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Getting Through Hard Times and Coming Out Stronger

While getting through hard times can be very painful, there is one very important quality – hope - that will determine if you come out stronger in the end. “To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist.”—Gail Sheehy

“If just one more thing goes wrong, it’s going to send me over the edge! I’m at my breaking point! I can’t take anymore! I’m too discouraged and overwhelmed as it is.” Have you ever felt like that? If you struggle with maintaining an optimistic attitude, your coping mechanism may be to shut down. You’re not alone. Yet, you are lacking the one key ingredient that will make getting through hard times more rewarding.  

How can getting through hard times be rewarding?

Even though our lives are packed full of demands, we can face all of these, plus the uncertainties that loom on the horizon with optimism and courage, IF we tap into the inextinguishable power of hope.

Yes, there will be pain. However, optimism fuels hope, and hope fuels resiliency, which can see you through seemingly impossible situations. Looking past the challenge and shifting your focus to better times ahead, can change everything. As William J. Brennan, Jr., Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said:

“We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”

When we accept the struggles and challenges of life as part of our education, then we’ll be able to get through the tough times more gracefully. Here are five ways you can mindfully practice hope during hard times…

1. Take care of your health. Our bodies and spirit run on the fuel we give it. Eating healthfully and getting a good night’s sleep can often restore your balance and give you a new and hopeful perspective. Also, be careful about what you’re feeding your mind and spirit. Reject negative talk, whether it’s coming from yourself or others. You deserve better than that!

2. Share your feelings. Recognize the emotional states that are keeping you trapped in despair; they might be pride, fear, or shame. These are common emotional triggers. Hope reassures you that your trusted loved ones will not reject you for being human.

3. Express gratitude. This goes beyond the mental exercise of keeping a gratitude journal to get your mind focused on what you do have. It’s an activity – out of your gratitude list, look for ways to build others up with “thank yous” and compliments. The more positive messages you send out, the more positivity comes back to you.

4. Give meaningfully to others. This can be as simple as taking your dog for a long walk every day in the park, so you can smile at everyone you encounter. The size of your goal doesn’t matter, as long as it feeds your sense of purpose and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

4. Take one step at a time. Hope, like an actual building, is built one brick at a time. Seeing the big picture can often overwhelm, so focus on the one thing you can do right now…and do it!

You’re tougher than you think. People have always survived; and some have even thrived, while getting through hard times. Why not ask those around you what inspires them to keep going? Also read or watch true life stories of courage that inspire you. I’d love to hear about the people who inspire you – please come over to my Facebook page and share what you’ve learned from their stories.

Remember that baby steps lead to transformation. If you’d like guidance and accountability in your quest for a more hopeful state, please contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It’s easier when you have help.

3 Emotional Triggers You Can Ride to Soar Through Tough Times

Do you feel stuck in life – hardwired with self-defeating negativity and doubt? In reality, you can use these emotions to trigger new, more useful thoughts that take you where you want to be in life. Discover three emotional triggers that let you retrain your brain, as you master whatever you want.“When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Eagles effortlessly soar for hours, because they instinctively look for updrafts and downdrafts that take them where they want to go. We have more than instinct on our side. Even if, at times, our emotional triggers sidetrack us, we can learn to actually use them to get back on track and create the life we want.

It’s true that many people get stuck, because they’re hardwired toward self-defeating negativity and doubt. Try as you might, it feels like you can’t turn those emotions off. If that’s true in your case, take heart. You can use these emotions to trigger new, more useful thoughts that will take you where you want to be.

Here are three emotional triggers that will let you navigate through difficulties and excel at whatever you want…

  1. Let negativity trigger your ability to look for the “updrafts” of positivity. We are hardwired to see what’s wrong, so we don’t get hurt. Our “gut” or intuition tells us when we’re in a life-threatening situation. Problems arise, however, when we get out of balance physically, mentally and spiritually, and we can become too sensitive, feeling like everything is a challenge or attack—even when that’s not the intention.

