All of my clients deal with some form of anxiety. Sometimes it's a normal response to regular stressors and other times it's an exaggerated response to a situation that has a lot of unknown factors.
Anxiety is a normal part of the day to day but it does NOT have to rule your world, my friend! As a perfectionist and control freak in recovery, I have discovered a few tips and tricks to manage the discomfort that any kind of anxiety dishes out.
Breathing is an excellent place to start. There are a ton of different ways to breathe in the kind of expanded way that increases the oxygen to your brain, slows your heart rate and clears your mind. Not all mindfulness works for all people so the free guided meditations offered on Tara Brach's website here are a great place to start.
Anxiety often paralyzes you before you can remember what to do to feel better. One of my personal favorite techniques to combat anxiety, overwhelm or distress of any sort is to use my Emergency Self-Care Cheat Sheet. This is a spin off tool that came from doing Safety Care Planning with suicidal veterans. You see there is research that shows the brain freaks out when it is under duress and it's important to have certain information at the ready so you don't have to do critical thinking in the midst of an emergency. Saftey Care Planning generally includes having one sheet of paper that includes a list of support people, their phone number, and address, a list of things that provide comfort, physician/psychiatrist name and phone number, the national suicide hotline. These tools vary a bit but you get the gist.
Introducing the Emergency Self-Care Cheat Sheet! I developed this tool after some stressors left me paralyzed for weeks at a time. I could pull myself out of the pit but only very slowly and with GREAT effort. After a few rounds of getting knocked out like this, I crafted a plan so that my overwhelm and anxiety in certain situations only slowed me down rather than leveling me. I pulled out a sheet of paper and jotted down 30 things to do to feel better when the going gets rough.
The Basics: Breathe. Eat. Sleep.
Those that increase the heart rate: Go for a walk with Kota. Run as far as you can. Punch the air till you feel silly. Scream into a pillow or out loud alone in the car. Hit the gym.
Stand by's: Call your mama and/or BFF. Get a massage. Mani + Pedi. Sit in the porch rocking chair.
For Serious: Schedule a healing session with your shaman. Send an SOS to your Life Coaching Circle. Find a therapist. Schedule a vacation.
For fun: Listen to music. Read a book. Eat some cake. Go for afternoon drinks. Buy something new. Watch u-tube videos of giggling babies and/or puppies.
Others are edgy: Wear matching bras and panties. Flirt with my husband. Break something.
I found that some of these worked some of the time but not all of the time so I started playing around to figure out what worked when. Interestingly enough as I've been writing this blog over the last couple of weeks I found myself in a tough situation and for the first time since I developed this tool I knew exactly what to do when shit hit the fan. All of that practicing in stressful situations left me with clarity so I knew what to do when the going got rough! I hope that you find this useful! All you need is a piece of paper, a creative list of things that you enjoy or like to do when life throws you a curveball (list both positive and negative coping skills) and then reference the sheet during hard times.
I have the most incredible clients! They are smart, organized and put together. They manage a billion details simultaneously. They pay attention, and they care. They are educated and highly trained in their crafts. They are hard workers, amazing mothers, and attentive learners.
But guess what? It is not at all uncommon for me to hear stories of how the men in their lives question, doubt, and talk down to them. Their boyfriends, bosses, co-workers, family members, and husbands outright tell them they are stupid or that they have only achieved what they have because of their looks. They deal with information, communication + affection being withheld. My gals credentials, credibility, motivations, and intentions are regularly questioned. They are accused of being at fault when sexually harassed.
One of the most infuriating components to this is that they all know they regularly have to deal with these issues. Worse yet, I see the after effects. I see these incredible bomb ass women shrink, doubt themselves, spend tons of energy staying on guard so they can minimize what they have to deal with next, block their potential and vacuum packing their lives so that no one finds out. They stop dreaming, and they blame themselves. Their anxiety increases and life satisfaction decreases. They feel powerless and out of control. They become depressed and miserable. They think that there is something wrong with them. This behavior is normalized, and though uncomfortable they are used to it.
