15 Nov 2012

What’s your evidence?

1 Comment Do More, Life Coaching, Relationships

go mining for gemsAny belief that we hold on to has evidence to support it.  That evidence is a creation of our perceptions and is shaped by our needs and wants.  We want to loose weight, yet, we have a train of thoughts that say, I can give up everything but ice cream, or I will start Monday after the party Saturday night.  Then when we fail, it is easy to access all of the excuses needed to let us off the hook.  The evidence is already there, ready and waiting for us.

Catch yourself when you are mentally compiling a laundry list of items that you can be mad at your partner for. We get easily trapped by thoughts like; she never asks me how my day was, but just starts complaining about the kids, or he never even asked how that Parent/Teacher interview went, he doesn’t even care.  When you catch yourself connecting behaviours to intentions, stop yourself.  Ask: As a result of this evidence, what do I get to do? Most of the time having evidence like this is a justification to feel angry, hurt, or ignored.  Then we hang on to those feelings and start trolling around for more evidence to back it up.

Building evidence is one of the most destructive things that people do in relationships.  Start transforming this habit into a powerful tool to help shift evidence building into evidence mining.

Evidence mining?  Yes!  Instead of building the case against, mine for the case for.  It is easy to dream up ways that people can potentially harm you.  That is your fear mechanism at work, doing its job, protecting you.  Unchecked, it has the power to become the loudest of those voices in your head because it has the most important job to do, protect you.

How to mine for evidence:

1) The more proactive and powerful approach is to mine for the gems.  What is the evidence that your husband is for you.  They may be small, but if you are willing to mine, I suspect you will be able to come up with all sorts of little ways he supports your relationship.

2) When we hold on to protect ourselves, our typical first instinct is to clam up and stop talking.  We withhold in order to prove ourselves right and build more evidence against the person.  Instead use the tool of willingness.  Be willing to go first.  Be willing to remind, to ask, and be clear about what we want.

3) Be curious.  Miners are explorers first.  If you ask questions you are more likely to get clarity.  When we build evidence we usually make up scenarios and situations in a pre-emptive strike.  Instead be willing to find out more first, and reserve judgement for later.

It’s easy to focus on the negative.  It’s easy to hang on to past hurts.  It’s easy to make assumptions.  The irony is that none of these actions lead to easy, loving relationships. Do the work. Focus on the evidence that your partner is on your side, and notice the change in results.  It may be the tougher path, but it is also the more rewarding one.

13 Sep 2012

Don’t take this personally, but…

No Comments Building Confidence, Empowerment, Fearless Living

Don't Take It PersonallyStop.  Please make a promise to yourself that you will never utter this phrase again.

Everything is personal.  Most of us feel our emotions.  We don’t logic our way through most things that are personal, we usually feel them first.  When you say to someone, ‘don’t take this personally but…’ they immediately begin trying to figure out how they should feel about what you are sharing.   I bet we can all relate to being told something, and being okay with it in the moment. But then we go home, and upon reflection, start to feel badly about it.  That’s because we get into the feeling of it, and off we go into self-doubt, making up scenarios of how to rebut this unfounded statement, shame and self loathing around the thought that it could be true… on and on…

If you can catch yourself in this trap, this is good news!  It means you can work on getting OUT of this trap.   To get OUT of the trap of feeling BAD all the time, ask yourself this question.

AM I MAKING THIS PERSONAL?

What? I just asked you to never utter that phrase again?! Not quite!

The key to not taking things personally is to get into the habit of asking yourself,

Am I making this personal?

The reason all the feelings come up, as in the scenario above, is because many of us have the bad habit of taking things personal.  This is a natural tendency.  Essentially we want to be able to control what people think of us and we don’t want any of those thoughts to be bad.  We yearn to be seen as we really are, the whole picture, not just parts of ourselves, and we mistakenly think we can actually control our image to accomplish all that.

When we stop and ask, ‘Am I making this personal?’ it gets us out of our fear mode that tends to come up when we need to be right, or defend, or set the record straight etc.  When those feelings are present, it is usually the absolute worst time to respond to whatever it was that triggered those feelings. When you get into the good habit of stopping, and asking, ‘Am I making this personal?’ You can start to dismantle how those feeling want you to re-act, and instead be who you want to be.

Don’t let your reactions to life define you.   We all always have the choice to be who we want to be in this world.  Seriously, even if you have the worst boss, had the worst slight from a friend, or have the most tragic luck story going, those things need not define who you are and how you are showing up in the world.