You can regain your balance, by learning to identify defensive feelings and practicing relaxation techniques that make you feel safe and grounded. Before speaking negatively of yourself or others, mindfully retrain yourself to think positive thoughts. It will change your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and even relationships. You absolutely do get what you focus on.

  1. Let the “down drafts” of pressure trigger your sense of wonder. Though it may sound cliché, life is a journey, not a destination. If you rigidly hold to a set destination or outcome, you’ll put so much pressure on yourself your performance will suffer. You’ll miss opportunities that let you grow or experience new joys and discoveries. Pressure to perform does create stress, but remember that you, and everyone else, are practicing human beings, not perfect human beings. Everyone is a work in progress.

You don’t have to have all the answers. Cultivate greater awareness so you see that life is full of opportunities to try something new, rather than tests. This will help you mindfully transform a moment of panic into one of empowerment. You just have to have the courage to move forward, stretch yourself and do your best. Practice acceptance, rather than judgment as you let whatever happens, happen. And when you feel discomfort, choose to do the thing that scares you the most.

  1. Let insecurities trigger empowerment. All throughout life we take leaps of faith, just like eagle chicks tumble out of the nest for their first flight. You can do and be whoever you want. Who you were as a child is not who you are today. Who you are now, is not who you will be a year from now.

Feeling insecure means you’ve discovered an area where you can learn something new. You can master anything, if you’re willing to put in the time. Each step forward empowers you to take the next step and then the next, until you’re soaring with the eagles.

It’s been scientifically proven that we can reshape our brains. Each thought and behavior wears a path in the brain. That’s why we can do so many things without thinking about them, like making dinner or driving a car. The amazing thing is that if you don’t like a thought or behavior, you can create a new path that eventually overwrites the previous path.

I’d love to partner with you on this exciting part of your life’s journey. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). 

How to Become Highly Skilled at Resolving Conflicts Peacefully

Conflict becomes scary and draining when we attach the wrong significance to it. Emotionally charged situations can cause us to react badly to conflict. It’s so vital to mentally take a step back, observe without judgment and release the tension. Then use my process for resolving conflicts peacefully…“I don’t think anyone ever gets completely used to conflict. If it’s not a little uncomfortable, then it’s not real. The key is to keep doing it anyway” ~ Patrick Lencioni

“I hate conflict! I prefer to let them do what they want, rather than make a scene…even if it means I feel like I destroy a little bit of who I am each time.” Is that how you feel about resolving conflicts? Many people do. They question whether it’s even possible to resolve some conflicts peacefully.

It’s worth the effort. Learning to successfully manage conflict will help keep you healthy and happy. Of course, it’s easy to say, “Just tell them how you feel.” But when you’re the one feeling cornered or threatened, it’s not easy to think rationally and remain calm.

So what’s the secret to resolving conflicts peacefully and getting the best outcome?

First, we need to identify conflict for what it is and what it isn’t. It’s not a challenge. It’s not a declaration that you’re unloved. It’s not a put down. It’s not an assessment of your worth.

It is a different point of view. And that’s something we can welcome, for it helps us expand our own thinking and way of being. That being said, there are times when a person will cause conflict with the intention to hurt you. When that happens, walk away from that kind of conflict, shake it off, and put that burden back on the shoulders of the instigator where it belongs.

Conflict becomes scary and draining when we attach the wrong significance to it. Emotionally charged circumstances often cause us to react badly to conflict. That’s why it’s so vital to practice mindfulness to mentally take a step back, observe without judgment and release the tension. Then you can use the following process to resolving conflicts peacefully….

Remind yourself that being right isn’t the issue. Handling conflict isn’t about being right or wrong – that only creates barriers. When you push your point of view as the only right one, you may win the battle (the disagreement), but you’ll lose the war (the relationship). If you tend towards being competitive, now is the time to remove that element from the situation. Instead, switch your focus to finding a peaceful resolution you can both live with.

