What TEA am I Brewing?

How we FEEL is always the direct result of what we think.

Managing your mind and deciding what you want to think is the secret to creating a happy life. Don’t believe me?  Let’s say for example that you have been let go from a job you love, through no fault of your own.  Some people think being fired causes the emotions that follow, but the situation is ALWAYS neutral. 

The situation is not good or bad, it simply is. The story we attach to the situation causes us to see it as positive or negative.

Our thoughts cause our emotions.

The thoughts we choose cause the emotions that follow.

*Neutral Situation = employment status

Thought choice # 1 Negative thoughts: Oh my God!  I got fired! What will I do for money?  I have no savings and it might be months before I find a job!  How dare they let me go after all I have given this company!  Why is this happening to me?  I’ll probably never find a job that pays this well again.  WHAT will I do without benefits?  What will people think?  I’ve been fired from a job I love!  This is the end of the world.  I can’t believe they would do this to me!  I’ll be out of money before I find work!  This is a disaster!  What will I tell my family?!  This is the WORST time to be unemployed!  I need to take the FIRST thing I can find so I can pay my bills, no matter how awful it is or how miserable it makes me.  This is terrible, terrible news!
Emotions created by thoughts – fear, anxiety, frustration

*Neutral Situation = employment status

Thought choice # 2Positive thoughts: What a wonderful opportunity to find work that I am passionate about!  This seems like just the right time to move on to bigger things.  I have no idea what comes next for my career, but it’s going to be wonderful!  I am embarking on the next segment of my ever-improving professional life!  What do I want to do next?  What really excites me?  This is so unexpected and delightful!  I feel like a door has opened to a room FULL of opportunity!  There is a purpose to everything.  I think something wonderful is about to unfold!  What PERFECT timing for something new and exciting!
Emotions created by thoughts – excitement, hope, enthusiasm

How can there be such different emotional outcomes from the SAME situation?  The situation is neutral – it cannot cause emotions. 
The thoughts we CHOOSE to think cause the emotions we feel. Period.

It requires some effort to improve our thoughts, but it’s totally worth it because, here’s the kicker; 

Our emotions drive our actions.

We sometimes think that our actions are based on our logical thoughts.  If that were true, we would all be fit and active because logically we KNOW that eating right and staying active keeps us healthy, happy, and living longer.  We frequently set intentions to eat healthier options, or to increase our activity levels. 

But what usually happens when we “don’t feel like it”?
Does that feeling drive the action, or is it the logical decision we have made to eat right and work out?

Right?  Nine times out of ten “not feeling like it” trumps our healthy intentions and we end up on the couch watching Netflix with a bag of potato chips instead of going for a walk or making a salad.  To create new actions that align with our intentions, we want to think thoughts that cause the emotions required to drive our actions.

In other words, instead of just thinking whatever thoughts you normally think that result in the actions you normally take, decide what actions you WANT to take, and then figure out what kind of thoughts will drive you to those actions.

For example, let’s say that our intention is to be active for 20 minutes after work, and eat a salad once a day toward our goal of being more healthy and fit.

Possible Thoughts and Probable Outcomes

I need to lose weight, so I have to take action.
I HAVE to find a way to be more active and eat right.
The last thing I want to do after a long day is work out!
I get so TIRED of making salad every day!
I’ve tried and failed to lose weight my whole life!  
This never gets easier.
Why bother?
Who cares?

PROBABLY not going to motivate anyone off the couch and away from the frozen pizza that’s fast, easy, and calling their name.

Those thoughts are easy to come by.  They pop into mind with no trouble at all, bringing with them all variety of doubts, second guessing and even more unhelpful, demotivating thoughts.

What will change if we try thoughts like these?

I want to feel energized, so I am taking action! 
I ENJOY the way I feel when I move my body every day! 
I enjoy finding new ingredients to make salads interesting.
The last thing I want is to feel worn down.
Staying active keeps my energy high! 
Chopping salad honors my health and brings me closer to my goal! 
It takes less time to make salad than it does to earn money for pizza!
One small step each day leads to my success!
Today is the only day I need to focus on. 
I make the effort because I want vibrant health and well being!
I have learned a LOT from past attempts, and can avoid pitfalls. 
This time I am determined and will stop for nothing!
I have listed all obstacles that have prevented me from reaching my goal in the past, and created a strategy to deal with each one.
THIS is the way I reach my goals!  

These thoughts take slightly more effort to conjure and require PRACTICE.  They pop out of mind much more easily than they pop in, but they are worth the effort because they bring with them
1) confidence that you can reach your goal, 2) courage to keep trying even if things don’t go exactly as planned, and 3) more thoughts that keep you feeling encouraged and moving forward.

It’s easy to see that these thoughts have a better chance of motivating a person away from the pizza and onto the elliptical, right?

So what TEA am I brewing?

TEA = Thoughts.  Emotions.  Actions.

Thoughts cause emotions.  Emotions drive actions.  

To drive the actions we WANT, we need to choose thoughts that generate the emotions that drive us in the direction we want to go.

“I hate salad!” drives us one way.

“I make salad daily to bring me into alignment with my intentions, and help reach my goals!” drives us another way entirely.

