Fulfillment

  • How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Good

    Your relationship with food…

    Being present, increasing your awareness of your emotional life, is essential for personal fulfillment.  Without it experiencing lasting change in your relationship with food, stress eating and your body isn’t likely.

    Nutrition and exercise are important, but without a shift in your emotional awareness, you’ll be right back at the start, sooner than the current diet fad ends.

    Being present

    Tomorrow is tomorrow. Future cares have future cures. And we must mind today.

    Sophocles

    Being present is clearly assessing where you are at this moment and includes both the positive, fulfilling parts of yourself that you like as well as the draining aspects of your life that you need to either limit or use as an opportunity for growth or both.

    This only thing you need to do is be here today. When you’re present you make moment to moment choices that all add up to big changes in your relationship with food.

    Think about today and what you need right now. Shift your focus away from immediate gratification and get closer to the core of what your heart desires most. Sometimes asking yourself a question helps – do I really want to eat the chocolate bar or am I looking for a break from stress? It’s easy to grab the chocolate bar that tastes delicious and results in your brain being flooded with feel good brain chemicals. The challenge is to focus on what you really need for your well-being and your relationship with food.

    Most people who struggle with emotional or stress eating, body image, chronic dieting, developed an automatic reaction to food. What’s important to remember is that this is a brain-based behavior and it can change. What it is not is a lack of willpower or mental toughness. It’s a learned behavior and you can learn different behaviors that are more in alignment with what you want in your life.

    If you want to get off the diet merry-go-round of chronic stress eating an effective strategy is allowing yourself to accept the challenge of being present right now. You can learn how to become a mindful and conscious eater and change your relationship with food.

    Follow your own guidelines

    He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

    Niccolo Machiavelli

    Are you in command of your present self when you’re thinking about your future self?

    The only way to ‘obey’ yourself is to listen to your own wisdom and ‘command’ your body with the clarity, kindness and compassion you need to move forward. Listen to your own good advice it’s the way to change your relationship with food.

    A plan based on your unique needs and clarity about what needs to change is a good starting point for lasting change.

    When you’re present and have guidelines in place that work best for you, then you can make choices with clarity. You can identify what you need and incorporate it into your everyday life. What you’ll build is confidence that you’re on the path of greater self-awareness and fulfillment stress eating doesn’t have a chance!

    You will get to a place where things make sense and the difficulties you experience from living with another person’s guidelines, for their food relationship is impossible. You need to listen to your mind, body and heart and do what’s right for you.

    It’s easier to notice opportunities when you’re focused on what’s working rather than struggling with what doesn’t work.

    You’re able to see things clearly as they are and your path forward, to is less a complicated relationship with food.

    Even when the path is unpredictable, when clarity is your guide, you can adjust and stay on course.

    Practice more of what works and stop doing what holds you back.

    Don’t skip the messy middle

    Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.

    Pema Chödrön

    When thinking about your relationship with food, it’s easy to get lured into focusing on the end result, like you need to –

    • stop stress eating
    • stop criticizing your body
    • feel more comfortable

    When you’re feeling stressed out and desperate for change, it’s natural to look at someone else’s plan. A lot of the time it’s great to not reinvent the wheel. But when a new client starts coaching with me and they’ve followed someone else’s plan they usually get stuck overfocusing on the end result.

    When you skip over the middle part of change, you lose all of the stuff you need to learn. The middle part of the process is where your hard work creates the change.

    Step-by-step small changes is what creates transformation. The middle part isn’t something that can be skipped over – it’s essential.

    This phase is rich with opportunities for self-knowledge to achieve fulfillment in your life. The middle is the ‘how to change’ part of the process of changing your relationship with food. The best part is that you can use the process as a guide whenever you need it.

    Acceptance

    Even as we live with the knowledge that each day might be our last, we don’t want to believe it.

    Sharon Salzberg

    Acceptance lays the foundation for everything you want to achieve.

