Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: Personal Growth – Professional Growth

How to Increase Your Willpower with 7 Skills that Unleash Massive Productivity

If you think you need to know how to increase your willpower, what you really need is this new process for thinking and controlling your emotional state. Self-control, self-discipline, self-regulation, self-restraint, willpower, resolution, mental toughness, grit…whatever you call it, it’s a cognitive process that you need if you’re going to reach your desired goal. And as the word “self” implies, this is something you must develop within yourself. No one can do it for you.

Yet, if you were to list your strengths, would self-control and willpower be on your list? If so, are they near the top? If you’re like most people, they’re probably nearer the bottom.

So much of today’s marketing says you’ll succeed (lose weight, quit smoking, excel in business) if you just have more willpower. You’re told to control yourself and make yourself do it.

But we’re all emotional beings. We have ups and downs. The problem with being told you need more willpower is that it doesn’t give you the skills or tools to know how to develop it. As the definition states, it’s a process in your brain. And a process can be built if you don’t have one, or it can be improved if you do have one.

How to build and increase your willpower and self-discipline? Learn to listen to yourself in the following areas:

1.  Care for your physical needs. You’ve heard it before, but it can’t be overemphasized…eat nutritious food, get plenty of restorative sleep and exercise. Your body is an engine and it needs the right fuel and maintenance to run at peak efficiency. If you don’t care for yourself you’ll be moody, make rash decisions and lose your cool.

2. Ride the tide. Desires and distractions ebb and flow like the tide. When you have a strong impulse to do something you shouldn’t, count to 10. Breathe deeply and center yourself to stay in touch with what’s really important to you. Wait 10 minutes before taking action. By then that wave of desire will become a ripple that you can easily step over.

3. Forgive yourself. It’s a vicious cycle if you default to self-disgust when you don’t measure up to your ideals. It leads to the “Why try?” attitude, which leads to binging on the undesirable behavior you’re trying to conquer. When you slip up, forgive yourself and move on. Acknowledge how the mistake makes you feel, but don’t wallow in it. Shift your attention to what you can do to improve yourself and the situation right now.

4. Live in the present. There’s a trap in living in the past. You know that’s what you’re doing if you say, “I failed before; I’ll fail again”. Or you label yourself “I’m a ___”. That’s not who you are. That’s a past behavior that you don’t have to model today. The other trap is living in the future. That’s indicated by saying, “I’ll get to it someday, but not today.” Learn to be mindfully present in the moment.

5. Focus on results. Your emotional state is determined by what you focus your attention on. Focus on problems and you prolong negative emotions. Focus on positive actions you CAN take and you’ll feel empowered, even if it means taking just one little step forward. That one step will lead to another, which leads to another…until you get the results you desire.

6. Say “YES” when you mean YES and “NO” when you mean NO. I know. You hem and haw because you don’t want to let someone down or put someone out. But you’re not honoring them with indecisive messages. Give them a clear answer and they’ll accept it.

Wishy washy phrases like, “I’m not sure” or “I think so” give your power away. In fact, it harms your physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco found that if you have trouble saying “no” you’re more likely to experience stress, burnout and depression.

When you honor how you feel and honor the things you’re committed to doing, it increases your self-control and willpower. You won’t be spreading yourself too thin by over-committing yourself.

7. Avoid perfectionism and be willing to pay the price. Regrets and worrying about “what ifs” get you nowhere. Plan your strategy and funnel your energies into your chosen course of action. It won’t be perfect, because nothing can be perfect. Just do it as competently as you can. You’ll be surprised by how much you accomplish and how empowering it is!

So now you have a process when you need the willpower to attain a goal or objective. But how do you know if it’s the right goal? Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

How Well Do You Know Yourself? Not Well Enough If…

How well do you know yourself - it’s important to see, accept and honor all that you are emotionally, physically and spiritually to live a fulfilled life.“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”~ Lao Tzu

In working with professional women, I often find that they have trouble identifying their strengths, their talents, and their value. Yet, it’s so important to know who you are and what your story is in order to excel at work, to market your skills, and to feel fulfilled in life.

