• The Truth About Stress Eating: Imperfection is Part of the Journey

    There really are only 5 things you need to do to stop stress eating.

    It might sound too easy, but the 5 steps take time and patience – there are no shortcuts and perfectionism only slow your progress. If you can commit to the belief that life can be less stressful and even harmonious you can learn the 5 steps and stop stress eating.

    The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

    Mother Teresa

    When you get so tired of doing the same thing over and over again that you just can’t do it one more time, you’re in the perfect place to change the situation.

    You know stress eating is more than calming anxiety. There’s something more – you need to live your life with peace, fulfillment and health.

    If you take the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a conscious eater. The time and energy you spent planning, eating, worrying about what you ate, regretting you gave into the habit again, doesn’t happen and that’s one of the best freedoms of all.

    When you pay attention to your body’s needs it becomes a pathway for a better relationship with yourself. You get to know more about your real needs and experiment with how best to meet them.

    You get to know your limitations and the possibilities for taking care of yourself in a way you feel good about. Most of all you get to learn about what you need to take better care of yourself.

    When you take the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to stop stress eating. 

    1. Eat when you’re hungry

    Courage is a kind of salvation. 


    I know, this sounds like a total oversimplification, but how many times do you deny yourself food?

    It could be that you ignore your hunger or that you don’t allow yourself to eat certain foods or both.

    If your body needs energy, there is just no replacing food. You can distract yourself and delay eating for only so long before hangry sets in.

    Your hunger signals may go quiet, for a while, but you can be sure that they will come back and you won’t be able to ignore them!

    Eat a balanced meal. It’s great if the craving is for a balanced meal or snack since you’re taking care of both needs at once!

    Which leads to…

    Enjoy your food.

    Choose what you eat wisely so that you’re getting both the physical nourishment your body needs and the satisfaction your mind and heart need too. Take care of your whole person. Without enjoyment there won’t be satisfaction, which can lead to stress eating later.

    Sometimes you will eat purely for fuel. We all lead busy lives and sometimes food is merely a means to an end — putting more fuel in the engine so you can keep going.
    Food is also an important way people experience pleasure. If what you eat isn’t pleasurable on some level, most of the time, you will be left wanting, unsatisfied.

    At least once a day, eat for fuel as well as for the experience of pleasure.

    2. Be present

    The point of power is always in the present moment.

    Louise L. Hay

    Do just one thing while eating.

    When you’re driving, watching a show, working on the computer, playing a game on your phone, reading, etc. you’re unable to really be aware of what you’re eating, if you enjoy it, if you’re hungry for food, when you’ve had enough – there are a lot of decisions!

    Distraction is one way of disconnecting from stress eating and the feelings of guilt or shame about what you’re eating, how you’re eating it, how you feel about your body and yourself.

    Distracted eating is a statement about your relationship with yourself. The way to step is through self-compassion and honoring your need and desire for nourishment and stop stress eating.

    Mindful eating is one tool you can use to pay attention in the moment to the taste, texture, aroma, colors, etc. of the food you’re eating.

    When you eat mindfully, you can make assessments about your relationship with food and how you respect your body.

    3. Identify your feelings

    The best way out is always through.

    Robert Frost

    Calm anxiety before eating, rather than eating to calm anxiety. Easier said than done, right?

    This can be tricky since hunger makes anxiety worse. Anxiety can also be one of the early signs of hunger. It gets complicated very quickly!

    Our ancestors needed to be on the lookout for food, they might have been a little edgy about it, so when it was available, they would find it and eat. Although food is abundant, when hunger is ignored this early survival mechanism kicks in and you may become a little edgy too.

    Help yourself to slow down. Do your best anxiety-reducing techniques, a few deep breaths, a little calming yoga, a short mindfulness meditation, 2–5 minutes or so, and then eat a balanced meal or snack. The food will wait.

    Anxiety or worry is one of the most frequent feelings that leads to stress eating. Eating is something to do, it takes your mind off of the issue and depending on the food, your brain will be stimulated to release calming brain chemicals.

    The way through this is to identify the feeling, pinpoint its cause as best you can and take one simple step toward your future free from stress eating.

    Sometimes this means making an action plan and other times it means reassuring yourself and creating a peaceful environment when you’ve done all you can.

    Increase your awareness of the feelings you experience most often. Emotional awareness is your own personal guide to stop stress eating and prevent it from happening too.

    When you know what’s going on inside, you have options for better self-care.

    Stress eating is no longer a distraction from what’s really bothering you, you know and you have a choice in how you manage yourself.

    4. Leave morality out of your food choices

    Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior based on your eating choices.

    Evelyn Tribole

    Food is not sinful! How many foods are described as sinfully delicious?

    How many times have you heard, usually at dessert time, “we’re being so bad tonight?”

    What if we accepted that our bodies enjoy pleasurable experiences like eating good food?

    Acceptance in the fullest sense means honoring your desire for pleasurable experiences with food, non-judgmentally.

