Did you catch this post on Instagram? Thanks to the Savvy Psychologist Podcast.
I had a difficult conversation the other day. I knew I would have this conversation, so I gave thought ahead of time to how I wanted to handle it. The night before, as I was reading The Happiness Project (because it seems like a great book to start in January, right?), I came across a sentence that helped me prep for this conversation.
Gretchen Rubin writes:
How could I set a higher standard for myself as a wife, a mother, a writer, a friend?
This is a question that guided Gretchen’s year-long Happiness Project.
I think it can guide our lives.
How can I set a higher standard for my own behavior?
When I applied this question to my difficult conversation, I decided to listen really well (ask lots of clarifying questions, repeat back to check for my understanding) and take my ego out of it (remove my need to be right, to defend myself). And guess what? The conversation was hard but it was calm, helpful and productive. What a relief.
How can you apply this question to your life?
Even in difficult circumstances, how can you set a higher standard for how you handle yourself? How can you improve the quality of your interactions? How can you do this without adding to your to-do list or feeding perfectionism?
Would you like guidance in taking 3 steps to set a higher standard for yourself in a relationship? Click here.
If you’re like me, you did not sit down on New Year’s Day and set goals and plan out your whole year. In the Captain house, we are still in the midst of wearing pjs all day, having friends over (in which case we usually change out of pjs) and cleaning leftovers out of the fridge.
Planning will happen next week.
When you are ready to envision your 2019, here are some questions to guide you:
What area(s) of my life is a high priority for change? Consider areas such as: health, work, parenting, relationship, friendship, personal growth, spirituality, home, community.
Who is the person I want to be in this area of my life? Think of adjectives to describe the sort of person you want to be in this area.
What goal supports me being this type of person?
Notice that we started with values (the type of person you want to be), not goals. The power in identifying values first? By acting on values, we make our lives meaningful. So, we can lead meaningful lives right now on the way to reaching our goals (which take time).
Values also help us reach our goals because they are tied to our identity. Behavior follows belief. When I think of myself a connected friend, a creative writer, a fit mom, then I am more likely to act that way. I become the type of person who calls once a week, writes everyday, makes every workout.
What do you need in 2019? Let me know by anonymously responding to these three questions.
How to lighten your heart when you’re feeling heavy? How to a get a break from the overwhelm?
Here are 3 things I have found helpful…
Notice your mind when it tells you to do more, be more, have more, there’s not enough. When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, dig around in your mind and figure out what you are afraid of. Is your mind telling you things need to be a certain way? That you and your house need to look a certain way? Your kids need to behave a certain way? So that other people will feel and think a certain way? Who would you be if you let go of all of that? What really matters?
Practice gratitude. Right now, think of 3 things for which you are thankful - little, specific things you may typically overlook. Mine the beauty in your life. It will interrupt your fear and anxiety.
Give someone a compliment. When you lighten up someone else’s life, you can’t help but do the same for your own. I tried this the other day on a walk. I passed a garage where a neighbor (who I don’t know) was building furniture (as I have seen him do). I noticed that he was sanding a beautiful, intricate wood table and I said, “That looks amazing!” and kept walking. He smiled and thanked me. I still feel a happiness boost thinking about it a week later and I hope he does too. I can’t believe how often I forget to say nice things to my husband and my kids (and how quick I am to remind them to do their dishes).
Wishing you lightness this season and always!
Looking to give a unique and meaningful gift to someone interested in improving his or her life?
Gift the gift of peace of mind with a gift certificate for a coaching session (over the phone so your recipient can be anywhere).
I have a special price of $89 for one session for those of you wanting to give.
I will e-mail you a beautiful pdf certificate that you can print or e-mail to a lucky recipient.
Send me a note at email@example.com
Tis the season for constant demands and input.
We need practices to repair the damages of the day.
So that we can be our best selves. So that we can be less stressed and more energetic for our people and our work.
Presenting 20 days of self-care!
You won’t find a massage or mani-pedi on this planner (but by all means, go get one).
This is internal self-care- a balm for your soul.
Imagine if you incorporated a few of these practices into your everyday. You might feel like a new person!
Start anytime (I’m starting December 1st). Skip around. Repeat.
Share with friends.
Ready to get your life in order? Download 3 Steps to Get Your Life in Order.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!
