Coaching in a Nutshell

Are you ready to wake up and create the life that you want?

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The #1 Cause of Stress in Your Life

The #1 cause of stress in your life:

  • Your significant other?
  • Your work/your boss?
  • Too much to do?
  • Money?
  • Your teenagers/parents/inlaws?
  • Whether you should go on the all fruit, no fruit, no carbs, low carb, only carbs, no gluten, low gluten or who cares diet and does that mean that I can’t have wine?

No, the #1 cause of stress in your life is your mind.

Your tries-to-scare-the-pants-off-you and tells-you-that-you’re-never-good-enough fearful, critical mind.  It can’t help it.  That’s its job.  The problem is that your mind is too good at its job.

Our mind’s purpose is to help us survive.  That’s Mother Nature’s priority for us – the survival of the human species (in spite of our best efforts otherwise).  Your mind doesn’t really care if you have fun in your life.  Survival.  Period.

Your mind is expert at scaring you by conjuring up all sorts of problems and issues and worst-case scenarios and criticizing you for the decisions you make and the things you say and do.  Just in case.  To keep you in line so that you don’t do something that might jeopardize your safety.

Add to that the belief that it matters what other people think of you and your life and you have the recipe for an unhealthy, nasty-tasting, indigestible stress pie.

No, no – it’s not the things outside of us that stress us for the most part.  It’s what we tell ourselves about those things.  It’s believing that we can’t cope.  Otherwise we would relax, live more in the moment and deal with things as they show up.

When you’re upset or stressed your body is being bombarded with a cascade of hormones and chemicals to help you fight or flee that saber-toothed tiger that is ready to pounce on you, threatening your life.

But wait a minute – there is no saber-toothed tiger.

  • It’s a traffic jam
  • Or a conflict with someone
  • Or too many things to do
  • Or not succeeding at something
  • Or getting outside your comfort zone

Not a life-or-death situation.

But your body doesn’t know that.  It was given its marching orders from a part of the brain which responded to the all-hands-on-deck-there’s-danger-ahead alarm that your mind issued.

So your body has, in essence, used a cannon to shoot a flea.

It’s all about your perceptions and how you see things.  Which is why you often don’t stress about the same things as others.  Want proof?  Remember when you told a friend or family member who was stressed about something to “Just relax.  It’s no big deal”. (C’mon, you know that’s not helpful.)  That’s because your thoughts about the situation were different than theirs, so it wasn’t stressful for you.

Your interpretation of a situation.  Thoughts.  All thoughts.

But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Da, da, da, da!  Anne to the rescue!

(Ok, my hair isn’t blonde but I love the cape and the shoes…)

Mark your calendars.  December 4th.  Limited to 20 people.  Me and you.  A crazy low price.  (Wait and see.) 

Shattering your personal myths about stress and putting you in control.  What would it be like to really enjoy the holiday season this year instead of needing a holiday after the holidays?

I’m just putting the finishing touches on it.  Details next week.

I Dare You to Do This Differently

Are you hard on yourself?  Do you align with your inner critic and attack and berate yourself when you’re not perfect or haven’t met your expectations for yourself?

Really aren’t there enough expectations, demands, judgments, timelines, criticisms, harshnesses, stresses, opinions, critiques and comments about who you are, what you do and how you do it?  Without you adding to the cacophony of external, judgmental voices?

It’s really interesting if we think about it.  We worry incessantly about what other people think about us.  Why?  Because we judge ourselves harshly so we’re forced to look outside ourselves for approval and to feel that we’re OK.

The craziest part is that we’re looking for acceptance, kindheartedness, compassion, caring, approval, validation, understanding and acknowledgment from people who often don’t give those gifts to themselves.

Confession:  I’m hard on myself, too, sometimes.  But not as often anymore.

I used to berate myself with abandon.  And ridiculously, it felt almost virtuous.  I thought I was being a warrior by being hard on myself.  Keeping myself accountable.  Being tough on myself so that I would be more focused and successful.

I finally realized that, when I was hard on myself, my soul had no room to breathe.  I had locked myself in the cage of my expectations and shoulds.  A cage without the oxygen of my heart and inner wisdom.

I decided to wake up.  Being hard on myself wasn’t making me more effective, motivated or successful.  And it didn’t feel good.  (Always a sign to wake up and pay attention.)

My inner warrior isn’t about turning everything into a struggling battle and hauling myself over the coals for not being perfect.  The only response to a constant battle is exhaustion.

My true inner warrior is my creative force, not a fighter.  My North star encouraging me to persevere, to hold my vision and walk the path to my dreams and especially to support and believe in myself NO MATTER WHAT.

My warrior pays attention to what I’m doing right instead of focusing on when and where I’ve missed the mark or veered off the path.  She appreciates and celebrates my victories, my courage and my learning.

If you’re spending your precious time being hard on yourself, you’re going to stumble in the weeds of discouragement, frustration and impatience.  Try travelling a different path.

When you hear (or feel) yourself shooting those arrows of heartlessness at your soul, try an experiment.  Instead of jumping on the train of ancient, ineffective habits and getting taken for the same old ride, write down what you’ve done well, your successes and what you’ve learned.

Stepping outside your comfort zone in the outside world is a piece of cake compared to moving beyond your inner comfort zone of old, familiar behaviors.  If being hard on yourself is automatic and habitual for you, I challenge you to do it differently.  And see what happens.  Self-compassion takes courage.

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend.  What are you grateful for?  Can you add yourself to the list?

The Top Two Problems in Your Relationships

Problem #1:  You are right and he/she (your husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, teacher, student or anyone you are in relationship with) is wrong.

