Coaching in a Nutshell

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Have a wonderful day!
Anne

 

This Is the Most Toxic Emotion

What is the most toxic emotion?

No it’s not anger.

No it’s not jealousy.

No it’s not guilt.

The most toxic emotion is self-hatred.  And its siblings self-loathing, disliking yourself, being critical of yourself, being hard on yourself or putting yourself down.

Self-hatred is toxic on a physical level.  Negative emotions are stressful and cause the release of cortisol which puts the body in a state of fight or flight.  Over time, if negative feelings aren’t released or healed, the ongoing stress they create causes wear and tear on the body.  Studies have shown that stress adversely affects the immune system and, if it continues long-term, can eventually lead to illness.

Self-hatred is toxic on an emotional level because it’s enormously painful.  It’s impossible to be happy or fulfilled if you don’t like the person living inside your own skin.

If you don’t like you, if you don’t think you’re great, if you don’t believe in yourself, if you’re not kind to yourself, if you don’t have compassion for your struggles, if you don’t love yourself unconditionally then who will?

That leaves you dependent on the opinions and approval of others.  So you worry about what others think of you.  Believing that, if they like you, then maybe you’re not so terrible.

But if, deep down inside, you don’t approve of you or like yourself does it really matter who else likes you or approves of you, how much money you have, how many cars, yachts or homes you have, how many awards you have won or how much plastic surgery you have had?

Nothing can replace the feeling and – more importantly, the knowing – that you’re ok.  Worthy.  Wonderful.  Lovable.  Swell.

Have you ever thought about the fact that you won the sperm lottery?  That if a different sperm had won the race you would not be here?

Do you have any idea of what the odds are that YOU would have been born?

Seriously, one site said that about 200 to 500 MILLION sperm are released per ejaculation.  Think about those odds.  One little sperm with your name on it won the race to the egg out of a field of as many as 500 million contenders. How could you not love yourself when you triumphed over such incredible odds?

For a little perspective, your odds of winning the Powerball Lottery are about 1 in 292 million.  Which means that you stand an equal or better chance of winning the lottery than you did of being born.  Hello?  Are you with me here?

And let’s give the egg some recognition as well.  Women release an average of 300 to 400 eggs during their reproductive lifetime.  So it took the concatenation of that particular egg being released at that particular time and that particular sperm fertilizing it to create you.  I rest my case.

I really struggled with the topic of this blog.  I thought that maybe it was too heavy and negative.  I didn’t want to turn you off.  I thought that maybe I should find something lighter and happier to write about.

But I know from my work and my own life that not liking yourself, not being for you, not being on your side, can only lead to misery and being stuck in the suffocating place of living a small and fearful life.

Remember that you don’t have to believe everything you think.  That critical voice that keeps telling you that you’re no good or not good enough or that you did something wrong or whatever it’s saying that makes you dislike yourself.  You can ask yourself where that belief came from.  Or, more importantly, you can ask yourself if you want to – no, need to – keep believing those lies.

It really is up to you.  If a parent or teacher or someone told you 10, 20, 30 or more years ago that you weren’t lovable or that you didn’t measure up or that you would never make anything of yourself, do you have to keep believing them?

As someone I used to work with once said, “Do you want to allow them to continue to rent space in your head?”  And it’s rent-free for them.  You’re the one who continues to pay the cost.

(You know that anyone who told you that you weren’t lovable or ok didn’t feel lovable or ok themselves.)

What would it be like to crack open the shell of your toxic self-judgments and begin to love yourself unconditionally?

With warmest regards,

Does This Terrify You?

Does this terrify you?

No, it’s not the fear of speaking in public.  Or the fear of spiders or snakes or heights or enclosed spaces.

It’s one of the most common fears.

The fear of aging.

I bumped into a client I hadn’t seen for a while the other day.  He said that he and some friends had been talking about getting older and the changes they were experiencing in their bodies and how it’s affecting their lives.  He said that he wished that someone would talk about the “whole aging thing”.

So I decided to start the discussion here.

What is it that we really fear when we’re afraid of getting older?  Besides the concerns that we might have about wrinkles, less energy, forgetfulness, gaining weight, losing hair, etc., it’s the fear of loss of control.

We associate the passage of time with increasing helplessness.  Youth is seen as a time of power and aliveness while being older (whatever that means for you) is seen as a time of powerlessness and passivity.

