Emotional Mastery

  • How to Have More Persistence and Get Your Needs Met

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    Persistence takes being in motion – it is what is needed to keep moving toward your goals, even when obstacles stand in your way.

    However, persistence does not need to be like running a marathon without water stops along the way. There are two types of persistence: continuous and episodic. Continuous persistence is maintaining your focus on a goal, even when challenges, roadblocks, or distractions appear in your daily life. Episodic persistence is when you return to your goal after a break, work toward it, and then take another break. You can complete the marathon all at once or over a month. You will cover the same distance but in a different way. Which way is more effective? It depends on your unique goal.

    What blocks your persistence?

    Some people are more persistent than others.  What makes the difference is that they tend to be persistent more often. Essentially, the more they engage in being persistent, the more persistent they become. Research also shows three aspects of being a persistent person: persistence despite difficulties, fear, and ineffective persistence when a person continues to work toward goals that are not likely to be achieved. The first two aspects of persistence are associated with being more effective and indicate better psychological well-being. At the same time, the third is ineffective and leads to “spinning one’s wheels while getting nowhere.”

    How To Support Your Needs

    Being able to choose when to persist – and stop persisting – is an essential skill that helps regulate your system so you can achieve both your goals and maintain your well-being at the same time. Without persistence, it would be challenging to achieve your goals because motivation waxes and wanes, and persistence is what fills the gap to keep you on track!

    Think about getting your professional career off the ground. There is that time when you are a new graduate, your start date is set, and you are doing everything to prepare. You have invested in your professional wardrobe and have your favorite outfit picked out for your first day. With all of the years of study, you got to this point. Paper after paper, mid-terms, finals, resumes and interviews. It takes much sticking to it to get it done – persistence to get to the starting line.

    Persistence motivates you to learn what you need to know to be a competent person. If you had persistence, you would be where you are today. Evolutionary biology shows us that most species have an innate ability to persist with complex developmental tasks so that they survive. Learning how to accomplish basic human tasks, such as learning your language or controlling and moving your body, takes endless practice. The more complex the task, the more time, effort, and persistence are needed.

    One of the most exciting things about persistence is how it enhances our perspective on working hard toward and achieving goals – mainly that it feels good when you work hard and accomplish what you want. The benefit of feeling good is what often fuels the drive to persist.

    Amplifying Persistence


    Persistence is a crucial ingredient of creativity. It can be divided into flexibility and persistence. The best persistence is the kind that allows you to commit to your creative ideas and push their boundaries enough to realize their full potential.


    The data shows that persistence is part of academic and professional achievements over time. A critical study showed that students who persistently worked at tasks at 13 years old predicted their grades at age 16, their level of education as an adult, their income level, and the respect they are in their jobs as adults. This study shows that it is not only intelligence that leads to success. Success also depends on the ability of the individual to focus effort over time to accomplish their goal.


    Another interesting study showed that when being around someone who embodies persistence fosters persistence in yourself. In this study, people engaged in a task that required lots of self-control after they saw others performing the same task. What made the difference is that they persisted longer when they viewed an image of a person they perceived to be very persistent.


    Persistence also means avoiding additional effort and losing time and energy to reach goals. In this sense, more persistent people may suffer a loss of resources as they refuse to give up on a task; this makes them more likely to achieve what other people do not but also more likely to face the consequences of failing where a less persistent person would have given up sooner.​

    Summing up

    Often, getting your needs met requires persistence. When something is important to you, persistence is often how you achieve meaningful, life-changing things.

  • 27 Easy Ways to Stop Cravings and Stress Eating

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    Craving: an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing (Merriam-Webster online, July 2016). This is what you’re fighting against when you try to stop cravings and stress eating is as powerful as it can be!

    The good news is that you don’t have to fight. When you work with yourself instead of against yourself, the power of the craving crumbles and you’re no longer pulled toward stress eating. The intensity fizzles, and you are free to make choices without feeling deprived, guilty for giving in, or weak-willed. You can enjoy delicious food and have a peaceful mind and a strong body.

    Here are 27 simple solutions to stop cravings and stress eating you can use right now.

    1. Eat when you’re hungry.

    If your body needs food for energy, there is just no replacing food. You can distract yourself and delay eating for only so long. Your hunger cues may disappear, but you can be sure they will return with a vengeance. Eat a balanced meal. If you’re craving a balanced meal or snack, even better since you’re simultaneously caring for both needs! If it’s not and you’re still craving a particular food, you will most likely experience a less intense desire after the balanced meal. This will give you space to enjoy it, now or later, rather than ravenously eating and perhaps consuming more than you feel comfortable eating.

    2. Enjoy your food.

    Choose what you eat wisely to get both the physical nourishment and the satisfaction your mind and heart need. Sometimes, you will eat purely for fuel. We all lead busy lives, and occasionally, 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, you will be left wanting and unsatisfied most of the time. At least once a day, eat for fuel as well as for the experience of pleasure.

    3. Calm anxiety before eating, rather than eating to calm anxiety.

    This can be tricky since hunger can make anxiety worse. Anxiety can also be one of the early signs of hunger. It gets complicated quickly. Our early ancestors needed heightened awareness to make them more aware of their food and when it was available to catch and eat. Although food is all around, you may become edgy when hunger is ignored. Do your best anxiety-reducing techniques, a few deep breaths, a little calming yoga, a short mindfulness meditation for 2-5 minutes, and then eat a balanced meal or snack.

    4. Make choices based on physical needs first and emotional needs second.

    Check-in with yourself about your level of hunger. Do you need a snack or a meal? Are you even hungry? Has it been more than a few hours since you last ate? If you don’t need fuel, look toward another activity to fill the space you need to fill.


    5. Sit at the table to eat. Be present and engage in the process of eating.

    Set the table and make it a pleasant experience for yourself. Use your favorite place settings, clear the clutter from the table, and play some nice music to enjoy the experience. This will also help you slow down and be more conscious of your physical and emotional hunger.