So let me tell you THIS
I decided to do a little research today. I found this article from Psychology today which lists 15 Common Forms of Verbal Abuse in Relationships which I found helpful. I am sharing these things with you because I know how often women hide the things that we deal with because we don't want anyone to know. If you find yourself in that boat, please know that you are not alone and that it is not ok.
There are many factors that can have an impact on what we think is within our reach. The way we were raised, what our parents told us we were capable of, where we grew up, our access to education, our religious upbringing and/or experiences with verbal, physical or sexual abuse.
What we hope for in life, love, relationships, and career can be hijacked by our fear that we aren't worthy or deserving.
We may have an idea about what kind of salary we would like to make, the qualities we hope to find a life partner and know that we want a life without pain and struggle. But deep down we don't actually believe that we can have those things. We doubt whether or not we deserve to have the things we want. Disappointment and failure over time can pile up over time and it can be easy to blame ourselves. "Of course that didn't work out, who was I kidding". It can be easy to start disconnecting ourselves from our hopes and dreams as a self-protective measure. Disappointment sucks and getting your hopes up only to have them crushed eventually starts to feel silly.
Day to day disappointments can leave us feeling like things aren't working in our favor because something is intrinsically wrong with us.
Self-reflection and introspection can reveal where and how we doubt our worthiness and deserving. This way of gathering information can help us see places to be kind to ourselves and when to ask for support. It takes an effort to challenge our limiting beliefs enough to push past them to a more fulfilling life. Limiting beliefs are the number one thing that a person can shift to unlock untapped potential in the quality of life.
As a coach, it is my job to believe in you 100% even when you don't believe in yourself.
It doesn't matter to me if you don't believe you are worthy or deserving because you've had an abortion, yelled at your family, had an issue with extasy, are having an affair on your husband, made a bad investment, had sex with 3 people in the same weekend, stole some sticky notes from work, slept with your professor, drove drunk, dropped out of college or stayed with him after he hit you.
You are already hard enough on yourself and you get judgment everywhere you turn, you sure as hell don't need it from me.
There are already enough voices out there telling you that something is wrong with you, that you are utterly fucked for making that decision, therefore, you are not worthy enough to have a few of your hopes and dreams come true. It is my job to show up 100% in non-judgment to help you tap into self-compassion and forgiveness so you can slowly but surely get to a place of trusting yourself and cultivate an environment where your dreams can sprout and you can take the necessary actions required to move to you a life that is full of all the good stuff.
It's my job to believe in your capacity and your divine right to be happy regardless of anything you have been through.
I was talking with someone the other day who wanted to know how I responded in coaching sessions when my client "didn't do the right thing". I explained that never happens to me because I don't presume to know what is "right' or "wrong" for my clients. I believe in taking action and learning and growing rather than "success" and "failure". I confused my inquirer. He then asked me "well why would they pay you for advice?". I smiled because my clients do not pay me for advice. They pay me to not judge them or tell them what to do. They pay me to feel confident and clear about what next steps they want to take but it never comes from me giving them advice. Clear knowing about what to do only ever comes from within. And, sometimes it takes a little help from a coach to uncover.
I always offer text support to my clients in between sessions. I do this because I know that my peeps benefit from support on the spot. Boundaries are important but access to support while in the midst of creating change is just as important. This week I got a text from a client that said:
"How do you stop selfish feelings when you do something for yourself?"
This came up because I am encouraging this client (along with all of my other clients) to honor what they know they need, want and desire. We can become so accustomed to dis-honoring our truth that we end up feeling selfish or bitchy when we make a claim to our truth.
Using our words to set a boundary is the outer layer, the inner layer is coming to terms with how we feel about ourselves once we've uttered the words. I offered my client the following suggestions to help ease her conundrum about being selfish:
I gave this homework to a different client struggling with a similar issue. The core here between both women is the same: putting others first so much that they were feeling powerless and out of control. Putting ourselves first, honoring our truth and trusting ourselves to know what we need is often labeled as "selfish" or "bitchy, " but it doesn't have to come across that way.