We have such a negative, narrow view of what it means to get older in this culture.  Even the expression “Older but wiser” means “Oh well, at least there’s something positive about getting older”.

So many people see aging as loss:  loss of energy, loss of attractiveness, loss of intelligence, loss of speed, loss of memory, loss of power, loss of possibility, loss of opportunity.

Often, without realizing it, we watch and are affected by how the important people in our lives handle things.

Do you look around and see the people that you know becoming more and more sedentary as they get older?  Struggling to get around?  Negative?  Unhappy?  Living with regret?

Who inspires you as you get older?  Who are your role models for aging?  Do you have know anyone who is aging with grace, joy, fun and the sheer delight of being alive?

Sir Winston Churchill was 77 years old when he took his second term of office as British Prime Minister.  The renowned artist, Grandma Moses, didn’t start to paint until she was 78 years old.

Here are two short videos about a 96-year-old yoga teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch, who teaches six yoga classes a week and also does ballroom dancing.  Actually the second video is her performance with her 26-year-old ballroom dancing teacher on America’s Got Talent 2015.  She took up ballroom dancing at 86 years of age.

Beyond inspiring.  And filled with wisdom.  They’re short and worth every minute.  Look at what she can do with her body at 96.  (She’s 97 years young now.)  Oh, and by the way, she has had three hip replacements.  But as she says, “I don’t let anything get the better of me.”  And watch her skip offstage after their performance.

So what’s holding you back from living the life of your dreams?

With warmest regards,

3 Rules for Having a Saner Christmas/Holiday Celebration

I’ve had several requests recently to write something about how to deal with the stress of Christmas and the holidays.  If I missed anything that stresses you out, let me know and I’ll write about it in an upcoming blog.

So without further ado, here are Anne’s 3 Rules for having a saner Christmas/holiday celebration with your family:

1)  Don’t take ANYTHING personally.  The end.

Families press each other’s buttons.  That’s their job.

So if someone says something that hurts your feelings or upsets you, why not just assume that that’s their stuff?  (Because it is.)

Whenever I talk with my clients about not taking things personally, they always say some variation of, “But, Anne, how can I not take it personally when someone criticizes me or tells me that I’m a terrible cook or an incompetent father or a lazy employee or stupid or aggressive or cheap or…?

Here’s my answer to that:

Who says they’re right???

Why take other people’s opinions so seriously?

Why give anyone else the power to decide who you are and whether you’re ok or not?

When Meryl Streep tried out for the female lead in King Kong, the producer, Dino DiLaurentiis, Sr., asked his son, “Que bruta?” which translates to “Why do you bring me this ugly thing?”  Little did he know that Meryl understood Italian. She told him that she was sorry that she was not beautiful enough to be in King Kong.

More importantly, she told herself that his opinion was just one persepctive and she knew that there would be other opinions out there and she would find them.  And she obviously has.  Meryl Streep has been nominated for 19 Academy Awards in total.  More than any other actor or actress in history.  What if she had allowed Di Laurentiis’ opinion of her to stop her?  What if she had taken him seriously and decided that she would never make it as an actress?

So Rule Number 1 is:  DON’T SPEND ANY OF YOUR PRECIOUS HOLIDAY TIME (or actually any of your life) SUFFERING OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S PERSPECTIVE OF YOU.

Because that’s all it is.  Their perspective colored by their own stuff.

2)  Be aware of your hopes and expectations for the time you spend with your family.  So you don’t fall into a well of disappointment or frustration.

Remember – you know these people.  This is not your first encounter with them, right?

You know their stuff.  The things they do that drive you crazy or upset you or frustrate you.  (And that’s all about your perspective.  See #1 above.)

So how can you get them to change their behavior?  You can’t.

Often we don’t realize that we have hopes and expectations that this year will be different.  That this year our family will turn into the Brady Bunch and the holidays will be perfect.  Maybe just maybe this year everyone will get along and be happy.

My sister-in-law, Kathy, used to spend three or more weeks preparing an incredible, over-the-top delicious Christmas dinner for about 45 people.  It was flawless.

The problem (well I saw it as a problem) was that my family eats fast.  So weeks worth of Kathy’s painstaking, meticulous preparation was devoured in a flash.  (Of course, it’s partly Kathy’s fault because the food was so incredibly finger-licking, lip-smacking wonderful.)