    Look at yourself clearly as you are.

    It’s difficult your experience of living in the body you have isn’t pleasant, yet it’s essential. As you grow in acceptance make sure you sprinkle in a lot of the positive thoughts and feelings. Positive thoughts have the tendency to multiply and nourish your desire for change.

    When you build your future by accepting where you are right now while focusing on gaining more self-knowledge, you’re well on your way to getting your needs met and changing your relationship with food.

    Transformation cannot be built on someone else’s truths for their life.

    Transformation can only occur as you get to know who you are and where you’re going.

    Clarity

    Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.

    John Keats

    Getting where you’re going is faster with clarity.

    Clarity helps you identify what you need to do right now that is in alignment with your goals.

    With clarity wishing and hoping for change melts into the act of doing only what you need to do to get to where you want to be.

    Clarity gives you the opportunity to take a deep breath. When you exhale feel the weight of expectations and the pressure to conform to other’s expectations lift.

    You can finally say, “ahhhhhh,” and feel at peace that your relationship with yourself, while not perfect, it’s progressing.

    The way to make your plan work is to work on the fundamentals. Be present, follow guidelines that work for you, start from where you are today and accept yourself with clarity. This is a foundation you can build a new relationship with food and your body.

    Enjoy food and feel good about it.

  • How To Embrace Your Inner Strength and Cultivate Self-Acceptance

    Inner strength is one of the most powerful traits to cultivate self-acceptance.

    The science and philosophy that support self-acceptance as a way to be effective in your life and align with your intentions and goals is strong.

    Self-acceptance is embracing all of your attributes, positive or negative, exactly as they are (Morgado, Campana, & Tavares, 2014). Sometimes, you may struggle to accept particular qualities you have. Maybe you were criticized as a child or you’re locked in the comparison trap that’s rampant in popular culture or on social media, it is not easy to be compassion with yourself. But, accepting who you are is vital for your happiness and overall well-being. Self-acceptance is a fundamental part of psychological health and well-being. Keep reading for a more in-depth explanation and ideas on how to cultivate self-acceptance.

    Self-Acceptance for Mental Health

    Low self-acceptance leads to suffering. When you don’t fully accept yourself, you’re at a higher risk for experiencing anxiety and depression (Macinnes, 2006). Specifically, when you reject negative qualities about yourself, it can lead to rumination about the negative attributes. When you are in a situation and the negative parts of yourself show up the result is often negative self-talk. Some examples of negative self-talk include statements such as:

    • I’m not good enough.
    • I’m a failure.
    • I’ll never get things right.

    Negative statements we tell ourselves often become feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, and anxiety. However, when you accept yourself, especially the parts of yourself that you’re not proud of, you increase your control over your emotions. In other words, self-acceptance can prevent anxiety and any other emotion that’s difficult to accept.

    Self-Acceptance for Happiness and Well-Being

    Similar to mental health, cultivating self-acceptance is a key to your happiness and well-being. When you have more control over your thought patterns and feelings, you can manage negative self-talk more effectively. In fact, high levels of self-acceptance boost your self-esteem, allowing you to be more confident about yourself, and gives you the power to handle criticism better (Szentagatoi & David, 2013).

    Self-Acceptance as a Means for Change

    Maybe up to this point you have the impression that self-acceptance means becoming stagnant or complacent. It’s easy to think about, especially because the philosophy and science of self-acceptance encourages you to embrace every part of yourself. But self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop learning about yourself and growing. Self-acceptance gives you the freedom to recognize and acknowledge your weaknesses so you become aware of the things in your life that you want to change.

    Personal growth is spotlighted through the lens of self-acceptance. You cannot grow and improve your relationship with yourself without knowing who you are. The benefit is that cultivating self-acceptance opens you so you can practice self-compassion and self-love and transform into your most authentic self (Boyraz & Kuhl, 2015).

    How to Practice Self-Acceptance

    The science and philosophy behind self-acceptance makes a lot of sense, but how do you start a practice in your daily life?

