Self Love

Self Love

Today’s theme seems to be love.

This morning, I met my sweetie for a walk around his neighborhood. I love early morning walks for many reasons. Being out in the cooler weather, beating Chicago rush hour traffic, getting my 10,000 steps in are just some of those reasons. After my walk, my meditation centered around love as well. Specifically, the centering thought of the Chopra meditation I followed was “The source of love is here in me.”

Many of us look to other people and things to find love in our lives, while we ignore ourselves in the process. Self love seems indulgent or undeserved. I know this first hand. But, I also know that I have much more love to give now that I practice self love regularly. Call it “filling your own cup” or “putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others” or some other metaphor…

I struggled with self love for many years. Honestly, I didn’t even know I was struggling with it. I didn’t even know that it was a thing. I did, however, recognize that there was something missing in my life and I couldn’t find it in my relationships with others.

This lack manifested itself as a warped body image, as intense self criticism, as shame, and as a whole bunch of other negative stuff. I was just too busy doing stuff, living, to take the time to investigate what it was that I was missing.

One day, my coach asked me how I could practice self love. I allowed myself to think about it and came up with a silly little practice of winking at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. At first it felt weird, of course. But, I forced myself to do it every day and kept it as my little secret. Over time, I started seeing a different, a happier person in the mirror. Because it made such a difference in my life, I started sharing this practice with my friends. I was overwhelmed with the positive feedback I received from those who took on the same practice. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who needed it. Who knew?

What is self love to you and how, if at all, do you practice it?

Be The Cause of Your Success

Be The Cause of Your Success

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts” Buddha

“Our life is what our thoughts make it” Marcus Aurelius

“Change your thoughts, change your life” Wayne W. Dyer

From East to West, from thousands of years ago to today, sages tell us that our thoughts become our words, and our words turn into our deeds. Isn’t it imperative then that we notice what we are thinking? Are we giving more mind space to our limiting beliefs and thoughts or are we exploring different possibilities? Our limiting thoughts cause us to live in perpetual victim-hood with dis-empowered choices. In order to be the cause of our own success, we need to cultivate a responsibility mindset; an empowered choice mindset.

So, how do we go about doing all that? Simply by noticing our thoughts, and changing them if they don’t serve our higher self! The next time you find yourself being carried away in your thoughts, stop and notice whether these thoughts are based on limits and judgments or if they are based on possibilities. If you’d like, use a little chart to plot what you notice so that you have evidence of your thought patterns.

ROI of Coaching

ROI of Coaching

For those of us who value the bottom line and love quantitative analyses, let me offer a formula:

ROI of coaching= (Benefits of coaching-Cost to hire a coach)*100 / Cost to hire a coach

What are the benefits of coaching?

Self realization
Looking to the future with clarity
Living a more fulfilling life
Having an accountability buddy for your goals
Speed and power with which to achieve your goals
Bouncing ideas of possibilities
What other benefits can you think of?

Comparisons

Comparisons

My cousin is a better cook than I. My friend Elizabeth is thinner than I. My brother is smarter than I. My daughter is a better driver than I…

The list goes on and on!

Somehow, we get conditioned into comparing ourselves to others through the media, our parents, our culture. (Have you been keeping up with the Jones’?) It’s a wonder we do not end up in fetal position unable to lift a finger, at least on the outside.

As a coach, I’m more interested in what this fetal position looks like on the inside though.

Does “My cousin is a better cook” turn into “I’m not a good cook” and as a result I eat out every meal and go broke, and possibly unhealthy?

Does “My daughter is a better driver” turn into “I’m a lousy driver” and I end up taking public transit or a cab everywhere, or totally opt out of going places?

Where does this end?

Attaching a meaning to the results of the comparison is what gets us.

When I compare my cooking skills to my cousin’s and realize she is better, I have the following options:

I can ask her to teach me how to be a better cook
I can ask her for recommendations on recipes to practice
I can look for cooking classes to strengthen my skills
I can go into a negative space in my head and determine that I’m a lousy cook. Not only that but I’m also fat and a terrible driver. I am a lousy person!

As Teddy Roosevelt suggested, comparison can be the thief of joy, if I make the result of this comparison mean something about me.

Without that attached meaning, comparison may actually turn out to be a good thing because it may create an opportunity to learn and grow.

Letting Go

Letting Go

I can’t believe I actually uttered the words “I’m the queen of completions” in public. Especially because just a few months prior, I didn’t even understand this term as it was used in my coach-training program.