For years I hoped that just once, everyone would eat slowly and really appreciate all the time and effort that had gone into its preparation.  But who said that that was the only way to appreciate the feast and all of Kathy’s hard work?  I finally woke up and decided to enjoy the evening no matter how long dinner lasted.  And guess what.  Of course it was a lot more fun when I gave up needing to have it be the way I thought it should be.

We all want the people we love (or everyone on the planet) to accept us for who we are just as we are.  I have an idea.  You go first.  What would it be like to accept your family for who they are instead of expecting – or demanding – that they be different?

3)  Someone has to tackle this issue so I guess it has to be me.

The issue of to gift or not to gift.  There.  I said it.

I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to over the years who have told me how much they dislike the whole gift buying ritual.  That it makes the holiday season too consumer-driven and materialistic.  That they have no idea what people want.  That they put a lot of thought into gifts for people who don’t return the favor.  That they’d rather give their money to a good cause.  Etc., etc.

But for some reason, it seems taboo to talk about it.

Why not talk about the whole gift issue with your family at a time when emotions aren’t running high about Christmas?

Like in July.

If there is a “rule” here, it would be this:  Talk about the things that bother you at a time when everyone’s not emotionally charged and reactive.  Work towards a solution instead of fighting about who’s wrong or right.

I wish you, your loved ones and all humans everywhere a holiday season of health, love, joy and abundance.  And peace for this beautiful, crazy, awe-inspiring planet and all of its inhabitants.

With warmest regards,

What Is the Most Futile Emotion?

I don’t usually believe that any emotion is pointless.  Anger, sadness, frustration, grief, resentment.  They all have a message for us.  They’re a signal to pay attention to something that’s important to us.

Regret, however, is futile.  It can have a message for you but, overall, regret is a self-torturing exercise in kicking yourself in the backside for something that you couldn’t have done differently.  Or you would have done it differently.

Regret is an attachment to a you in the past that wasn’t – and never could have been.  A you in the past that you are seeing through the eyes that you have now, with the wisdom of experience and a different perspective.  Knowing what you know now that you didn’t know then.

Back then, whenever “then” was, you saw the situation or event through the lens of the perceptions and understandings about yourself, your life and the world that you had at the time.

If you could have seen it and felt about it back then the way you see it and feel about it now, including the choices and options you see now, you might have dealt with it differently back then.

Regret is a misunderstanding between the you that you are now and the you that you were back then.  Just as you couldn’t see the world back then through the eyes and with the perspective, knowledge and understanding that you have now, you no longer see the world through the eyes you had back then.

Looking back on it, can you see how difficult it is to empathize with what you did and the choices you made at that time?  Because you’re looking at your past behavior with your “now” eyes and not your “back then” eyes.

The problem is that you can’t really remember who you were back then and what you thought, felt, believed and experienced.  You can’t remember your fears and insecurities and how limited your options seemed then compared to how much broader the possibilities seem now.

It’s obvious to you now how you should have handled the situation back then.  It wasn’t obvious to you back then.

You judge yourself, “How could I have been so foolish, blind and stupid that I didn’t see it then?”  And then the regret:  “How different my life could have been if I had done…” – whatever it is you wish you had or hadn’t done or said differently.

  • If only…
  • I wish…
  • I should have…
  • I could have…
  • Why didn’t I?
  • Why couldn’t I?
  • It’s too late…
  • I’ll never…

Regret for the past is like driving your car (in this case your life) while looking in the rearview mirror instead of at the road ahead.  There are two problems with that.

First and most obvious, it’s very dangerous (both in your car and your life) because you’re not focused on what’s right in front of you.

Second and less obvious, is that there are no opportunities in the past that you can take advantage of now.  If you’re constantly regretting the past and looking in the rearview mirror, you’re missing the opportunities scattered by the side of the road and just up ahead in your life.

“When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Living while looking in the rearview mirror of your life is a good way to stay stuck in the past.  What’s here right now in front of you?

Grab the lusciousness of life that’s here for you now.  Don’t miss it because you’re too busy looking regretfully at what might have been.