When someone asks you, “What’s your story?” do you freeze? And then you say, “Oh, there’s nothing special about me. I really don’t have a story.”

Or someone asks, “What are you really good at?” Do you reply with some self- deprecating comment because deep down you don’t think you’re special?

How well do you know yourself?

Often others know you better than you know yourself. They know you’re capable of so much even when you don’t think so. If this remotely describes the battle going on inside you, the first thing you need to assess is: Are you able to love yourself unconditionally?

When you know yourself well, you will unconditionally love yourself and recognize and honor your own worth.

Over the decades, I’ve seen so many extraordinary women crippled by their lack of self-compassion and negative self-talk. They can’t look at themselves in a mirror without criticizing themselves. And they can’t accept a compliment.

This negative mindset shows itself in two distinct ways:

  • You review your past performance and judge yourself as “not good enough”.
  • You experienced deep pain in the past and are convinced you’re worthless.

Often this negativity comes from learning to control your emotions and actions by punishing yourself rather than encouraging yourself. You either heard or told yourself hurtful things like:  “You’re so stupid.” “That was dumb.” “Your older sister never did a bonehead thing like that. Why can’t you be more like her?” “You don’t deserve anything better because you always mess up.” “You deserve to be hurt, because you’re not lovable.”

It’s time to get to know who you are and see all the good and wonderful things about yourself. You are an exceptional person worthy of honor, love and respect.

Let’s turn the negativity around so you can motivate yourself through positive encouragement! You can retrain your brain to analyze your feelings, sort out what’s true and what’s not, and focus on the positive in everything you experience.

Learning to love yourself unconditionally is a process you can master with practice.  You’re going to be peeling back the layers. Be willing to experience pain and accept, not judge, your emotions and feelings. Don’t give up. With persistence it will get easier. The pain will diminish over time.

It’s taken you a lifetime to get to where you are today. Be patient with yourself as you retrain yourself to come from a place of self-compassion and love.

When you do learn to love yourself unconditionally you can:

  • Be the real you and feel comfortable in your own skin.
  • Recognize the amazing talents you have.
  • Feel more empowered and energized to take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Find more inner strength to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
  • Be able to ask for what you want and need.
  • Be more resilient and persistent in the face of challenges.
  • Bounce back from failure and suffer less from stress.
  • Experience wellbeing and happiness.
  • Build warm, positive relationships.

Be happy and proud that you’re an emotional being with values, needs and wants. Learn to honor these so you can feel whole. Explore and identify how your “Inner Critic” is trying to protect you from pain, and then accept its direction as it motivates you toward excellence. 

Don’t allow a moment, a situation, or an experience to define who you are. You may have a moment of depression, anxiety, or anger. But that’s not who you are. You have the power to identify what triggers those emotions and you get to choose how to deal with those emotions. Take my 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment and get to know yourself on a much deeper level.

Learn How to Let Go of Your Ideals and See the Beauty in Everything

When life gets messy, you need to know how to let go of your ideals so you can hang on to the beauty of each situation or circumstance and enjoy the ride.”Be in a state of gratitude for everything that shows up in your life. Be thankful for the storms as well as the smooth sailing. What is the lesson or gift in what you are experiencing right now? Find your joy not in what’s missing in your life but in how you can serve.” ~ Wayne Dyer

What do you do when life gets messy? Your schedule is blown out of the water…people don’t respond as you expected…LIFE happens.

Do you crawl back into bed? Retreat into a movie marathon? Become paralyzed in inactivity and depression?

OR…do you know how to let go and see the beauty in the experience? If you’d like to handle change in this more positive way, then you are going to be blown away with the exercise I’m going to share with you…

Our brains crave order and simplicity; so change throws us off-balance. You want a “perfect” or ideal world. You want everything to be smooth sailing. So when you run into choppy water and the ride starts getting bumpy, it catches you by surprise every time.  

