you have someone to be afraid with.

There will be bumps and bruises, my dear. I can’t promise you that you won’t get your heart broken – no one can. The thing is that the best things in life come with their fair share of risk and you have to put yourself out there to reach them. Don’t feel ashamed that you have fear, that only means you understand how important something is. Don’t let the fear make your decisions though, because you are worth the risk, what you want is worth taking the chance. Give yourself the chance to run in the right direction.

Best wishes,


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coraelephantSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist – Top 10 Reasons to Chill Out

Not That PerfectionistIt was the end of a typical weekday at my house: a moving and shaking day at the office, home for some giggles and play with my young daughters, dinner, baths and bed. Finally, I get some time to myself – hooray! Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a massive pile of clean laundry that has been waiting to be put away for a whole week now. Momentarily, I consider putting it away, but … naah! Instead, I decide to grab my laptop, prop my feet up and work on some writing. I giggled to myself realizing that previously in my life I would have never been able to do that. That tiny bit of clutter would have gnawed away at me, making me super-uneasy and totally unable to relax in-the-moment.

You see, I am a recovering perfectionist. And, boy, I had it bad! Aside from my obsession with cleanliness and everything in its place, I would usually have multiple projects going on at any given point in time, agonizing over every detail, which, of course, needed to be executed juuuust right. Upon completion I would say in one long breath, “Woo-hoo, that was great, finally did it, okay, what’s next?” I used to pour over blog posts editing and re-editing them in the quest for perfect arrangement of the exact right words until they were finally worthy to be released (maybe). I used to work out 6 or 7 days a week and it would take an act of God for me to actually skip a workout!

For years, I would brush my neurosis off as, “I am just built that way. It’s in my DNA.” And, to some extent, this is true. I have a lot of passion and energy eager to pour out. But, what is different these days is my self-talk around this energy. The story I tell myself. I am enough, already. I still have high ambition and put tremendous amounts of love in what I do, but I give myself a break. I have loosened my grasp on expected outcomes and value peace and harmony waaaay more than flawlessness.

So, what was the wake-up call that helped me make the switch from high-strung to mellowed-out? These are the top 10 realizations that I made about perfectionism that helped me along in my journey to become easy like Sunday morning:

  1. “Perfect” is an illusion. It’s striving for the impossible. Even if this high-level of excellence can be met in a particular moment, don’t blink because it is a fleeting ideal. Perfection has an insatiable appetite, and the constant expectation of it sets you up for a whole lot of disappointment, stress, and unhappiness. All the while, the fun of life whizzes right by.

  2. Perfectionism stifles creativity and blocks the birth of fresh ideas. Sometimes we just need to throw the paint on the canvas, allow the notes to be strummed, or let the words pour out. When you mix intense worry into the equation, self-confidence erodes and the artistic flow becomes suppressed. Is everything just right? How it will be perceived by others? This type of thinking takes us out of alignment with our creative source and smothers the flames of imagination into submission.

  3. The ever-present quest for perfection is merely a shield from vulnerability. When we do everything perfectly, then we cannot be judged or criticized. It’s an excuse not to be vulnerable. Just as staying busy in the process of constantly trying to achieve the unachievable is a good way to avoid having to look at and deal with our “stuff.” (And we all have “stuff”). Unfortunately, the only way to heal is to deal (as in facing things head on). The shielding of perfectionism is merely a coping mechanism, which works temporarily, but meanwhile, whatever we’re suppressing only continues to gain more power over us.

  4. Vulnerability shielding inhibits connection. For me, I realized that if I really wanted to be a great writer, coach, mother, and friend who really connects with others then I’d have no other choice but to let down my shield and allow my authentic self to be fully exposed. This means being perfectly imperfect at times, owning it, and granting others permission to do the same.

  5. There is a big difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism. It’s called actually enjoying what you are doing! It’s okay (great, even) to have high aspirations. Shoot for the stars. Go nuts! But, go easy on yourself along the way. Enjoy the journey. Don’t get so tripped up in the outcome that it sucks every ounce of joy out of the process

  6. Perfection is to life what those plastic covers are too a really nice sofa.  Sure, it keeps the dirt off, but what’s the point?? The guitar whose notes are strum slightly off at times is better than the untouched guitar collecting dust on the wall. The laughed in, played in, loved in, house is better than the spotlessly clean one where you can eat off the kitchen floor. The published, yet slightly imperfect, blog or book that allows somebody else to have an “a-ha” moment or inspiration is way better than the “almost perfect” one that is still hiding away, never to be experienced by another soul. Don’t miss the point of life in pursuit of way-too-high standards.

  7. Self-worth is not determined by any outward measurement. This goes for any number on a scale, how clean the house is, how many feathers are in our cap, etc. It’s what’s on the inside that matters most. And, it starts with loving self-talk, not the “I’m not good enough’s” associated with striving for perfect.