Here is a brilliant quote about regret.  Whenever I get into my own “if only’s”, I remind myself of this:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

I’m putting the finishing touches on my Life Cleanse Program.  I’ll be looking for 12 to 15 people for this pilot group.  What’s it about?  Just as a body cleanse is used to get the toxins out of your body, this Life Cleanse will help you get the toxins out of your life…

As soon as the registration page is complete, I’ll send you all the info.

With warmest regards,

Same old, same old?

Ever notice that you have the same thoughts as yesterday, last month, maybe even last year?

The same feelings?

The same conflicts with the same people?

Still struggling with the same difficulties, frustrations, problems and issues in your life day after day?

Wondering why your life never seems to change very much from year to year and you always seem to be dealing with the same old, same old?

In my last article, I talked about your subconscious mind and how it determines your thoughts, feelings and actions.  I said that I would tell you how you can recognize your subconscious voices and what to do about them.

Here are two ways that your subconscious shows up in your life:

1) You feel that you have been struggling to achieve or create something but you’re just not successful.

Struggling to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, be on time, overcome an addiction, exercise regularly or create a new habit?  Finding that you just don’t seem to be able to stick with it?

Have a goal that means a lot to you but you just don’t seem to be able to make it happen?

At one time or another, most of us have felt as though we are trying to push a very big boulder uphill again and again and again.  And as in Albert Camus’ story, The Myth of Sisyphus, we feel like the hero of the story who keeps pushing a very large boulder up a mountain every day only to see the boulder roll back down the mountain when he reaches the top.

(Camus, an Existentialist, was demonstrating a very different principle but it’s a great metaphor to illustrate how frustrating it feels to struggle with something over and over again when it just doesn’t work out.)

Often when you’re struggling with something it’s because your subconscious is driving the bus – but not in the direction that you want to go.  Whether you’re aware of what it is saying to you or not, your subconscious is always in the background, running your life.

Your subconscious derails you by telling you things such as:

  • You’re not good enough.
  • You’ll never be successful.
  • Who do you think you are?
  • Only other people can have/do that.
  • Give up.  This is too hard.
  • He/she is better than you.
  • You’ll never make a living doing that.
  • You’re fragile.
  • You’re deficient.
  • There’s something wrong with you.
  • You’re crazy.
  • Why can’t you be normal like other people?

And on and on.

One way to stop struggling and get unstuck is to ask yourself what you’re thinking and feeling about being successful at losing weight, quitting smoking, eating healthier or achieving the goal that’s important to you.

Until you become aware of what your subconscious is telling you, it will keep driving the bus in the wrong direction.  And you’ll feel that you’re struggling to make things happen but getting nowhere.

2) The second way that your subconscious ahows up in your life is that you sabotage yourself.

I worked with a client, Jonathan (not his real name), who was very excited to be studying to be a veterinarian, his passion.  He was doing really well when he decided a few months before graduation that he was bored with the program, so he withdrew.

As soon as Jonathan told me that he left the program so close to graduation, I smelled self-sabotage, one of the smoking guns of the subconscious.

However Jonathan is a smart person.  He looked at me after telling his story and said, “That was self-sabotage, wasn’t it?”  I nodded and told him that we would take a look at what was going on in his subconscious that had threatened to thwart his life’s dream of working with animals when he was so close to completing his goal.

Like most of us, Jonathan was carrying around some unconscious vows about who he is and how he is allowed to be in the world.  Because he was the first person in his family to get a university education, he felt that he was betraying his family.  That he was leaving them behind.

None of this was conscious of course.  Consciously Jonathan knows that his family are thrilled that he’s going to university and support him and his dream.

It was all happening at a subconscious level out of his awareness.  Because Jonathan and I have done some intense work together and I know his family history, I was able to help him see the beliefs and feelings that had pushed him to abandon his dream just short of fulfilling it.  (Fortunately Jonathan was able to finish the program and he is now living his mission as a veterinarian.)

So how can you deal with your subconscious?

Step 1:  Pay attention.  Be aware.  When it feels like you’re banging your head against the wall or stopping short of the finish line anywhere in your life, ask yourself what the little voice is whispering in your ear?

It might take a little practice, but after a while you will recognize your subconscious voice.  It is actually clamoring for your attention.  Most of us, however, are expert at running away from it.  (How do I know?  Personal experience…)

Awareness is always the first step in change.  You can’t change what you’re not aware of.

Once you have outed those subconscious voices into the clear light of day, you can then decide what you want to do about them.