To reach the destination we desire, we need to find the driver (create the emotion) heading to that destination!

Grow on!

What TEA are you brewing?
What thoughts are keeping you from your goals? 
What thoughts can you choose to practice instead?

A Crucial Key to Reaching our Goals

From Rachel Hollis in Girl, Wash Your Face: “When you boil it down, that’s the heart of the problem with my father. He couldn’t understand what to do with a small child, let alone a girl. Since he didn’t understand me, he often unintentionally muted the parts of me that made him uncomfortable.”

A million times I have revisited a moment from when I was 5 years old.  I had been dancing all day, exploring my new found love for music and movement.  I waited excitedly for my father to come home so I could show him how well I danced, because I knew without question that dancing was something I did really well!  I LOVED the way I felt when I moved my body, and I loved the way the music made me feel, and I was one with the Universe and all things when I danced!  I couldn’t wait to share that feeling with him.

My father’s reaction after my one-song recital was, “I guess that will be OK when you’re old enough.”

All I heard was, “You’re not enough.”  I might be enough one day in an OK sort of way, but NOW, in this present moment, I am not enough.

After reading Rachel Hollis, I realize that my dancing made my father uncomfortable.  At five years old, my radiant light shown brightly, and my father marginalized me and made me doubt, because he could – in NO way – relate to my exuberant joy.  

This was a man who angered easily when I didn’t meet the conditions he thought appropriate for a child.  But WHAT was “appropriate” wasn’t defined, and therefore I was always guessing how to behave, trying on new masks I hoped might please him enough to get him to love me, or show affection, or at least set down his beer.  The one mask I dared not wear was Authentic Cindy (I didn’t spell it Cyndi back then) because he had already shown me how displeased he was with, and how unloveable and unworthy of love was Authentic Cindy. 

I learned this because every time I was truly, authentically, exuberantly me, the message I received was vehemently “don’t be that.”  (*Please see side note below.)

The problem with suppressing the authentic self  is that once we realize we can only be truly happy living as our authentic self, it may be hard to recall our authentic self.  It is hidden, buried deep beneath a pile of discarded masks that didn’t fit and didn’t attract the unconditional love we were hoping for.

Unconditional love is what we all seek.  So we bend ourselves like pretzels to meet conditions that might make us lovable in the eyes of others.

The problem with suppressing the authentic self  is that once we realize we can only be truly happy living as our authentic self, it may be fucking SCARY as hell to step back into the authentic self – the role we were born to play.  Because so much energy has been spent trying NOT to be that.  So many thoughts have accumulated telling us that ‘who we truly are’ is unacceptable, unloveable or unworthy.  

Reframing these thoughts will take time, but there may not be anything more important we can do to reach our goals. 

Without the element of self-love, goals for self-care are fruitless. 
We give up making healthy improvements because we believe we’re unworthy or unimportant, or whatever other limiting belief we have learned and integrated.

Reframing these thoughts will take practice but it’s crucial.  I schedule time each day to think my new improved thoughts.  I spent YEARS practicing old thinking patterns, so changing those patterns now takes practice to form new neural pathways.

Reframing these thoughts may require therapy. I certainly needed one-on-one help to see that changing my thoughts about myself was essential to reclaiming the authentic me that I was born to be. A good therapist or counselor can be immensely helpful at restoring self-love and self-care to healthy levels.

I am wild and audacious and loud.  My authentic self is fearless and fails forward without regret.  She is filled with joy that spills out naturally and noisily.

I am done living small because it might make others uncomfortable.  I am done wearing masks to get the approval of others.  Because If I cannot live the full, expansive version of me that I came here to be, then that makes ME uncomfortable.  I will pursue my passions and I will shine my light, and I will help others remember the light inside themselves.

If we want unconditional love (and we do!) then we must love ourselves unconditionally in all our flawsomeness.  We must love the darkness and the light.  We must love our flaws, missteps, and failures and feel entirely worthy despite those perceptions!

Unconditional love starts on the inside.

If we change to gain the approval of others, we will never love ourselves unconditionally.  When we love ourselves every day in all conditions, we don’t need the fucking approval of others.  And when we truly feel love for ourselves no matter what, that is what the world reflects back to us!  

We can stick to our healthy intentions and reach our goals because we know our own value and deeply accept our self-worth.  More people see our authentic, confident selves, and are drawn to our energy and inspired to love themselves unconditionally!

And isn’t THAT what we want from life?  To live deeper self-love, greater confidence, and absolute worthiness while inspiring our fellows to deeper self-love, greater confidence, and absolute worthiness?

I believe it’s what we all want at our core.

Grow on!

What parts of yourself do you mute so that others are not uncomfortable?
What are you telling yourself about that muted part?
What will change for you when you live the life you were born to live?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much self love do you currently have?
(1 is low and 10 is LOTS)
What will it take to get that to a 10?

*side note – My father was not an bad person.  He was just doing the best he could with what he had to work with.  I hold no resentments for his behavior and understand that those experiences helped shaped me into the AWESOME human being I am today.

Why we Give Up

There is only one reason that we fail, ever.  We fail when we give up.  As long as we haven’t given up, as long as we keep trying a new approach, a different tact, a fresh perspective, our dream is still a possibility!