You can be nice + kind while setting firm and clear boundaries.
One does not need to get angry, use attitude, be forceful or use elaborate explanations when honoring our truth. You want what you want, and that's ok no matter what. When you use introspection, take responsibility for your side of every equation and honor your truth it becomes about doing what is right for you not being an asshole. I think we all worry about hurting other peoples feelings, how people will perceive us and whether or not we are coming across as rude. The whole point with setting boundaries is about respect. Honoring and respect.
I think I've cracked a section of the Law of Attraction code and I want to share it with you! I've been pretty fascinated with energy, setting intentions and manifesting that which you desire. I utilize these principles in my life + coaching practice. I was doing some journaling last week as I like to reflect weekly, monthly, quarterly and semi-annually.
As a Desire Map facilitator, I use the process of applying my Core Desired Feelings (Ease, Playful, Clear, Bold) to my goal setting. I'm shooting for alignment with how I want to feel because God knows I do not want to end up where I'm going only realize that how I hoped I'd feel isn't actually how I feel. I've been there, done that and it's SO disappointing to put all of your energy into something and then realize that you missed a critical component and the accomplishment falls flat. So, I was journaling about the first half of the year and setting my sights for the second half when I connected a couple of dots. I have been good at dreaming up what I want in life and then holding those intentions.
But, I've only manifested the things for which I've created space. In addition to knowing what we want, that our intentions are solid, it seems like the universe also requires us to create the necessary energetic, physical and emotional space, so the thing we are attempting to manifest in physical form has a spot to go once it arrives in our lives. It makes sense right!?! If I want a new couch, I will eventually need to move or sell the one I currently have. I think this is true for everything. If you want a new job you have to not only decide that you are interested in switching your employment, you also have to update your resume, apply for jobs and get clear on what job you want, interview, accept a new position and then quit your current job.
Are you sure you are sure?!? I believe that the universe checks in with us like "Hey chickie, are you sure you are sure because I'm about to make good on your energetic clarity and I'm just double checking that you want what you told me you want." Holding space for what we want is like setting a boundary with the universe and holding true to our integrity. "Yes universe, I know what I want, I'm sure about this, I'm willing to wait for it to come to fruition, I have no plans on settling for something less, and I'm not going to get pushy and try to force it into my life."
Are you willing to hold out, be in the flow, make space? This last week has been a week of the universe testing my client's resolve. One found a great job only to realize there was an important factor that just didn't cut it. Another got clear on a couple of dreams to have one of these things seemingly present itself only to find out that it was sub-par after further inspection. Then one of my gal's realized that though she has been crystal clear about what she wants she keeps wavering internally with full on energetic flip flops.
Manifesting what we want requires clarity and resolve. "Yep, I'm sure, I'm sure"! Think about the things that you are hopeful for. The intentions you have set. The goals that you are working toward. If they haven't come to fruition yet think about where in your life you may be unclear, flippy floppy, not feeling worth it, settling or getting pushy to force the hand. Consider how long you are willing to wait and how patient you are willing to be to get what you want. Is it a week, month, year? I worked full time while building my business for THREE years before I got my energy in alignment and allowed the universe to meet me where I was at. It took that long for me to be clear, hold my intention AND create the necessary space for full-time entrepreneurial work.
I've noticed a theme with my recent coaching sessions. My clients are craving certainty, clarity and input so that they can make decisions with confidence. To feel confident about making big life decisions they are asking at least 3-5 people for input on what they think they should do.
Gathering opinions so you can make a decision feels very different than discussing your situation with someone you respect as a part of your decision-making process. When my clients are struggling to trust themselves, I always encourage them to go on an elimination diet of sorts and stop asking for input. Everyone has an opinion, few people are truly objective, and zero people are you. The truth of the matter is that you and only you know what you need. You are the only person living your life. No one else would handle the current issue you are facing in the same way. The way they would take care of it would be fitting for them, not you.