    It’s normal to crave favorite foods when you haven’t enjoyed them in a while but to stop cravings and stress eating, you can…

    6. Plan for the craved food.

    Sometimes, there’s a food that you enjoy so much that you look forward to experiencing it. This is normal! The way to eat with pleasure and stop overeating is to know that you can enjoy this food whenever you want. When the scarcity is gone, you can give yourself the gift of enjoyment. Make the craved food part of your daily food plan and eat it with awareness and freedom from judgment.

    7. Don’t wait until you’re famished to eat.

    You lose the ability to make conscious choices when you wait too long. Your physiology will drive you to eat whatever you’re craving, usually simple, easily digested carbohydrates because they supply quick energy. Eating a balanced meal will restore your ability for clear thinking and conscious choice-making.

    8. When you tell yourself you’re addicted to sugar, you’ll crave it more.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, sugar is super good, but more than the debate about whether sugar is addicting or not is the belief that eating it leaves you without the option of free will. Shifting your mindset to, “I have the option to eat sweets,” rather than, “I’m forced by my addiction to eat sweets,” gives you space to consider what you want. Sometimes, you will want sugary foods; occasionally, you might want something else after stopping for a moment. You can listen to your mind, body, and heart and choose for yourself.

    9. Do just one thing while eating.

    When you’re driving, watching TV, working on the computer, playing a game on your iPad, reading, etc., you’re typically less aware of what you’re eating. This can distract you from guilt or shame for eating the craved food. When you pay attention to what you’re eating, especially if you can suspend judgment, you may find that less food fulfills your need for it than if you mindlessly half-aware consume it.

    10. Be sure you’re eating well-balanced meals throughout the day.

    You nourish your body with what it needs to function well when you get a blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal. This will decrease cravings for missing nutrients and make maintaining stable blood sugar and energy levels easier. Find the mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that works for you, but ensure you get a blend of all three.

    Managing stress is something we all need a plan for especially when you want to stop cravings and stress eating.

    11. Take care of stress.

    We all need a plan for managing stress so that when it gets to us, we have options to decrease stress. Increasing awareness of your stressors, planning prevention when possible, and taking action to reduce stress regularly will help prevent cravings and emotional eating as a distraction from what’s bothering you.

    12. You’re tired and looking for energy.

    Cravings, especially for high-energy foods, typically carbohydrates, often result from needing rest. Getting about 8 hours of sleep, or the amount your body needs to wake up feeling rested and not sleepy during the day will decrease this type of craving.

    13. You’re thirsty and need to quench your thirst.

    Your body may need hydration if you crave soda, coffee, iced teas, etc., regardless of natural or artificial sweeteners. Try drinking fresh water and notice if you feel better than if you had a different type of drink. Are you getting enough water, generally eight, eight-ounce glasses a day, or does the flavored drink keep you from getting the water your body needs? Of course, enjoying flavored drinks is okay; just be sure you’re getting the water your body needs, too.

    14. If you’re feeling sluggish, maybe you need to move your body.

    The boost a craved food may give may mask your physical need to connect with your body. Our muscles are made to work, and our joints need movement to stay healthy. Short walks are one of the best natural mood elevators available. Moving in a safe, compassionate, connected way is a form of nurturing your relationship with your body.

    15. Celebrations and food are intimately linked.

    Is the celebration focused on the food or the accomplishment? In the West, birthdays, weddings, or any other important milestone are celebrated with a special cake. This is great! The trouble is when there is an over-focus on the food and an under-focus on the celebration. Other ways of celebrating can be a memorable trip or activities like a movie, roller skating, skiing, bird watching, a craft or art project, a one-on-one walk with someone special, etc. Shift your focus to the celebration, not only to the particular food.

    Pinpoint worries, put them in their place and make a peace plan so you can stop cravings and stress eating.

    16. Worry is often a motivator for cravings.

    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 worry, pinpoint its cause and do what you can to address the situation. 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.

    17. Motivation for connection.

    Cravings can motivate re-connecting with someone, a memory, thought, feeling, etc. When you crave a specific food, is it the memory or person you want to connect with, and is the food a way to make it happen? The food is the pathway to the relationship you like to experience. This awareness can help you re-focus from the food to the relationship so you get your needs met.

    18. Mindful eating means paying attention to your food’s taste, texture, aroma, colors, etc.

    When you eat a craved food in this way, you can assess your relationship to it. Many people find this an excellent way to break the habit of eating a specific food they may not care for much but eat anyway—out of habit.

    19. The broken record or you can’t get a particular food out of your head and keep returning to it repeatedly.

    Acknowledge that maybe you eat the food will decrease the focus on it. Most people have a rotation of things that they eat frequently. You need to enjoy something different when bored with the same food. Boredom may be the cause and the treatment may be new menu items!

    20. Comfort eating can be a habit rather than taking a risk to trust yourself.

    People are most comfortable with consistency. Feeling safe in the habit can become so secure that you become stuck and convince yourself that you crave food (similar to feeling addicted) rather than take the risk of leaving your comfort zone. Small steps, changing one meal or food, can ease you into a richer relationship with yourself.

    Shift your thinking to creative outlets to stop cravings and stress eating.

    21. Cooking, watching cooking shows and reading recipes can engage your creative self.

    However, looking for the perfect recipe for the food you crave still focuses on the craving rather than what you may need. Therefore, shift your thinking to other ways of being creative. These don’t need to be big projects, expensive, or masterpieces. Look for ideas at your favorite craft store or online.

    22. One last time, thinking – “I’ll only eat this one last time, get it out of my system, and then be done with it.”

    This thinking leads to the next “one last time” episode. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you like and learn the tools to listen to your mind, body, and heart for how much, when, what, etc. You are your guide in your relationship with food.

    23. Create a culture of respect and kindness for your own needs.

    Shift your relationship with your body from domination, “I will not give in to craving,” to a relationship, “Hmm, what’s up that I keep thinking of eating cake every 10 minutes?” This fundamental shift provides breathing room for you to get to know yourself a little more. Understand yourself a little more and, as a result, care for yourself a little more kindly.

    24. Good food vs. bad food.

    While foods have different nutritional values and some are more nutrient-dense than others, this doesn’t imply that less nutritive-dense foods are bad! Food is just food, not good or bad. Most people find that when bad food leaves their vocabulary, they are less inclined to overeat or crave previously judged foods.