Step 2:  Take my Life Cleanse Program.  No, you won’t be drinking only cabbage soup or juicing or starving yourself.  That’s a body cleanse.

Curious?  Details – next newsletter.  Maximum 10 people so you can get personal attention from me.

Spoiler alert:  When we take away our comfortable habits, stuff starts to come up.  Like our subconscious voices.

With warmest regards,

What’s Running Your Life?

Do you know what is:

Running your life?

Keeping you stuck?

Sabotaging your success?

Affecting your health?

Derailing your happiness?

Paralyzing you from getting out of your comfort zone?

Depressing you?

Holding you back?

Making you anxious?

Reinforcing your addiction to cigarettes, food, drugs, alcohol (pick your poison)?

Making you feel miserable?

Pushing you to fail?

Disrupting your relationships?

Undermining your efforts to lose weight?

Encouraging you to procrastinate?

Keeping you confused and lost in your life?

YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS.

It’s the subterranean voices that we’re not aware of that are driving much of our lives.

You think your conscious mind is running your life?  Think again.  Your conscious mind is in control of about 5% of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

According to Bruce Lipton, who wrote the Biology of Belief, your subconscious mind is running anywhere from 95-99% of your life.

So what?  Well in your subconscious mind is all the stuff that you learned from the people and experiences in your environment before the age of six or seven.

So what?  Well that means that a six year old (or three or four year old) is running your life at times.  Especially in times of stress.  Or conflict.  Or when you feel vulnerable.  Or afraid.

Have you ever said or done something and then thought, “Where did that come from?”  “Why did I do that?”  “Why am I still struggling with this problem?  I thought I had it figured out.”  (You’re not alone.)

From birth to about age six, we are sponges.  Soaking up everything we can from our environment and the people in it: parents, relatives, teachers, tutors, camp counsellors, daycare staff, religious leaders, television, etc.  Because children are dependent on the adults in their lives, what those adults say and do has a powerful effect on them.

The problem is that, as young children, we have no filters.  Everything gets absorbed without discretion.  So what these powerful people say or do is taken as the gospel truth.  It’s just the way it is.

As Bruce Lipton describes it, the subconscious is like a tape recorder.  So from birth to age six, the Record button is on all the time.  Downloading into the subconscious how people treat us, what they say and do and how it makes us feel.  Automatically.

Without any awareness on our part or the ability to judge what’s true or not.

Your mother asked you why you couldn’t do as well as your sister or brother at sports (or art or music or school)?  Downloaded.

Your teacher told you that you’d never amount to anything?  Downloaded.

The kids at school bullied you or picked you last for a sports team?  Downloaded.

Your father said that money doesn’t grow on trees and wealthy people are greedy?  Downloaded.

Adults said that kids should be seen and not heard?  Downloaded.

After the age of six, the Play button is on and much of what was recorded in our subconscious when we were younger plays out for most of the rest of our life.  Until we unpack that old baggage.

A couple of examples:

One of my clients, Ellen (not her real name), recently realized that her feelings of not being good enough or loveable stemmed from the problems she had with some girls in junior high.  The problem is that Ellen didn’t just graduate from junior high.  She is now 52 years old and has been carrying around those feelings for over 40 years.  But they were buried deep in her subconscious so she wasn’t aware of how they were running certain aspects of her life.

No matter how many affirmations Ellen did, how positively she thought about herself or how much previous therapy she’d had, we had to unearth those subconscious feelings for her to be able to create real change in her life.

Another client, Rick (not his real name), is a really talented artist.  But his talent was a well-kept secret.  He rarely finished a painting or displayed his work in galleries or at shows.  As we worked together Rick realized that his father had frequently scoffed at his passion for painting and told him that “all artists starve” and that it was time for him to “stop playing around and get a real job”.

Until Rick became aware of his father’s judgments and how they had become a sentence for him, he struggled with his art.

How do we know when the Play button is on and the subterranean voices are running things?

You have to watch out for the smoking guns:

Self-sabotage, procrastination, unfulfilled intentions, feelings of unworthiness, shame, guilt.

I’ll tell you how you can recognize and deal with your subconscious voices in an upcoming post.

Stop struggling in your life!  Reply to this email and we’ll have a chat about how I can help you free yourself from the subconscious demons getting in your way.

With warmest regards,

What if…

What if…?