  8. It’s even scarier. Yes, it can be scary sharing your passion with the world (whatever the medium). But, what’s even scarier is not sharing your passion with the world because you felt it didn’t meet your own ridiculously high standards. The reality is that nobody’s opinion of your work is going to be quite as critical as your own, anyway. And, even if it is. So what? It’s just somebody else’s opinion. Be passionate, create, love, share — this is living!

  9. Because what perfectionism really is: Throwing an amazing party and forgetting to have a good time because you are worried about some silly little details that nobody else even noticed or actually cares about! (Yes, I might have actually done this before *whistles*).

  10. Perfectionist parents create perfectionist kids. And, I want my girls to grow up knowing unconditional self-love, acceptance of what it is, and enjoyment of life. ‘Nuff said.

Perfectionism is a way of closing off and controlling things. It may look pretty on the outside but in reality it’s cold, isolated and dark. It’s the cracks that let the light in, anyway. So, go on and ease up a bit. Let some light in and shine on!

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3 Essential Keys to Living a Healthy, Peace-Filled Life



It has been said by many teachers that outer manifestation is a reflection of inner reality. I know the truth of that statement through personal experience. Inner peace for me was a far off concept when I weighed 350 pounds. Now that I have been of normal weight for nearly a decade I can authentically say that my inner healing was the major reason for maintaining the loss of weight.

Here are three important steps I took:


  1. About 15 years ago I made a very conscious decision about the way I was going to live my life. From that day forward I was going to live life as though I was on my deathbed looking backwards through time making sure I had no regrets. This meant that each action I took was done with the awareness that I was making a choice that had a future outcome. I became particularly aware of the choices that would affect my children as I wasn’t as conscious a parent in my younger years as I would have liked to have been — the old "If I would have known better I would have done better" syndrome.

    The first order of business was to forgive myself for the judgments I was holding against myself. The past couldn’t be changed but I had today, and the choices I made from now on would be done with conscious awareness. Living a life from the vista of no regrets is a very liberating and grounding experience. It reminds us that our "nows" are our "laters." It starts directing us to find our inner integrity and to live our life in alignment with it. It also gives greater insight as to when we are holding onto resentment, hurt, or just being plain stubborn. It becomes especially obvious when we argue for our limitations or when we contract inside, rather than choosing the easier alternative of being open and flexible with what is going on.

  2. The second decision was about love. There’s certainly nothing new about the dream of living in a world that is love-centric. Poets and spiritual teachers have been pointing us that way for centuries. We will all wake up to it in our own timing as the world has a way of reminding us that no one is exempt from what they have come to learn. And that lesson is always about loving what is. Sometimes our lessons can seem daunting and it is at those times that the quote "nothing is more important than the loving" has been particularly useful to me.

    Love is one of those wonderful English words that can be both a noun (a thing) and a verb (an action). For me, it’s best when it’s being both at the same time, as in "the loving." "Nothing is more important than the loving" has become my guiding life principle. It can be used as a reference whenever there is a decision to be made or an activity to undertake. I use it as my North Star. It makes life sweet and it lights the way up when I find myself in the dark. It provides comfort in the silence. Loving is the alchemy of transformation. If you use this principle you will soon see it produces strength inside you. It is simple but it is not necessarily easy. It takes practice. For example, you may find that often it can be the "no" on your lips as much as the "yes." Sometimes it’s letting someone struggle with their problem rather than jumping in to fix things. It is being more accepting, discerning, and even more neutral. It allows you to be your own authority because, at the very least, you know you can trust your loving.

  3. With these two principles firmly in place for several years I realized there was one more decision I had to come to in order to make my life work better. It turned out to be finding the blessing, or at least finding something to be grateful for, in my daily life. I added this to the recipe because I recognized a subtle propensity for a lack/fear type thinking that went on inside me. I recognized that being of service to others was an important part of what made for a fulfilling life. However, I hadn’t learned to be more appreciative for what I had. So what to do? The answer was for me to make a daily conscious effort to focus on everything I was grateful for and to look for the blessing in each situation.

And to you skeptics out there who might think that this sounds a little simplistic, do me and yourself a favor: give it a try. You may start to notice that you begin to transform from the inside out. To summarize:

  1. Live life each day as if you were looking from your last and live it with no regrets. (Having forgiven yourself for any judgements you’ve been holding against yourself).

  2. Make nothing more important than the loving.

  3. Look for the blessing or what you can be grateful for in this day.


These are three ways I have found to a live a healthier life. I have been reading an inspiring and practical book about health written by two people I deeply respect, Dr’s John-Roger and Paul Kaye called Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being in which they elaborate on other keys plus more on the principles I have been discussing in my blog.

Let me know if you find value in applying these principles.

Are You Doomed By Your Circumstances?

Last week, I wrote about ways to find your source of inspiration and asked you to write with questions and comments. Many of you did, often referring to my hypothetical question, "Am I doomed by my circumstances?"

