Do you really believe that?

Take baby steps.

We know we can create new things in our lives with the thoughts that we think. It may seem more complex than that, but really, all new things come from ideas, which are thoughts.

And we know from our coaching model that our thoughts are what create our feelings. Our feelings are powerful drivers of our actions. And our actions create the results we get in our lives. 

When we want to create something in our lives, sometimes we need to have new beliefs about what’s possible. Beliefs are just thoughts that we’ve thought over and over again and now we believe they are true. 

Some beliefs are very useful to us. Some beliefs create limits within us and prevent us from doing things.

Some limiting beliefs might be:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I just don’t have enough confidence to do that.
  • I’m not talented enough.
  • I don’t have the discipline for that.
  • People don’t understand me.
  • All the good ones are taken.
  • I won’t ever be successful.
  • I hate my body.

Once we’re aware of limiting beliefs we hold, we might feel the need to change them right away to their exact opposites–things that we DO want to believe. 

But if we take too big of a leap, we’ll have a thought that we don’t yet believe. And that thought won’t help us because we don’t believe it yet, no matter how many times we may repeat it during the day. 

So how do we get to the new belief we want to have that seems so far from our current belief? We engage thoughts that bridge us or ladder us to the next level of thinking.

As an example, let’s take the thought “I hate my body.” 

The goal thought might be “I love my body.” But it’s hard to jump from hate to love right away. 

Here are some potential ladder thoughts from “I hate my body” to “I love my body”:

  • I hate my body.
  • I have a body.
  • There are other people with bodies like mine.
  • Other people with bodies like mine seem to like their bodies.
  • It’s possible that I could like my body.
  • My body has the potential to change and be healthier.
  • I am living my life because of my body.
  • I am learning to appreciate my body.
  • My body allows me to do things I enjoy.
  • I am learning to enjoy being in my body.
  • I am learning to love my body.
  • I love my body.

We may need to practice each ladder thought for a couple days, a week, or two weeks before moving on to the next one. Until we truly believe the thought we are practicing, it’s important to stay with it before moving on to the next one.

Our thoughts are powerful. We can learn to create beliefs that empower us instead of disempower us. 

Your turn: What are some of the limiting thoughts/beliefs you hold? What are some goal thoughts/beliefs that you’d like to have instead? Explore and practice some ladder or bridge thoughts that can help you get to your goal thoughts. 

Need help exploring some ladder or bridge thoughts? Sign up for an exploratory session here.

How is self-care transformative?

Are you ready?

We’ve likely all heard about “self-love” and “loving yourself.” These concepts may seem good to do and have, but they may also seem lofty and hard to attain. 

How do we love ourselves and have self-love? Where do we start, especially when we’ve been our harshest critics or engage in self-loathing thinking and behaviors?

Some ways that we hear about self-care are to get a massage, to get a pedicure or manicure, to treat ourselves to a new outfit or electronic device, or to enjoy a frothy, sweet drink. These are definitely a few ways to show care for ourselves, but at a somewhat superficial level. 

When we do things that bring us joy, that is part of self-care.

I want to offer that self-care also looks like this:

  • Drinking enough water to stay hydrated and alert
  • Speaking to yourself with kindness instead of punishing yourself
  • Eating nutritious food to fuel your body
  • Going to the bathroom when you need to go
  • Sleeping enough to allow your body to rest and repair
  • Moving your body enough
  • Committing to the things you want to do for yourself
  • Thinking generous thoughts about yourself instead of critical thoughts
  • Connecting with yourself and your body – listening to what you need
  • Creating a supportive relationship with yourself
  • Maintaining healthy boundaries with yourself and others

We can build our self-care muscles by practicing daily. Just like any other muscle we want to build, it takes time, effort, and commitment along with the desire to do so. We get to create our own journey to self-love and I believe these are some of the practices that carry us along the way. 

When we realize how powerful it is to keep a commitment to ourselves, we start to build trust with ourselves and learn that we can have our own back, no matter what. This is how self-care can be transformative.

Our longest relationship we’ll have is the relationship we have with ourselves. What would our lives be like if that relationship is supportive, loving, kind, reliable, and trusting? 

“When you’re at peace with yourself and love yourself, it is virtually impossible to do things to yourself that are destructive.” ― Wayne Dyer

Your turn: What self-care practices are you open to committing to today? What would you do differently when you trust yourself to do the things you want to do for yourself? How would your life be different when you love yourself no matter what? 