Turn on your listening skills. Our talking, shouting or interrupting accomplishes nothing. Rather than talking at someone, learn to talk with them. That means only responding after you’ve listened deeply. You don’t have to agree with what’s said. Just acknowledge how the other person thinks and feels. Remember that a kind touch goes a long way toward improving communication. (You can learn more about listening skills on my other website The Institute for Professional Leadership.)

Breathe deeply and maintain your calm. Calmness enables you to clearly articulate your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “This upsets me. Give me a moment to catch my breath, so we can resolve this peacefully.” If you have to, ask for a break, promising that you’ll revisit it later in the day. Avoid putting it off until tomorrow, because that allows room for festering.

 Be forward thinking. Dredging up and using the past as a weapon is not productive. Let it go. Be mindfully in the moment, step back and see the big picture of what’s happening right now.

Set your intention for a peaceful resolution. Visualize the desired outcome and mentally map out all of your options. Be honest with yourself about what your true intention is. If you’re hanging on to a little bit of wanting to get even, to hurt them like they hurt you, it’s going to manifest itself. With a clear intention to make peace in your relationship, you’ll look for common ground. 

Focus on WE, not me. Find a solution that serves both of you. Use words that show you’re invested in a mutually beneficial solution. For example, “What can WE do to…?”

Viewing conflict resolution as a system helps you create a plan for productive communication. The other person may not always respond in kind. Nevertheless, by taking the higher path, you’ll create an atmosphere that’s more conducive to successfully resolving conflicts peacefully.

If you’d like help in creating a calmer, peaceful life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). 

Celebrate the Unique Person You Are and Stop Being a People Pleaser

When you start from a grounded, well-balanced sense of self and others, it isn’t difficult to stand up for yourself and celebrate the unique person you are. Imbalance, or people pleasing, comes when you care too much, at the expense of what you hold dear. But you can recover and embrace the unique you.“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ~ Jim Carrey

It’s normal to want to be loved, to fit in, and to be accepted. We care what other’s think. That’s why we all do the dance of give and take – we’re trying to find our place in our family, the workplace, our community and the world. And if you start from a grounded, well-balanced sense of self and others, it isn’t so difficult to stand up for yourself, celebrate the unique person you are, and be your own woman.

The imbalance comes when we care too much, at the expense of what we hold dear. This leads to being a people pleaser, which is something that women especially struggle with.

Have you noticed how fear of rejection or conflict makes you shrink back from letting others see who you really are? You might mistakenly think that if you never make waves, if you agree with everything, if you always change your plans to accommodate others, if you always say “yes” even when your gut is screaming “NO!” then you’ll be loved instead of rejected.

This kind of desperation for love and approval ultimately hides the unique person that you are. It’s unrealistic, exhausting, and can irreparably damage your health. It can’t work, because you won’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. And when you’re so intent on getting love rather than showing love, your desperation repels the very people you want to please.

The good news is that you can regain your balance and learn to love yourself as you are and be strong enough to speak your own truth at all times. Does that sound out of reach for you? Let me assure you, it isn’t. You can celebrate the unique person you are now and fully embrace the person you want to become in the future.

How to reclaim the real you…

First off, it’s vital to identify the factors that have thrown you off balance. This involves digging into the past. That takes courage and willingness to be vulnerable. But you don’t have to put on a brave face any more. Mindfully peel back the layers, like peeling an onion. Yes, there will be tears, but think of the end results – you’ll discover the perfect sauce for a joyful life.

Most often the root of the problem can be traced to things that trigger your guilt and shame. These self-destructive emotions feed on your worries, insecurities and fears. They tell you that you’re not good enough…that you don’t deserve good things. Everyone else deserves it, but not you.

Guilt and shame have three major lies you might be buying into:

Lie #1 – It’s selfish to put yourself first. That’s a lie because you won’t have the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual strength to care for someone else, if you haven’t taken care of your own needs first. You will never have the confidence and belief in yourself to help others. Self-love is an essential step to being the truly amazing person you’re meant to be. Accept that you are a unique person with talents and opinions the world needs.