    Here are a few techniques to get you started –

    Remind yourself that you’re learning and growing.

    Remember the last time you learned a new skill? When I first started gardening it looked so easy on the shows I watched. I wanted my yard in my new house to look just like the pictures in all the magazines. But I got a bit overwhelmed about learning about soil conditions, light requirements, some plants don’t flower the first year and it went on and on. My garden that year, it didn’t look anything like the picture. My neighbor – she had been gardening for over 10 years and her garden was beautiful!

    Making mistakes leaves the door open for negative self-talk to peek around the corner, ready to break into your mind. I could have told myself, “I’m a terrible gardener” or “gardening just isn’t for me.” But you can go in a different direction and tell yourself you’re learning and developing new skills. When you find yourself in a situation that you are not naturally skilled in compassionate self-talk like, “I will get better at this”, or “It’s okay, I’m learning and next time will be better.” Allowing yourself to accept that you’re learning and making mistakes is part of the process can release the expectation of perfection and empower you to try again (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    Keep a gratitude journal.

    When you catch yourself focused on things that went wrong during the day or dwelling on things you don’t like about yourself, it’s helpful stop, breathe and shift your focus. Developing a habit that signals you to think about ways to shift your focus to a more positive mindset helps you cultivate self-acceptance. One way to accomplish this is by keeping a journal (or a notes app on your phone) to write down a few things you are grateful to have in your life every day. When you focus on the positive, you’ll begin to reduce negative feelings which can boost your ability to accept yourself more mindfully (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    View your experiences from a different perspective.

    If you keep circling back, thinking over and over again about a situation feels uncomfortable? Try looking at the situation from a different point of view. Is there anything that could be a silver lining? Sometimes you can get stuck in your feelings and it’s like you keep experiencing them all over again. It’s often helpful to ask the question, what or how would Aunt Jane think about this? When you look at situations with fresh eyes, you’ll find things you didn’t notice before that may help you accept the experience (Carson & Langer, 2006).

    Cultivating self-acceptance is not a practice we can master in a day, and that is totally okay. The important thing is to recognize the concept and find ways to incorporate self-acceptance into your own life to better support your mental well-being, so you experience more happiness.​

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  • 6 Simple and Effective Habits for Happiness in Life

    Are you just starting your happiness journey? 

    Even if you’ve been on the happiness path for a while, building a foundation that helps you accelerate your growth means that you can be happier sooner than you think!

    When I graduated with my doctorate, I had no idea what to do next. My mentor and I had planned to do some work together, but she passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks after graduation. I had my own cancer treatment coming up at the end of that month. The plan was to give myself a month to recover. I couldn’t be around my kids while I was radioactive, so a bit of time was needed. The reality was that I needed to go back to work. At the same time it was difficult to be positive – quasi requirements for a coach – when so much of my own life was mired in grief and disappointment.

    My experience probably doesn’t surprise you. To grow something sustainable, you have to start with the basics—and this is also true for learning happiness. We can make it easier for ourselves to build happiness when we choose supportive habits as the foundation. Here’s how to get started.

    Get a Quick Win with Something Easy and Fun

    Researchers believe that some happiness habits are easier to build than others. So rather than starting with whatever happiness habit is currently the most popular—meditation or self-care —you’re better off starting with habits that are easier or more fun.

    The broaden-and-build theory suggests that experiencing positive emotions broadens your mindset and builds your psychological, intellectual, and social resources, allowing you to benefit more from your experiences. 

    By starting with easy or fun practices, you may be able to get a jumpstart in happiness and boost your sense of self-efficacy that propels you forward in the happiness-building process. And luckily, now there are lots of these easier-starter activities online.

    One study showed that people who felt more positive emotion in the beginning of a happiness program reported greater improvements at the end. By going after the simpler and easier parts of happiness, you can build up reserves of confidence and good feelings that may help you tackle the trickier skills later.