    25. Pay attention to how your body feels when you eat certain foods

    This will increase your attunement to how and what you eat based on your feelings. You nourish yourself with foods that make your body feel good and happy.

    26. Leave morality out of it—food is not sinful!

    How many times have you heard, usually at dessert time, “We’re being sinners tonight?” How many foods are called sinfully delicious? What if we accepted that our bodies enjoy pleasurable experiences like eating good food? Acceptance in the fullest sense means honoring your desire for pleasant experiences with food, non-judgmentally.

    Stop dieting and start Conscious Eating!


    This is the best way to solve cravings once and for all. Everything I’ve said so far is summed up in that the simplest solution is establishing a partnership with yourself for your self-care and well-being. This includes nourishing yourself with good food, loving relationships, and pleasurable activities. It also consists of the discipline to stop and invest in your relationship with yourself by honoring what you need for fulfillment: mind, body, and heart.

    Wrapping up…

    Becoming a Conscious Eater is a beautiful gift!

    You can be free from counting, restricting, bargaining and compensating with food.

    Cravings are far less intense and you have tools to honor your desires when you experience them.

    The tradeoff is the responsibility to care for your well-being from a place of self-compassion, honesty, and love. It will sometimes be challenging, and you must push yourself to be uncomfortable. You will learn new skills and develop new habits.

    The time and investment are worth the reward of gaining a richer relationship with yourself, filled with peace!

  • How to Finally Stop Being a People Pleaser

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    What does it really mean, and more importantly, how do you stop being a people pleaser?

    On the most basic level, people-pleasing is changing your behavior to make others happy. Sometimes, in relationships, we change how or what we do to enhance the relationship, so what is the difference between relationship peace vs. acquiescing to relationship demands?

    Like many things, intention is the difference between a helpful habit and one that causes harm. You can change your behavior in a caring and selfless way; instead of rinsing your dishes and leaving them in the sink, you can rinse them and then put them directly into the dishwasher – one of my favorites! That is not what people’s pleasing is: being part of a family or community and respecting one another’s boundaries.

    According to researchers, the difference is that people-pleasing involves putting others’ needs and wants before their own and well-being, regardless of the consequences.

    The underlying assumption with people pleasing is that:

    • You believe the other person matters more than yours.
    • You are trying to avoid a negative situation by acting to satisfy what the other person wants.

    People-pleasing has an interesting relationship with manipulation. On the one hand, people-pleasing functions to minimize conflict between people: “Just keep the peace and do not say anything” or “Just do it their way, even if it does not make sense or is inefficient.”

    Sometimes, keeping the peace has an emotional cost – mainly for the peacekeeper. Suppose the other person manipulates the situation with disappointment, irritation, or anger, assuming you will capitulate to people-pleasing. In that case, the hard work of compromise to meet everyone’s needs does not have a chance.

    A person who people-pleases a lot is likely high in sociotropy, or, plain language, conflict avoidance. This trait is characterized by a strong desire for conflict-free relationships, often by seeking approval from others. Research shows that people high in sociotropy also have high levels of agreeableness (a desire to get along with others) and neuroticism (a tendency to have difficulty processing emotions).

    So, what happens when a people-pleaser struggles with regulating their emotions? It is a recipe for unfulfilled desires – wanting to avoid conflict with others but, at the same time, feeling conflicted within oneself. The result is feeling disappointed, frustrated, and dissatisfied!

    How To Be A People Pleaser

    Most of the time, when an individual becomes a people pleaser, it is because the alternative – peacekeeping outweighs the trouble of conflict. They could also have not learned another way to resolve differences. Aaron Beck, a pioneering psychologist, claimed that people please because they have overly rigid and unrealistic expectations. Most people pleasers have a powerful desire to be accepted by others. Their perspective is that it can only happen through positive interactions, so to use an old-fashioned phrase, they do not want to “upset the apple cart.” When a negative interaction occurs, they often feel at fault and assume they do not have the skills or abilities to handle conflict. When people pleasing is a regular way to interact with others, receiving near continuous approval from others results in feeling safe and well-liked.

    So, how does this pattern happen in the first place? Like most patterns established early in life, their attachment style with their primary caregiver shapes future social interactions. If someone is insecurely attached and their fear of rejection is also high, putting other’s needs before their own can prevent rejection. Many people are taught to prioritize others with messages such as, “Think of others before you think of yourself.” In Western cultures, women tend to engage in people pleasing more often than men due to cultural norms.

    How To Stop Being A People Pleaser

    Have you heard of the Golden Rule of Self-Care? The golden rule of self-care is to treat yourself with as much respect, kindness and compassion as you do others. Viewing needs as mutually important can help decrease negative perceptions of conflict around meeting them when you acknowledge the importance of your own needs, more to gain by resolving conflict.

    To stop being a people pleaser, you can

    • identify healthy boundaries to get your needs met
    • put yourselves first when you need to
    • be proactive to ensure that you are consistently taking care of yourself


    People-pleasing is a habit that you can change. Understanding how and why people-pleasing exists can help you better grasp what you must do to change it. When you break the people-pleasing habit, your life and relationships can improve and become more satisfying and fulfilling.

  • How to Be in Control of Your Mind

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    If you feel like you don’t have control of your mind, thoughts, or feelings and that’s something you want to change this year, keep reading…

    Do you ever think, “If I could just stop thinking about or feeling like (fill in the blank), then I would be successful, happy, and free from worry and anxiety?” It’s a very seductive thought process. The problem is that absolute control isn’t about forcing yourself to think or do anything. It’s much more sophisticated than that.

    A controlled mind is a calm mind, active in the present moment and aware of the potential results of decisions made. A controlled mind can focus attention where it matters, acknowledge and accept thoughts without reacting, and handle distractions without quickly interrupting its calm. With a controlled mind, you can intentionally influence your thoughts and emotions to reach your goals and adapt your responses to align with the circumstances.

    How controlling your mind helps you be more calm.