Instead, choose not to make up stories in which you are responsible for something negative, or disrespected, or whatever is making you want to re-act.  Instead, decide to actively own what you discover IS personal (we could all use a little feedback from time to time after all), and dump the junk that isn’t yours to take on.  That worst boss in the world you have, might just have the most horrific home life you can imagine, and that slight from a friend wasn’t at all about you, but about her wanting to be seen somewhere else, and your tragic luck story isn’t about you at all if it actually really was just random bad luck.

Things happen, and humans behave badly all the time.  But it isn’t about YOU.  You are about you.  Take care of your person, and don’t insert yourself into places you don’t need to be.  After all, truth is, no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you.

09 Aug 2012

If you say so…

2 Comments Life Coaching, Live your best Life

Two of my most treasured mentors introduced me to one of my most powerful coaching reminders. In times when I have been trapped in the box that I can’t perceive myself out of, and have been busy justifying with all of my rationalizations of why this or that is true, they have sat back with me and pointedly said… “if you say so”.

The concept that thoughts are things is as old as civilization. There are a million experiences that tell us what we think comes into actual being through the beliefs, attitudes and perspectives we hold. I buy that. There is a ton of empirical research to back this up, and I would recommend giving my friend Stan Chung a read for more on this. I buy that this is true because I have seen it happen in my own life. Time and time again, when I have set my mind to something, it has happened. Whether it be good or bad, it happens. Likewise, when I don’t set my mind to something other things naturally occur as a result. I live my life by this perspective; thoughts are things. Using coaching techniques, I work daily on living by this credo, and I love to teach others how to do it for themselves.

It is called mindfulness. It is the daily practice of being aware of the dialogue in your head. Here are 3 steps for you to use as a powerful reminder in your own life – so that you are practicing the art of mindfulness daily.

1. The first step to being mindful is to pay attention to your thoughts. You must be active in this for it to really work. The goal is to get it out of your head. Some ways you can become more active in this is to commit to writing it out, talking it out, or even leaving yourself a voice memo. Here’s a scenario of what this might look like.

Let’s say you are wondering why you don’t have a relationship. You really want a relationship, you feel like you are ready for one, you long for it in fact! Sounds like you are doing the work for thoughts are things? How come it isn’t working?

Well, in talking with your close friends, and writing in your journal about the latest dating disaster you discover that you have threads of other beliefs coming through. Thoughts like, “there are no single women in this town for me”, “maybe I am just meant to be single”, “I am probably better off this way”, “relationships are too much work”, “I am happy by myself”.

2. When you notice this thought pattern coming up, be willing to stop and gently say, If You Say So. Doing that is like throwing a bucket of water on the spark that is coming to burn down with excuses all of your good intentional purposeful living. Those thoughts are the things that you are unintentionally manifesting in to your actual being.

3. Replace the thought. Now that you have taken the spark out of your voice of fear, allow yourself to think about what you do want.  “Everyday I am getting closer to my next relationship”, “there are 300,000 people in this town, there is someone here for me”,  “I am enjoying today, right here, right now”.

Disastrous dates, disappointing promotions, missed opportunities, loss. Life happens. One of the ways for us to empower ourselves no matter what’s happening is to practice mindfulness. Being mindful is paying attention to what being your are creating with the power of your thoughts. Be willing to remind yourself of this with the powerful reminder… IF YOU SAY SO

09 May 2012

Knowing when to say good-bye

No Comments Decision Making, Fearless Living, Free Life Coaching Tips, Love

Follow Your HeartA client of mine who is single and dating recently took a big step and broke off a relationship that on the surface looked all good. She had a nagging feeling that things just were not right – something felt off. She used this three step process to decide whether it was her true self making her feel this way, or her inner voice of fear trying to influence her decision.

Use this three step process to help you check in with your boundaries and get clear about when to say, enough is enough.

Step One:
How do I feel when I am with this person?

If words like free, myself, happy, natural, come up, then you are on the right track. If instead you feel on edge, responsible, uneasy, tense, or on guard pay attention to this. If you can honestly say that your thoughts & feelings are definitely more from the second list, be willing to look at this closer. Be willing to notice these feelings without reacting to them. This means you don’t have to immediately act on them. Instead you get to choose to reflect on them, and then decide how you want to act. Taking the time to pay attention to how you feel when around another person is an essential step in creating intimacy.

Quiet Reflection: 

Ask yourself what is my intuition telling me to do? Intuition is that quiet knowing voice.  The voice that snaps answers at you or tells you that you are stupid, weak, crazy, or too sensitive is not your quiet knowing voice – that is your voice of fear. Your true voice gives you gentle nudges. Take the time to stop and quietly reflect, what is my intuition telling me?

Step Two:
Know what you are committed to.