    Which Habits Are Easy to Start With?

    1. Savoring

    One habit that researchers believe is relatively easy to build is savoring good things in your life (like a special trip or awe-inspiring concert) by continuing to reflect on them and share them with others. On the flip side, surveys suggest that learning mindfulness can be relatively difficult, as beginners may struggle and become cognitively depleted.

    2. Fun

    Another good way to start is with something fun. The Greater Good Science Center’s Science of Happiness course invited students to try out 10 different happiness practices, and (at the end of the course) reflect on their experience. The surveys showed that among those 10, students most enjoyed mindful breathing, awe exercises, gratitude journaling, and listing three good things. They found these practices to be a better fit—aligned more with their internal values and natural inclinations—than practices like forgiveness or self-compassion.

    3. Be Present

    In a 2012 study, people picked which activities to practice. They selected exercises related to setting goals, savoring the present moment, and recording gratitude more frequently than thinking optimistically, savoring the past, expressing gratitude to others, and recording acts of kindness. This evidence gives us some idea about which habits are the most enjoyable (or, at least, which ones we think will be most enjoyable).

    So, when getting started with happiness habits, try to begin with easy, fun ones—but don’t stop there. More difficult habits are valuable, too. 

    Get more bang for your buck with high-impact habits

    Some habits have a bigger impact on happiness than others.

    I recently asked a group of clients about which well-being habits contribute most to their happiness. They said feeling positive feelings about themselves, improving their self-relationship, seems to generate more happiness than the rest.

    4. Optimism

    Other research supports this idea. For example, researchers found that one group of habits that highly impact happiness in the long run are those that shape what you pay attention to. This includes practices like anticipating good things in the future, paying attention to the positives rather than the negatives of a situation, and reflecting on good things that happened in the past.

    5. Movement

    One of the most important habits is movement. The focus isn’t necessarily to just to “get in shape,” but to move your body instead of being inactive. The research suggests that healthy behaviors—like exercise—improve well-being, even among people who have a difficult time building other types of happiness habits. In fact, one study showed that a health enhancement program alleviated depression and increased life satisfaction faster than a mindfulness program among people diagnosed with depression. Although both programs were effective in the long term, the authors argue that positive health habits may more quickly increase well-being, while mindfulness may lead to more gradual but sustained improvements.

    6. Variety

    Using a greater variety of practices, regardless of what the practices are, may also be beneficial. For example, one study found that compared to a program including fewer types of happiness practices, a happiness program including more practices led to greater increases in well-being. Other research suggests that the people in happiness programs who choose to engage in more different practices show greater increases in happiness than those who choose to engage in fewer practices. And people who engage in a diverse range of practices and engage in them in more situations seem to show the most benefit of all.

    In sum, trying to create any new habit can be tough, so it’s worth thinking about which happiness habits to cultivate first. Once you’ve built a few of these habits, you’ll get the hang of it, and building other habits will feel easier. Use these tips to start off on the right foot and you’ll have the resilience you need to weather any storm.

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  • How to Focus When You’re Spent and Overwhelmed

    “Take control of your habits. Take control of your life.”  — Anonymous

    We all fall into habits we would rather not repeat, but when overwhelm leaves you feeling spent, they’re difficult to avoid.

    It’s easy – habits are the shortcuts of life.

    In my house there’s a habit of pulling the clothes out of the dryer and onto the laundry room floor to quickly grab of the one thing that’s needed.

    It’s totally my responsibility since I started it!

    When I was in the midst of recovering from cancer treatment and so incredibly tired with two young children this is what happened most of the time. It was like I treated the space as one big chaotic closet.

    Totally overwhelming!

    And yet, the bright side was that at least we had clean clothes, if not a little wrinkled!

    Habits help you to know what to expect, even when it’s something you don’t want.

    We do this in all areas of our lives.