    When you accept that you’re an eater who enjoys eating you’ll also accept that at times you need fuel. You can accept when fuel is primary and enjoyment second since you can trust yourself that there are times when you’ll eat purely for pleasure too.

    Eating for fuel only.

    You have a big meeting at two o’clock and it’s important to have a balanced lunch at noon, so you’re fueled, thinking clearly and on your game. Your priority is reviewing your notes and getting fuel. That’s okay some of the time.

    Eating just for pleasure.

    Think about birthday cake or special foods you only have at holiday celebrations. These foods and the ritual of eating them symbolize the importance of the moment, your family traditions and culture.

    Foods have different nutritional value, not different moral value. Eat well and enjoy.

    5. Seek connection instead of stress eating

    Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow. It’s a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them — we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

    Brene Brown

    Stress eating can be the motivator for reconnecting with someone, a memory, thought or feeling.

    If you’re craving a specific food, ask yourself, is it the memory or person you want to connect with? 

    Is the food a way to make it happen or would you get your needs met by a conversation, planning a visit, making dinner plans with a friend or family member?

    Stress eating is the pathway to the relationship you want to experience. The problem is that the stress eating can’t help you connect in the way you want or need to connect either with others or yourself.

    Increasing your awareness of stress eating and the feelings that led you there is the way to move toward what you need. Awareness can help you refocus from the food obsession to the relationship and you can get your needs met.

    These five actions will move you so much further down the road to what you want, so that you can stop stress eating than any diet ever could. You have the answers you need right inside you. My hope is that the tools above will help you discover them!

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  • 3 Fundamentals to Train Your Brain for Happiness

    How to help your brain create shortcuts for happiness.

    “Have you found happiness?” Whenever I hear this question, I think of it like asking about something that’s been lost and if so where could it be? But happiness isn’t something you need to search for, like a long lost treasure, it’s a matter of learning skills to train your brain for happiness.

    When we talk about “finding” happiness, the assumption is usually that you’re not happy, it’s something you’re missing and you should look for it like it’s a 6-week-old puppy who excitedly runs out the front door and doesn’t know his way home quite yet. But it’s not…

    Happiness is something we create.  

    Like anything that’s built to last happiness needs a strong foundation, before you add the details that make it uniquely your own.

    The foundation for happiness is built with a specific set of skills—happiness skills. These skills can be brain based, emotional, or behavioral and they include things like positive self-talk, gratitude, self-compassion, and many others.

    If you practice these skills enough, happiness will become second nature. The great thing is you won’t even need to think of them because they become how you live your life.

    How do you train your brain for happiness so it becomes second nature? 

    When you learned to ride a bike, it was probably really hard at first.  You practiced how to balance and peddling became more comfortable the more you practiced.

    Now, when you ride a bike, you don’t think about how to ride it or focus on keeping your balance, it feels easy—almost automatic.

    Training your brain for happiness works the same way. So, when you have the right skills, and you practice them enough, they become automatic too. 

    How does your brain create new habits?

    The thing about your brain is that it does a lot and it works really hard at it. When your brain has a task that it has to do frequently (riding the bike), it creates shortcuts that saves energy and time so you have what you need as quickly as possible. This is why things that felt impossible before you learned how to do them, like starting and completing a task, now feel easy. So easy, in fact, that you most likely don’t even think about it as being a skill you learned.

    The same thing happens when you train your brain for happiness.

    Most of us aren’t born with skills like gratitude or mindfulness for instance. You learn these skills when you train your brain to create shortcuts so you recognize opportunities for gratitude or mindfulness when they happen and apply them. Each time you practice it gets easier and easier just like riding a bike!

    Happiness skills enable you to respond to life’s ups with excitement, joy, and positivity. They also help you build resilience when life gets complicated, because we all experience challenges, disappointments and grief too.

    At this point your only obstacle is to build a strong foundation so that you can train your brain for happiness.

    Here are the 3 fundamentals to build a strong foundation:

    1. Prioritize the skills that make a difference. 

    Let’s use math as an example. Pretend you moved to a new school. Because I don’t know what you learned at your previous school, I would give you a placement test to find out which skills you have mastered and which skills you still need to learn. Let’s say I discover that you are ready for algebra so I put you in an algebra class. Great – you’re all set!

    But what if I didn’t test your skill level? Instead, I just put you in a calculus class. Most likely you’d struggle.

    Or maybe you were ready for calculus and I put you in an algebra class. More than likely, you’d be bored.

    Or maybe you skipped some steps and don’t know multiplication and division yet. Then you’d have a heck of a time keeping up with either algebra or calculus, I know I would have! Learning the right skills, from the beginning, is important to train your brain for effective happiness skills.

