“I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us.” ~ Byron Katie
Many of you are doing a great job of maintaining a peaceful state in your lives through practicing mindfulness and other somatic skills I’ve shared with you. Yet in times of great stress, some clients tell me that they can’t help but revert back to a reactive state, which makes them feel out of control, defensive and on edge. Negative thoughts stream back into their minds. Let me reassure you, that’s quite natural. Don’t give up! The more you practice mindfulness the more it becomes your default method to calm your mind.
To make it easier to calm your mind during stressful times, I’ve come up with an acronym to help you remember the steps to take. It’s C.A.L.M.
Before I dive into how to CALM your mind, it’s helpful to understand the two systems or states your brain functions under –
- the reactive fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) or
- the responsive rest and digest state (parasympathetic nervous system).
To put it simply, these two systems transmit valuable information via your neurochemical systems that make the body/mind connection.
Ideally, you want to experience the responsive rest and digest state most of the time. It’s the “shock absorber” in your brain that stops feelings like fear, frustration or anger from taking total control over your actions. Because you have an underlying sense of security and fulfillment, you can observe your feelings without judgment, name them and rationally cope with them, without getting too stressed out.
The fight or flight response should only switch on occasionally, when you’re faced with real danger. After the threat passes, you should quickly return to the rest and digest state in which you feel safe and peaceful.
Are you ready to learn how to CALM your mind? It will allow you to pause and let your rational brain catch up with your emotional brain and give it some guidance.
C stands for Connect. Connect with what your body and emotions are telling you. Notice your body sensations or physical reactions. Identify the feelings attached to them. Name them. Remember, feelings are not right or wrong. They just are. Work on accepting and exploring your feelings.
For example, your husband says something that hurts you.
Your response: I feel hurt. I’m clenching my jaw and tensing my shoulders. I feel sick to my stomach. I feel threatened. I feel ridiculed. I feel belittled like when my dad said I was just a stupid girl.
A stands for Assure. Assure yourself that you’re safe. Observe your thoughts. What story or assumption are you telling yourself to make you react this way?
Your response: Oh, I was thinking he doesn’t respect me anymore, that he would leave me. That’s not true. We’re committed to each other. He’s just upset because of what I did. He doesn’t understand. (Breathe…Relax.) I’m safe.
L stands for Live YOUR Truth. It’s possible to cause unnecessary stress for yourself by trying to please someone. The sad fact is we often think we’re pleasing someone by pulling back from our dreams or putting ourselves down, which only makes us miserable. And it makes them miserable, too. That’s not what they want. They just want to understand. Each of us has to live our own truth – not somebody else’s.
Your response: This is important to me, because _____. I know he doesn’t understand. Collect my thoughts, so I can explain it to him patiently and reasonably. He probably feels threatened too. Reassure him that I’m not leaving. I’m committed to our relationship.
M stands for Mindfulness. Mindfully and purposefully choose the thoughts and actions that support the life you want to live.
Your response: I’m a powerful, intelligent woman who has a lot to offer my family, career, and community. I have a purpose and there are things I can do right now to move me closer to fulfilling that purpose. I know I need to include him more often, communicating my desires, plans and goals, so he doesn’t feel left behind. I feel calm, happy, and safe.
Would you like more training on how to calm your mind and live up to your full potential? Then plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. Yes! We’ve changed the name to reflect more accurately how we’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life and make a difference in the world.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~ The Buddha
I believe that the phrase, “You are what you eat,” could be replaced with, “You are what you think.” When you feed your mind full of positive, grateful thoughts, you leave no room for self-doubt or negativity. You make better choices. You can’t help but become more productive, cheerful and enjoyable to be around. This in turn, makes people want to work with you and for you. Yes, you can erase self-doubt! But it will take time and effort. Determination is the key to success!
Are you determined to succeed in your quest to conquer self-doubt? Remember the fairytale The Little Engine That Could? He started the long trek up the mountain with a strong burst of energy and the self-talk, “I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can,” streaming through his mind. No one else thought he could. But his determination – the mental strength to try and not give up – was key to his success!