    Your thoughts, emotions, and physical well-being benefit from having a controlled mind.

    This includes:

    • reduced stress
    • better focus and concentration
    • increased self-awareness and decision-making
    • clear communication in your relationships

    How controlling your mind supports a growth mindset.

    Your mindset is the framework for viewing the world and helps you understand and respond to your experiences. Your upbringing and culture influence your mindset but are not permanent. You can change your mindset anytime so that it helps you thrive and create the life you want to live.

    Here are four ways controlling your mind helps you create a growth mindset.


    A regular gratitude practice includes focusing on the positive parts of your life and acknowledging your appreciation for them.

    Research shows that practicing gratitude improves mental health outcomes, such as more life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and less depression and anxiety.

    Small habits help to encourage your practice of gratitude every day. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal and note one to three things you’re grateful for daily. Another practice that my clients find helpful is starting the day with a reminder of three things to be thankful for before the day begins.

    Positive Self-Talk

    Positive affirmations are often considered simplistic, but they are the fuel for rewiring your brain so that you’re in control. Affirmations are short statements or thoughts, such as “I am capable,” “I am strong,” or “I am loved.” Repeating these affirmations regularly reinforces positive beliefs about yourself and your abilities, which, in turn, help you take action that leads to your success and fulfillment.

    Focusing on Strengths

    When you focus on your strengths, you focus on your talents and abilities and use that evidence to increase your confidence. When you focus on your strengths, developing a more positive and confident mindset is easier.

    Growth Mindset

    Developing a growth mindset is one of the most beneficial changes you can make! A growth mindset is embracing challenges and using setbacks to grow your skills and confidence to learn more about yourself and your capacity to move forward. Many studies have shown that a growth mindset relieves the stress of negative experiences that can result in anxiety and depression.

    You can create a growth mindset by viewing challenges as opportunities for growth, practicing gratitude, and embracing the uncertainty of new experiences.

    Five more ways to be in Control of Your Mind.

    Here are a few more ways to support your calm and in-control mind.

    Practice self-care

    Taking care of your physical and emotional needs is essential for a controlled mind. Ensure you sleep well, eat a well-balanced diet and move your body regularly. Practicing relaxation or meditation is also important to clear your mind and be present.

    Set boundaries

    Clear boundaries with others help you limit complicated and harmful situations that lead to unclear and confusing situations.

    Choose positive influences

    Surround yourself with positive influences that keep your life moving forward. This could be supportive family members, friends, or mentors. They help you control your mind by supporting your positive beliefs, habits, and goals.

    Welcome change

    Change is healthy and frees you from being tied to the same patterns and situations that can keep you stuck. If you make changes, you rewire your brain to be open and flexible for anything. With confidence, you can set boundaries as needed.


    Taking control of your mind is a personal process. And you’ll probably need more than one approach to get where you want to be. Taking the point of view of experimentation can help you explore strategies and discover what works for you. Be patient with yourself and you’ll create a life where you’re in control.

  • 5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt

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    What to do when self-doubt clouds your confidence and blocks your motivation.

    Do you find yourself questioning your beliefs or your point of view? Maybe you often wonder if you’ve made the right decision and second-guess yourself, replaying the various options in your mind on repeat. If so, you may be experiencing self-doubt.

    Self-doubt is questioning yourself about the truth about who you are and what you’re capable of. It could be focused on your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, opinions, decisions, self-views, or any point of view you hold about yourself. You might feel uneasy and question your self-competence or capacity to do what you want.

    Many of my clients who struggle with self-doubt fluctuate between judging and doubting their abilities and feeling confident in their capacity to meet their goals. Sometimes, you might be skeptical, and at other times, you may feel optimistic.

    Do you experience self-doubt?

    Here are some research-backed questions to help you determine if you’re experiencing self-doubt:

    • Do you feel unsure about your life?
    • Do you lack confidence that you’ll accomplish your goals?
    • Are you uncertain about your level of competence or capacity to be successful?

    How do you know if it’s self-doubt?

    Because self-doubt feels multidimensional – critical, judgmental, pessimistic, and so unpleasant that it’s often dealt with unconsciously—some can be helpful and others unhelpful. Here are a few of the ways self-doubt manifests:


    Self-handicapping is a defensive strategy that attempts to soften the harsh reality of failure with reasons for your mistakes that aren’t your fault. Stress eating, procrastination, and drinking are a few ways that enable you to blame your struggles on something other than yourself. But, this strategy often worsens self-doubt and leaves you feeling like a failure.


    Overachievement is a way of overcompensating that helps prevent mistakes and failures. Self-doubt often leads to the belief that the more regular effort you put in or the more competence you have, the more you need to succeed. Unfortunately, this is often a mismatch of what’s required to stop struggling with self-doubt.

    Imposter syndrome

    Imposter syndrome is when you feel like the success you experience is not an accurate reflection of your abilities and your success is a result of “just getting lucky.” There are many reasons why this happens, and one of them is that you’re afraid you won’t be able to keep up with your success. You might tell yourself your success is due to luck, timing, or contacts.

    5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt

    1. Unconditional self-worth

    Unconditional is the key – it’s not dependent on a particular result- it simply is. It doesn’t matter how others treat you because your self-worth depends only on how you value yourself as a human being.

    2. Unconditional love

    Love yourself “warts and all,” as they say. No matter your mistakes or the heights of your success, like unconditional self-worth above, you love your whole being.

    3. Growth

    Be in a state of evolution where you continue to be a lifelong learner and build on your strengths.

    4. Use positive self-talk

    Say things to yourself that are kind, positive, or supportive. Expect that you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn and grow in the process as you support yourself with positive self-talk.

    5. Affirm yourself

    The beliefs we have about ourselves sometimes need a reminder. Affirmations are a way to do that, as well as a way to keep goals in mind. Moving toward what you want is more accessible than pushing against what you don’t and hoping you’ll receive what you want.

    Here are three powerful affirmations:

    • I am strong and capable
    • I am doing my best, and that is enough
    • I am capable of anything I put my mind to

    Finally, here are two questions that can help you to focus as well:

    • How can I be confident even when I make mistakes or experience failure?
    • How can I be confident even when others doubt my abilities or withhold love, encouragement, or criticism?