    Some effective happiness skills are:

    • Mindful meditation
    • Gratitude journal
    • Mindful eating
    • Reframing negative experiences
    • Optimism practice and positive self-talk
    • Journaling and self-compassion practice
    • Clear communication
    • Emotional Mastery
    • Exercise
    • Setting boundaries

    2. Practice makes progress!

    When was the last time you learned a new skill—maybe learning a new language, playing an instrument, or enjoying a new craft. Did it take instruction, trial and error and learning until you reached mastery?

    How long until you felt competent, even good at it? If you are an average human being, learning a new skill takes time and effort.

    But I do have some good news. You can make the happiness process move faster by practicing the right skills in the right way. More specifically, you can practice the skills that have the biggest impact on happiness and practice them in the ways that are the most enjoyable for you. This way you’ll make more progress in less time and you’ll be less likely to quit along the way.

    3. Progress

    In the happiness programs I’ve taught, I am amazed at how quickly people make significant progress when they train their brain for happiness. Their brains are now wired to increase awareness of how to focus on the possibilities for growth, kindness, compassion and gratitude – all important ingredients for happiness. But just when people start to feel comfortable with their new happiness skills, they hit a brick wall.

    Why does this happen? After prioritizing skills and practicing them for a while, you can hit a plateau or even backslide to where you started. This is normal when you learn new habits. The phenomenon is known as the hedonic treadmill. It’s like you are forever running, and not getting anywhere – you aren’t moving forward. The way to solve this problem is to get off the treadmill and switch things up regularly. Learn new skills, change up your “go-to” solutions, so you can keep things fresh as you expand your skill set.

    Imagine this. Going back to our math example – in the first grade, you learn addition.

    Then in second grade, you learn addition again.

    And in the third grade, guess what you learn? Addition.

    To make progress and improve, you have to switch things up every now and again. So, when you feel confident with a happiness skill, or feel yourself backsliding, see what else you need to learn, and challenge yourself to do so.

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  • 4 Ways to Love and Accept Yourself in Midlife

    When you accept yourself life gets better.

    How you do it is to confidently acknowledge that there’s so much about you that’s good. You also know you’re on the path of continuing to growth when you can accept your wonderfully imperfect self too!

    Daily life is challenging with unrealistic expectations of who you think you need to be. The media, social media, family, work, society at large, all try to shape you into the image of someone who measures up even if you might not agree.

    And yet,

    • trying to do a good job
    • be a good person
    • be valued by those who matter to you

    This is what’s really important in life.

    So, how do you get past negative self-talk, worries about not doing enough and living up to unrealistic expectations?

    The path of acceptance is one of courage. It requires you to get clear about what you need, even when you aren’t sure or change your mind or make a mistake about what you really want.

    Practicing self-compassion while you figure it out will help you stay on track.

    Here are 4 ways you can cultivate more self-acceptance. They are all interrelated moving from what’s outside of your control to what is within your control. As you follow the steps, you’ll clarify what you want in your life and set goals that align with your values.

    No matter what your age, culture, race, gender or nationality the media (and social media) often highlights the ideal and can leave you feeling that you don’t measure up to the ideal and unattractive. Comparisons aren’t only for teens; it can happen to us no matter what your age. Research has shown that the more media you consume with attractive people in it, the worse you feel about yourselves. But it’s important to remember that the media is a reflection of what we’re already thinking and to get unstuck it’s important to remember this. If your focus is appearance based, you likely feel that you fall short because your brain is already oriented that way. If you see media for what it really is—a show—then you can stop comparing yourself to unrealistic ideals and accept yourself.

    2. Limit negative self-talk.

    One of the ways you can better accept yourself is to challenge your negative self-talk. All of us have an inner monologue running all day long. If this self-talk is mostly negative, you’ll have a hard time feeling good about yourself. For example, many of clients say things like, “I’m not attractive anymore”or”my life is a mess” or “I didn’t work so hard for my life to be like this.” You can stop some of these painful thoughts by simply limiting your media and social media time, which can help the immediate negative reactions.

    I haven’t met anyone yet whose life is completely negative or positive. For longer term relief practice noticing when you have the feelings of satisfaction or when you laugh or even when you feel proud of yourself. When you recall pleasant memories – times in life when things have gone well, your brain gets a boost from recalling that experience. The act of remembering good times can open up a more optimistic frame of reference and help you get unstuck from negative thinking and accept yourself.

    3. Express yourself.

    What else stops you from accepting yourself? Mostly, it’s our fear of what other people might think about us if we showed our true selves. For example, maybe your friends all have the same opinion about a political topic, so you decide not to share your different point of view. Maybe your friends have a particular view on what’s healthy eating and exercise so you decide not to talk about your views because you just don’t want to have that conversation. Or maybe your friends enjoy sharing a meal at a fancy restaurant, so you decide not to invite them to your house for the cozy dinner you’d really enjoy. Even as adults we often hold back because we’re afraid of how we’ll be judged.

    It’s human nature to want to show the best sides of ourselves. And holding back your opinions occasionally is a necessary part of life — in fact, it can help make our relationships a bit easier and more enjoyable. You don’t have to share everything with everyone all the time!