So, why do we give up on our dreams?

We persist or give up based on our own personal habits, or patterns of action.  If you grew up in a home where persistence was rewarded, it’s likely that you don’t give up easily on your dreams.  You have probably developed habits that keep you moving forward even after what others might see as major setbacks.  If this sounds like you, this post probably won’t hold many insights for you.

If, on the other hand, you grew up in a home where your parents said they would do something and then didn’t follow through, you may have never learned how to map your way to the goals you are wanting, or plan strategies for the challenges that will arise.  You may have developed the habit of letting yourself off the hook, or making excuses for why you didn’t succeed. 

These are roadblocks to living your dreams.

Reaching our dreams requires changing our actions.  But continuing our habitual actions is always going to be easier than change, because it’s the familiar pathway we have practiced over time, the habits we have built, the thought patterns we’ve entrenched.

Let’s use weight reduction as our example because this is one that millions of people including most of my clients struggle with.

Most of the time we have a pretty good idea of the types of actions required to reach a goal.  If weight reduction is our goal the list of actions required to support that goal MIGHT include: move our body X minutes per day and X days per week, define a food protocol & check it with your doctor, plan your meals in advance, schedule time to shop for and prep meals, eat less XYZ, increase hydration, eat more produce, eliminate processed sugar, eat more fish, eat less meat.  The list goes on.

How many times have you decided to adopt one or more of these healthy behaviors?  How many times did you succeed?  If there were times that you did not succeed, why did you give up?

A change in action is not sustainable unless we also change our thoughts. 

Most of us give up when we try to adopt a new behavior because a change in action is not sustainable unless we also change our thoughts.  And the thoughts we have practiced up to this point do not support sticking to the goal, or we would have achieved our goal already. Right?

The thoughts we have practiced up to this point support giving up when it gets hard, giving in when we have a craving or something doesn’t go according to plan.  We let ourselves off the hook because we practice thoughts like, “I can start tomorrow.”  “One cheat won’t hurt.”  “It’s not my fault.”  By now a lot of us are realizing that thoughts like this are self-defeating and have created a pattern of failing to meet our healthy intentions for years or decades.  

I can’t start tomorrow because the present is the only moment in which I have any power. One cheat sets up a cycle of postponement that won’t get me to the finish line.  And a bump in the road may not be my fault, but reaching my goals is most definitely my responsibility.  If I don’t work for it when the going gets tough, who will?  And when the going gets tough, humans reach for what’s familiar and practiced – unless we make the effort to change the thoughts we are thinking.

Mindset is everything!

Changing our thoughts takes effort, but it can make the difference between staying stuck and reaching our goals.  You don’t need a coach to change your mindset, but coaching absolutely helps!  I know from my own experience and from my clients’ experiences that coaching transforms lives.

But there are books you can read and online courses to take if you’re not ready to invest in one-on-one coaching.  Here is a short list of my current favorites:

Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

It’s Not Your Money: How to Live Fully from Divine Abundance by Tosha Silver. 

Feng Shui Your Mind, Body, Spirit by Jill Lebeau & Michelle Dwyer

Freedom School by Ana Verzone includes courses in drinking less, building confidence, mindset, stop overeating and so much more!

If you think one-on-one coaching may be right for you, but you’re not sure it’s an investment that you’re ready to make, contact me to schedule a little chat!  You can ask any questions you have, I’ll tell you a bit more about how coaching works, and we’ll uncover your next best actions to move you toward the life that you’re longing to live! Zero pressure.

I want everyone to have a clear idea of how to get from where they are to where they want to be!

That’s why I like to include the Grow on! section. These questions help you coach yourself as you begin the process of growing more aware of what you want your life to be. That’s why I list resources for self-growth, like the ones above. These resources have helped me and my clients, so I know they can help you too!

Grow on!

What was your last self-improvement goal? 
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is ‘not at all’ and 10 is ‘highly’), how successful were you at reaching your goal? 
If you did not complete the goal, what was your reason? 
What self-improvement goal is currently calling your heart? 
Make a list of the obstacles that might stop you reaching your goal. 
Journal around what you will do when each of these obstacles appears! 

Go get it!  You GOT this.

Who Cares?

This insidious question can perpetuate a cycle of darkness that will feed itself to infinity if we do not disrupt the pattern.

“Who cares?” is a thought.  Thoughts are what cause our emotions.  Emotions drive our actions and the actions we take make up our life.

What sort of emotions stir inside you when you think, “Who cares?”
in relation to your own goals?  Not good-feeling ones, I’ll guess!

Because if YOU don’t care about your needs, desires, and goals – who does?  And thinking nobody cares what you want or need just feels shitty.  Am I right?

No one likes to feel hurt, and normally what humans do when we have shitty feelings is turn to whatever it is we have practiced soothing our hard emotions with.  At this time of year many people realize that they might be using their self-soothing tool too frequently for health, and try to reduce their use of food, alcohol, or whatever their substance of choice.