I am grateful to you all (wherever you are) for subscribing and reading these words.
When you find yourself feeling grumpy (today or any day), you can use this reminder from my wise neighbor (who heard it from her wise friend):
Be grateful, not grumpy.
There is always something and someone to be grateful for, even on the hardest of days.
Enjoy you day!
Every few minutes, life throws something at us that we don’t want – traffic, dirty dishes, a gray hair, a screaming child, a work project, bills, divorce, death. These situations bring up uncomfortable feelings – frustration, sadness, anger, fear, vulnerability. Our natural, automatic reaction is to push the feelings away.
Think of what you might say in response to devastating news: “No.”
When we carry resistance beyond this initial reaction, we are saying no to life. We are refusing to feel our feelings. It can become a way of being.
We resist in all sorts of ways - eating, drinking, shopping, texting, blaming, worrying, yelling. We endlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram. We think this should not be happening. We stay busy. We try to perfect what is in our control.
This resistance takes energy. It builds tension in our bodies. It strips us of the present moment.
When we avoid feelings, fear unconsciously drives our behavior. We organize our lives to avoid feeling difficult emotions.
We stay stuck.
It’s so normal yet so unhelpful.
How to say yes?
The next time you struggle with an unpleasant emotion, instead of pushing the feeling away, lean into it. This involves going into your body and noticing what the emotion feels like physically.
As much as you want to turn away from this feeling, get to know it. Learn as much as you can about it. Use adjectives to describe the feeling in great detail- its color, shape, movement, texture, location, temperature.
Acceptance and Commitment therapists recommend that we observe our feelings as if we are curious scientists, then open up and allow the feelings to be there, even if we don’t like them.
The point of feeling our emotions is not to suffer for the sake of suffering. By dropping the struggle and opening up to a feeling, we reduce its impact on our actions. Instead of putting our energy into resistance, we invest our energy in doing what makes our lives meaningful. We gain peace and presence.
To say yes is to be in your life completely, with all of its richness and complexity and messiness. In the words of Jon Kabat Zinn, “you put out the welcome mat” on your life.
There is beauty in a willingness to be with whatever arises. Notice the feelings in your body, make room for them, allow them to hang out while you carry on and do what matters.
Would you like to learn more about processing difficult feelings? Let’s talk.
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness come as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. ~Rumi
If you could eliminate one word from your mental vocabulary, what would it be? For me, it would be "enough."
I wake up already behind without enough sleep. I don't have enough time to do everything. I'm certainly not good enough to do it all. And then I go to sleep having not accomplished, you guessed it, enough.
Whatever your word (failure, fat, lazy, loser, broke, "bad mother," mess...), here is a little coaching tool (from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to take the sting and power out of the word:
First, take a benign word like "lemon" or "apple."
Now repeat "lemon" or "apple" over and over again out loud as fast as you can for about 30 seconds.
Then, take your word and repeat it aloud for 30 seconds.
Notice what happens. Does the word become a meaningless combination of sounds?
Good. Because that is all it is.
Who would you be without that word in your head?
Are you taking care of others in a way that depletes you or leaves you empty?
In that case, it’s easy to become critical and resentful of loved ones. Any need or request becomes a burden and further drain on our own energy and resources, a trigger for painful thoughts, a threat to our own well-being.
I’m working on an article about how to take care of your own well-being even when you care for others.
What would you like to explore about this?
How do you keep a healthy relationship to yourself?
E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you’ll have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t giving to yourself. Barbara DeAngelis
Maura Captain is a life coach, certified by Martha Beck Inc., who loves to help people build the genuine confidence to pursue what matters to them. Whether it’s making more money, trusting your parenting, or putting yourself out there, she is here to help.
Do you notice what your mind says upon waking in the morning?
It goes like this:
I AM TIRED!
(Then it calculates the number of hours before I can sleep again and runs through all of the tasks in between). Sigh.
But let’s go back to: I AM TIRED!
Joel Olsteen points out the power of “I am:” Whatever follows “I am” will determine your experience. You are inviting it into your life.
Here are two ways to handle such unhelpful thoughts:
Replace the thought.
Now if you’re feeling tired, your mind isn’t going to buy a replacement thought like “I am energetic.” But how about “I can handle this;” “I am going to feel so much better after I shower.” Or the best thought, “Coffee is ready!”