    However, self-expression is a problem when you edit yourself so much that people pleasing is your default and your unique perspective gets lost. The result? Few of the people in your life know who you really are deep down. Maybe you even start to question who you are and what you believe. Another consequence is that the important people in your life don’t have the opportunity to accept you as you are. Most importantly, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to accept yourself as you are either.

    4. Celebrate your strengths.

    Sometimes it’s easier to focus on your weaknesses instead of celebrating your strengths. This is especially true for “problem solvers.” Everyone has things that they just aren’t great at doing and that’s okay. But, when you focus on those things instead of focusing on what you’re good at too, it leads to getting stuck. If you get down on yourself regularly for the things, it’s going to be hard to like yourself as much as you could. So, celebrate your strengths and discover even more about yourself. When you gain a new or broader perspective it usually helps you accept yourself more.

    In sum, when you accept yourself, life is easier – that’s the bottom line! It’s a process to get there. And part of that process is building habits that support your well-being and personal growth – step by step. Habits that help you feel good and continue to grow and nurture yourself with compassion and accountability make the process easier.

    How will you begin the process of accepting yourself?

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  • The Truth About Clarity and Motivation

    I wish clarity and motivation were good friends, but they’re usually more like casual acquaintances.  When we lived in Texas, we always looked forward to seeing another couple at our mutual friend’s house. It was only a few times a year for the annual holiday party and summer cookout and sometimes Thanksgiving. We always said that we would get together, but we never followed through and made plans. It was that extra hurdle of commitment to a plan that just didn’t happen and it became a friendly joke.

    Many women believe that they’ll be motivated to take action when they understand why they do what they do.

    It makes sense and works in many situations, like in school or work or even baking. You watch a video to learn how to fold in the dry ingredients and why it’s important for the recipe instead of wondering what to do or why it’s important. Now that you have the information you can mix the cake more confidently and it’s much easier to start and get the cake in the oven.

    Unfortunately, with human behavior clarity rarely leads to motivation for meaningful change. The irony is that when you mix in emotion, associations to past events, habits and the busyness of life, what could be clear becomes opaque very quickly.


    Clarity requires deeper awareness of your experiences, interpretations of them and your ability to take thoughtful action.  And blending understanding and knowledge are the main ingredients of clarity.


    Understanding ourselves takes a bit of time. Reflection, education and experience are the necessary ingredients for understanding. I think of understanding as located in the gut, it’s more on the emotional, felt level of experience.


    Knowledge comes from our experiences, training or information gained from others or our own experimentation. Knowledge is what we think of as being in our heads. It the logical or even observable part of our experiences.

    Action doesn’t come from understanding or knowledge. There is a way of understanding the world around you and making sense of it in relation to your own experience. The role both play in life is extremely important. Understanding and knowledge are the foundation of how you perceive yourself and make sense of your life.

    They help you to contrast where you are and where you want to be, which is generates clarity.  But that’s not what gets you moving.


    Motivation is energy to take action on what you desire. You’re either moving toward something or avoiding an outcome you don’t want to experience.

    Emotion, personal history and habits are all parts of what motivates people. And the good news is that you can change your habits and establish new ways of being with yourself.

    For a lot of people, the desire to stop negative thoughts and feelings is what gets them moving. It’s that old saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

    The best way to start generating motivation in your life is to do something that feels better than the negativity you experience when you don’t take action. When you do this at least three times a week you’re more likely to make it a habit. Motivation is easier when you do things that feel better often enough for it to become a habit that supports your well-being.

    Building Momentum

    Momentum starts to build and becomes associated with a positive experience of feeling better the more you take action. It feels better to move toward something you do want instead of avoiding an experience you don’t want.

    Waiting for clarity before you tak action can lead to stagnation and feeling stuck.

    Everybody gets stuck at some point in life. Things happen, circumstances change and work and life are busy. Often, it’s a matter of just keeping up with the everyday tasks of living. Getting the groceries, getting to work, getting the kids to do their homework, etc. During times like this clarity helps.

    Thoughtful Action

    Take time to thoughtfully, mindfully what your experience tells you and what you need. This helps you decide on your direction. It’s the most important part of the recipe. The cake needs flour of some kind to be cake like or it’s something else, maybe delicious, but not a cake.

    Knowing what you want and moving in the direction you need to be is thoughtful action. If you don’t,  motivation will be a difficult fight. It will often take the form of being busy, but directionless and eventually it will be a burden. When this happens people often say, “my motivation is zapped!” It’s misplaced energy and needs to be replenished with clear intentional direction.

    The irony is that movement – acting – is what helps you to become clear.

    It’s a risk.

    There’s a likelihood that you’ll make mistakes.

    You’ll probably fail – at first – until you learn more about what you need to do.

    It’s all okay and part of the process of understanding what you need, for.