If food is your choice for self-soothing hard emotions, and you decide you want to reduce your weight for lots of great health benefits, what will be the normal response the first time you feel some hard emotions?  The average person is going to revert to eating something to numb those emotions!  It sounds ludicrous, but trust me, we all do this!  We revert to default patterns (habits) that we’ve had for years because that’s what’s familiar.  The average woman also then beats the crap out of herself for NOT sticking to her intention to do something different, even though all she really did was revert to the familiar pattern she’s been practicing for years, or even decades.

Disrupt the Pattern

When the difficult emotions arise, we can enter a hypnotic state that allows us to default to previous patterns.  Our first tool is awareness, always. We cannot change a behavior until we are aware that it’s happening.  Once we become aware, we must disrupt our normal pattern if we are to change it and form a new, healthier way of dealing with painful emotions. 

I often thought that if I could have a panic button to press as soon as I am aware of uncomfortable emotions that set off alarm bells, it might shock me into realizing that this moment is the ONE where I get to choose a different behavior.  When I get a thought that tells me sugar or pizza will soothe whatever I am feeling, I picture myself running around like a mad woman with an air horn, screaming at myself to wake up and pay attention because something important is happening, and that I need to be present. Sometimes I even heed her advice.

It’s always going to feel easier to get a pizza than to cook a healthy meal at home.  I mean really, who cares?  Who really cares if I feed my body crap that makes me feel sick and drains my energy?  This line of thinking will get me an extra large Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza delivered to my door every time!  If no one cares – do what’s easy.

There can also be an element of resentment toward our partner if they agree to order pizza even though they know it makes us sick every time we eat wheat and dairy, right? Cause that kinda PROVES the point that no one cares, or maybe they would have the self-restraint to stop me. More than one client has expressed a desire to rely on her mate for this type of support.

It helps to remember that building new behaviors and habits was NOT your first thought, so why would it be the first thing on your partners’ mind? Our partner is as new at trying to change the behavior as we are. It’s highly likely that your partner also wants to self-soothe. Or maybe they know the pizza makes you happy and they want you to be happy! Ultimately it’s not their decision how you soothe. It’s yours.

Why does this matter?

If we can be aware in the moment of choice – the moment when we hear ourselves think “who cares?” – what will change if we substitute the question, “Why does this matter?”  Why does it matter that I cook at home when it’s EASIER to eat pizza?  Why does it matter that I cook at home (stick to whatever intention you are trying to stick to) when nobody cares?

It matters because if I don’t care about my needs, desires, and goals, nobody will!  It matters, because when I was thinking with clarity and talking to my coach, I made choices based on my own
well-being and I set intentions for what I want for my life!  It matters because I deserve to have my needs met.  It matters because I want to be healthier than I currently am.  It matters because “I” matter!  

This has everything to do with understanding that we matter. 
You matter. I matter. Each and every one of us matters!

If someone else kept telling the person you love most that nobody cares about their needs and desires, you would rise up like a mama bear to defend their needs and desires!  Allow your inner mama bear to defend your needs, desires and goals.  When you become aware of the thought, “who cares?” be fierce in defense of your own needs, and the goals to which you aspire!   Remind yourself sternly that YOU care because your health matters, because YOU matter!

If you can’t bring yourself into alignment with the belief that you do matter just as much as the next person, please find yourself a counselor or an amazing therapist.  (MY therapist, Jill Lebeau, is freaking AWESOME and I am delighted to recommend her!)

If you understand (or at least can begin to see) how much you matter, and want to change some habitual patterns of thinking or behaving, maybe coaching is right for you! 

Email me at cyndicombs@gmail.com and tell me as clearly as you can, why you are considering hiring a coach, and what specifically you would like to discuss.  We’ll get you scheduled for your free 30-minute session and grow from there!

Grow on!

What do you turn to for soothing? 
In what ways is that habit harming your health? 
How ready are you to let it go? 
Why do your goals and intentions matter to you? 
How much do YOU matter to yourself? 
Who is responsible for making sure your needs get met? 
Make a list of ways you can self-soothe without harming your health! 
BONUS POINTS – Share ideas for healthy self-soothing in comments!

DITCH the New Year’s Resolutions!

I am not suggesting that we give up our goals.  Goals are crucial to creating the life we dream of living.  They give destination to the intentions that drive us, and the values that guide us.

Goal = destination.
Intention = driver.
Values = navigation.

All three are crucial when it comes to guiding our lives, so when I suggest that we ditch the new year’s resolutions, it’s not because goals aren’t important, it’s because BIG goals often feel overwhelming or unobtainable.

Daily intentions on the other hand are amazing tools, and weekly and monthly resolutions can also be super helpful because human beings have amazingly short attention spans.

Daily Intentions vs. New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s use one of the most popular new year’s resolutions as an example.  A very large number of people will resolve to lose weight in 2020.  I like to reframe that goal as health improvement through weight reduction, so let’s look at weight reduction as our goal.  

Example Woman wants to reduce her body weight by 40 pounds. 
If she simply uses “I am going to lose 40 pounds” as the New Year’s resolution, statistics suggest that she has an 8% chance of success.  Anyone who has tried to reduce their body weight knows how much effort it can take to drop just 5 pounds.  The full goal can be too big and too non-specific to provide the motivation required over the long term.  If losing 40 pounds is the goal, then seeing that first two or three pounds fall away seems insignificant, when really it’s a HUGE big deal that can be celebrated as the first milestone, and used as a foundation upon which the rest of the goal can be built!

