Pulling Out of the Downward Spiral

Does this ever happen to you…the downward spiral of negative thoughts? I was getting ready this morning and what started off with “I have nothing to wear” became “nothing looks right on me because I’m old and fat and I’m not going to run well in this 4-miler this weekend and I need new shoes and I’m so sick of wearing the same things and, and, and…”

I know, I know…I’m the one coaching positive thinking, so why am I telling you this? Because I’m human. I want you to know that I understand how our minds play these tricks on ALL of us at some point. And I want you to know that you have the power to turn it around before it gets out of hand.

Ask yourself what’s really happening. In my case, I was getting dressed to go to a networking lunch group I’d not been to before. When things get stressful, your mind can throw up obstacles to see how much you really want it. In my case, I was able to recognize that my negative thoughts were spiraling and I had to do a reality check.

In reality, I look no different today than I did yesterday and I was happy yesterday. In reality, all my clothes fit. In reality, the event I’m running in this weekend has nothing to do with today.

Had I not checked my thoughts, I may have been so upset that I skipped the networking lunch, which ended up being two hours very well spent that I would have missed! So, long story to say, your mind is tricky. Get on top of the first negative thought when it happens. Challenge it. Figure out what you’re really feeling and why. Do a reality check. Control your mind so it doesn’t control you!

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Learning to be a Badass

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Yep, that pretty much sums up the book. Ok, not really. But it does set the tone for this awesomely inspiring book by Jen Sincero. It’s inspiring because she doesn’t write, “Hey, I found the key to being successful. Look at my life now;” she actually tells you how she changed her thoughts and behaviors and believes that you can do it too. But you have to really believe that you can change your thoughts and therefore change your life.

Are you familiar with the Law of Attraction? Because You Are a Badass is basically Jen Sincero using her own life events to demonstrate and explain how to use the Law of Attraction to live the life of your dreams. You may have read some other books about the Law of Attraction or positive thinking that have left you ready for a nap, but I guarantee this book is different! I was reading it on a plane and flagging so many pages that I ran out of little sticky flags and had to just start folding pages over to mark them. Sincero’s writing style will get you fired up! As I was reading, I had so many new ideas that I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up! I was so excited to put what I was reading and thinking into action as soon as I stepped off the plane!

If you are new to the Law of Attraction, here’s one of the concepts Sincero explains really well in her book: the frequency or vibration you put out into the universe is what is returned to you. In other words, if you are living at a high frequency, expecting great things to happen for you and seeing the good in everything, then the universe (God, Source Energy, whatever you call your higher power) returns good things to you. If you have a low frequency of expecting nothing to go your way, then the universe returns that negativity to you. “The Universe will match whatever vibration you put out…Which is why when you’re vibrating at a high frequency, awesome things seem to flow to you effortlessly and you seem to stumble over the perfect people and opportunities all the time (and vice versa)” (p. 32).

To be clear, just thinking positive thoughts and expecting good things to happen is not enough. You must also take action to move you into the direction of receiving what you want to attract. “The trick is to have both parts – energy and action – working in unison…Once in a while you may get lucky doing one without the other, but if you can get clear on what you truly want…believe that it is available to you regardless of your present circumstances by staying connected to Source Energy and keeping your frequency high, and take decisive action , you will eventually succeed” (p. 33).

Did you catch that “get very clear on what you truly want” part? What’s your passion or gift that you want to be sharing with the world? “Getting clear about what your unique purpose is can be the difference between living a happy, fulfilled life of abundance, choice, and expansiveness or living in the restrictive veal pen of your own indecision and tired old excuses” (p.71). Sincero goes on to offer some tips on how to get clear on your calling as well.

The Law of Attraction is so dependent on your thoughts and your willingness to believe. Sincero writes on page 95, “You have to change your thinking first, and then the evidence appears. Our big mistake is that we do it the other way around. We demand to see the evidence before we believe it to be true.” You have to believe that you live in an abundant universe and that what you truly want already exists out there and is available to you.

I highly recommend You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life to anyone who is interested in the Law of Attraction, anyone who is ready to change their ways of thinking, and/or anyone who is just tired of doing the same things and (of course) not getting different results. Jen Sincero offers not only stories and examples but also tips, exercises, and resources to apply to your own life.  The last tip of each chapter is a “Love Yourself” tip. I won’t give them all away, but I’ll close with a few examples:

  • p. 62 “Love yourself. Because it’s the Holy Grail of happiness.”
  • p. 120 “Love yourself. Be grateful for all you are and all that you’re becoming.”
  • p. 165 “Love yourself. You’re doing an awesome job.”
  • And of course, p. 244 “Love yourself. You are a badass.”