    Many of my clients think that being motivated requires inspiration as the catalyst. That they will experience a positive energy boost that propels them to take action. I wish that was the case a lot more often, but it’s not.

    What I’ve found is that moving toward what you want, truly want, with understanding and knowledge you’ll make decisions that lead you to what you need and want in your life.


    It’s difficult to get started and take the risk of stepping into the life you desire, but don’t know yet.

    As you gather more experience of moving toward and receiving what you desire, your experience of motivation changes from negative associations to positive.

    Taking action is the fuel for clarity and motivation. It helps you to understand what is really important and needed in your life.

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  • 3 Foolproof Ways to Breakout of Decision Fatigue

    Recently I had lunch with a friend at a new sandwich place and it was just the type of place I love and the sort of place where decision fatigue sets in.

    They offered familiar sandwiches and salads with just a bit of a twist that made them interesting. It was busy and there was a big variety of choices. We had to let several regulars order before us because neither one of us could make a quick decision.

    We finally got our lunch after about a 30-minute wait.  There were so many phone orders ahead of us in addition to the full tables. The conversation turned to both the delicious sandwiches and our decision fatigue.

    We were both in the midst of last minute get away plans, not so much an adventurous vacation given we would be doing the same thing, but in a different location – just the realities of pandemic life!

    And that lead to us talking about all of the other decisions we make every day. From what to wear, to when to go to the grocery store or place a delivery order, to what’s the topic for the next blog, to giving permission or not for the kid’s sleep-over, to considering charitable giving before the end of the year and on and on. There were a bunch more we identified in the span of about 3 minutes.

    We both were at the point of emotional exhaustion listing them, let alone living it.

    Decision Fatigue

    Decision Fatigue happens when we make too many decisions in one day – or even in one hour – and we feel mentally drained by the process. Sometimes it can make prioritizing tasks, thinking through problems, remembering details and controlling impulses more difficult since the volume of choices made puts a strain on the brain.

    Women on a daily basis, more often than men find themselves in the position of not only making decisions for their own needs, but also those of for their families, business and other community commitments such as getting together with friends and family, volunteering, church, major household purchases, etc.

    It’s not that women find it harder to make decisions, but rather women make more decisions. In addition, the decisions we make usually have an immediate impact on our lives and those around us as well. Those two factors, volume and speed are a big contributor to decision fatigue.

    Here are 3 foolproof ways to ease the burden of decision making, so you can breakout of decision fatigue.

    1. Prioritize Tasks

    One of the best ways to relieve decision fatigue is by making a list of the tasks that need to be completed – both big and small – and then deciding which of them – big or small – need to be done first.

    Here’s an example:

    I often make a “master list” of things to do. This could be a DIY home project or even a fun activity like holiday decorating.

    I remind myself that the list will be big, but it’s okay since I’ll break it down.

    Then next step is to break the “master list” down into bite size chunks that I complete in a shorter amount of time.

    When I get things down on paper or in a document the details aren’t swimming around in my head anymore. I’ve done the task “brain dump” and can look at it more objectively from an action taking standpoint. This includes  the logical steps to completion and what can I realistically accomplish in the time I have.

    The last part about realistically accomplish, is very important since it’s both practical and a self-compassion practice at the same time. Biting off more than you can chew often leads to overwhelm which leads to decision fatigue, so take smaller bits and you’ll be more comfortable and make progress too.

    2. Consider What’s Really Needed

    Another great way to relieve the burden of decision fatigue is to think about what’s really needed.

    When decisions are many there’s a tendency to speed up the process and that’s the fast track to decision fatigue. The faster you make decisions the faster your tension will be relieved, at least that’s the hope. But this perspective only considers short term stress. I’m guessing what you want is longer term relief too.

    Here are 3 questions that can help you take a moment to make a better decision:

    1. Is this an immediate need?
    2. Is it “nice to do” or it “needs to be done” right now?
    3. Do I need or want help with this decision?

    These 3 simple questions can help you increase your awareness of your needs, the needs of the situation and ultimately leads to more thoughtful decision making.

    3. Reacting vs. Responding

    So much of the time we react without thinking and this is a big contributor to decision fatigue. Step 1 – prioritizing and Step 2 – focusing on needs both help to slow down that process so you can mindfully choose how you want to respond to what’s being asked of you. This shifts the dynamic.

    You get out of the rapid-fire making decision and into a comfortable way of being. When you know what you need (your family too) there just aren’t as many decisions as possible to make.

    It’s like you don’t need to  consider choices because you already know the answer before the question is asked. This is a major shift from reacting to thoughtfully responding and that’s what being in alignment is all about.


    When you move out of what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls, human doing and into human being, it’s a place where day to day decisions no longer seem stressful. The you have a reservoir of calm and well-being you can draw on when your stress level rises and you start do feel the emotional exhaustion of decision fatigue. Your confidence increases as you clearly know what’s in your best interests respond in kind.