If, on the other hand, Example Woman sets a goal to lose two pounds this week, and supports that goal with daily intentions that align to that goal, her chances of success grow exponentially.  For example, her daily intention might be to avoid desserts and move her body for 20 minutes every day.  Or maybe she chooses to focus her intention on walking 12,000 steps each day, and eating a healthy green salad with dinner instead of buttery potatoes or french fries.  Maybe she’ll choose to simply stop snacking after dinner for 6 nights this week and give up sugary drinks.  Each of these small goals aligns with the bigger, overall goal, and each of them is easier to focus on, and easier to achieve.

Example Woman has three possible outcomes:
1) She reached her goal and has a foundation of success and confidence to motivate her forward. 
2) She achieved partial success and can make small adjustments to do more of what worked and resonated for her, while doing less of what she didn’t enjoy or didn’t seem as effective. 
3) She made no movement toward her goal in which case it is obvious that what she did this week didn’t create the results she wants, so she can adjust the plan to try something different next week.

This process allows more space to review what is being achieved, which pieces of the process are creating the results we crave, which pieces of the process we enjoy (and therefore will be more likely to continue), and which pieces we do not enjoy (and therefore may want to find a different perspective from which to view it, or a different way to approach it entirely.)

Every time we reach that small daily or weekly goal, we’re building confidence in ourselves and our ability to create what we want to create.  Every time we stick to our intentions, even when we don’t feel like it, we build confidence that we can depend on ourselves.  We create the evidence that we always follow through, that we will do something when we say we will.  Our self-esteem grows as we walk our talk and reach our goal.

You know that picture you have in your mind of you standing at whatever finish line you aspire to?  The picture you imagine of you living the results you want to live – whether it’s a novel you are writing and want to publish, or the optimally-functioning, healthy body you are creating & maintaining, or that new language in which you wish to be fluent. You CRUSHING it. You thriving and prospering and happy. Yes, THAT picture.  Take a minute and really SEE it in your mind.  Allow yourself to feel the emotions that will flood you in that moment of triumph. 

The difference between living that picture and having it remain an unfulfilled dream is in how we map our route to get there. For most of us, taking a million baby steps will get us to the BIG goal faster than trying to arrive in one or two giant leaps. 

When  Example Woman reaches her goal of eating a salad daily and increasing her activity level, she can count herself successful even if the number on the scale hasn’t changed yet!  There are myriad factors that contribute to health improvements and weight reduction and they are NOT the same for everyone, so if the goal is to change that number on the scale, and that’s the only marker being used, it can be REALLY frustrating for Example Woman “A” if Example Woman “B” is doing the same things but getting different results just because of her genetics, or the part of her cycle she’s in, or the amount of water she is drinking.

Let the weekly goals be specific and achievable.  We get bonus points if we can make them specific, achievable and FUN! Thinking that physical activity needs to be unenjoyable is a very limiting belief! Open your mind to the infinite possibilities available to us! Make a resolution to try one new activity this week that engages your body.

So ditch the year-long resolutions in favor of short-distance goals paired with daily intentions that support those. You’ve GOT this.  I believe in you.  If I can improve my life one step at a time, anyone can do it.  I believe in us!

Grow on!

What is ONE healthy new habit that you could start doing each day?
(twenty minute walk, more leafy greens, drink water every hour, floss twice, positive affirmations, meditation, the list is endless)
What will change for you when this new activity is a habit?   
What is one habit you could quit today that would have the biggest impact on your health and well-being?

(using tobacco, drinking soda, eating sugar, being sedentary, drinking alcohol, and nail biting are a few that yield quick benefits when released)
What will change for you without this habit?
How much money will you save?

Gremlins on Horseback

Let’s use “horse” as an analogy for whatever new behavior you are trying to integrate into your life.

Every time we try a new “horse” our gremlins get their knickers in a twist.  They HATE letting us outside our comfort zones.  So when we try something new and we fall off the horse, our gremlins grasp the opportunity to kick us while we’re down.  And sometime’s that’s just enough to keep us from climbing back on the horse.  So I am here to reassure you.

Get back on the damn horse! 

It builds confidence and it let’s the gremlins know you’re serious about eating healthy, or drinking less, or whatever your particular horse is right now.  It’s OK to fall off the horse!  If you’re a human being, then it’s positively NORMAL to fall off the horse this time of year.  Most of us revert to practiced behaviors over new ones in times of stress, and there seems to be plenty of perceived stress around the holidays.

It’s OK.  But don’t let one slip (or a series of them) keep you off the horse!  Our gremlins tell us that we failed because this path was not meant for us, or that we are doomed to fail no matter what, so “why bother?”  

But if it’s something you want, and maybe have been wanting for awhile, then get back on the horse!  

Ask yourself why you fell.  What triggered you to fall off the horse?  What tools might help when that trigger arises in the future?  It’s going to come up again, so what can you choose to do differently next time?

And maybe we stay on the horse a while, and then we get thrown again.  What can we do then?

Get back on the damn horse.  