    Developing a growth mindset helps to maintain your self-worth and can support you to believe in yourself even when times are challenging, which helps to prevent self-doubt from taking over.


    Self-doubt is an uncomfortable thought process and it’s a solvable problem. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome self-doubt and keep your momentum moving forward confidently with unconditional self-worth, love, growth, positive self-talk, and affirmations.

  • How to Stop Getting in Your Way: 6 Ways to End Self-Sabotage

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    Find out how you can stop self-sabotaging behaviors and achieve your goals.

    Do you ever want something so much you can envision it happening, yet procrastination hits, and you stop yourself before you even start?

    When I watch the Olympics, it seems like there’s usually at least one race where the runners round the track, and it seems as if the lead runner runs out of energy and winds up finishing last. In the post-race interviews, there aren’t any physical explanations like illness or lack of enough nutrition, so what is it?

    When your belief in yourself doesn’t match your desire for what you want in life, self-sabotage can happen.

    Sometimes, to protect ourselves, we adopt beliefs to prevent harm that results in more damage, not less. There are many adages like:

    • Life is suffering.
    • Our family is burdened with ______ problems.
    • There’s always another problem just around the corner.

    While all of these statements are true, they aren’t always accurate.

    • There is suffering in life, as well as joy, fun, and happiness too.
    • Some families are predisposed to particular health issues, problematic dynamics, or deficits in mindsets, but not everyone and not all of the time.
    • Unexpected problems crop up – if you have a car, you’ll get a flat tire at some point, usually at an inconvenient place and time, but that doesn’t happen often.

    When you doubt that you can move past the beliefs that hold you back, even when you have the skills and abilities to do so, self-sabotages will find a way to throw a wrench in your plans.

    Probably the most straightforward example is the infamous New Year’s promise –

    • Invest in new workout clothes.
    • Buy a gym membership.
    • Make a meal plan.

    Typically, most people last anywhere from two weeks to a month on their new plan before they start to relax their commitments. You’ve probably asked yourself why this keeps happening when you value your health and well-being. When you feel locked into a pattern repeating like this, even though you want a different outcome, you’re likely experiencing self-sabotage.

    Why does self-sabotage happen?

    Self-sabotage happens when your beliefs, thoughts, and actions keep you from accomplishing what you want. Sometimes, this is an unconscious process, and you do it without realizing it. When you sabotage yourself, the self-doubt leads to thought patterns that create obstacles to achieving your goals.

    Sometimes, you’re aware of self-sabotage, like when you know that your Pilates class starts at 5:00, and you keep trying to squeeze in one more email reply at 4:40 when it takes 20 minutes to get to the studio, and you know you’ll be late. Other times, self-sabotage is a bit more subtle, even unconscious. For example, distancing yourself from your partner after they say, “I love you.” In this example, you may unconsciously protect yourself if the relationship doesn’t work. Still, at the same time, you may also be sabotaging a potentially successful relationship – which is what you’ve always wanted.

    Although self-sabotage usually results in what you don’t want, the purpose is to protect you, keep you safe and prevent any danger or harm. Our minds seek what is familiar, which helps us to feel safe. We are also limited by what we believe our capacity allows and will unconsciously align ourselves with those beliefs. When we embrace new and unfamiliar beliefs and goals, it can trigger self-sabotaging reactions. And that’s important to remember self-sabotage serves a function. Our future selves are responsible for being aware and responding with abundant compassion, foresight, and optimism.

    How to Stop Self-Sabotage

    1. Increase self-awareness

    Identify what you feel and think when you experience self-sabotaging behaviors. Are there specific patterns you get stuck in? If so, look for what happens before you feel or think in ways that stop you from succeeding. You may find that you unconsciously sabotage your work by making simple mistakes that are easily correctable if you slow down and double-check.

    2. Practice mindfulness

    Focused, non-judgmental awareness helps prevent conscious choices and raise awareness of feelings that lead to self-sabotage. When you approach your life with a foundation of mindfulness, you learn more about yourself and what you need to live without regrets.

    3. Increase your self-compassion

    Increasing your self-compassion is related to being happier, wiser, and more emotionally resilient. When you practice self-compassion, you can move quickly from where you are now to where you want to be.

    4. Practice acceptance

    Practicing acceptance is easier when you keep two things in mind. The first is that self-compassion helps to soften self-criticism. Second, to achieve your desired success, you must start from where you are. One way to do this is with self-talk like, “What’s happened is done and cannot be changed. I can choose a different path today.”

    5. Reframe

    It is challenging to think of many situations where only one point of view is valid. Fortunately, in most of our day-to-day lives, you could assume a different point of view and change your perspective. Reframing is one way to retrain the brain to become more flexible so you can choose which point of view moves your life forward to attain your goals.

    6. Fail forward

    Self-sabotage often starts with a fear of failure or rejection and leads to avoidance of trying something difficult. If you don’t try – you can’t fail! In this case, you are preventing failure, which results in unconsciously sabotaging yourself. For example, if you don’t apply for a new job when your colleague gets promoted, you don’t fail because you were never considered.


    Self-sabotage gets in the way of achieving your goals when your belief in yourself – your confidence that you can grow in your capacity to accept the life you desire is shaky. These strategies can help you give yourself the support you need to become more self-accepting and compassionate and believe in yourself.

  • How to Break Up with Imposter Syndrome for Good

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    What is imposter syndrome and how do you fix it?

    Do you worry that the eternal “they” will discover that you are not exactly who or what they think you are? It could be imposter syndrome getting in the way of your confidence. It usually happens something like this:

    You have accomplished a goal and achieved success, but some of you cannot accept the success you have strived to achieve. Your inner voice tells you it was just luck and tried to convince you that you are not qualified, so watch out because “they” will find out! You might even doubt your skills and intelligence, even though you worked hard to get where you are. If you have ever experienced something like this, you have likely experienced imposter syndrome.

    Research on imposter syndrome in high-achieving women found that even when people have much evidence of their achievements, they can still convince themselves that they have not earned the success they have. Put another way, their self-assessment of their success needs to be more consistent with the objective reality of their accomplishments.