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  • How To Create A Reservoir of Inner Calm

    5 steps to create a reservoir of inner calm

    5 easy steps to create a reservoir of inner calm

    This article gives you five strategies on how to create a reservoir of inner calm which you can draw from when stressful situations arise. Since we can’t control when stress spikes, we can plan what to do when it does so when your patience is in short supply, you know just what to do.

    How many situations that test your level of patience in a day? If you are like most people, you have likely lost count, but this article will teach you how to ride out the calm in the eye of the storm.

    The secret to staying calm when you are in a state of stress is to hold your immediate reaction, even if it’s for a brief moment to regroup. The secret here is to rehearse. Your brain will do what it can to protect you by either fleeing, fighting or freezing, as if the treat is a mortal one. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

    Everyday stress like, traffic, work deadlines, your child can’t find the charger to his Chromebook and you needed to leave for school – ten minutes ago – we all have countless examples! Times of everyday stress are when you can safely hold your immediate reaction, so you can thoughtfully choose your response.

    Reservoir of inner calm

    All you need to do is start to build a reservoir of calm and use it as needed. It doesn’t need to be filled before you start. If that was the case it would never happen because the everyday stressors do not stop for anyone.

    There isn’t a finite supply inner calm. In fact, you’ll keep adding to your reserves as you grow in your ability to create space between you and the effects of stress.

    Here are five ways you can increase your reservoir of inner calm.

    1. Increase your emotional mastery

    Emotional mastery is the ability to identify what you’re feeling, what happens when you feel it and then take action, so the emotion moves through you instead of getting stuck.

    The practice of emotional mastery is what builds resilience. It’s your guide for what you need to feel better. It takes the work of thinking about it and strategizing your plan. You already know what helps you and you can do it right away and the byproduct is inner calm.

    2. Begin a daily mindful practice

    Being present with the world around you is grounding. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of life and lose yourself. For many of my clients, this is what prevents them from moving forward and reaching their goals.

    When you are feeling alone and out of control, it is important that you take time out of your day to meditate, be quiet and disconnect from “doing.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has often said that we are more like human doings than human beings.

    A daily mindfulness practice can be as individual as you are. It might be sitting quietly for five minutes or an hour or something in between. Or it might be walking and practicing your awareness of the birds, the sunlight on the tree leaves or the breeze on your cheek. It could also be doing something where you lose yourself in the process, like in a creative practice – drawing, painting, quilting, knitting, etc. The point is to disconnect from information coming into your being and connect with your internal sense of yourself.

    3. Challenge negative thinking

    Everyone has negative thoughts that creep into their head throughout the day, but it is how you deal with them that matters. When you feel yourself moving down the road of negativity, it is time to take a step back and identify the emotion that sparked those thoughts.

    By challenging negative thinking, you will begin to use the thoughts to help you shift your perspective. Even if you’ve felt this way for a long time, it is possible to regain your inner calm and peace.

    4. Limit negative influences

    “You are a product of your environment,” is a common saying for a reason! It is important to surround yourself with people and in environments that encourage growth and positive thinking.

    When you cut out the negative influences from your life, you will feel a sense of freedom and weight lifted. By choosing to eliminate those who drag you down, you will be able to open up new avenues for personal growth.

    One very important aspect of this is to also ensure, as much as you can that your environment is calming. Home is a place of respite, but not always. Clearing your space (home, car, purse, office, garage, etc.) of clutter is very important. A fancy car is nice, but a clean car you feel good in is great. Same idea with your house, it’s wonderful if you have the resources to live in a picture-perfect space, but most of us don’t. Living in a house free from clutter and disorganization – helps to keep your reservoir of inner calm full!

    5. Remove yourself from the situation

    It can be easy to get caught up in stressful situations that seem impossible to escape. Not getting caught up, means establishing a boundary between yourself and the situation.

    It can be frustrating when you are removed from a situation that you are trying to change. But there are times when it is more beneficial for you to take a break or even realize that you’ve done all you can and you may need to make a different choice.


    The goal of this article is to provide you with five helpful strategies to fill your reservoir of inner calm. You can experience less stress in your life so you have more time and energy for what you really want! Really, isn’t that a big part of clearing stress, to live a mindful and fulfilling life?

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  • 3 Ways Self-knowledge Makes You Emotionally Strong

    3 Ways Self-knowledge Makes You Strong

    3 ways self-knowledge makes you emotionally strong

    We are often blind to what our emotions are trying to tell us and they are the basis for self-knowledge. It can be hard to pay attention when your head is piled high with tasks, appointments, and the endless list of everyday worries that seem impossible to solve.

    Yet, when we pay attention and develop a deeper awareness, we have everything we need to make choices that move our lives in alignment with our needs and desires.

    It is impossible to say how much of this is a natural or an acquired ability, but it has been part of humankind’s evolutionary process since the beginning.