As a way to reinforce this same kind of mental strength and determination in you, here are some key ways to invite positive, self-nurturing thoughts to flow your way…
1. Always look for the positive. There is a world full of good things out there! Be determined to practice gratitude and feel blessed. Look for and appreciating the good that is present or that can eventually arise, from each situation. Greet each challenge as a blessing, because it will spark the growth you need to become more successful.
2. Zap negative thoughts. Just as a bug zapper “bzzzzts” and stops pesky annoying bugs, be determined to turn on your Negative Thought Zapper and stop them from taking hold and spiraling out of control. When you catch a negative pattern, assess it for truth, and then consciously re-phrase it to a pattern that oozes opportunity and possibility.
3. Speak positivity. I cannot stress enough the importance of being mindful of how you speak out loud and to yourself. When you start down the road of criticism, complaining, sarcasm, and abusive speech, STOP! Be determined to retrain yourself to seek ways to commend and build up yourself and others instead.
4. Shift your focus from getting to giving. When you become more other-centered – caring more for everyone else – you will be taking power away from the need to reach your quota, achieve a certain status, earn X amount of dollars, etc. When you become a person who serves from a state of compassion, people will respond and reward you with their business, with their cooperation, and with their respect.
5. When you doubt yourself, prove yourself wrong! If you haven’t tried, you’re lying to yourself when you say, “I can’t!” Nothing is accomplished by quitting before you even begin. Once you act in harmony with your intention to succeed, new avenue often open up before you, so you accomplish a task you never thought you could. And if, for some reason you “fail”, you’ll find a better path. No matter what happens, your self-confidence is lifted because you TRIED!
6. Envision the outcome you desire. It’s easy to let the disaster reel play like a movie in your mind, imagining everything that could go wrong. Be determined to replace it with a success reel. Play the “happy movie” of how everything turns out better than you dreamed of.
7. Take baby steps. Keep the big picture in the back of your mind, but only actively concentrate on what you can do right now, today, to move yourself forward just a little. It would be unrealistic to expect perfection. Rest when you need to, but never stop. Even taking a detour to learn a new skill is a step forward toward reaching your dreams of success.
Of course, there will be times when you feel down, hurt or fearful. Allow yourself to experience those emotions, but do so mindfully and with the clear purpose of identifying where that feeling comes from and what it’s teaching you. Train yourself to get back up and believe more strongly in who you are and what you want.
Adopting these new thought patterns will take gentle, but firm work on your part. Your success depends on your determination to change your life to one that fulfills and satisfies you. As Channing Pollock put it so well…
“The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck.”
Do you “think-you-can” succeed? Do have that kind of determination? If so, I-know-you-can! I invite you to join us at our annual Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. (FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide!) We’ll help you turn your “I-think-I-can” to “I-know-I-can” to “I-did-it!” Determination IS the key to success!
“The brain can be developed just the same as the muscles can be developed, if one will only take the pains to train the mind to think.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
You think you don’t deserve it. You think you can’t do it. You think taking charge is for someone more experienced. You think someone else can do it better. You think small. You think too much! Sound familiar? You’re not alone! The only thing that keeps us from attaining our dream is our own thought process, so it’s time to change your thinking change your life.
Especially as women, we can be our own worst enemy. While gender is still a factor in whether a person is viewed as an influential leader or not, we can’t use that as an excuse any longer. The business world is changing and women are proving to be very effective as leaders.
Yes, the battlefield has moved from the boardroom into your subconscious mind. You tell yourself you want one thing, but your unconscious mind wants something else. This creates serious roadblocks that seem insurmountable. The good news is that Neuro-Linguistic Programming can help you change your thinking and ultimately change your life.
You are an emotional, thinking, physical and spiritual human being. All these Parts are intertwined and inseparable. Your thoughts influence your emotions, which are experienced and stored in your body and manifested through body sensations. If there is a disruption in one Part, or there is a miscommunication between Parts, you will be conflicted and your thinking will become distorted.