If you’re feeling challenged about where to start with self-care, my 6-week Transformative Self-Care program helps you create your self-care foundations. Learn more here.

Why you aren’t setting boundaries

Discomfort, anyone?

Sometimes people mix up setting boundaries with trying to control other people. We do not create boundaries for other people. We create boundaries to take care of and protect ourselves. 

Boundaries are not:

  • Ways to control or manipulate other people
  • Things you think other people should be doing (e.g. “I want my partner to clean the bathroom,” “I want my friend to call me back when I call her,” I want my kid to clean her room”)

We need to recognize when to use and talk about boundaries. This means having a clear sense of what and where our boundaries are. When we don’t have clear boundaries, people don’t know if they’re violating them or not. 

A visual example is that of a home. If an uninvited person is in the yard of a home that doesn’t belong to them, they are crossing a boundary. If an uninvited person walks through a door or climbs through a window of a home that doesn’t belong to them, they are crossing a boundary. 

When there is a clear boundary violation, such as someone speaking to us in a demeaning way or someone doing something in our home that’s not allowed, we have the boundary conversation.

The conversation includes making a clear request along with stating a clear consequence. The consequence is something that WE will do, an action or behavior that WE will take. 

Here’s an example of a clear boundary: If you smoke a cigarette in my house, I am going to ask you to leave my house. We don’t allow smoking here. This is what I will do if you smoke.

It’s important to remember that the person we’re making the request of can continue to do whatever they would like to do. Human beings can smoke cigarettes if they want. It’s not a boundary violation until they come into our home or our car or our space. 

Notice that when we make the request, “Hey, if you continue to do that…” the consequence is the behavior that we will take. It’s not, “You need to stop smoking or else.” We’re making the request and then explaining what we will do as the consequence of not following that request.

OK, so why don’t we set boundaries? Because sometimes it’s difficult and uncomfortable to make these requests and establish consequences with the people in our lives. 

Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable for us that we avoid making the requests. Or if we do make the requests, we don’t actually follow through on the consequences. Because that’s uncomfortable too–doing what we say we’ll do when someone violates a boundary means potentially risking our relationship with that person, facing their disapproval.

But then what happens when we don’t make these requests or when we don’t follow through on the consequences? People continue to violate our boundaries. 

And we get upset and build up resentments. Usually we’re the only ones feeling this way, because the people who continue to violate our boundaries don’t think there are any consequences for doing so. 

There’s a lot more to say about boundaries and we’ll look into this further next week.

Your turn: Are you recognizing why you might not be setting boundaries that would benefit your life? What would you have to believe in order to make the requests and follow through on the consequences? How can you practice saying what you want to say instead of avoiding setting boundaries with people?

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Are you committed or just interested?

What’s the difference? 

As we come to the start of a new year, people think about changes they want to make in their lives. Sometimes they have a long list of things they want to do or change. Sometimes they have just one, two, or three big things. 

No matter what you have in mind, ask yourself this: Am I wanting to make these changes or am I committed to making these changes?

Wanting to make changes is more like simply being interested in making the changes. When we want something, we have a desire or wish for something. It seems like a good idea. It doesn’t require any action to want something or be interested in something.

When we’re committed to something, it requires us to follow through on a course of action. It’s a promise to do something. Commitment requires action.  

How do you know if you’re just interested or if you’re committed? If you have some ideas of changes you’d like to make in the new year, think about each thing and see how it lines up with the “interested” or the “committed” thoughts below.  

Interested thoughts (you allow things to get in the way of your goal):

  • My boss gave me a tight deadline, so I can’t go to the gym today (goal is to exercise every day)
  • I’m too tired to meditate this morning (goal is to meditate every morning)
  • It’s too cold to go for a run today (goal is to run 4x a week)
  • I deserve to have this treat because my day was so stressful (goal is to eat less sugar)
  • I just finished a big project so I’m treating myself to a purchase (goal is to spend less)
  • I don’t feel like it today
  • This is too hard

Committed thoughts (your goal is your priority):

  • I’m going to do this no matter what
  • This is worth it even if it’s hard sometimes
  • I can do hard things
  • I’m choosing to make this a priority for me today
  • Even though it’s cold out, I’m still going to do it
  • This is important to me so I’m going to stick with my plan

Your turn: Are you committed to making changes in your life or are you just interested? What would happen if you don’t make the change you say you want to make? What would happen and who would you become if you did?

As we head into the New Year, reflect on what your wins were for 2021. What do you want to do or be better at in 2022? What new results do you want to create for yourself?