What if you told yourself the truth about how you’re really feeling?  Instead of pretending that everything’s ok because it’s scary to acknowledge the truth and you don’t know how you’d deal with it anyway.

What if you knew that you matter?  That you’re important no matter what anyone else says or does or how they treat you.  That how they treat you is about them and their stuff and you just happened to be there.

What if you no longer allowed anyone to treat you poorly?  If you stood up for yourself and said “That’s enough. I will not permit you to do that. Anymore. Ever again.”

What if you accepted the reality of what’s going on in your life?  Realizing that this is your starting place – right here, right now.  Instead of frantically trying to make it better because you’re scared that things might always be the way they are.

What if you decided that you would rather be HAPPY than right?  That others can have a different perspective and a voice – and be right, too.

What if you heard that voice inside that’s shouting at you to pay attention?  But you keep trying to stifle it because it’s too overwhelming to stop and listen.

What if you forgave yourself?  Period.  An unconditional amnesty for all the unforgivable, thoughtless, mindless, uncaring, stupid, careless, desperate or dramatic things your judgmental bully of a mind keeps beating you up about.  (With apologies to my Grade 7 English teacher for ending a sentence with a preposition.)

What if you stopped believing that you have failed at anything?  And instead gave yourself 1000 standing ovations for your courage in ever taking a risk and stepping outside your comfort zone.

What if you focused on your successes instead of your misses?  Even though you’re not as wealthy, creative, successful, artistic, popular, tweeted about, best-selling or esteemed as you’d like to be.

What if you could see past the difficulties of your life today and had true, unfettered faith in your ability to create your dreams?

What if you didn’t allow anyone to discourage you from the song in your heart no matter how crazy/impossible/ridiculous they think it is?

What if you really loved yourself and were kind to yourself?  If you had compassion for your foibles, messes, flaws and imperfections be they physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

What if you believed that you deserve to be loved, to be happy, to be successful, to be fulfilled?  Because it’s your turn, dammit.

What if, just for today, you are enough just as you are?  Instead of feeling that you’ll be good enough only when…..

What if today was a perfect day because it’s a day in YOUR life?  And, for once, you’re going to suspend all self-judgment and striving and allow yourself to be present to the love, beauty, joy and miraculousness of this day.

With warmest regards,

How did I change my life?

How did I change my life?

I slowed down.  Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it?  Well I was (and still am) shocked at the reverberations slowing down has had on my life.

Confession:  I’m a speed addict.  I love speed.  (I’m talking about the pace, not the drug.)  I love the adrenalin rush of moving quickly.  Of getting things done.

We live in a culture that reinforces the idea that speed is good and absolutely necessary for success.  “Success loves speed.”  Brian Tracy

We rush around trying to cram as much as possible into our days.  We revere “the top 30 under 30”, some of whom have reached the brass ring even before their frontal cortex has completed its development.

We get impatient at the driver who is driving too slowly (often at the speed limit), frustrated with our children for taking too long to get ready in the morning, curse our computers if something isn’t downloading fast enough and hop from checkout line to checkout line to see which is moving the quickest.

We look for shortcuts everywhere.  We want bigger, better and more and we want it faster and faster (preferably yesterday).

We’re usually so busy hurrying through our days trying to get it all done that it makes it impossible for us to see what our obsession with speed is costing us in terms of our health, our relationships and our enjoyment of our lives.

People in snow belts love snow days – those days in which so much snow has fallen that school is cancelled and people are told to stay at home.  (Think Buffalo with over 5 feet of snow in one day in November 2014.)  Why?  Because they have been given permission to stop their hectic, crazy, speedy lives for one day.

Where are we rushing to?  Do we ever stop to ask ourselves why we’re in such a hurry?  How did we get to the point where we feel that we have to pack so much into our days?  And that we have to do it all at breakneck speed?  Letting the belief “So much to do and so little time” rule our lives?

Newsflash:  YOU WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DONE.  EVER.  

When was the last time that you took your time?  Or-heaven forbid-DAWDLED?  That you just hung out with your kids, your significant other, your friends without being exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling guilty because you have so much to do that you should really be doing instead?

I’m always delighted when I see a parent with a young child who is jumping in puddles or examining a caterpillar and the parent isn’t rushing them along.  Come to think of it – when was the last time you jumped in a puddle or stopped to look at a caterpillar or smell the proverbial rose?