If you’re feeling heavy you may be experiencing sadness. Shame feels shrunken and withdrawn. Reflect on how anger makes you feels hot and stormy, while excitement feels energizing. Emotions live inside your body, changing your physical experience can cause you to believe and act in specific ways. One moment you’re happy (emotion) on top of the world, so you’re feeling spacious and light in the chest (body sensations). Then something happens to make you feel anxious (emotion). It feels like your world is caving in, your shoulders slump and you feel deflated and dull (body sensations).
By changing your physiology, you can alleviate these body sensations and alter your emotional experience. For example, if you feel shy and uncertain, you’ll gain a little more confidence by breathing deeply, softening and straightening your spine, lifting your head and looking people in the eye. The more you practice this, the more confidence will become your natural state. You can actually reshape your thoughts and emotions just as surely as you can reshape your body through exercise, thereby creating a harmonious mind body connection.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming can help you tune into your emotions and identify each sensation as you experience it. When you honor the messages that your body is sending you, you won’t try to override them or dismiss them. Instead you’ll be able to suspend judgment and simply become an observer of them. In this way you can accept them for what they are and change what isn’t serving you.
Here are four of my favorite NLP techniques you can use to gain mastery over your mind and body, so you finally achieve your dreams.
NLP Achoring Techniques. Associate a signal or trigger (tapping your chest, snapping a rubber band, squeezing your fingers) with a physiological response (an emotion, mood, or mental state) of your choice.
Visualization. Your brain believes what you think about, so repeatedly imagine the outcome you desire.
Parts Integration. If Part of you doesn’t think you can do it, then use my Tea Time Exercise to bring harmony within yourself, so ALL of you believes you can.
Reframing. Identify unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image.
Try these NLP techniques and see how they can change your thinking at a subconscious level – change your state – change your behavior – change your results or outcomes – change your life. By mindfully choosing to overcome your mental roadblocks, you can become more influential and effective. This quote by Earl Nightingale is so true…
“The mind moves in the direction of our currently dominating thought.”
Now, more than ever, it’s vital for women to develop and enhance leadership qualities within ourselves and the next generation of younger women. We invite you to join us at our annual Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. (FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide!) We’re empowering women, like you, to change your thinking change your life.
If you’re hiking in the woods near my hometown in Oregon and you see the glowing eyes of a cougar, will your heart start racing? Of course it will! The fight or flight stress response kicks in with a vengeance, because you’ve heard reports of people being killed by big cats like cougars. You know you’re in danger. Your life depends on what happens in the next few seconds. It will take all the courage you can muster to stand your ground, maintain eye contact, and raise your arms to make yourself appear bigger and noisier to scare the big cat off.
Sometimes we meet people who are like wild animals. You might even work with them or they might be your family members. There’s no reasoning with them. They have mercurial personalities – their mood and behavior change in a flash. They’re so unpredictable you don’t know where you stand with them from one minute to the next. On the other hand, you may personally have trouble regulating your emotions so little things trigger either an aggressive or defensive state. In either case, the key to achieving more peace in your life, is to learn to tame your fight or flight stress response.
Because our lives are often stressful, many people live in a perpetual state of fight or flight stress response. This state should only last as long as you are in real danger. Then, it’s supposed to calm down. When you live under prolonged stress, your body thinks it’s in danger, when it really isn’t. Being in a constant fight or flight state will eventually lead to many health problems like poor digestion, adrenal fatigue, obesity, insomnia, and anxiety. And it doesn’t do your mood any good either, so your relationships suffer.
The good news is that sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in your fight or flight reaction, can be calmed down. The key to turning it off is to mindfully reassure your body that you are safe. When your body believes it’s safe, it shifts into parasympathetic mode, which signals your heart to slow down, your lungs to breathe deeply, and your digestion to resume.
How do you switch off the fight or flight response? A good place to start is to practice mindfulness in these three ways:
- Practice mindful awareness. Suspend judgment as you tune into your body sensations. Learn what the fight or flight stress response feels like in your body. Accept your natural biological response and give each sensation a name. Naming each one lessens its power. Reassure your body that you’re okay.
- Practice mindful breathing. The situation may seem to be out of your control however you can always control your breathing. And that may be enough to get you out of the fight or flight stress state. Here are some breathing exercises that will move more oxygen to your cells and shift you into the “I’m-safe-to-rest” mode.