    Most of our relationships run on some form of habit. We create patterns that help us predict what’s next, so we’re less stressed with new dynamics.

    I’m sure you’ve experienced those times when you know how your partner or co-worker will react.

    When they do what they normally do and you say to yourself, ‘I kind of thought it would go that way.’

    We do this with ourselves too – all the time!  And it’s a big part of what leads to overwhelm and exhaustion.  When the habit is a thought or expectation that things are the way, they are it can quickly lead to overwhelm.

    Thought habits are also some of the most exhausting habits to change.

    How many times have you told yourself you’re going to change the habit and there you are again, like on autopilot, you’re at it again?

    Even when you don’t want the habit, it’s less effort and takes less energy to change the habit to something more helpful.

    Aligned Positive Self Talk Relieves Overwhelm

    When one of my new coaching clients begins their journey to work life balance one of their top goals is to be less critical, especially of their selves.

    This shows up most of the time in the way they speak to themselves.

    Often what helps the most isn’t to simply replace the negative thought with a positive one. Instead, a recalibration to shift the energy from overwhelm to alignment is what makes a sustainable change.

    All that said, it’s also important to acknowledge that there are certain points in the year when we have more to do. Sometimes overwhelm doesn’t start with emotional stress it starts with the sheer volume of tasks in short period of time.

    For parents with school age children typically September and May are very busy with lots of extra commitments as the school year begins and ends. And as always there’s the holiday season with work, school, social and religious commitments. These months of the year are a little different, but the same skill of focus helps to prioritize competing needs.

    During the busy months it’s helpful to go into them with a plan for recalibration that’s based on your need for alignment – to live in harmony with your goals and values.

    So how do you make this happen? When you focus on changing the way you talk to yourself, in your own head, real change happens.

    Thought Habits Help You Focus

    This is because most of the thoughts are habits.

    They’re locked inside, never spoken, so you don’t have the opportunity to challenge them.

    Here are some examples from real life…

    Take a common statement many women say a lot,

    ‘I’m going to be good and pass on dessert.’

    You’ve probably heard this from the time you were little or maybe you even say it now!

    The message becomes ingrained, that eating dessert is somehow tied to morality.

    The implication is that you’re a bad person if you eat dessert.

    At best it says that you lack strength and willpower if you do indulge.

    Avoiding dessert becomes a habit, be good and don’t eat it. (Does this also make a statement about women who enjoy sensual pleasures? Hmmm…)

    If you do break the habit and eat dessert then a cascade of guilt and shame begins — the next default habit – an expectation of judgement and more guilty that reinforce the judgement.

    Changing this habit is definitely possible, with an intentional process that cuts through all of the expectations.  When you’re in the experience of enjoying dessert and focused on non-judgment you’re building a new perspective. A new habit is born and it replaces the overwhelming habit of food guilt as you focus on the process and repeat the new habit.

    Non-judgmental Focus

    Non-judgmental focus helps to change overwhelming habits with aligned ways of thinking.

    Creating and using alternative statements that you have at the ready helps you to focus on what you want – freedom from overwhelm. Moving toward what you do want is infinitely easier than pushing back against what you don’t want.

    Here’s an example of what I mean using the dessert example:

    ‘I’m bad if I eat dessert’ becomes –

    ‘Food doesn’t hold moral value, only nutritional value. I can choose to eat dessert or not and I am morally the same person no matter which choice I make.’

    Or it could also be one of these statements,

    ‘I’m experiencing one of the simple pleasures in life!’

    ‘I’m satisfied and I’m not interested in dessert right now.’

    These are just a few statements to get you started. Practicing one of these statements and adding more of you own gives you something to use when it’s needed, so you’re prepared.

    Self Leadership

    Trying to come up with supportive alternatives to your habits when you’re overwhelmed is like asking yourself for a magic wand. It’s so far outside of what’s possible that it’s a sure set up for even more overwhelm. But what does help is to practice these statements and add more of your own, so you’re ready.

