On introspection and choosing another path

In my other life, as a health coach helping people gain a healthier relationship with food while losing weight happily and healthfully, I have recently made a pretty major business decision. It is one of those shifts that is like jumping off of a cliff. It feels like there’s no going back. Like you’ve got to be all in–100% committed–or the scene will look like one from the coyote and roadrunner cartoon.

The thing is, I wasn’t getting anywhere with what I was doing. I was doing everything the marketing people told me to. I was authentic, passionate, and unique. I had an elevator speech. I regularly shared my story with soul-baring honesty. I walked my talk and am a product of the plan I was trying to sell. All I heard were crickets. Could it be that I wasn’t clear about what I was selling? Essentially I was selling myself on the internet. I mean, that’s pretty vague.

Authenticity is one of my core values, so my business plan reflects that. As a result, it is both rigid and fluid, and that might come off as wishy-washy. My compass is my internal barometer, which sometimes causes me to float in circles. I needed a solid plan, but first I had to figure out what was wrong with the other one. Continue reading “On introspection and choosing another path”

I Stopped Caring In Order to Become More Compassionate

“Impassivity with regards to the events, brought about by the exterior cause.” —Marcus Aurelius

The other day I made an epic decision. I decided to stop caring so much about everything and everyone around me in order to become more compassionate. I realized that I spent a large amount of my time being frustrated about what people around me were doing and how it affected me. In short, I cared too much.

I cared about people in traffic–you know, the ones who can’t drive; about the other moms; what the other moms thought; what my family thought; about people who made my day difficult–on purpose or by chance; about random rude people; noisy people; annoying people; construction; you get my drift. All of this caring was diminishing my cheerfulness and actually making me quite a sour person. It suddenly occurred to me that if I didn’t care about this stuff, it wouldn’t matter.

This doesn’t mean that I became an unfeeling cynic. Quite the opposite. I realized that by not allowing external events to affect me so deeply, I would actually open myself up to more compassion. Suddenly, the person who was rude to me became someone who was having a really bad day. Because I didn’t care that they were rude to me, I was able to see this clearly. Continue reading “I Stopped Caring In Order to Become More Compassionate”

Working up to working out

How do you cultivate a fitness mindset? It’s something I really struggle with. I know I should get in some healthy movement every day, I just don’t always want to. I know I’m not alone here.

My problem is that my why isn’t strong enough. Even if I find an activity that I like, fitness is such a low priority for me that I easily get caught up in other things and simply forget to do it. Sometimes I intentionally find things to do to justify skipping the treadmill, trail, or the mat. Working out only works if it is convenient in both time and location.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that my procrastination wins over my daily workout more often than not. Most of my perspective clients mention a lack of time and sufficient motivation to move their bodies. Their aversion to getting their sweat on every day deters them from starting any health program at all. Their can’t game is strong, same as mine. Continue reading “Working up to working out”

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

We all have a story we have written about how our lives are going so far. We have dialog and drama, all of the necessary pieces for a decent feature-length film. The thing is, would you want to watch it? If you did watch your film, would you recognize yourself? How much of it is true and how much of it are embellishments added for drama?

Your story is your perception. It’s how you see the world from your point of view. Your inner voice is the creator and narrator of your story. She guides you through decision making and problem-solving and decides how you feel about things. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to listen to the negative side of this inner voice, our inner Mean Girl (as Melissa Ambrosini calls it). If you let her take over, your perception will suffer. This leads to limiting beliefs, poor choices, and unempowered attitudes.

If your story is that your life is fantastic, even if you don’t have the best of everything, your life will be fantastic. If your story is that your life sucks, even if you have the best of everything, your life will suck. Simple as that.

Change your story, change your life.

Continue reading “Change Your Story, Change Your Life”

Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

When was the last time you invited someone to point out your flaws? I mean, when have you showed someone your hard work and asked them to tear it apart? Honestly, without hoping they wouldn’t be too harsh. Maybe the bigger question is, why would you do such a thing?