    We evolved to be aware of our environment and learn from our experiences to create a future full of purpose. This means that, without self-knowledge, your life will end up being filled with regret and regret leads to suffering. The longer you put off pursuing self-knowledge, the more times you’ll have to reinvent the wheel only end up making things worse.

    The process is simple. At the same time, it requires you to be patient with yourself. When you’re unsure, it takes time to figure it out what you’re feeling rather than making a snap judgement that isn’t really accurate. This is how self-knowledge makes you emotionally strong.

    Here is your 3 part recipe to increase your self-knowledge and emotional strength.

    Here is your 3-part recipe to increase your self-knowledge and emotional strength.

    1. Identify your emotions.

    When you are uncertain of yourself, introspection is the way to go.

    Identify the emotions you are experiencing at the moment. What is your gut feeling? Your breath? Your heart?

    Characteristics of an emotion include clarity, intensity, and pleasure or pain. If you don’t know what an emotion feels like, here are some examples for you to explore more closely:

    Anxiety – The immediate sense of irritation that may be present when faced with a particular situation.

    Disillusioned – The feeling that everything is not as good as it seems.

    Excited – A state of intense arousal, often with an accompanying sense of joy.

    Sad – A feeling of discomfort lacking clarity. It’s more like a vague melancholy.

    Anger – Clear sensations in your body signaling the need to take action and be defensive against certain situations.

    Joy – The highest and most enjoyable emotion experienced by humans. It is a state of permanent happiness and contentment felt after great success or accomplishment.

    It’s important to be as specific as possible with your emotions. This is one of the times in life where nuance matters a lot. Clarity about your internal state makes a difference. It’s too easy to get swept up in the immediate emotion put it in a broad category when really, it might be something much more subtle.

    Take for example anger and sadness. Many people become angry when they’re sad. They don’t want to experience loss and instead become angry as a way of pushing the feeling away.

    I’ve had this experience when I moved across country.

    I didn’t really want to move, in fact I loved where I lived and often thought, “man I love it here.” But, when it came time to begin the moving process, I started to pick out all of the flaws and justify why it would be better to live elsewhere. I pushed away the fond feelings for a place I loved as a way of making it easier to focus on the future.

    This process prevented me from acknowledging my experience of loss and the sadness I felt. Instead of letting go, feeling sad and being in the present I was misaligned with myself. In the end, it made the transition more difficult and take longer than expected to settle into the new location.

    2. Put your experiences into context.

    Make a short list of 3 moments of your life that made you feel strong.

    When you are doing this exercise, pay attention to the emotions that are present during each of the three experiences.

    What emotions were present for these three events? What characteristics did they have?

    Once you have this information at hand, it’s time to put them into context. As if you were explaining your life story to someone new, explain each of these three moments. This exercise requires a non-judgmental outlook – it’s just the observable information, not an evaluation of them.

    It’s helpful to make a note for yourself, on your phone, in a journal or a sticky note that you put somewhere so you can see it often. Reminders like this help you to keep the emotion and experience top of mind, so it becomes part of what you do during the day.

    This is another way that self-knowledge makes you strong.

    Make a short list of 3 moments of your life that made you feel strong.

    When you are doing this exercise, pay attention to the emotions that are present during each of the three experiences.

    What emotions were present for these three events? What characteristics did they have?

    Once you have this information at hand, it’s time to put them into context. As if you were explaining your life story to someone new, explain each of these three moments. This exercise requires a non-judgmental outlook – it’s just the observable information, not an evaluation of them.

    It’s helpful to make a note for yourself, on your phone, in a journal or a sticky note that you put somewhere so you can see it often. Reminders like this help you to keep the emotion and experience top of mind, so it becomes part of what you do during the day.

    This is another way that self-knowledge makes you strong.

    3. Determine what your future plans need to be.

    What would you do differently if you knew what your emotions were telling you?

    Simply imagine yourself in the future.

    If you know what was going on inside of you at the time, would this future change?

    Which ones?


    What do you need to do in order to bring this future about, or how can it be brought about easier or faster?

    A word of warning.

    Many people think that they can skip over numbers 1 and 2 above and go right for number 3 to create a more aligned future. But it just doesn’t work that way. It would be a lot less painful and messy if it did, but it doesn’t.

    Alignment takes time and reflection to really know yourself and your needs. Don’t shortchange yourself by moving past this quickly. Most of us were never taught anything about emotions or feelings, other than being told what is “appropriate” to feel for someone else’s convenience. There can be a lot of unpacking judgements in this phase.

    Shaping your life into one where you draw on your sense of inner calm and self-knowledge makes you emotionally strong, so you can live your life in the way that is fulfilling for you.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day drudgery of life and forget that we are all just one step away from creating our ideal futures.


    No one is born emotionally strong.

    It’s a learned skill that you can master at any point in your life. The process is simple but takes time to know more about yourself with each step.

    1. Identify your emotions.
    2. Put your experiences into context.
    3. Plan for the future based on the two previous steps.