As I said last week, that’s a really important question. So many people complain about the hand life has dealt them, especially in these challenging economic times. In my coaching work, I often find people who feel somewhere between helpless and hopeless.

The biggest challenge I see in all of this is that each of us gets to be right, regardless of our point of view. Henry Ford often said something to the effect: it does not matter whether you believe you can or you cannot – you are probably right. The logic? If you believe you can, you will probably keep on trying until you do; if you believe you cannot, you may well give up before even starting.

There are hundreds of clichés on this subject. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Or, if at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying until you do succeed. And many more. Here’s what Courtney had to say, and my response:

I’ve had this feeling so many times but you have to pick yourself physically and emotionally out of that thinking quickly, when it happens. In the last 5 years, two siblings and 6 friends have passed away. I was in grief counseling for a year and a half. Then this past fall, my work visa in the UK was denied on a technical error (which is still in the appeals process after 7 months) and I had to quit a perfectly good job and move back to the States. I am glad to be home but now have been unemployed since moving back. It has been the hardest and best few years of my life. I have countless times asked, "Why is this happening to me?" I think the saving elements, for me, has been to focus on what many blessings I have been given in life. Simple pleasures are where it is at for me: hearing a beautiful piece of music, the electric red sunsets in Texas, getting kisses from my puppy, and remembering sweet memories of those who have passed away. I have so much to be grateful for…my health, good friends, a great Mom, etc. What I am trying to say, very inarticulately, is I think the key is getting outside of your own head without denying your own feelings. What I mean is, accept and embrace your own emotions and allow yourself to express them but also, go outside, do something nice for others, try learning something new like a new language. Don’t let yourself dwell in a rut. The rut will get deeper and harder to escape.

So, there is just my two cents.

Read more on www.huffingtonpost.com


Advice for New Graduates

May and June mark an exciting time for students as they graduate from high school and college and embark on a new chapter in their lives.  Graduation represents a new beginning…a fresh start…an exciting entry into a big world of possibilities.

With the ceremony of graduation comes commencement speeches, when often, a well-known public figure imparts wisdom to the new graduating class. Although every speaker is different and has different perspectives, many address topics that they often feel are especially poignant and relevant to the time of graduation. Speakers may discuss the political, economic or social landscapes of the nation or world, or give a motivational pep-talk for new graduates to go out and make a real difference, or provide life lessons the speaker has learned in his or her lifetime.

To be honest, I can’t say I remember a lot of what was said at either of my undergraduate or graduate graduation ceremonies. But if I were to personally deliver a commencement speech or convocation address, there would be certain things that I would want to tell graduates. And if I were graduating today, I know I would have appreciated hearing these things myself:

  1. Believe in Yourself. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you as well.  Believe in all that you are, all that you can be and all that you stand for.
  2. Never Stop Dreaming. Dreamers have the ability to change the world.  They envision the impossible and make it happen.  Follow your dreams and you will achieve the unachievable.
  3. Do What you Love. Life is too short to not enjoy what you do.  Don’t do what you think you should do, or what everyone else wants you to do, or for that matter, what you think everyone wants you to do.  Find your own passion, and do what you love.
  4. Stay True to Who You Are. Don’t forget where you came from or what you believe in.  Remembering this will help you to make the best decisions in life and will help you to live a life without regret.
  5. Don’t Settle for Mediocrity. In Jim Collin’s first sentence of his book "Good to Great", he states,  "Good is the enemy of great."  Good is often sufficient.  Greatness, however, never settles.  Greatness expects more…always.  Expect the best from yourself and from others, and always look for the opportunities to make things better.  Don’t accept things as they are, for positive change comes from improving what is.
  6. Don’t Burn Bridges. There will be times in your life when you may not care what other people think, but you never know when those people may pop up in your life again.  Always do the right thing and maintain your relationships, for they may prove to be invaluable when you least expect it.
  7. Live Honestly and with Integrity. At the end of the day, you only have to answer to yourself.  Keep the promises that you make and stay true to your word.  Live in a way that makes you proud and in a way that enables you to look in the mirror every morning and like what you see.
  8. Live with Humility. We all are imperfect and it is important to acknowledge our flaws just as much as our positive traits.  Be thankful for your talents, for your successes and for the good fortune that comes your way.  Don’t ever expect things just because you think you deserve them.   You have to earn them.
  9. Love, Respect and Forgive Yourself. Self-love is most important when it comes to finding and experiencing love with others.  Always treat yourself with kindness and forgive yourself for the times that you make mistakes.
  10. Love Others Openly. When you love, love openly and unconditionally.  This will allow you to experience a deeper love that can celebrate the best of times, as well as get you through the worst of times.

Some of these may seem cheesy to some, but I believe that all of these are important to living a full, meaningful life on which you can look back and smile.

If you were to impart your own knowledge and wisdom to new graduates, what would you tell them?  What lessons would you want them to learn?

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