Carol Dweck talks about Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset in several of her essays and her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Basically, those with a Fixed Mindset believe that innate ability or ingrown talent determines our success and that these features can’t be changed. A Growth Mindset, on the other hand, believes that our actions determine our success. So we can learn how to succeed. The Fixed Mindset judges situations. “I am such a terrible person,” “I am really bad at that,” or “This means I am better than her.” A Growth Mindset learns from a situation in order to constantly improve.

Remember my New Year’s intention about having a Child-like or Beginner’s Mind? Which mindset do you think that falls under? Continue reading “Your Ego is Not Your Amigo”

Nurture​ Belief in Yourself

While listening to positive people, reading motivational books, and chatting in encouraging Facebook groups is nice, ultimately you have to foster a positive belief in yourself. You have to write the good news. This is the second phase of the Replace step. Step one was to Surround Yourself With Positivity, which was outside influence. Now, replace your negative beliefs with positive ones, which is an inside job.

Belief is there inside you somewhere. It’s what gave you the idea to do this thing to begin with. Then doubt took over with its team of henchmen. Doubt may be big, and intimidating, and loud, but belief has a stronger work ethic. Belief can overcome doubt, but you have to let it. Continue reading “Nurture​ Belief in Yourself”

Get Off the Doubt Hamster Wheel

You hear you can’t, you think you can’t, you look for reasons why you can’t, what you look for you’ll find, repeat. This is the Doubt Hamster Wheel. It takes you nowhere and it’s hard to get off. In fact, in order to get off, you might have to fall. That is, give up everything you know right now and start over fresh.

This may hurt. It may involve changing jobs, ending relationships, giving up habits, or moving. I didn’t say it would be easy. This is the Remove step in our Remove, Replace, Retest, Repeat model. In order to change, you have to remove what isn’t working for you or what is holding you back. Sometimes that is merely a mindset, sometimes it is an entire lifestyle complete with other people, a house, and a job. Continue reading “Get Off the Doubt Hamster Wheel”

Do What Can’t be Done

When was the first time someone told you that you couldn’t do something? When you learned that you could put things in your mouth at six weeks old? What was your reaction? Well, you put the thing right back in your mouth. You didn’t have a sense that you couldn’t do something. What does that even mean?

Then we moved on to childhood when people are full of encouragement. We hear that we can do anything and that anything is possible. We get coached and positively reinforced to take our first steps or ride a bike. We hear “you can do it” quite often. No one accepts our excuses as to why we can’t do something. No one allows us to accept defeat. We honestly think we can do anything because we’ve never heard otherwise.

Except, by this time, we have heard that we shouldn’t put things in our mouths enough times that we sometimes comply. Continue reading “Do What Can’t be Done”

Scrooge

The quintessential Christmas character introduced by Charles Dickens in his classic 1843 novel A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is an excellent example of how changing your mindset can change your reality. Plus it’s a great ghost story, and appropriate for the season. As you well know, Mr. Scrooge starts the story as a miser obsessed with money, cold and devoid of generosity. Then he transforms overnight into one of the most caring men in London. Did anything change about Scrooge’s environment to change his attitude? He still worked at the same place, he lived in the same place, the same people surrounded him, yet he was greatly and irreversibly changed. He was changed from within. He decided his life was going to be different and he made it so. Do you need to be haunted by three ghosts in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to make large changes in your own mindset? Goodness no. You need to be aware of what the problem really is, understand how you can reframe the problem, and take steps to do so.

Recognizing that there is a problem is the hardest part. I’m pretty sure Scrooge thought he was right to act the way he did at the beginning. He thought everyone else was being ridiculous and frivolous with their hard-earned money. This irresponsibility of others made him irritable. He just couldn’t understand it. The thing is, if you find fault with everyone around you, maybe the problem isn’t them. Sorry, but it’s probably you.

I have a friend who complains that no one takes time to visit her. She makes an effort to contact others, but no one ever has time for anything more than barely polite small talk if they are caught without an excuse to leave. Even her family avoids her. She thinks the problem is with all of them (everyone hates me, it’s so unfair), so she has stopped making the effort to socialize. Why should she expend the energy for people who obviously can’t be bothered to take time for her? The thing is, she is judgemental, an armchair authority on every subject, constantly complains, and is generally hard to be around. That’s why everyone avoids her, not because they are all rude. She vibrates at a low energy and no one wants to get sucked into that. If she took some time to honestly look at her life from a different perspective, like Scrooge was forced to, perhaps the awareness would inspire her to change.