Research horseback riding.  Get a riding coach.  Read books about how others succeeded in riding this particular horse.  But don’t give up, and don’t listen to the gremlins when they tell you to stay down, never mind, and just forget about it.  Because you deserve to have it and you are capable of creating it!

Christmas visits with family, and holiday celebrations are going to kick a lot of peoples’ well-laid plans in the dirt.  It’s OK.  You’ve GOT this!

Just get back on the horse.  

Holly Daze or Holy Days?

There are exponentially MORE items on the to-do list this time of year. 

Right? There are trees to be trimmed, packages to buy & presents to wrap, gatherings to attend, cookies and candies to make, holiday meals to plan and prepare, lights to string on the roof, yard decorations to inflate, carols to practice, choirs to sing in, and so much more!  The list is infinite it seems.  Some of these things are traditions that go back generations and some are the latest fad making the rounds.

Unfortunately, along with the holiday cheer arrives the holiday stress.  If the cheer outweighs the stress, the holiday season can be fun!  If your stress is beginning to outweigh the cheer, STOP shoulding on yourself!  (I should do this.  I should do that.  I should be able to do it all and do it well!)

Take a deep breath. 

Look at your list and start making some cuts.  I know that a lot of you will say, “ALL of it has gotta get done come Hell or high water!”  But WHY?  Because others expect it of you?  Because someone might be disappointed if you don’t make their own particular favorite pie?  Can’t they eat a piece of one of the other 3 pies you made?  If you are a people-pleaser this time of year, you might feel guilty taking even one thing off that list.

What would happen if you prioritized the list by fun?  Put all of the things that really bring you joy at the top, and anything you really don’t enjoy, put toward the bottom.  That way if the list doesn’t get done, (GASP!) you will have gotten to the fun parts!  You deserve to enjoy your holiday.

And yes, doing things for others in the spirit of the season is fun
and uplifting!  So if it’s something you want to do for someone that genuinely lifts your spirits, by all means prioritize THAT!  But if everything you are doing is for someone else, and feels like “have-to” instead of “want-to,” and none of the list is connecting you to your own spirit or the true meaning of the holy days you are celebrating, then give yourself permission to reduce your stress by reducing the list!

Let good enough be good enough. 

Perfection is an illusion, and chasing it might just make it feel like a crappy holiday full of resentments instead of happy holiday full of presence. Do your loved ones need one more present to unwrap, or another 1,000 calories cooked on their behalf? Or will they prefer to have you sane and healthy and present with them for the holiday?

We can celebrate with faith & joy this winter or we can let the season go down to shopping chaos, overconsumption and overwhelm.

Thankfully we each get to choose.

Grow on!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
What part of the celebration brings you the most joy?
What would change if you dropped just one thing from your list?   
What would happen if you did ONLY the things that lift your heart?

Fear vs. Faith

Before electric lights and heaters, the long, cold dark of winter practically knit itself into endlessness at winter solstice.  People had to face the dark with fear or with faith.  Winter holy days began being celebrated to bolster our faith in the darkest part of the year, and celebrate the return of the light.  This holiday season, celebrate the return of lightness to your heart!

Fear and faith cannot exist at the same moment because one supplants the other.  So which one do you choose on the regular?

Whichever one you have practiced becomes the vibration that comes naturally.  One reason people seek a life coach is because they have been living in a vibration of fear for the most part, and are ready to trade that vibration for one that feels better.  Worry, doubt, judgement, overwhelm, anxiety, perfectionism, control issues, resentment.  All of these stem from fear.  

I am NOT saying that there is anything wrong with these feelings.  All of them are completely normal for human beings.  What I am saying is that when people experience more of these fear-based emotions than faith-based emotions, it feels pretty crummy.  Some people decide they WANT to feel better than crummy.  Some people get overwhelmed by the slew of negative emotions that keep attracting more fear-based thoughts that bring more icky-feeling emotions.

It is NOT my job (nor my desire) as a coach to tell people that they shouldn’t be having these emotions – quite the contrary!  Emotions are our internal guidance system like our GPS and exist to give us a signal.  All emotions are valid human experiences.  No emotion is “bad.”  It is simply a signal.  Emotions signal to us how we are thinking.  When we think thoughts that do not serve us, and drain our energy – we get a signal in the form of negative emotion.  The signal simply says, “you are having thoughts that drain your energy.”  What a person chooses to DO with that signal (emotion) is completely up to them.

Some people beat themselves up for experiencing negative emotions because they have gotten the idea somehow that negative emotions are bad, and by extension, they are bad for having them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

You are not your emotions. 

If you feel angry about something – NORMAL!  If you feel sad about something – NORMAL!  As a life coach, I never try to talk anyone out of experiencing an emotion.  I’m not asking clients to act happy when they do not feel happy.  Coaching is not about ignoring bad-feeling emotions or squashing them down, or sweeping them under the rug, or pretending you don’t have them. Own your emotions!  If you feel sad, it’s totally fine (and healthy) to admit it.  Say it out loud.  “I feel sad.” “I feel angry.”  If you are a human being, then it’s understandable that you WILL experience these emotions sometimes.