Lie #2 – You’re stupid and ungrateful to turn down any opportunity. That’s a lie because you simply can’t do everything that comes your way. There isn’t enough time in the day or energy in your body. We all have to make choices and that means saying “no” to something, so you can say “yes” to something more important. Remember, you’re allowing someone else, who would really enjoy the opportunity, to step up. So embrace the fact that it’s a kindness to say “no.”

Lie # 3 – You’re going to cause a scene, create conflict, and hurt someone if you say “no.” That’s a lie because you are not responsible for how others react. Oftentimes we blow things out of proportion and envision the worse case scenario. In reality, the other person usually shrugs, says “okay” and moves on. It’s not that big of a deal. If they cause a scene or conflict, that’s on them. It’s not you. It’s them.

It’s time to stand up for yourself, stop being a people pleaser, and celebrate the unique person you are now and who you’ll become in the future.

  • Make time for what’s important to you.
  • Think about a request before answering.
  • When you say ‘no’, do it confidently because that’s how you really feel.
  • Don’t take responsibility for the other person’s reaction.
  • Don’t relive your decision or stress about it for hours afterwards. 
  • Don’t look for hidden meanings or attach significance that isn’t there.

Your worth does not hinge on acquiescing. Do you believe that? No matter what you decide, you have no reason to feel guilt or shame. You are worthy of your place on this planet. You are an amazing human being, a unique person with gifts and talents that contribute to making this world a better place.

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes you a unique person. I’m here to help you gain more clarity. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). 

How to Courageously Live and Speak Your Truth Every Day

Courageously Live and Speak Your Truth Every Day “Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken. ~ Lisa Kleypas

Do you feel free to be yourself all of the time? Or do you wake up each morning and “put your armor on” so people won’t see the real you – your vulnerabilities, quirks or shame?

It’s not easy to always speak your truth. We worry about appearing weak. We worry about creating conflict. We worry about giving away our power. We worry about hurting someone’s feelings.

Reflect over the past week…how many times have you not been entirely truthful? Perhaps you’ve spoken little white lies or you’ve held back from revealing the whole truth to make yourself look better? 

For example, maybe you overspent your clothing budget by buying a new pair of shoes, and your partner notices. He asks, “Are those shoes new?” Offhandedly you respond, “Oh, they’ve been in the closet for awhile.” You feel it’s not an outright lie because they have been there overnight. That’s awhile, right?  Of course, it gives the impression that they’re not a new purchase. Not exactly truthful is it?

This is just one example of pushing down your truth, which is harmful to yourself and your relationships. Other ways you could be hiding your truth is by holding back your true opinions to avoid controversy. Or you hide “shameful” parts of your life because if anyone ever found out then you’d feel less than perfect, less than extraordinary, less than good.

Mentally visualize what holding back, pushing down, and closing up feels like. Does it make you feel free? To the contrary, it has the opposite effect, doesn’t it? You feel trapped in a dark place.

In light of the recent #MeToo Movement, many women are opening up about their experiences and sharing their truth. And do you know what? The response from other women and supportive men has been amazing. It’s incredibly empowering to be believed, to be validated, to be heard.

Of course, not everyone wants to hear your truth. But the people who really care about you will welcome it. Often they’ll say, “Is that how you really feel? I had no idea. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me.”

When you get to the point of not obsessing over what others think and you speak your truth in a calm and respectful manner, a weight will immediately lift from your shoulders. The beauty of it is that you’ll forge deep connections with those you tell. They’ll feel like they can relate to you on a more personal, intimate level.

When you speak truthfully, you open up the door for deep connection, conversation, and compassion. It impels those around you to feel safe to live their own truths, too.

I encourage you to become mindful of the areas where you could be more truthful with yourself and others. Notice who makes you feel like you have to hide and what situations make you mask your real beliefs, so you “fit it”. Also pay close attention to your untrue self-talk that keeps you stuck and not living freely. Then make a point of making choices that promote a feeling of freedom. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you explore what it means to live and speak your truth.

It takes courage and sometimes a lot of internal work to get to the place where you can live and speak your truth. If you crave that kind of freedom, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this exciting journey.

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