    I know I just said that twice, because my experience is that we think we’ll remember, but we don’t!

    Practice makes progress as my kid’s teachers say!

    My hope for you is that this way of being with yourself becomes so much of a habit that supports your happiness that they become automatic.

    Afterall, the relationship you have with yourself is the one that matters the most. When you’re in alignment with what you want and need, you’re able to use your felt experience as the information you need to shift your perspective and focus on what matters.

    And, if you’re like most of us, you’ll most likely experience a bit of overwhelm from time to time. The difference is to acknowledge it when it’s at a low level, so you can more easily identify what you need and move toward it.

    Focus might seem like it’s confining, but what it really does is keep you on track, so you receive what you truly want. The snowball effect begins to take hold and when you receive what you want. it’s most likely what you need for a fulfilling life as well.

    Conclusion

    My challenge to you is to look at your week and with compassion in your heart, answer this question:

    ‘What will fill my life with calm and clarity today?’

    Remember, focus is an investment in your future self. It gives you a rich awareness of how you can own your life and lead yourself to a life filled with fulfilment and intention.

    I can’t wait for you to experience the peace and fulfillment you desire in your life!

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  • How To Be Peaceful With Food In 3 Easy Steps

    How To Be At Peace With Food In 3 Easy Steps

    how to be peaceful with food

    Food peace through self-compassion gives you what you desire – freedom and accountability.

    Being committed to changing your relationship with food takes a different kind of focus. It’s more connected to what you want while at the same time giving you both grace and limits that are in alignment with your needs.

    Self-compassion is holding yourself accountable without judgement. When you take stock of your relationship with food with neutrality, push yourself when you need to do more and acknowledge your accomplishments when they happen, you’re on the path of food peace.

    To be at peace with food you need self-compassion most when you…

    • are tired of solutions that have you running in circles.
    • know what you want, to stop emotional eating, but it happened again.
    • question if you even know what you want.
    • need to adjust your goals to fit with what you want - not what “they” want.
    • doubt leads you to question your choices.

    While you adjust to this new form of accountability, you’ll have many opportunities to slip back into self-criticism, skepticism and negative thinking about your state.

    In fact, you’ll probably have a chance to practice self-compassion many times a day!

    The good news is that all of these opportunities push you to become even more clear and stronger in your resolve to change your relationship with food and your body.

    And, as you practice, you’ll develop habits that support your changes and self-compassion makes it all easier.

    Self-compassion helps you keep your focus on moving forward.

    Being at peace with food through self-compassion reshapes how you work with yourself, so you know when to push and when to ease up.

    You don’t need to look for balance when you have your own internal barometer to guide you. You adjust as you develop a refined internal awareness of your emotional states.

    Here are three steps to be at peace with food through self-compassion:

    1. Assess what is enough for you.

    When I ask people, this question, what is enough, they usually think in terms of minimums. “Don’t take too much” vs. “Take what you think you need, and you can always have more.”

    Are you in a place where you have enough, love, money, friendship, work challenges and fulfillment, food you enjoy, movement that feels good?

    If you know that there’s more you need in life, the first step is to get specific and identify what it is, so you can develop a plan to get it.

    2. Utilize self-compassion strive for satisfaction.

    Satisfaction isn’t an end point it’s a way of being that is your baseline of contentment.

    Satisfaction in life can only come when how you live your life matches up with your values. Satisfaction is one part of feeling like you’re doing what you need to be doing. You feel good about your life and yourself.

    If you feel incomplete, like there’s something that you want or need in your life, use self-compassion helps to recenter, ask the hard questions of yourself, so you get out of the endless cycle of stress eating to fill a void it can’t possibly fill.

    3. Question what you’re moving toward and make sure you want it.

    Is it what you convinced yourself of to meet others expectations, or it want you know in your heart you want?

    Lots of well-meaning people make suggestions, assuming that you’re on the same page. But are you? Just because your friend is on the diet, she might assume that everyone is on the hunt for the perfect way to eat too. Maybe you are, but your way of getting there is very different.