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want, be fully present, and engage purposefully? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Are you in “emotional adulthood”?

Or “emotional childhood”?

Last week we talked about how our thoughts create our feelings. Our circumstances don’t create our feelings. What we think about our circumstances–our thoughts–create our feelings.

I know I’ve said this same thing in various ways, but repetition increases retention. And this is important if we want to take back our power.

Emotional childhood occurs when grown adults have not matured past childhood in terms of managing their emotions. This means they react to their emotions, act out, or avoid emotions rather than taking full responsibility and choosing thoughts that will create more desirable and appropriate emotions. Emotional childhood is not taking responsibility for how we feel.

We call ourselves adults, but most of us are still functioning as emotional children. It’s not something we do on purpose—most of our parents still function as emotional children, which perpetuates the cycle. But we’re responsible for how we feel in each moment–we’re in charge of how we think, and we’re in charge of how we feel. When we’re functioning as emotional children, we’re blaming other people for how we feel, how we act, and for the results we get in our life.

We’re not taught in high school or college how to be emotional adults. But once we’ve reached adulthood, our brains are developed enough to be able to understand what we’re thinking, and therefore we can decide what to think and what to feel in any given moment, no matter what anyone else does in our lives.

As children, we don’t have this capacity. We think everything going on in our lives is what causes our feelings, and this is perpetuated by the adults that raise us. Adults are used to making comments to children like, “Sarah, you really hurt that little girl’s feelings. You need to say you’re sorry for hurting her feelings” or “Did it hurt your feelings when that boy said those mean words to you?”

We teach children at a young age that other people are responsible for how we feel, and it becomes so ingrained in us that we don’t even question it or recognize that it’s disempowering.

While children don’t have the capacity to make this distinction, many people continue to function this way as adults. Not only is this a debilitating way to live, but it also traps you in a space of blame. We blame the weather, the economy, the government, our bosses, other people, ex-partners, our mothers, our fathers, and our childhood. We blame people not only for how we feel, but for the actions we take and the results we get in our lives.

Emotional adulthood behaviors occur when we take responsibility for how we feel and make choices for how we want to feel. When we do this, we become more empowered and get to be the people we really want to be instead of being in this automatic emotional childhood space. Instead of acting like an out of control child, we can allow ourselves to feel our feelings without acting out to avoid or distract from them, or blame others. 

This is a powerful place to be. It’s a place where you have complete control over your life. Sometimes it sounds as if emotional adulthood won’t be fun and exciting—being a child sounds so much better—but the opposite is true. Being dependent on someone else as an adult, when you don’t need to be, is the most disempowering thing you can do.

When learning this concept, it can be easy to criticize and judge yourself for any thoughts, feelings, or actions you don’t like in yourself. When we go from blaming other people for the way we feel to learning to take responsibility, we may turn the blame on ourselves. This can look like, “So this whole time, I’ve been the one causing the problem? I’m such a terrible person!”

That’s not the intention of this process. The intention is to help you notice “OK, so if I feel this way or act this way, it’s because of the way I’m thinking.” You can be curious about it and treat yourself with kindness. Now, you know that you can change if you choose to.

Being an adult requires more effort and responsibility than staying in emotional childhood. Taking that step toward managing yourself and your mind so you aren’t dependent on other people for how you think, feel, or act is transformative. Try it. It’s worth it.

Your turn: Are you open to exploring how you can take more responsibility for your feelings? How can you stop blaming and giving your power away? If you could do this, how would it change the results you’re getting in your life?

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Stop giving your power away

You’re in charge of how you feel

Last week we talked about how to process and allow painful emotions. It’s easy to think that external circumstances like other people, things, outcomes, and events, cause us to feel a certain way. What really causes us to feel a certain way is how we think about those external circumstances. 

Do you know why circumstances don’t cause our feelings? Because two different people could experience the exact same circumstance, but depending on how each of them thinks about the circumstance, their thoughts will create their feelings. So it’s not the circumstance. It’s the thoughts.

For example, one person gets cut off while driving. She could immediately get angry and vengeful and try to cut that other person off because she’s thinking, “This person is a jerk! How dare he do that to me. I’ll show him!” And sometimes this anger can start a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions for the rest of the day.

Another person who gets cut off while driving could feel some annoyance but then get over it easily because he’s thinking, “Yikes! I know how it feels to be in a rush like that and I’ve done that type of thing before without meaning to.” Some initial annoyance, but pretty quickly letting it go and not letting it ruin his day.