Completion is the “releasing of burdensome energy, the opportunity to be present and allowing things to be exactly as they are and are not.” Accomplishment Coaching Training Manual

So what does this have anything to do with being happy? You will recall in my previous blog posts, I wrote about the stories that run through our minds. I mentioned how the stories become our limiting beliefs after a while. I also suggested one way to let go of these stories: mindfulness. Completion is another way to let go of these stories. Or, at least to release the energy of the stories so that you can move past them. Allow me to demonstrate with an example from my own life:

I am truly one of the luckiest people in the world. I have a wonderful life, for which I am eternally grateful. With that said, I have set out to develop a new career in life coaching. In order to make this career generate some income, I need to learn marketing skills and actually ask to be hired, among other things. I realized I was filled with resistance toward these new skills. I kept telling myself (and my coach) my life is great, I don’t need anything else. I’m fine! This story has been keeping me from doing the things I need to do to get clients and earn a living. The more I tell myself, I’m fine, the easier it gets to resist things that are outside of my comfort zone, such as asking to be hired.

Going through a completion exercise raises awareness of what depletes your energy and keeps your focus off of what you really want. In addition, it forces you to declare action steps to move past your comfort zone into the world of possibility.

Remember: Awareness + Action = Results

What are some of the negative energies you carry? These could be old relationships, issues with current relationships, worries about what came to pass or what’s on the horizon. What stories play in your head that keep your life where it is, instead of where you want it to go? Are you ready to be complete with them? Honestly? How do you feel, physically and emotionally, when you think about these things? What keeps you in these stories? What have you learned from these experiences that you can take with you? What are you leaving behind? What seems to keep coming back and what are you going to do about that?

Try to answer these questions with each one of the negative energies you carry. Put your answers in writing. Write as much or as little as you want. Observe how you feel as you write and when you are finished. Some stories are just too ingrained in our being to let go with one exercise. If you are not sure this negative energy is completely behind you, come back to it a few days/weeks later and go through the exercise again.

This exercise works! I challenge you to try it for yourself. If you are not sure you can do this on your own, give me a call. Remember, I’m the queen of completions. See what I did there? I just asked you to hire me as your coach. I’m telling you, it works!

How To Be Happy

How To Be Happy

In my last post, I wrote about the stories we tell ourselves and their impact on our lives. So, how does one let go of these stories that they have been living in for so long? Let us explore one way in this post.

Letting go of stories is an act of love. Self love, that is. Socrates, at his trial said “an unexamined life is not worth living.” To some this may sound elitist because, as the argument goes, most of us are trying to survive and don’t have time to examine our lives, but that doesn’t mean our lives are worthless. Of course not! What I hope Socrates meant is that if we don’t take the time to differentiate fact from interpretation and judgment, then we are depriving ourselves from being happy or happier. We are depriving ourselves from love.

One story I tell myself is that I’m old. I’m 59. This mindset clouds my interactions with people and keeps me separated from a full life. When I first moved to Chicago, I noticed that this was a vibrant city full of young people, at least in my neighborhood. The manager of the small construction project in my condo and my Pilates instructor were the same age as my daughter. The branch manager of the non-profit where I volunteer was younger than I by at least a decade. At first, it was difficult for me to establish good relationships because this number kept repeating in my mind and kept me away from these people. Gradually, I was able to realize this was my own judgment, not something they were imposing on me. They wanted to have meaningful conversations. They didn’t care that I was the same age as their parents.

One way to let go of the stories we tell ourselves is to observe our thoughts. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, this is almost impossible. Who has time to observe one’s thoughts when kids are crying, bosses are making demands, traffic noise is deafening, and the lines at the grocery store are long? This is exactly why we need to take time to breathe consciously lest we turn into robots. Establishing an intentional breathing practice is essential for bringing clarity and meaning into our lives.

With such a practice, we give ourselves the space and time to observe our thoughts. It really doesn’t take much to start such a practice, perhaps just one or two minutes of intentional breathing while observing what goes on in our minds. This can be accomplished before getting out of bed in the morning, waiting in line at the grocery store, or even during our daily commute. (I am not advocating that you go into full on meditation while you are driving, mind you.)

The important thing here is to recognize what we are telling ourselves. Are these stories helping or hurting us? Becoming aware of these thought patterns is the first step to changing them, if they are not helpful.

Once I realized that my story, the one about my age, is keeping me from forming friendships with all people, I also realized that I was giving up opportunities to learn, to laugh, to love. I was giving up the opportunity to expand my life, keeping it small and controlled, how sad! To be sure, I still catch myself thinking that I am much older than most of the people with whom I interact on a daily basis. The difference now is that I don’t let those thoughts determine my actions. As a result, I now meet and interact with amazing people with life experiences so different than my own. I open my mind and heart to them so that I can learn from them. And, it turns out they are interested in learning from me, how delightful!

Change is difficult for all of us, but it doesn’t have to be monumental or sudden to have a positive impact. By starting with one intentional breath every so often during the day, or setting aside a few minutes for intentional breathing, we start the process of change. We give ourselves time and space to recognize our thought patterns. We give ourselves the motivation and courage to change those patterns if they do not serve us. We take a giant leap in our pursuit of happiness.