    Self-compassion is a commitment to yourself is to figure out your needs. Figure out what nourishes you in mind, body and heart. Self-compassion keeps you accountable to yourself and at peace with food.

    What being at peace with food does for you.

    Recognize that if your relationship with food isn’t serving you in the way you had hoped, it can change at any point in your life.

    Being at peace with food transforms your relationship with food. It is dynamic, so that tomorrow is closer to where you need to be.

    Keep moving forward no matter what because it’s your relationship with yourself that matters most!

    Sometimes you need to push yourself, when you’re scared and unsure if the outcome will be better than your current situation. But, when you’re backing yourself with self-compassion and accountability, you have what you need to take a risk.

    Self-compassion allows you to take care of yourself as you change.

    Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, no matter how content you are at the moment and stepping into the next best thing in your life is what transforming your relationship with yourself is like.

    Conclusion

    When you say “yes,” to yourself you are already creating the space to be at peace with food. Thoughtfully, mindfully, making decisions from your heart, bit by bit, with self-compassion leading you where you need to be!

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  • It’s Not About The Mashed Potatoes

    It’s not about the mashed potatoes or anything else in this list – it’s about listening to your own voice.

    it's not about the mashed potatoes it's about listening to your own voice

    It’s not about the mashed potatoes or the pie or the rolls or the whatever you enjoy eating.

    It’s not about emotional eating.

    It’s not about stress.

    It’s not about feeling too full.

    It’s not about being hungry.

    It’s not about exercising away the calories.

    It’s not about being bad.

    It’s not about being unworthy.

    It’s not about your childhood.

    It’s not about your poor choices.

    It’s not about your lack of control.

    It’s not about willpower.

    It’s not about finding the reason why.

    It’s not about wishing and hoping.

    It’s not about waiting to be rescued.

    It’s not about rewriting history.

    It’s not about your successes.

    It’s not about your failures.

    It’s not about your any of these things.

    What it’s about is stepping consciously, fully into your life and taking the risk to be different.

    Many people don’t choose this path and do same thing over and over, because it’s safe.

    The big question to answer is, does staying the same cost you what you really want?

    What else is there that really matters?

    Life is too short to sacrifice your happiness and strive for goals that aren’t what you really want or need. 

    Living in alignment with what  you need is the path to fulfillment.

    You can make your life your own by getting inspiration from others and creating something that in new and fit your life. Follow your own path and do what works for you.

    You have to be good with you. You live with yourself in your head 24/7.

    • What’s it like in there?
    • Is it a place you would welcome others to come in for a visit?
    • Do you want your more for yourself?

    Listening to your own voice.

    When you focus on the latest fad diet or workout or meditation trend or the latest stress quick fix, it can make stress build rather than helping to reducing stress. Which in turn can take you further away from what you really want your life to be. In those times when you find yourself stress eating and unconsciously reaching for another handful of chips, it’s confirmation that stress is in control.

    Sensible advice is often lost when you’re desperate for change. And unable to patiently pay closer attention to what you need for more self-awareness.

    Just think, if you allowed yourself to set your intentions and live more mindfully would you be further along than if you chased the latest fad?

    Listening to your own voice takes courage and grit.

    Others in your life might not like it.

    It might mean that they will need to adjust and get used to a more vocal, more honest you. Many people will outright disagree that you’re doing what’s right. Others will see you change and try to convince you that you should follow their advice instead of cultivating your own voice.

    You need to stay the course.

    As long as your path is one of health, self-compassion and in alignment with your intentions, you’re good.

    Are there dreams you want to become reality, but you’re scared?

    Think about how you feel after you’ve earned something rather than receiving it as a gift. Usually people say that their sense of self changes. Every time you learn something new you’re adding to your self-knowledge. This is precious gift.