    Imposter syndrome describes when an individual doubts their accomplishments and fears that others will discover the “truth” that they are an imposter. The research also found that almost 70% of people experience some imposter syndrome during their lifetime.

    When people experience imposter syndrome, they typically credit their achievement to luck, good timing, or connections. They also dismiss their hard work and take ownership of learning the skills needed to achieve their success. Another factor is that people who struggle with imposter syndrome find it difficult to accept positive feedback or praise, making it much more challenging to break free from the belief that they are an imposter.

    Causes of Imposter Syndrome

    Like most things in life, there are many variables that contribute to life’s challenges. Here are a few:

    Life Transitions

    Imposter syndrome is common when starting something new, such as a new employment position after graduation. Other transitions like a promotion, creating a new business, and becoming a parent are major life events that can lead to low confidence and doubts about your ability to do the job successfully. Even high-performing professionals with a history of achievement still determine that their ability to perform is due to factors outside of themselves.


    Harsh judgment often leads to imposter syndrome. Early research found that children harshly judged by their families or perceived as less intelligent than other family members increased the chance of imposter syndrome. On the other hand, researchers also found that imposter syndrome can develop among children when families judge their children to be highly intelligent and competent. One thought is that the child feels pressured to please their families rather than believe in their abilities when their skills are challenged.


    We all have different aspects of our identities, such as gender, age, culture, or something else. When a person experiences part of their identity being criticized and belittled more than others, it can lead to imposter syndrome. Stereotypes that label an individual as less intelligent and competent can lead to an internalized narrative that accepts the belief as accurate. It happens when circumstances prove the stereotype is wrong, yet the individual believes it more than their reality.

    Low self-confidence

    Imposter syndrome overlaps with the other characteristics of self-confidence. Imposter syndrome is linked to self-doubt, often leading to failure. People who are both introverted and anxious are more likely to experience it. Generally, harsh criticism also increases the likelihood of imposter syndrome.

    3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

    1. Emotional Awareness:

    Accept your emotional experiences. Remember that feelings are a response to an experience and are not a replay of reality. Writing your feelings down by hand and then looking at them from a few different points of view is often a helpful way to accept the positive aspects of yourself.

    2. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses:

    We all have positive and negative aspects of ourselves and are good at something, but no one is good at everything. When you accept that you possess skills and reflect on your abilities, it is easier to acknowledge your accomplishments confidently.

    3. Cancel perfectionism:

    Perfectionist habits often plague those struggling with imposter syndrome and need to stop! Everyone, and probably everything, is a work in progress. The goal is to keep learning and growing. Here are a few ways to practice more self-compassion. Take regular breaks and days off, and use relaxation techniques to calm stress and anxiety. Remember, mistakes are a natural and inevitable part of life, and you must keep learning and growing to your full potential.


    Sometimes, the voice of imposter syndrome takes over your confidence, tries to downplay your accomplishments, and leaves you doubting yourself. When that happens, it is a signal to take a moment, acknowledge your strengths, and take ownership of your power to move your life toward your full potential. Imposter syndrome does not have a chance to keep you down!

  • 5 Powerful Ways to Stop Mindless Stress Eating for Good

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    Mindless stress eating may seem like nothing more than relief from a stressful moment in life.

    It’s like tasting something delicious will take the bitterness out of life.

    But, when it happens repeatedly and you feel guilty about it, it’s a recipe for shame and regret.

    We all have basic needs, like a roof over our heads, money, and, of course, at the most basic level, fuel for our bodies in the form of food.

    Our more personally specific needs like love, companionship, a sense of purpose and belonging, feeling calm and at peace, or knowing how to manage your emotions are just a few. Identifying how much you need and when quickly is more complex – they’re more specific to the flexible.

    Sometimes, a need bubbles to the surface slowly over time.

    At another time, your impulses are strong and fully capture your attention, convincing you that changing the direction you’re headed in is a waste of time and energy.

    Reaching for the candy dish while thinking about a stressful client meeting relieves the unpleasant feelings of frustration. But the stressful meeting is still there waiting for you to fix it, regardless of the sweet candy distraction.

    Mindless stress eating can be a way to get your attention and be present so you can make conscious choices that lead you where you want to be.

    What makes the most significant difference in stress eating? Give yourself space to pay attention to what matters so you can make choices that matter in your life.

    Five unmet needs that lead to mindless stress eating and ideas to help.

    1. Connection – be around people who are a positive influence

    Creating this type of community, if you don’t already have it, is one of the most important ways to stop mindless stress eating.

    Changing your mindset and habits and learning to regulate your emotions so you work well with them is easier when you’re around people who are also on a personal growth path.

    It’s energizing to have a conversation with another person who shares your interests, is open to learning and looks toward the future with hope.

    How does this help stress eating when it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with food?

    Maybe you’re into taking a photography class, joining a quilting guild, taking a painting course, going antiquing with a friend, joining a sailing club, taking a meditation course, or anything else you might be interested in that is creative, positive and growth-enhancing lowers overall stress and shift your focus.

    Creating new connections and being around forward-thinking people supports a growth mindset. Your brain needs something to do, or it will default to doing what uses the least energy – like going back to old ways of thinking. Giving your brain something to do that interests you creates new neural pathways that help you shift your thinking to what you want.

    2. Kindness and self-compassion

    When mindless stress eating takes hold, the usual response is to criticize, find fault and withhold self-compassion. For high-achieving women, there’s a bias toward being tough and not giving in. Since you’re already disappointed or frustrated with yourself, it can lead to even more stress eating.

    The antidote is kindness and self-compassion. They both allow you to gain perspective and assess what worked and didn’t so you can adjust and move forward with more helpful self-knowledge.

    Kindness and self-compassion give you the perspective you need to make the changes that lead to less stress.

    3. Take a break from being busy

    Everyone needs a break sometimes. This doesn’t mean you must wait until vacation to get the space you need. Our attention is pulled in so many directions that choosing what you want is often difficult.