- Practice mindful assessment. Discern the difference between discomfort and pain. Distinguish between unpleasantness and danger. Give your body the information it needs to know that the situation at hand is not going to kill you. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not life threatening. Sit with and completely absorb the feeling that you’re safe.
When you give your body a chance to recover, you’ll improve your health and your relationships. If you’d like to learn more about shifting away from a reactionary response to a more intentional state, plan on joining us at our Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide! We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.
“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” ~ Roy L. Smith
Do you think of self-care as relaxing in a flower-strewn bath, letting stress melt away? That is certainly one small aspect of it. But the best self-care skills take a lot of commitment, hard work and grit. It’s not glamorous. It’s not pampering. It’s getting tough with yourself as you make choices that nourish your body, mind and spirit.
Some people say that self-care is selfish…that nurturers can’t take the time. However, I’ve found that too often this is an excuse. As leaders in our industries, community and families, we need to create within ourselves the strength to lead. This takes strong self-care skills that are based on discipline. Otherwise, we can’t influence others – our business associates, our romantic partners, our children – to become the best versions of themselves.
Self-care is not indulgence. It’s discipline to do what’s best for YOU and others. Can you really say you’re taking care of yourself if you’re sitting for hours, eating tubs of ice cream? NOT! Real self-care skills require mental toughness and a deep understanding of what really matters.
Five essential self-care skills everybody needs:
Get plenty of restorative sleep. This means mindfully choosing to quit working or looking at a screen an hour before bedtime, allowing your mind to shut down and peacefully drift off to sleep.
The problem: After a stressful day, it’s easy to mindlessly watch TV or your Facebook feed. Or if you have a deadline, you push to get it done.
The solution: Put the remote in a hard to reach place so you have to think about what you’re doing. Create a special space and time for a relaxing project (like talking with a love one or doing something creative). This should quiet your mind so you can fall asleep quickly. Don’t allow anything to break this appointment with yourself. You’ll accomplish more in the long run.
Exercise regularly. Our bodies are designed to move and work. If you don’t, you’ll hurt and become more anxious and stressed.
The problem: People hate discomfort (not the same as pain), exercising in front of others, going to a gym, getting sweaty, etc… What’s you’re current “reason” for not exercising?
The solution: Find something you love. Mindfully focus on the increased energy, mental clarity, stamina and endurance you achieve each time you push yourself.
Eat healthful foods and stay hydrated. Throughout history, nations have used starvation as a way to torture and control others. Why would you do that to yourself? Why would you willingly deny your body the fuel it needs?
Become more aware of how different foods affect YOUR body. For example, you may not be able to eat wheat like other people do. While your taste buds say, “Yum!”, your body cries, “Why are you poisoning me?!”
The problem: People hate to “go to the bother” of fixing healthful meals. They’d rather grab something and run.
The solution: Make healthy eating your passion. The Whole30® program changed my life. Find something that works for you. Take a class. Find a recipe buddy. Make sharing meals with friends and family a regular, pleasant activity you look forward to.
Create boundaries. We “take care of others” in the sense that we support them and respect them. In our families, this means providing food, clothing, shelter, open communication and love. But each person is responsible for their own well-being. If an option isn’t right for you, have the mental strength to say “no” despite how others react.
The problem: We have the tendency to either be controlling or be people pleasers.
The solution: Give others respect by letting them take care of themselves. YOU are responsible for YOUR emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Be financially independent. We all have needs. Having MORE doesn’t guarantee more happiness. It’s a trap to compare what you have with what other people have or with what you see in magazines. Gratitude for what you have will help you see the difference between needs and wants.
The problem: Living with credit card debt or paycheck to paycheck is stressful.
The solution: Live within your means. That includes having the discipline to save a certain amount out of every paycheck for an emergency fund and a certain amount for your retirement. Pay off your credit card debts so interest rates don’t eat up your funds.
It takes discipline to always do the things that are good for you. Why not reboot your self-care skills by joining us at our Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. You’ll return home with renewed purpose and energy!