The emotions that come up for a person are the emotions that come up.  We cannot control our emotions.  But it is incredibly important to learn how to MANAGE our emotions if we want to exist with other human beings who also have emotions.  Again, this does NOT mean denying the emotion or burying it so as not to ruffle someone’s feathers, because THEIR emotions are THEIR job to manage, and NOT your responsibility.

Managing our emotions means that we allow ourselves to feel the emotion, but we don’t allow our emotions to define us or to spill over onto others.  For example: Experiencing sadness is completely normal & healthy for humans.  Being sad, or becoming sadness, or letting sadness “be” who you are is not normal & healthy.  If someone gets to a point where they feel sadness is a defining characteristic of their life, it will be very helpful to explore this with a therapist or counselor.

Letting the emotions spill over onto others is also a sign that the emotion is taking over, and not being managed.  In other words feeling angry is a normal part of life.  Yelling at others because you feel angry is not.  It means the anger is controlling you, and not the other way round. Again, it will be very helpful to explore this with a therapist or counselor.

Now, some people are going to think that it’s OK to yell at someone if they “made me angry.”  While it may appear that way on the surface, that’s not really what happened.  

When someone says or does something, that something is NOT causing your anger.  The “something” is neutral until you assign it meaning.  And here’s the really cool thing – you can assign any meaning you want!  The way that we assign meaning is by telling ourselves a story about the “something.”  

For example: You spot a friend on a busy street and wave.  You are sure she saw you but she did not wave back.

What does this mean?  Nothing.  But usually the mind will create a story to give it meaning.  And the type of meaning assigned is going to be based on the kinds of thoughts you think on a regular basis.  

If someone tends to have a lot of negative (fear-based) thoughts about others, or (fear-based) thoughts of inadequacy about themselves, the story the mind tells might be something like one of these: “Well she was rude!  How dare she ignore me!” “I know she saw me, why didn’t she wave?  Maybe she’s not really my friend or maybe she heard about what happened the other day!” “What if she doesn’t like me anymore?”  “Well she’s obviously not my friend.  I guess I can delete her number.”

If someone tends toward more positive (faith-based) thoughts, the story the mind tells might be something more like one of these: “Wow she must have been really distracted to not even see me here!”  “We’ll have a good laugh next time we talk when I tell her I saw her but she didn’t see me!”  

Nothing has meaning until the human brain attaches a story to it, so pick your stories wisely so instead of depleting your energy, and leaving you full of fear or worry, they add value to your life & build your faith!

Fear-based thoughts drain energy.  Faith-based thoughts boost your energy, or at least don’t diminish your energy.  And you get to choose!  If you tend toward a habit of fear-based thinking, you may find your energy depleted a LOT. 

It takes practice to retrain your brain, but reclaiming your energy is worth the try!

Grow on!

What fear-based thoughts are you entertaining?
How do they affect your energy?
What faith-based thoughts come easily?
What affect do these have on your energy?
What will change for you when you shift to more faith-based thinking?

Baby Steps

Focus on just ONE thing.

Humans often feel overwhelmed because there is so MUCH we choose to do.  We just can’t fit it all in our heads sometimes.  So pick just ONE, and focus on that.

Yes, you want it all.  You deserve it all, and you can have it all. 

But you can’t have it all TODAY.  

So what can you have today?  We need to start somewhere, so sit with that list of desires and decide which one thing you want to focus on first.  Maybe you want a new job, you want to reduce your weight, and you’ve been meaning to start writing that novel in your spare time.  Pick just one to start, and focus on that one goal.  Focusing on all of them splits our energy so there is less of it to spend on anything!  Choose the one that is most calling to your soul at this moment.

Then break that goal into bite-sized chunks.

Let’s use weight reduction as our example because it’s a challenge that many of us relate to. 

What is one small step that you can take today that moves you closer to that one goal?  Maybe there are two small steps you can take.  Maybe the first step is to make a list of the steps required to complete your goal.  Make that list and then prioritize it.

Things to do on this list might include changing the foods we choose, adding more physical activity, journaling, hiring a coach, food & activity tracking, and many other tools that may appeal to you to provide results in the weight reduction/health improvement category.

If we try to add all of these, it quickly becomes cumbersome to try to juggle all of these new behaviors at the same time.  So pick just one step and focus on that piece.  Let one of those new behaviors be your starting point.  If we have been completely or mostly sedentary, then the most obvious place to begin might be increasing physical activity.  Increasing physical activity will look different for each individual, so do not compare your own starting place to anyone else’s!  Just start moving.  

Pick an activity you enjoy and put it in the schedule on a regular basis (at least 3 times a week).  Then show up for yourself! 

Pro tip: If you hate going to the gym, don’t try to make that your keystone habit!  There are a million ways to get active, so choose something you enjoy.  Create a dance party indoor living room, even if it’s just one song each morning, or find a dance class near you.  Swimming can be fun year round if you live near an indoor pool or in a warm climate.  Walking with friends gets the blood flowing and gives us a chance to connect with someone.

Don’t judge yourself!  If you tell yourself you are too old, or out-of-shape to move your body, your body will believe you and just sit on the couch!