What kind people do you actively want to bring into your life? Create your own personal list of attributes that you seek in others. Know and be clear about what you actually stand for. If you have been doing the work that comes with my blog, your sense of what your most important priorities are, are becoming clearer to you. Use this good work you have been doing to help yourself really understand what you’re committed to. What is your intention? Ask yourself if you see this person supporting that with you.

Step Three:
Ask for what you want.

When you are clear on what you are looking for, your next step is to ask for support. The truth is that the really good stuff in life does require work. In fact, the work you put in is actually what makes it worthwhile. When you are able to ask for what you want, people are more able to support that. It eliminates the game playing, guessing, and expectations that get in the way of what could be potential relationships. Fear runs many relationships. Instead, be clear and ask for the support that you know you need. It will become clearer then whether this is a person that you want to continue seeing or if it is time for you to say good-bye. It takes courage to leave a budding relationship and strike out on your own again. Let your commitments to yourself be your guide. Your commitment to yourself is always the right path.  

28 Mar 2012

Fear of the Unknown

1 Comment Empowerment, Fearless Living

One of the more common tricks of fear is how it manifests for us in the fear of the unknown. It’s usually situations we are attached to, and often relates to circumstances in life like:

“Am I ever going to get pregnant?”
“When the house sells…”
“Am I going to get a call about that job I just applied for?”

The uncomfortable part of those kinds of life questions is the unknowing-ness that they bring with them. This fear of the unknown is uncomfortable and difficult to live with. The expression, “Patience is a Virtue” is famous because it rings true; waiting is hard to do!

Think about a waiting room. Have you ever had a great time in a waiting room? Trapped in the Doctor’s office that is running 40 minutes late, or anxiously waiting for the delayed flight to arrive so that you can get on your plane home to your family. Waiting rooms can be excruciating places to be.  This common frustration triggers fear of the unknown responses.  In these moments we are forced into the unknown zone because we lack control.  This temporarily dis-empower us. You are stuck. Your ability to take action becomes dependent on forces out of your control. For most people this is a very uncomfortable place to be at.  Fear of the unknown = lack of control.  No one likes that.

The key to conquering fear of the unknown is to notice that what you’re feeling is dis-empowered. In that moment of recognition, it is important to know that just because you are feeling dis-empowered doesn’t me you have to believe it. Feelings are just feelings.  They come and go.  Focus on the truth – you can always find ways to empower yourself.  Conquering the fear of the unknown is done by your willingness to empower yourself, even when you temporarily have no control over a situation. Here are some strategies for shifting the “pain” of waiting into something more empowering.

Tip #1 – Keep your eyes on the big picture
When waiting for important life events to come through, like a job offer, it helps to think about the big picture and use your power of visioning. Waiting during times of uncertainty can be a painful experience because you are deeply attached to the outcome. Detaching can be nearly impossible, and your mind will naturally start to play out scenarios that create anxiety. Conquer this trap of fear by shifting your focus to the big picture. Ask, yourself empowering questions like “where do I see myself a year from now?”, “what kind of life am I going to be living?”, “who do I want to be when I get there?”  If you can focus on the vision of your big picture, you will be better able to shut out the chatter associated with your dis-empowered feelings.

Tip #2 – Avoid the trap of details
You are not using your big picture skills when you become trapped in the details. These are things like obsessively checking emails for a response you are anxiously waiting for, or a reluctance to leave your house because you are waiting for a phone call. Notice if you only have one topic of conversation with your friends, and whether it relates to your unknown. Know that the details are important, but also use trust in yourself to allow you to carry on with other aspects of your life. We miss the gifts that come with being in the unknown zone when we get consumed by details. Dig deep and acknowledge the silver lining that often comes with waiting. Maybe it is time off, more alone time with your spouse, or a chance to catch up on some reading. If your silver lining is unclear, then go ahead and make one up! It can be equally as probable as the worst case scenario trap that happens when our fear of the unknown raises its ugly head.

Tip #3 – Make your “waiting” plan of action
Sitting in the Doctor’s office waiting becomes more palatable when you remember to bring a good book. If you know or have a hunch that there might be some “waiting” time in your future empower yourself  by making a waiting plan of action.  Do you set yourself up by assuming everything will run by a particular schedule? We all know that life happens, Doctors run late, babies come on their own schedule, and sometimes we have to wait weeks  to hear back from people. Empower yourself by deciding how you are going to wait it out. If you approach it like it is a pain in the butt, then that is exactly what you will get! Shift this by asking, if I am going to wait, how do I want to do it? Choose to let your empowered self win the battle of the unknown rather than helplessly allow fear to run the show. At the end of the day both paths lead you to the same place. I would rather work on empowering myself  rather then allow my fear of the unknown to control all of the “in the meantime…” space.