What surprises me is the enormous positive impact slowing down has had on my life.  Most surprising to me – and what I would have thought was counterintuitive – is that I’m getting much more done.  I always believed that I would get more done by multitasking and moving faster.  Did you know that study after study shows that our brains were not built for multitasking and multitaskers are less effective?

Now that I have slowed down, I’m more focused and less stressed.  The upshot of all of this is that I’m more productive.  And I procrastinate less.

I’m more present in my life instead of thinking about what’s next (stressful), what has to be done (even more stressful) and how I can stay on top of things (very stressful).  I was always ready to launch myself into the next project or idea and revving myself up for it instead of being in the moment with what I was doing.

The biggest change?  I’m enjoying each moment of my life more.  How can you enjoy your life if you’re often focused on the next thing to do, rushing to get ahead and trying to get it all done now?  Excuse me for stating the obvious but life can only be enjoyed by being fully present in this moment.  And this moment.  And this moment.

Have I completely made a 180-degree turn and embraced slow?  Absolutely not.  There are times that I miss the speedy pace.  So I head out for a power walk and get my dose of speed in that way.  Or I just stop and do some deep breathing and a meditation to bring myself into the present moment.  Or I catch myself sneaking in my speedy pace again here and there.

What about you?  What are you missing out on as you speed along the highway of your life?  Do you ever stop and look at the sights along the way?  Or take an unplanned detour because who knows what might be around the next corner?  Or would that derail you from getting to where you tell yourself that you have to, want to, need to go as quickly as possible?

In Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slowness, he talks about getting to know your “inner tortoise”.  (I love that expression.)  Here’s his TED talk:

With warmest regards,

What They’re Really Saying When They Criticize You

Here’s my unbiased, scholarly opinion of criticism:  it’s bullpoop.

What gives anyone the right to criticize you?  Criticism implies that they know better than you.  Here’s what they’re really saying to you when they criticize you:

This is how you should do it.  I’m right.  My way is right.  You’re wrong.  You’re not doing it right.  You’re mistaken.  You should be doing it, feeling it, thinking it, saying it differently than you did and I’m going to tell you how you should do it better.

For example, you should: fry an egg like this, stop eating eggs, look at life this way, take better care of yourself, stop worrying about yourself so much, stop eating animals, carbs, fat, sugar, lighten up, be more serious, work more, work less, spend more time with the family, be more ambitious.

I think you get the idea.  Everyone has an opinion about how to live and everyone’s opinion is different.

And don’t let them tell you that they’re only making a suggestion when they’re really criticizing you.  The difference between criticism and a suggestion is the difference between “You should” and “You could”.  (And the difference between “Who asked you?” and “I’d like your feedback.”)

Do you know what the smoking gun is that’s proof that you have been criticized?  When they say, “You should…”

Even if it’s only implied in what they said.  “Should” is “used to indicate … obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions” (Oxford Dictionary – italics mine).

The only people who have the right to criticize you in any way are the people you report to at work.  It’s considered to be part and parcel of the job that they get to evaluate your work.  But any smart, emotionally intelligent person in a position of power (including parents) knows that criticism makes people defensive and shuts them down.

Why?  Because criticism shames people.  It leaves them feeling that they’re wrong, stupid or not good enough.

And then we shame them again by saying, “You can’t take criticism.”  If we want deeper connections with other people we have to stop judging them. What makes us the authority on how others should live their lives?

There are more compelling ways to get people to cooperate with your agenda when you’re in a position of authority.  As my Mother used to say, “You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar…”

Of course we never have to take other people’s opinions or criticisms personally.  Remember that criticism is just their perspective.  Their take on how you should live in the world.

On the eve of her seventh birthday, my six-year-old great-niece, Franny, was unhappy.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said that her sister, Lily, told her that she wasn’t ready to be seven yet.  (Where do kids get this stuff from?)  I told Franny that she didn’t have to listen to what her sister said and asked her “Who said that Lily is right?”  She stopped and thought for a moment.  Then I saw a light go on in her eyes, her face brightened and she went back to being excited about her birthday.

The next time someone criticizes you, instead of getting defensive or angry, what about telling them, “Well, isn’t that an interesting perspective?”  And remember that that’s all it is.  Their perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and loyal readers in the U.S.

With warmest regards,

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