2. Preface the thought with “I am having the thought that…”
This gives you some space from the thought so that it doesn’t take over your whole person. ‘I’m having the thought that I’m tired.” Even more space: I notice that I’m having the thought that I’m tired.:” It takes a bit of the sting out the thought, right?
“I’m so overwhelmed” becomes “I am having the thought that I am so overwhelmed.” Instead of “I’m stressed,” try, “I’m having the thought that I’m stressed” or “My mind is telling me stressful thoughts.”
Of course you can use these strategies any time of the day when you notice you’re mind saying “I am… (insert deflating, unhelpful adjective or noun).”
Compare yourself to those around you. Even better: Compare your insides to everyone’s outsides. Best: Compare your insides to everyone’s social media outsides. Proceed to despair.
Resist uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Buffer (avoid/control/numb) the discomfort by keeping busy, eating, drinking, scrolling…
Ignore your truth, pretend, and please everyone. Make sure you hide your flaws and insecurities and wrap yourself in a pretty package so that you will be acceptable and belong.
Blame others for what you are feeling and for what’s not going right in your life. In this effort to transfer the pain you are feeling onto someone else, you hand over your power to take action to change things for the better.
Hold grudges. Do not forgive. Treat others kindly and respectfully only if they treat you in such ways.
Believe your mind when it tells you that you are not enough - not good enough, thin enough, rich enough, smart enough, certain enough, safe enough. Listen to your ego when it tells you that you are what you have, what you do, and what other people think of you.
Avoid discomfort by not doing hard things, even if they are important to you.
Don’t ask for help. Believe that asking for help makes you weak and not enough (see # 6).
Believe that you are the only one who thinks, feel, or does the above.
Don’t hire a life coach to help you disrupt these patterns. :)
I am giving away a copy of The Wisdom of Sundays: Life Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations!
How to enter to win:
Sign-up for my newsletter if you haven’t already. Send this link to one friend who may be interested in managing her mind and improving her life.
Suggest that your friend subscribe.
Send me an e-mail to let me know (or just copy me on your forwarded e-mail) by Tuesday, October 23rd. I will enter your name in a random drawing to take place on October 24th.
E-mail me: email@example.com
US addresses only please.
Ready to uncover some thoughts that are getting in the way? And learn tools to handle those thoughts?
I have a special coaching offer on October 16th only- $75 for one 50-minute coaching session (regularly $107) over the phone. It’s one day only and spaces are limited. Take a look at remaining spots here on my scheduling page.
I was listening to a podcast the other day (I start many sentences with this phrase), in which Ellen Hendriksen named the two lies of anxiety:
The worst case scenario is definitely going to happen.
You can’t handle it anyway.
In other words, that thing you worry about, the worst, is inevitable.
And when it happens, you won’t be able to cope. You’re not tough enough, capable, smart, or strong enough to handle it.
The problem with these lies? They keep us from doing (scary) things that are important.
When we believe these lies, we keep our lives small.
What if you believed, that no matter what happened, you could handle it? You could do your best and that would be enough?
You would probably take more action toward things that are important.
You would avoid less.
Or maybe you would just relax a little more.
Here are a couple of things to do to silence the lies of anxiety:
You can gather evidence to dispute the lies.
You can take yourself through the worst-case scenario.
I’ll give you an example.
I have a fear that when my husband is gone overnight, someone will break into my house and do terrible things to my kids an me. Not fun to think about, right? It makes it hard to sleep, which makes it hard to do anything else.
Years ago, my brilliant life coach helped me with this. Now she could have just helped me gather evidence as to why this worst case scenario was very unlikely to happen (where we live, dog, lights, statistics, living through many nights…), which was helpful. This calmed my mind but my mind could still argue the possibility.
So my coach also walked me through the worst case scenario. . Where would someone break in, where would I be, where would the kids and dog be, how would I get to them and get out…so I ended up with a plan. I felt empowered. This coaching session was many years ago and I still think about it because it was so powerful.
The worst was unlikely to happen. But even if the worst happened (and I am not denying that the worst would be awful), I could handle it.
I saw through the lies of anxiety.
I sleep much better these days. I hope you do too.
Would you like to talk about how to let go of the lies? I have a special coaching day this Tuesday, October 16th.