Already read You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life? What did you think? I’d love to read your comments too!

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Managing Fear

Fear comes in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. It can be debilitating, stopping you from living the life you really want…if you let it.

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.” — Robin Sharma

Some fears are outgrown, like the fear of the dark, for example. Some fears don’t really come into play and so don’t affect one’s quality of life. (I have a fear of snakes, but I don’t have any desire to go camping or visit a jungle anytime soon, so this fear doesn’t really impact my life.) Some fears, however, plague people for a lifetime and keep them from living the life they really want. I’m talking about fears like traveling, failure, public speaking, dating…fears that have the potential to create limits in a person’s life if not faced and managed.

Depending on the intensity and impact of the fear, professional therapy may be the best solution. However, some fears can be managed with one or more of the following:

  • Coping strategies. These are activities that are calming or distracting, allowing you to work through the feelings of fear. Strategies include deep breathing, counting backwards, calling a friend, journaling, going for a walk, or listening to music.
  • Worst case scenario and probability (rationalizing). Let yourself think about the worst possible outcome from facing your particular fear, but then also rationally state the chances of that outcome happening. For example, the worst case scenario for someone who fears taking tests may be that they will fail the test, fail out of college, and spend the rest of their life living with their parents. Could it happen? I guess. Is it probable? No.
  • Eyes on the prize. Sometimes the pleasant end result of facing your fear is great enough to get you through it. My best example of this is giving birth. Afraid of the delivery? Very much. Response to picturing baby in your arms? Bring it on!
  • Gradual exposure. This is the step by step approach to facing your fear. Start with the first baby step. So if you fear dogs, start by watching videos of dogs. The next step might be to visualize petting a dog and imagine what your emotional response would feel like. The next step could be petting a trained dog (like a therapy or service dog, with permission). The steps keep progressing until you feel you’ve achieved manageability of your fear. This doesn’t mean you’re ever going to love the thing you fear, dogs in this example, but that you can manage the fear enough that it doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of life.

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” –German proverb

Whichever way you choose to manage your fear, the first step is to acknowledge the fear. If you don’t ever acknowledge it or face it, then it continues to grow and looms large over your life. Next, decide that YOU are in the driver’s seat of your life. You control your fear; it doesn’t control you. Every time you face your fear head on, it loses some of its power over you and you gain more evidence that you are capable of managing your fear. Be patient with yourself. Don’t give up. You CAN do this.

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How Do You Eat an Elephant?

You’ve probably heard this before: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This happens to be one of my favorite sayings. I use it often to calm down and remind myself that any large project is possible when broken down into smaller pieces.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you take on a big task. And then you may fall victim to thoughts like, “Why did I agree to do this?” or “This is impossible!” First of all, worrying and engaging in negative self-talk are huge wastes of time and energy. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge you’re feeling worried, then take control of the situation by creating a plan.

Write down your plan on paper so it is not running on a continual loop in your head. You can make a detailed list of numbered steps, create a process map, or any method that gets your thoughts organized on paper. From there, you can take each step and add details such as who can help and what resources are available. (This works for planning a wedding, building a house, work projects, everything.) Add a target completion date for each step to hold yourself accountable. Move forward by completing one step at a time.

Tackling a seemingly insurmountable task is really an opportunity to develop mental and emotional endurance. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, revisit your plan and remind yourself you’re going to eat this elephant…one bite at a time!

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The Game of Life

Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left in your game of life? Here’s why I ask.

As I watch my son’s soccer team play a game that they are losing 1-0, they are trying hard to tie it up. But when a parent calls out that there are only 5 minutes left to play, every player on the field kicks into a higher gear and becomes more intent on reaching the goal.

I watched my other son run a cross country meet this weekend. After 3 miles of running, I see the clock, I see him, and I yell, “You can still PR! Sprint!” And as if he had fresh legs, he did just that. Sprinted to his personal record for a cross country meet.