    Sometimes unplugging helps to allow some breathing space so you can see challenges as they are and avoid mindless stress eating altogether.

    Slow down and consider what you need. Give yourself the gift of time to figure out what you need. It’s an opportunity and you might be surprised at what you find.

    4. Accept where you are while keeping your focus on your future.

    Acceptance does not mean giving up on your goals. Acceptance means being right where you are now while remaining thoughtful about your future. Thoughtfulness is one of the most effective ways to prevent mindless stress eating.

    Acknowledge your work and be aware of your need for rest. Allow yourself time to integrate the changes you’re making.

    When you’re present, you’ll have the energy to focus and rebuild your enthusiasm for your next goal.

    5. Transform your relationship with food.

    Nourishment, how you eat to sustain your energy and satisfaction, is the key ingredient to stop mindless stress eating permanently – it’s not what, but how.

    A change in mindset can give you the calm you need to stop being led by impulse. It also stops the feelings of self-betrayal, body shame, overwhelm, and just plain not feeling good.


    You can enjoy food, maintain healthful goals, feel good about what and how you eat, feel good about your body, respect your need for movement, honor physical activity, and grow your self-esteem. These are big promises and they are also entirely achievable results. You can live the life you desire with less stress and a lot more calm, clarity and connection – the key ingredients to stop mindless stress eating.

  • How Compassion Makes You A Better Person

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    Can compassion make you a better person?

    You might have heard how compassion helps your well-being. But why does it help you, and how does it relate to your well-being? Compassion is feeling the other person’s suffering and wanting to help relieve it. The opposite of compassion may be harshness, judgment, or even callousness. Generally, being indifferent to another’s suffering or hard-hearted is the opposite.

    Many researchers hypothesize that humans evolved to experience compassion because the resulting emotions and behaviors improved the survival of our ancestors. All people experience different levels of compassion depending on their own experiences, values, and beliefs about what is possible.

    Researchers also found that people are likely to feel compassion for those in their social group since they can better understand the point of view their group holds. There may be an evolutionary basis for this, as they were more likely to survive if they aligned with the group’s goals. Conversely, it’s easier to view competitor groups as outsiders or different and, therefore, feel less compassionate for them.

    How is empathy different?

    Many people assume compassion and empathy are the same since both emotions are similar and help you feel connected. However, it can be helpful to differentiate their differences in several ways. Researchers define empathy as sharing another’s suffering. At the same time, compassion adds another layer of feeling warmth, concern, and care for the other and a desire to improve the other person’s well-being.

    An empathetic response to another can lead the person to move away from the emotional situation to avoid discomfort. The biological drive to avoid pain is intense. However, a compassionate response, which includes a desire to be helpful to the person experiencing pain, often means getting even closer to the emotional situation. Researchers also found that people who feel compassion for others are more likely to help the sufferer than people who feel empathic distress.

    Can you learn to be more compassionate?

    Research in this area has grown over the last few decades, showing that compassion benefits both the giver and the receiver. There are a variety of positive outcomes in experiencing compassion, including reduced depression and anxiety. So, how do you increase your compassion?

    One recent line of research has involved contemplative practices such as meditation to increase compassionate feelings towards others. Loving-kindness meditation, or Metta, is one example of this. This meditation focuses on a short phrase to wish others well and notice the pleasant feelings they experience in the process. Long-term practice of loving-kindness meditation and other meditations with a similar focus functionally change in the brain. One study found that experienced meditators with compassion in their practice have a more robust neural response in an area of the brain associated with compassion than novice meditators.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to practice loving-kindness meditation for years to receive its benefits. Other researchers found that a short practice benefits the meditator and the person being mediated. There are numerous guided loving-kindness meditations available that you can try.

    Can you be too compassionate?

    What is compassion fatigue and how can you prevent it?

    The benefits of feeling and expressing compassion are clear. However, the research also shows there are disadvantages, and that’s when compassion fatigue can happen. Compassion fatigue is defined as “a more user-friendly term for secondary traumatic stress disorder, which is nearly identical to PTSD, except that it applies to those emotionally affected by the trauma of another.”

    Compassion fatigue is an emotional investment many experience with others they care about. Even if you’re not in the helping professions, you can still experience compassion fatigue related to someone you’re close to.

    Compassion fatigue is similar to burnout, but compassion fatigue includes “absorbing” the other’s emotional experience. Burnout focuses on the stressful situations in your own life.


    Compassion brings us closer to one another and improves both the givers’ and receivers’ lives. While the feeling can lead to adverse outcomes such as compassion fatigue, it has many benefits. Improving self-care practices that support healthy boundaries, emotional mastery and habits that increase well-being can prevent compassion fatigue.

  • 7 Ways ‘Should’ Leads to Stress and How to Breakthrough

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    Have you ever noticed that telling yourself – “I should…” leads to more stress, disappointment and self-criticism instead of motivating you to take action?

    Sometimes, it seems like ‘I should’ is like a giant electronic billboard in your mind flashing messages like, “I should do more work today,” “I should say yes,” or “I should skip the cake.”

    ‘I should’ often leads to anything you believe will help you break free from being overwhelmed, overcommitted and stressed out to the point where you lose sight of your goals.

    So many negative thoughts designed to keep you in line and follow the ‘I should’ find their way into your life. They usually come in quick succession, “I’m lazy,” “I’m not a nice person,” or “I don’t have any willpower,” and the goal fades into the background.

    “I should…” functions as a limit you ultimately set for yourself, but it lacks commitment to follow through. It’s a way to feel wrong about something you don’t want.

    The result is feeling guilt, shame, hopelessness, etc. To feel better and lift your mood, it’s easy to reach for food and stress eating is the result.

    This is the opposite of feeling motivated and adopting a growth mindset that leads to possibility. With this mindset, your relationship with yourself moves toward following your dreams and accomplishing your goals.

    Take a moment and close your eyes; think of the phrase, “I should.” What feelings do you notice? Are they positive or negative? Hopeful or hopeless?

    Now, take another moment and think of the phrase, “I can.” What feelings do you notice? Do you have options you can take? Do you feel like you have choices?