Learning to trust yourself means that you have to start making some decisions without getting input, advice or guidance from another person and learn from your perceived "mistakes." If you feel like you screwed something up, look at the situation with hindsight and do it differently next time. This process allows you to gather information and use it to inform your next decision rather than wishing you would have followed the advice of Sasha because clearly Mindy is bat shit crazy and gave you horrible advice. You start to learn more about what you need, why you need it and how to move forward with confidence and clarity in decision making.
Knowing that you can handle any conundrum goes a long way.
If you trust yourself to be able to figure things out, you won't be as co-dependent in relationships or need to have your phone on you all the time. When you find yourself texting or calling multiple people stop and ask yourself (doing this out loud packs an extra punch) "what do I think is the best course of action"? Then, go with that. Dismiss the input and go with what you think is best. It takes some time to wean yourself away from doubting and second guessing everything. If you find yourself doing this try slipping into the mode of the observer and explore what it is about the situation that is causing anxiety. Is it the fear of rejection, the outcome, how someone will respond, things not going your way? Identify the problem, see if there is anything different you would do and then make corrections as needed. There is no playbook for decision making but there is only one person in the driver's seat of your life, and hopefully, it's you!
Know who your trusted others are.
I have a tiny circle of people I turn to for guidance. They are people I know that I can trust with my vulnerability. I know they will hear all of the parts of my situation and be objective. I can rely on them to challenge me and point out my blind spots. They will NOT tell me exactly what they think I should do. Most importantly, I know that my peeps will respect whatever choice that I make regardless of whether or not it conflicts with their guidance.
Playing big vs. staying small is not always a straightforward choice!
A couple of years ago I read Playing Big by Tara Mohr (loved it). These are my top 5 bits of inspiration from her book, which I highly recommend you read.
The go big or go home myth...
I personally like the phrase "go big or go home" however I think that there is an easy misconception that playing big is all or none thing. I find that playing big, like everything else, takes practice. We may have the bandwidth or energy to play big in one arena of our lives but not in others. There is nothing wrong with this. Playing big is a choice just like staying small is a choice. If we want to expand, fully embrace the fullness of who we are and be our bright and shiny selves we will need to practice showing up in the world that way. The practice leads to increased confidence and decreased fear so we are willing to take a few more cracks at playing big.
My ocean analogy goes something like this...
Playing big to me is like easing yourself into the ocean. When you dip your toes in the water it feels cold and then slowly your feet acclimate as you walk into the water. Each wave brings a startling splash to a part of your body that is not yet immersed. If you are anything like me you ease your way up to your waist where you think with exasperation "screw it" and then dive in head first to get the acclimation over with. After swimming around you start to re-emerge and the breeze hits your skin and all the sudden being out of the water feels cold and the water feels warm. This is how I see playing big, you have to ease yourself into it, it will feel uncomfortable along the way until you acclimate to the feeling of playing big. This comfort level allows you to play big in more areas of your life until you realize that playing big is your default where playing small used to be your status quo.
Hello love, today I want to talk about the power of re-defining! Having hopes, dreams, and desires is an awesome thing. I am always encouraging my clients and Desire Map Workshop attendees to think about what they want and how they want to feel. Like Danielle LaPort says in The Desire Map, "knowing how you want to feel is one of the most potent forms of clarity you can have".
What do you desire?
I'd like to encourage you to write out how you want to feel, what your desires are and what it all means to you. What's the "why". Then I want you to take a step back and think about your goals. If you want to feel "healthy" what does that mean to you? Look up the definition of "healthy". Does the definition of healthy trigger you in any way? Are mainstream ideas and suggestions regarding being healthy in alignment with what you hope for as you lean into what healthy means for you? At this place in your life does healthy mean something different than it did before?
Analyze for clarity!
This is one of those times that I am going to encourage you to get really analytical. I want you to consider your hopes, dreams, and desires and look at what they all mean to you. How do you want to feel? What other words you could use to better represent what it is that you really want. Then re-define so that everything is in alignment for where you are in life right now.
Re-defining desire as a self-improvement tool.