    Self-knowledge makes you strong and able to handle anything with clarity, alignment and grace.

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  • 10 Ways to be strong, feel calm and have clarity

    Being strong, calm and clear are three ingredients anyone needs when they’re in the middle of challenging times.

    10 ways to be strong and feel and have clarity

    Hectic schedules, long work hours, health problems and the fast paced changes aren’t easy to handle. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are the keys to being strong, calm and clear:

    1. Breathe!

    Taking a few minutes out of every day to just breathe can change your perspective on everything around you. It puts distance between the overwhelming thoughts and emotions that may be distracting you from focusing on what’s truly important. 

    It delivers more oxygen to your brain that lowers stress and increases calming neurotransmitters for more clarity.

    2. Change your environment.

    This is a big one. When you’re around people you don’t want to be, a change is needed. 

    If your physical environment is stressful with too much clutter or noise, it can increase anxiety. Even at a low level they distract you from what you need to do. 

    Think about what you need to create the positive environment for yourself. Ask yourself, if this helping me or stopping me from doing what I need to do for my well-being?

    3. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

    Realize that others may not understand your life as well as you do. 

    Maybe, you need time and space to understand your life too?

    The first part of being calm is to understand what’s going on within yourself. Sometimes we take our first impressions and the only impression. 

    Take for instance a feeling. When someone doesn’t hold the door open for you might be irritated at first.  You might quickly think that it’s rude and the person is a jerk. Which might be true, but often we don’t have the opportunity to find out. 

    When you find your feelings linger and you wonder why you can’t shake an insignificant situation, it’s probably something else, like feeling invisible, disrespected, unimportant or any number of other feelings that need care. 

    Understanding yourself is an act of self-compassion. Which leads more calm and clarity and knowing what you need in your life.

    4. Being strong comes from self-knowledge

    Each and every one of us has a reason to be here and a purpose. Seek that purpose. 

    You may not see the story line that made you who you are yet, trust it’s there and hang on to what you do know. Your life is unfolding in ways no one can predict. 

    As you go through life, it may not be what you expected it to be. If you followed the plan. Go to school, create a good career, find the right partner, have the kids or not and then you’ll have the life you dreamed of. But when it doesn’t turn out that way it,  is when many people begin to doubt that they’re on the “right” path. I don’t think there’s a right path, just the one you’re on. 

    Each path has lots of options and you can change your direction to a path that feels more in alignment with what you need. Sometimes it takes some exploring to find out which path that it. Take each day as it comes, make wise decisions and in the end, you’ll get to where you need to be.

    5. Build a reservoir of calm

    Strength comes from building your reserves of calm and clarity

    When you know where you end and the other begins it’s easier to not let the emotions of others upset you. Emotional boundaries aren’t about being unfeeling or lacking empathy, it’s about respecting yourself and others that you each have your own experiences. 

    Your self-knowledge along with the well-being habits are skills you can learn to keep stress low and reservoir of calm full.

    6. If something is bothering you, deal with it then and there.

    Don’t put it off for tomorrow. If you let the sun set on the problems that you have today because they will only create more mind-clutter. 

    Ask yourself 3 things: 

    1. How am I feeling? 
    2. What do I need?
    3. Which action do I need to take? 

    Sometimes your answers might be, “I don’t know,” and that’s completely okay. You might need to give it a few minutes and allow yourself some space to get clear. 

    The idea is to not let it linger and avoid dealing with something that needs your attention.

    7. Clear communication with yourself and others takes time

    Use it. Don’t talk yourself out of your ideas or accept less than what you need. Don’t settle for less than what you are for the sake of convenience. 

    Being heard and understood will help you to keep growing in your relationships – with yourself and others.

    8. Choose your words wisely and be sincere even when you’re wrong.

    Don’t try to manipulate yourself or others with your words by saying something different from what is in your heart. 

    When you’re clear it’s easier to speak how you would like to be spoken to, with compassion, sincerity and integrity. 

    Remember, personal integrity is a gift you can give yourself every day.

    9. Know what’s most important to you and cherish and protect it.

    No one knows exactly what will happen; don’t put your happiness in someone else’s hands. 

    Be responsible for your own feelings and trust that others can choose to be responsible for their feelings as well. 

    You job is to take care of your well-being.

    10. The simple things matter.

    A smile, a compliment or a walk through the woods can give you the energy you need to find inner clarity and inspiration. It’s the simple things that sprinkle the day with positive feelings and bathes your brain in feel good neurochemicals. 

    It’s important to take a step back and savor those moments. They are the antidote to negativity and false positives.


    Being strong, feeling calm and having clarity are all possible. 

    When life feels overwhelming and your mind is cluttered with all the things you need to do, people you need to take care of and situations that need your attention it can seem impossible. 

    There isn’t a magic wand, but there is one thing that makes a difference – it’s your relationship with yourself. 

    When self-compassion becomes a priority in your life, it leads the way to more calm, clarity and makes you strong!

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