How do you adjust your grip on life so you can hang on and still enjoy the ride? It’s a matter of learning how to let go and re-center on the positive. Counterintuitive isn’t it? Learning how to let go in order to hang on!

No, it’s not simple. But it’s a system for life that you master if you practice long and hard enough. Here’s how you do it…

How to Let Go and See the Beauty in Everything

  1. Notice when you’re getting anxious or frustrated. Are you tired, hungry, cranky, or have unexplained pains as your body is trying to communicate with you?
  2. Recognize that the problem isn’t the external situation. (Don’t play the blame game.) The cause of your anxiety is coming from your internal ideals. For example, you want order, but your high ideal for orderliness (that isn’t being met) is causing frustration and anxiety.
  3. Breathe, re-center and calm yourself. This helps you become mindful in the moment, with no ideals, seeing the situation with new eyes and an open heart.
  4. Let go of the ideal that is causing you pain or discomfort. Visualize it floating out of the room or away on the breeze.
  5. Own the fact that you have the power to create a new ideal for the situation at hand. Instead of looking outward, take some quiet time to look inward.
  6. Start seeing your current experience as perfect. That’s right! No matter how messy or uncomfortable it may seem at first, look for and see the beauty in it.

These steps are easy to say, but not easy to do. Why? Because we fight change. We hate to relinquish control. It takes real effort to see beauty in chaos. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to open up and soften yourself. How do you do that?

  1. Feel the hardness in your heart when someone disappoints you. Feel the frustration in your neck and shoulders when someone interrupts you or makes a mess of things.
  2. Notice your resistance. You either don’t want to let go or you can’t yet see the beauty in the moment.
  3. Consciously and deliberately open your heart and mind. Even if it’s just a little bit. Work at being more accepting of what’s happening. Maintain your attitude of gratitude. Look at it from the other person’s point of view. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Look for new opportunities that have suddenly opened up for you. Look for ways to express kindness, love and joy.

Change is hard for so many people. Sometimes you just have to get tough with yourself and make yourself do it. Would you like some help in mastering the messiness of life? I’d love to help you learn to let go of your ideals and focus on the beauty.  Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s work through the rough patches so you can more fully feel the exhilaration of life.

Keep Moving Forward – Only Look Back to See How Far You’ve Come

If you’re wondering how you got to where you are in life and how to get back on track, here are 7 ways to mindfully keep moving forward toward your dreams. Stuck in a rut? Taken a wrong turn in life? Can’t seem to find your way back to your dreams? Maybe you’re even wondering how you got to where you are in life. Perhaps years ago you started down a path and it’s taken you further away from the life you expected. Now you don’t know how to get back on track or how to keep moving forward.

Even if you feel lost, the good news is that it just takes one baby step at a time to move forward to where you want to be.

Discover seven ways you can keep moving forward towards your dreams:

  1. Learn to love yourself more. Isn’t it true that we can be our own worst critics? It’s a battle of the mind. Just remember, your mind is under your control, not the other way around. So don’t let your mind get the best of you. Give yourself some slack and choose to always think the best of yourself.

 

  1. Realize you are not broken! About 15 years ago, when one of my teachers showed me that cultivating self-love could be the answer to my anxiety and depression, I was shocked. I wondered, what did that have to do with what I was feeling? I really thought I was totally broken! But it was refreshing to realize that a bit of self-love could change the quality of my inner environment.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to start over. Don’t define yourself in one way only. Embrace everything that you are. If the career you chose a decade ago isn’t making you happy, try something new. It’s okay. It’s not wasted time. You’ve learned a lot in your life’s journey that will help you build the type of life you really want.

 

  1. Let go of things you no longer need, even if they once meant a lot to you. It’s easy to settle or compromise. You may not get everything you want, but if you pay close attention, you can make the best of every outcome, and still get a lot of what you want in life. Learn to manage your time, energy and attitude appropriately. Asking yourself, “How much do I really want or need this?” will help you determine if it’s something you can let go or something you need to fight for.