We’re not asking ourselves to do ALL the things society is ‘shoulding’ on us.  We have chosen one piece of one goal that is important to us, and we have committed to do it consistently until it’s a habit. 

Once we have created that habit, we can return to our list of goals and decide which piece to add next.  We evaluate the list to see which piece will provide the biggest shift toward our goal, or which piece sounds fun and exciting to embark on next, and we challenge ourselves to add that step alongside our new habit.  So besides being more active in some fun way we enjoy at least 3 times a week, we are now also avoiding dairy, or reducing fat intake, or taking a nutrition class, or whatever the next right piece for YOU seems to be that moves you one step closer to where you want to be.

We can’t do it all at once.  Our brains get overwhelmed when we try.  Then we beat ourselves up for not doing more, and as a consequence, we tend to do less!  So instead of ALL of it, just take the next one step that seems reasonable and achievable today! And instead of beating up on yourself for not doing every damn thing TODAY, celebrate yourself for taking a step in the direction of you goal. 

You took action, and that’s not nothing!  Taking action toward your dreams is a very big something that many MANY other people did not do today, so GO YOU!!  You are awesome and amazing for being brave enough to take action!

Think about how we CELEBRATE when our child takes those first tiny steps.  Do we berate her for not standing up straight and walking all the way across the room?  Hell no.  We praise her, and rejoice because we know this is just the beginning.  She will walk independently and learn to run.  But not today!  Her baby steps are all she needs to give her the confidence that will carry her to her next steps.

Celebrate your baby steps.  If you stumble, just get up and try again.  

Grow on!

Make a list of what you MOST want right now. 
Which of your dreams makes your heart sing more than the others? 
In what ways is one of them crucial to achieving the others? 
What steps will bring you to this goal?  (If you don’t yet know all of them, list the parts you know so far.) 
Which of those steps seems like the next logical one? 
Which of these steps most inspires you to action? 
How will you implement one of these steps into your life this week? 
What might get in your way and how can you plan to overcome that?

If you are still feeling confused or overwhelmed, you’re not alone! 
This is the kind of thing that people hire coaches for every day!

If you like my style and are considering hiring a personal coach, please contact me here, or by calling 707-515-8324.

If you think coaching may be right for you, but my style doesn’t seem like the right fit for you, here is a list of highly qualified coaches that I recommend with all my heart.

I have NO control!

You know what I am talking about.  MOST of us have said, “When it comes to XYZ, I have NO self control!” Or, “I can NOT resist XYZ!” (XYZ = your drug of choice)

XYZ is that THING that you won’t resist because it is simply too tempting, too delicious, too delightful to be missed!  And with the holidays arriving, most of those temptations spawn myriad opportunities to succumb to our desires in the guise of celebrating
the season, or reducing seasonal stress.

What is it for you?  For many MANY people it is sugar.  For some it’s alcohol, or pizza, gambling, or shopping.

But let’s be clear.  What we are truly saying is that ‘something external has power over me.’  We are handing our power willingly to XYZ.  WHY do we hand our power away willingly?  

Because it’s an excuse to do what we want to do anyway!

Period. In any other situation we fight to keep our power and stay in control.  We don’t like being told we ‘have-to’ do something, and we resist being forced into anything. Unless we want to do something
and need an excuse to shift blame away from ourselves.

Giving away power is an energy drain by itself (power=energy).  Compound that with the fact that giving in to XYZ often makes us feel guilty (another energy drain) for not sticking to our intentions, and that XYZ is often something that depletes energy all by itself (like sugar, dairy or booze), and you can see why believing that you have no control DEPLETES our energy exponentially.

So, if we want to stay energized, it’s KEY to understand that we ARE in control, always.  The choice is always ours.  (Unless we are truly powerless in which case it’s important to consider treatment for addiction or compulsion.) We are either choosing to align with our intentions and keep our energy intact, or we are choosing to abandon our intentions for XYZ, which leaves us exhausted and depleted.

The choice is always ours.

Strike a power pose and confidently align with your healthy intentions!

The word ‘resist’ is tricky, too. 

We cannot resist anything because to resist it we must be focused on it.  We want to distract or realign our focus rather than resist.  When distracted from XYZ, we don’t have to ‘resist’ anything, because we have chosen to focus elsewhere.

Instead of saying, “I can’t resist free candy,” how possible is it to reframe that thought so it focuses your energy on something you do want?

“I choose to eat healthy snacks like apples and dates because they align with my powerful intention to regain my vibrant health!”  That feels pretty powerful to me.

Maybe you prefer something simpler, “I eat only the foods on this list,” and then create a list of foods you LOVE that align with your health goals.

Self Nourishment through the Holiday Season

Whatever you celebrate, this time of year brings stress to millions, and millions of us turn to food for comfort in times of stress. My friend, Michelle Dwyer is hosting this fabulous event to help you nourish yourself this season instead of the old cycle of indulging and then beating ourselves up for it.

Grow on!

What is it that you have been telling yourself you cannot resist?
What will change in your life when you choose a different thought?
What new thought resonates for you?
How will you choose to show up for yourself when you feel stressed this season?
If you change a behavior you have been refusing to change, what other changes will you feel inspired to make?
Who else will your new choices impact or inspire?