It sounds like this to others:

“I know what I’m talking about.”  “The way I see the world is the way it actually is.”

“However the way you see the world is impractical, absurd, ridiculous, idiotic, unreasonable, irrational, crazy and/or illogical.”

What other people hear is:

“My perspectives, beliefs and opinions are right and your perspectives, beliefs and opinions are wrong.  I am the holder of the truth.”

In other words, “I’m right.  You’re wrong.”

It feels like this:

“I’m going to shame you and make you feel stupid for seeing things the way you do.  How could anyone who is smart, confident, successful, a winner, empathic, good at what they do, a thinking person, a caring person, a good teacher, architect, mother, father, sister, brother, CEO, (fill in the blank) think the way you do or say something like that?

This is what they’re not telling you:

“When I was growing up I was criticized for things I said or did and that made me feel stupid, like a failure and ashamed.  On a subconscious level now I always have to be right so I can be sure that I won’t be criticized or feel stupid or that I have failed.  If you don’t agree with me, that means that one of us has to be wrong.  Because I always have to be right, I vote for you.  You must be wrong.  And I’m going to do to you what I hated being done to me, which is that I’m going to criticize you or put you down for being wrong and make you feel small.”

Others see the world through different eyes than you based on their experiences, history, family life, personality, values, intelligence (of which there are many kinds) and gender.

And those different eyes lead to different perceptions and perspectives about the world which lead to different beliefs about life, people and situations.  In many situations, there is not just one truth.  Our differences is what makes life exciting and fascinating.  And takes us out of our comfort zone.

I believe that there is another reason that we have to be right.  Our brain is programmed for survival.  To be wrong is to risk being dead.  Our brain cannot allow us to be wrong because it taps into our deepest fears of not being capable of surviving.  And that really scares us.

Most of us would rather be right than happy.  Right than loving.  Right than connected.  Right than kind (not to be confused with nice).

And when we make people wrong, what happens?  They get defensive.  Or shut down.  They share less and aren’t as willing to be vulnerable.  Who wants to get up close and personal with someone who criticizes us, puts us down and thinks we’re less than?  Over time, intimacy and connection are sacrificed at the altar of rightness (aka “the truth”).

I don’t believe that most of us consciously or maliciously try to make other people wrong.  And that’s the problem.  We do it subconsciously so it’s critical to wake up and become aware of how we treat others.  Only then can we choose to change it.

Clients are always telling me that they want to improve their communication with the important people in their lives.  Start here.   It’s not about either-or.  Either I’m right or you’re right.  It’s about both-and.  Both you and I have a perspective and a) in most circumstances both are likely valid and b) does it really matter who is right?

When people tell me that they want to learn to communicate better, I often think that what they mean is that they want to become better at persuading others of the truth of their perspective.  What I suggest is that they become better at listening.  Remember we were given two ears but only one mouth…

The next time you disagree with someone about something, what would it be like to really listen to their perspective and think about the issue from their point of view?  To not make them wrong?  Even if you think that their perspective or opinion is ridiculous or silly or unbelievable or childish?  What would it be like to discuss it or just say something like “I see it differently” instead of “No, this is the way it is”?

What is coming up for you now when I make these suggestions?  Whatever it is will give you more information about what pushes your need to be right.  Follow those clues.

What would happen if you risked real communication, more intimacy and connection?  Spend the next couple of weeks becoming aware of how often you need to be right.  Then ask yourself what you really want in your relationships.  Being right or truly connecting? You just might be in for a surprise.

Problem #2?  We’ll talk about that next time.  (C’mon, you didn’t expect me to share it all with you right now, did you?  Don’t you have your hands full just becoming aware of when, how and with whom your need to be right rears its self-right-eous head?)

Get Out Of There Before You Suffocate

Your comfort zone.

It will choke the life out of you.  But your fearful mind will feel better if you stay in your comfort zone because you’ll be safe.  Maybe not happy or fulfilled or excited about your life or contributing or involved.  Safe and comfortable, which is all your fearful mind cares about.  Because its first concern is your survival.  Not your happiness, your joy or whether your life is meaningful.

But your soul, your life force, your inner spirit – whatever you want to call that inner flame that feeds on love, purpose, growth, passion and joy – gets most of its fuel outside of your comfort zone.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Neale Donald Walsch

We are at the dawn of a new year.  Start from here.  Wherever you are.  And walk boldly towards possibility and opportunity.

Do you know why we so desperately hang onto safety?  Why we’re afraid to venture outside our comfort zone?  We’re afraid that we won’t be able to handle whatever comes our way.  And that we might fail.

So we cling to safety.  And shrivel up inside.

“… and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  Anais Nin

I am declaring 2013 the year of sailing outside of our comfort zones.  Not forcing or pushing or struggling or slogging or striving or fighting.  Those are painful and create inner resistance.

Sailing.  Get ready for some rough waters, big tides and strong winds where you’ll learn how to navigate this journey of your life to the destinations of your dreams.  And, as any experienced sailor knows, get ready, too, for those magic days of calm waters, sunny skies and perfect, warm winds where everything just flows.

Can you imagine what your life will be like if you get out of your comfort zone again and again in 2013?  As I ask my clients (and myself), are you willing to try something new and see it as an experiment without judging or needing to be guaranteed of the outcome?

Have a wonderful New Year filled with love, joy, excellent health and the courage to sail outside your comfort zone.  As always, THANK YOU for taking the time to read this newsletter and for sharing your comments and your experiences with me.

I look forward to offering you more opportunities and getting to know you better in 2013.  Let’s navigate these uncharted waters together.