Same circumstance, but different thoughts, which create different feelings–and ultimately, different results. 

When we let other people have so much control over our feelings, we’re giving our power away to them. We’re saying, “How you’re behaving/what you’re saying/what’s happening ‘out there’ is determining how I feel, so I have no control over my feelings.”

But we do have control. That control is in our thoughts. Our thoughts are where our power lies.

Most of the time, we make other people’s words and actions mean something about us and we think we have to protect ourselves from something, protect our egos. 

For example, when a colleague offers another way of doing something than what we suggested, we might get defensive because we might think, “He doesn’t respect my opinion.” Then we may feel angry and defensive because we made it mean something about ourselves–usually something related to “I’m not good enough.” Then we proceed to act in a certain way that deteriorates our relationship with that colleague. 

What if instead we thought, “He could be offering a more efficient way to do it. Let’s see if it can work”? That thought will create a totally different feeling. We didn’t make our colleague’s words/actions mean anything about ourselves. We didn’t take it personally or need to defend ourselves. This other thought might create the feeling of “curiosity” or “openness,” which leads us to collaborate with that colleague in a cooperative way. 

Two different outcomes because of two different thoughts–but the circumstances were the same.  Starting to see a pattern? 😉

When we take responsibility for our feelings, we stop giving our power away to other people and situations. We are in charge of how we think and feel. 

When we take responsibility for our feelings, we are in emotional adulthood instead of emotional childhood.

More about emotional adulthood and childhood next week!

Your turn: What are you making someone’s words or actions mean about yourself? What if their words or actions don’t have to mean anything about you? Are you open to becoming more aware of the thoughts you’re thinking and how they’re creating your feelings? What are the three most frequent emotions you feel during a typical day? What are the thoughts creating those emotions? 

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Three Lessons from Emergency Open-Heart Surgery

Emergency open-heart surgery uprooted me from the life I was living in 2015. In the span of a month, I went from living in Manhattan to staying in a hospital in San Francisco for a month, and then permanently living back in San Francisco, which is my hometown. I would have liked making the move back home to have been of my own volition, but it wasn’t. And things work out the way they are meant to.

Through my recovery, I learned some things that help me live more fully.

~ I learned to listen to and honor my body
~ I learned to set and maintain boundaries around my energy and time
~ I learned to be kinder to myself

By learning and practicing these three lessons that help me embody my authentic self, I can continually give myself permission to learn and grow, to accept what already is and be grateful for it, while cultivating my desires for what’s next and practice being unattached to outcomes.

Living like this empowers me to align with my purpose, continually heal, and live in joy and connection with myself, others, and the Universe.

Hello from The Healing Modalities!

The path to healing emotional and physical pain can sometimes be long. Much longer than you’d hope or expect. But in these things, we must be patient and know that the healing is happening. The body, in its divineness, has its own healing mechanisms and knows exactly what to do. However, since ancient times, people in the world have used methods to aid the body’s healing process.

I’ve had my share of healing journeys and understand the pain that can be involved. If it’s something of a physical nature, I like being told that there are natural ways to heal, instead of just being told to cover the pain using any assortment of pain killers. Yes, that is a bandage approach, but it doesn’t address the true cause of the pain in order to remedy it more effectively. Of course, alternative healing modalities will not help you to replace a valve in your heart, but they can help in your healing afterwards. I appreciate practitioners who spend time understanding me, my lifestyle, and my approach to life in order to recommend a healthy healing path and plan. Your full participation and dedication is necessary to achieve your goal.

If the pain is of an emotional nature, this is sometimes even harder to heal than physical pain. It takes a lot of personal work and perseverance. It takes looking inside yourself and seeing some things you might not like seeing in order to clear out those things in a healthy way. It takes re-evaluating how you feel about yourself and if you are giving yourself the respect and care that you’d like others to give to you. Sometimes because of things that may have happened to us when we were very young, we don’t know how to do this. Or sometimes because we are so focused on the way something is “supposed to be,” we lose sight of what IS and may miss chances to heal along the way.

When healing, resistance can play a major role in the process and it is hard to even be aware that resistance is there within you sometimes. But acceptance and surrender also play roles in healing, and they are what we must work towards. Acceptance and surrender are usually hard to come by and take a lot of personal work, but once they are there within you, the resistance melts away and you are in a place to truly be ready to heal.

Here, I’d like to share with you some alternative healing modalities and stories. Eventually I will make recommendations to specific practitioners, but that will come later.