So this all got me thinking. What if the players didn’t know the time they had to play. What if the soccer teams took the field and didn’t know if they’d play 20 minutes or an hour? What if a runner had no clock or watch along the course? What if a golfer didn’t know how many holes were going to be played each round? How many innings for a baseball player? How many laps for a race car driver? Apply to the sport of your choice. My point is, how hard would athletes play if they didn’t know how much time they had to reach their goals and win their game?

Now, what about the game of life? Do you know exactly how many days, hours, minutes you have left? No! So what are you waiting on? Get your game plan together. Suit up. Take action. NOW. To reach your goals and win at the game of life!

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A Refresher on Coming From a Place of Yes

Writing a bit of a “throw back Thursday” post today. Sort of. You see, I first read Bethenny Frankel’s book, A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, when it was published in 2011. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about and writing about saying yes to life, so I decided to read the book again. I expected to quickly skim the book to get a refresher, but I found that the messages applied in different ways now (7 years later) than the first time I read it, and I wanted to absorb the information in this new light.

So, even though it’s an older book, I still recommend reading it. Bethenny Frankel has a personal story that is interesting to read and I am a huge believer in saying yes! (You can also reference my posts Say Yes and Sorting Out Why to Say “Yes” and Why to Say “No”.) Here are my top takeaways from reading A Place of Yes this time around:

  • “Seek what’s true for you, rather than for the people around you.” From Rule 2: Find Your Truth. “Unless you know what you want, you’ll be making decisions and living your life on somebody else’s terms.”
  • “What’s the next chapter of your life going to be about? Don’t just plan it. Start making it happen even before you’ve figured it all out…Make it happen. Make something happen.” From Rule 3: Act On It. “It all comes down to saying yes. Acting on it – making real things happen in real life – comes from a place of yes.”
  • Everything that “happens to you has the potential to open new doors.” From Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. Everything happens for a reason even though you might not know how it all fits together in your life at this moment. “When you are following your truth…everything you do will eventually get you where you want to go – or someplace even better.”
  • Also from Rule 5: All Roads Lead to Rome. “You should always bet on yourself. People often bet against themselves – don’t do that. Don’t let anyone reduce you or your passion to a number. The horses picked as the favorites hardly ever win the Kentucky Derby. Odds are nothing. Instead, follow your gut, because it knows better than the odds. What if you’re a long shot? If you want something, you have to go for it. If it goes badly, you’ll learn from it. If it goes well, then you win, odds be damned.”

Those are my biggest takeaways this time around, but there is so much more to this book that might relate to you. For example, Bethenny writes about “breaking the chain” and not being the woman her mother was. She writes about lessons she’s taken from her childhood and how her childhood shaped her. She writes about her other relationships too and the lessons she’s learned about how her personal issues impacted those relationships. She also has good sections on “noise” – the chatter in your head that can throw you off your game if you let it, and a chapter on making everything you do your business. In other words, whatever you are doing, do it well. You never know who is watching or what opportunities can open up from something.

Obviously I like this book and see value in reading it (since I read it twice.) I like it and suggest it because, whether you like Bethenny Frankel and care about her story or not, Bethenny puts it all out there. She shares all of her mistakes and not just her victories. A Place of Yes is about learning who you are and owning it. It’s about always moving forward, trying something, and not being complacent about your life or giving up on your dreams. Say yes to your life!

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If Not Now, When?

Have you accomplished everything you want to accomplish in this life of yours? I know I haven’t. In fact, I know I have more interests and goals than I will ever have time to get to in this lifetime. So maybe that is why phrases like “just killing time” or “wasting time” and “I have nothing to do” drive me crazy! Time is precious. We only get one life and we have no idea how much time is left in it.

Don’t you want to do something bigger with your life? Have you really checked off all your goals and dreams and have nothing left to do? What are you waiting for? Do you not know where to start? Do you think it’s too late?

It’s never too late and there is always something you can do! Every day that you get to wake up is a new opportunity. If you don’t know where to start, then start by brainstorming a list of things you find interesting or want to try. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to learn how to speak Italian. Maybe your list has “check out Italian language CDs at the library.” There. Boom. You’re on your way. Now set a goal to listen to the CDs while you’re driving home from work or while you’re cooking dinner. Maybe you find that you love it, maybe you don’t, but you DID something.

You can apply the example above to anything on your list. Make a goal. Make a plan to accomplish the goal. Time is our most precious “non-renewable resource.” When it’s gone, it’s gone. So if there’s something you still want to do in your life, ask yourself this question: “If not now, when?”

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