    When you take a risk you might find that:

    • Challenges make you stronger.
    • You start believing that you can trust yourself.
    • Listening to your mind, body and heart give you the information you need.

    Sometimes you need good information, but most of the time all you need to know is yourself. An intimate knowledge of how you work free from the assumptions, judgments, someone else’s rules. Instead, be curious and experiment and then pay attention to what happens as a result. Do more of what works. That’s the bottom line.

    What if you have the resources to know what you need right at your fingertips?

    What will it take for you to listen to yourself and get started?

    Get started.

    Start making the changes you want to see happen in your life today. It’s all you’ve got in the end.

    Do what you need to do to be healthier, happier and more connected to what you most want in your life today.

    It’s not really about the food or what you weigh or how you look or how many lines are on your face or much cellulite you have or don’t. How much is in your bank account or how much staff you have working for you. These aren’t markers of your value as a human being.

    The stuff above doesn’t elevate your value and valuing them keeps you locked in a battle that you’re never going to win. There will be someone who has more than you and you will find that you compare yourself to them even when you try not to.

    Step into the fullness of your life.

    In the end your life is not about the mashed potatoes.

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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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    Conclusion

    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 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?

    Why?

    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.

    Conclusion

    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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  • Do you need more than peace to be fulfilled?

    do you need more than peace to be fulfilled?

    I found the answer was to take care of my needs that I had buried while taking care of everything and everyone. It was the simple, yet challenging step that led to longer lasting happiness and contentment, which means – peace.

    What do you really want?

    I’ve found that I want a few important things. I care about the people around me as well as my own needs and for us to all happy and fulfilled.

    I also care about people in my life who aren’t close to me and who I don’t often think of.

    If things are going well, I’m really good at thinking about everyone in my life and making sure I’m contributing in some way to their happiness.

    Sometimes, though, even when things are going well, that’s not enough for me. I want things to be even better. I don’t want to be stressed out all the time.

    I think about, what do you really need to be happy?

    We often look for happiness in things we think we can do something about. But when we look for it in the things that don’t seem to change, I wonder whether there is more than just peace?

    For the high achieving career women I work with, struggling to find the space and time for themselves, while caring for their family, maintaining connections with friends and pursuing their own personal interests it challenging.

    Many single women are often convinced that if they find the “right” relationship, they’ll be happy. It’s hard to give up the fairytale that was ingrained in our psyche so long ago. It’s so pervasive in children’s stories that even as an adult who knows her relationship with herself is what leads to inner peace, the wish that the fairy godmother will show up with her magic wand is a strong image to change.

    For the married women who feel responsible for everyone else’s happiness and feel guilty for not being able to contribute to it, even after spending time meeting their own needs, can wear down even the most resilient of women.

    The most important thing is that you are happy.

    You are responsible for it, but don’t let that throw you off track. I’ll repeat it.

    The most important thing is that you are happy.  Don’t put the responsibility of your happiness on anyone else, even your spouse or partner. Although he or she can make a significant contribution to your happiness, the outcome of your life is ultimately up to you.

    But there are things that could make you happy. For instance, if your spouse or partner can do something to bring your happiness, let them. If they can’t, then the best thing to do is for you to take steps to bring about happiness on your own. The thing I want you to remember is there is no magic wand.

    There’s nothing that will automatically make you happy

    It’s not the day that:

    • The kids go to college.
    • You get the big promotion you’ve worked the last 10 years to achieve.
    • Drive off from the car dealership in your dream car.

    Your understanding of what is important to you will change. It’s fun to enjoy the freedom of choice success brings, like sending the kids to college or the income from the promotion and driving a nice car feels good, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing what brings you a deep sense of fulfillment.

    If you think when things are going well, but that’s not enough for me, you’re probably moving toward fulfillment.

    “I want things to be even better,” it a kind of declaration that you need to take steps towards the peace that brings fulfillment.

    To me, peace is an accomplishment, but it’s not the biggest achievement in life.

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