My favorite character in The Christmas Carol is Scrooge’s nephew Fred. He has patience with Scrooge and is sorry for him because Scrooge chooses not to attend Christmas dinner and so misses out. Fred doesn’t let Scrooge’s bad attitude affect his own holiday. Who suffers from Scrooge’s ill will? Only Scrooge himself. Everyone else gets to enjoy the very good dinner and party games. Year after year Fred invites his uncle to participate in Christmas cheer even though he knows Scrooge will never accept. He takes Scrooge’s rudeness with a grain of salt and doesn’t let it dampen his spirits. When Scrooge finally does show up to dinner, Fred welcomes him in with open arms and makes him feel wanted. Many of us can learn from Fred. Who have you felt put off and snubbed by? Did this person’s actions really affect you and your happiness? Or could you reframe the problem in your mind so that it is not actually a problem?

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

Reframing simply means that you change the way you think about something. For example, my husband ended up having to work over Thanksgiving. Actually, it worked out just fine because my little girl ended up getting a fever and being sick all weekend. So here I sat, alone with a sick kid all weekend. We missed out on Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday, and our community holiday celebration with Santa and a light parade. We had planned family pictures and a tree hunting trip up in the hills, none of which happened. Disappointing for sure, and a perfect “poor me” opportunity. But after a quick reframe, does it really matter what day we roast the turkey on? We’re thankful every day anyway.

I made the turkey since it was already thawed and froze the leftovers. Really no big deal in the scheme of things. I got to have my Paleo Thanksgiving dinner by myself without comment or outside influence. I was still thankful for the same things I would have been if everything went as planned. What could have understandably been a “Why me?” scenario was not because I reframed it in my head. I took my own advice and was not attached to the outcome. I did not “should” on my holiday (read about what I mean in my three-part series Shoulding on the Holidays), and so had a positive experience despite everything. We will see Santa, have family pictures, and go tree hunting next weekend.

Reframing involves looking at the big picture, reminding yourself of your priorities, and asking yourself what is really important. Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed or disappointed, I take a step back and ask myself what really matters and what is just stress I’ve created for myself. Most of the time I realize that I had expectations that may not have been entirely fair. My first priority is always my child and if I remind myself of that, everything else seems to fall into its place.

Scrooge was forced to reframe his outlook on life by three ghosts sent by his well-meaning dead business partner. By reflecting on his past, clearly seeing his present, and getting an unattractive glimpse of his future, Scrooge saw the error of his ways. He got perspective. Your own experience doesn’t have to be so dramatic. What did Scrooge learn? He learned that he was the problem that he saw in everyone else, that generosity and goodwill are valuable personality traits, and that changing his attitude could save his soul. Good lessons. Scrooge was inspired to drastically change overnight, but you can take steps to change without ghostly intervention.

Once you have recognized the problem and understood that changing your attitude is the key to solving the problem, your task becomes actually changing your attitude. This may seem like a Herculean task, but the hardest part is admitting fault. Once you’ve done that the solution will likely fall into place on its own. Simply deciding to change, and realizing it is possible, may be the most important step. Sit down and do some introspection to figure out what the problem actually is. In other words, get a new perspective. Then reframe your attitude around it. Keep reminding yourself that you create your own reality and look for ways to improve it.

Ways to Change Your Perspective

  1. Try a gratitude practice. Being grateful increases your positivity and can give you an instant total reframe. It forces you to focus on what you do have rather on what you don’t.
  2. Slow down and breathe. When faced with a stressful situation, it helps to calm down and return to what is important.
  3. Keep your priorities close. What really matters? If your family matters most, everything else can wait. This comes in handy when setting your holiday schedule.
  4. Keep your ego in check. Changing is hard. You may have to endure some skepticism if you’ve been judgemental or intolerable in the past. People may not be accepting of your changes at first. That’s okay, change anyway and they’ll come around eventually. Or they won’t, but maybe those are people you don’t want around anyway.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Change doesn’t happen overnight and you may make some mistakes. That’s okay. Any progress is good progress. Celebrate any small win.

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