    This subtle shift from ‘I should’ to ‘I can’ opens your mind to new possibilities.

    You might take a risk and see how it works out, you might make a decision that doesn’t go anywhere and there’s an excellent possibility that with a bit of focus on “can,” you will make decisions that propel you more fully into your life.

    Challenging the way you talk to yourself helps you improve your self-relationship.

    What would change if you spoke to yourself in a similar way that a great coach speaks to their team? I can think of a few things that would change. You must be clear encouraging, challenge doubts, and hold yourself accountable to move forward, especially when it’s complicated.

    This one change in your self-talk can change how you think of yourself and your ability to go after a goal.

    I believe that you have what you need already. You probably think life can improve since you’re here reading this post. But, even if you’re skeptical, that’s OK, keep moving forward. , the fact that you’ve read to this point is verification that you have hope for your future. Maybe you need some ideas to get you there?

    Keep reading to learn how ‘I should’ holds you back and strategy to break through the limitations.

    Here are 7 ways that ‘I should’ holds you back and alternatives to keep you moving:

    1. ‘I should’ leads to shame

    Brene Brown referred to Jungian psychology’s view of shame as the swamp land of the soul.

    Shame is the feeling that there’s something wrong with you. When you make a mistake, it’s not about the error; it’s about the false belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. ‘I should…’ leads to failing to do what you think you need to do; when you don’t, you’re a terrible person. It’s emotional in the swamp land.


    We all do things that we need to apologize for. We’re all human; trying to muddle through mistakes is part of lifelong learning. You can create a more hospitable environment within yourself instead of a shameful one. Take responsibility when you need to and forgive yourself. You can use the experience to become a better you. Self-compassion will lead you out of the shame swamp.

    2. ‘I should’ leads to guilt

    ‘Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s actions or lack of action.’ -Audre Lord.

    Guilt is the feeling of self-blame for having done something wrong. Like shame, we all do things that aren’t helpful or nice, selfish or unkind. Guilt can hold you accountable so you understand the effect of your actions on others and yourself. When ‘I should’ enters the picture, you are grounding your guilt on something that hasn’t occurred. It’s like feeling bad about not having the future you think you need but cannot make happen.


    Kindness and choice lead to action and allow you to make choices. Guilt traps you, stops you; you’re at a standstill. The choice is active; you lean forward and gain momentum toward action. Choice can change you and with a bit of kindness mixed in for good measure, you can make choices that move your life forward.

    3. ‘I should’ limits possibilities

    When you start feeling wrong about the future, your ability to think about other possibilities or options narrows. “I should” creates an environment where your thoughts loop around the perceived failure rather than looking at the situation clearly and asking yourself what you can do better. Looking toward better outcomes in the future promotes growth and gets your creativity focused on new ideas for a better tomorrow.


    Take a moment or an hour or a day to step back from the “I should…” The distance can help you gain perspective on the situation. Feeling wrong about something doesn’t get anyone in a positive frame of mind. Spend some time in nature, get some fresh air and go for a walk. When you get your body moving, feel the wind on your cheek, and the sunshine warming your skin, it’s easier to be present, think about what you want and define your goal. The possibilities are endless.

    4. ‘I should’ makes your world smaller

    Should closes your world in around you. It keeps you fixed on the viewpoint that this is how things have always been and how they will stay! It’s like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh; his expectations are limited. He expects that he will always receive less than he wants or deserves. His world is small even when his friends offer to help him, his energy is low, his expectations are low, and he stays emotionally low. He can’t see past his current situation.


    There are problems in life. We all have them; some are of our own making and others not. You can look at them as they are, consider your options and make a plan. Sometimes, the process is slow, and sometimes, you’ll know right away what works. Problems come and go. It’s your actions that make the difference. Being conscious of your choices makes your world more extensive and gives you more options.

    5. ‘I should’ keeps you from what you want

    Sometimes, people return to their childhood, college, early career, etc. They look at the events or choices they made, assume a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the past and the present, and justify their regret about where they are today. Reviewing the past from this framework is one of the most effective ways to stay stuck on the disappointments you’ve suffered rather than focus on what you need to do to get where you want to be.


    With an abundance of self-compassion and kindness, you can understand the underpinnings of the choices you made/make through the lenses of your history. The danger in giving a painful past more energy is that it keeps you locked in the pain. Understanding and action allow you to move beyond the circumstances that got you here. Kindness, compassion, and love lead to better things.

    6. ‘I should’ keeps you wrapped up in a wish

    When should it take away your ability to move forward, hoping and wishing, maybe even longing, enter the picture? This is the stuff of fairy tales. Somehow, the hero will come somewhere to save the day, and everything will be all better. This rarely happens. That another person would know you so well to see what you need and freely give it to you, resulting in your fulfillment. Hopefully, most babies receive this kind of love and care, but as you grow, you become more complex, and it becomes nearly impossible to know precisely what another wants.


    Hopes and wishes are essential to moving forward and must be accompanied by doing what’s necessary to make things happen. You have to take the actions that move you forward. Without taking action, you are a dreamer without a plan. Be a dreamer with a plan. That’s where you can be assured something will happen that moves you closer to what you need and want.

    7. ‘I should’ is the illusion of responsibility that masks a fear of change

    Fear of change is real, even when change would give you something much better than you currently have. Responsibility comes in many forms and one form is not masking the reality. Focusing on being responsible when it’s not necessary seems honorable, but that dynamic serves a different need. The reality is that it takes you further away from where you want to be to keep things the same. Change takes courage.


    Change, even when wanted, is challenging – it takes focused, intentional effort. It’s easier to stay the same and do nothing. The price is that your hope fades a little bit every day that you’re stuck. When you tell yourself, ‘I should,’ it’s an attempt to accept responsibility, but the result is being stuck. Effective responsibility is putting yourself out there, taking short-term risks, and being a little uncomfortable to experience long-term fulfillment.


    When you take the risk to move away from “I should” and step more fully into your life, you get closer to what you want. Action can lead you to growth in the direction your life needs to be. Life usually doesn’t guarantee happiness and fulfillment every day; at the same time, there are many beautiful days ahead.