 

  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more you expand your comfort zone, the more you’ll look forward to growing. Subconsciously you may have been taught that discomfort should be avoided. Yet, you’re made to feel upset, sad and hurt for a reason. These and other feelings are a natural part of living. The key is to face discomfort and learn from it. This is what ultimately molds you into your best self.

 

  1. Do your best and be content with achieving competence. Comparing yourself to others or even a younger version of yourself is not productive. Obsessing over perceived “flaws” will blind you to the beauty of your diversity. Remind yourself that you are good enough.

 

  1. Remember, it’s not all about you. Sometimes we have the tendency to put ourselves at the center of the universe, and see everything from the viewpoint of how it affects you. When self is your sole focus, you may start feeling sorry for yourself. Looking for little ways to help others will get you out of the pity party. And it helps solve feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy too. It’s interesting how serving others benefits the giver more than the one who receives.

 

Look back over the years and reflect on how far you’ve come…the obstacles you’ve overcome, the fears you’ve conquered, the dreams you’ve made come true. Now, think about what’s next on your Keep on Moving Forward wish list.

If you’re ready to form an accountability partnership, I’d love to discuss your options. Why not contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Dreaming doesn’t change your life. Actions do. Are you ready to keep moving forward?

Make the Most of Life by Getting Your Badass Attitude On

 If you want to make the most of life, stop waiting and start going after the badass life that you want and deserve because you’re the only one who can do it“Let life be an adventure. Live your life to the fullest, unfettered by fear of the ghosts and goblins of what might occur. Calamity and death happen as well to those who hide from life as to those who squeeze every drop of zest from it.” ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Are you tired of living a humdrum life? Are you ready to do something really impressive? Do you want to make the most of life? Have you had enough of taking it and you want to fight back to finally get the life you want?  Do you want to kick the make-do attitude to the curb and go for the gusto?

Then you want to be a badass! Sometimes we just have to call it for what it is to make the point.

But not so fast…wanting and doing are two completely different things. So do you want it? More importantly, are you willing to put in the dedication, time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to make the most of life? I hope so. Because life is short and no one can guarantee tomorrow. My recent Women’s Retreat in Italy has reinforced the fact that it’s vital to make the most of every day that you live. The ladies I coached were, in their own ways, all badasses too!

How do you become a badass and make the most of life?

The first thing you need to do is give yourself permission to live larger than life. You have to believe that you deserve the best. Then don’t wait for it to come to you. You have to go get it!

Listen to what your inner voice says is most important to YOU (not someone else).

Then write out a “My Best Life Ever List”. What would your perfect life look like? Prioritize it in order of importance to YOU.

Accomplishing one thing may make the next one easier to attain, so think seriously about the order you do things in. For instance, clearing out the clutter and simplifying your life will free you up to bring something really meaningful in.

Prioritize, what is the Number One thing you can do Right Now to begin accomplishing your priority accomplishment. GO DO IT! You heard me. Don’t write it down. GO DO IT!

What’s the next thing you need to do Right Now to accomplish your priority task? GO DO IT!  You’re getting my drift, right?!!!

Making lists is fine, but it’s only when you kick your butt off the couch that you can become a badass and make the most of life.

As you wake up every day, think about how you can push yourself just a little bit more today as you chase your dreams. We’re not looking for huge shifts in your attitude and actions…just gradual, sustainable, baby-step changes.

Listen to your body. If you need to rest one day, that’s okay. But if the need for rest is motivated by discouragement or negative talk (from yourself or others), don’t listen! Get tough with yourself and do just one thing. You might be surprised by how that breaks the dam of procrastination and invigorates you to do another.

A book I’ve really enjoyed and got me going is The Badass Life: 30 Amazing Days to a Lifetime of Great Habits–Body, Mind, and Spirit, by Christmas Abbott. The key is balance: using essential daily practices for the mind, body, and soul. She provides a month-long-program based on building mental toughness that leads to positive daily habits that help you make the most of life.

Why not grab a copy of the book, contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype) with me so I can help you remain accountable during those 30 days. I’d love to be your Badass Buddy!


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