I love to reserve the right to change my mind. I think it is also important to take the opportunity to check in with myself and see if what I wanted before is what I want now. With life changes, growth and learning new things comes shifting preferences, positions and feelings about our lives and the world around us. You can use the concept of re-defining and apply it to any area of your life that you haven't looked at in a while. Maybe taking the time to re-define a few things could reignite your passion and excitement to try something new, create some change or honor a need that is long overdue.
The flip side...
Defining our fear can also be a worthwhile endeavor. So often we are afraid of what will happen if we go after our dreams so we put off taking action or making big decisions. I just saw this Ted Talk by Tim Ferris on the power of digging into our fears. Recommend watching it after you re-define your hopes and dreams so you can see how fear may be holding you back. I'd love to hear what ah-ha takeaway you have after doing these two exercises!
Why are we so resistant to change?!!
I think it is because we have such a desire to be in control, to avoid uncertainty and to know what to expect. Unfortunately, we aren't in control of our lives, there are multiple outcomes to any given situation, and 20/20 vision almost always comes in hindsight. I believe the key to adjusting to change without losing your mind is to embrace the process of adapting. I have a few tips and tricks listed here that I hope you find helpful:
Balance is a Myth
The struggle to find and maintain balance is exhausting. The sweet spot of having everything in order is brief at best. There are too many moving parts to life to have everything put together all of the time. I believe that a part of adapting to change is to accept that there will be times when things get turned upside down, and the flow of life is interrupted. Change affects all aspects of a situation, and it takes a while for all of those pieces to settle back into place.
Course Correction is Critical
It is easy to get worked up when your routine is off. When this happens, take notice and acknowledge what is going on. What part of the upheaval is problematic? How would you like for things to be different? Identify what isn’t working, why it isn't working and use that information to make small changes. These changes (course correction) slowly add up and eventually help get things to a new normal. Give yourself time to process and observe what is going on. That clarity will help you know which course corrections will be required to get you back on track. *You may need to make many adjustments.*
Processing is Important
Frustration, anger, overwhelm, irritability and a desire for things to go back the way they were are all valid responses to change. When change is upsetting, it is important to work through your emotions, feel all the feelings and use them as a guidance system to inform what you need. You can process internally, verbally, through writing and movement. Exercise is an awesome physical outlet for processing.
Change Does Not Equal Chaos
When our routines are affected by a change, we can feel very much out of control. It can seem as though a wrecking ball has just come crashing into our life. When change hits you hard, it is important to remember that everything is changing all the time. If we allow for adjustments to our way of living and adapt along the way, things will feel much calmer thus leaving you feeling more in control. If you look for the ways change has messed up your life, that is all you will see. It might be helpful to look at the way that things have remained consistent to give you an alternate perspective.
Adapting is Key
Resistance to the inevitable (change) wastes vast amounts of brain power, emotional energy, and physical exertion. When we allow things to shift and make small course corrections along the way we save ourselves anger, frustration, resentment and open ourselves up to enjoying the process, learning new lessons and increasing our ability to be in the moment. Being in the moment is the only place life is lived. The past is in the past, and the future is in the future, all we ever have is this single moment.
Transformation is a Journey
Sometimes we experience life changes that are so big the whole of who we are is affected. Coming to terms with those changes can take a lot of time and adjustment. I love this quote by my teacher, Dr. Martha Beck: “Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.” Metamorphosis is a process that requires time to reach full completion.
I've been thinking about how easy it is to play small so that we don't have to challenge ourselves to try, show up, get disappointed or fail. How many of you have talked yourself out of something that you really wanted because it felt so damn monumental? Because it felt easier to pretend like you didn't want the thing?
It is amazing how insidious the phenomenon of playing small can be. It can sneak in and affect so many basic wants, needs, and desires much less the epic ones that make our hearts flutter.
How hard are you willing to work, wait, hustle, sweat, cry and climb till you get where you want to go?
Are you willing to....
What do you want my dear? What will it take to get there? What is one tiny step you can take to maneuver yourself in the direction of that thing?