• 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 as well as taking 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 as 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, and yet the individual believes the stereotype 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 a 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 are often a plague for 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!

  • How to Believe in Yourself and Make Confident Decisions

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    Learn why believing in yourself matters and discover science-backed strategies and tips to start believing in yourself today.

    When you believe in yourself, it changes everything. It helps you achieve your goals, realize your dreams, and increase both your mental and physical well-being. The sneaking thing is that a lack of belief in yourself usually results in being less likely to take action, change in ways that are helpful to you, or challenge yourself to improve your life. When you expect you will fail, you are more likely to fail.

    Believing in yourself is the starting point for what you want to accomplish for a life well-lived. It’s like dropping into a pickleball tournament when you’ve never heard of the game, don’t have any idea how to use the equipment and you’ve never even picked up a table tennis paddle or tennis racket in your life. You don’t have the experience or confidence to play the game well, let alone achieve a win.

    Try as you might to push yourself forward, when you don’t believe in yourself you become blocked because your thoughts, attitudes, and actions aren’t built on solid ground.

    Even when you’ve worked through doubts, anxieties, and frustrations and you know where you want to be if you don’t confidently believe in yourself dreams aren’t achievable. What usually happens is one or both of these two things:

    • You don’t do what you need to do
    • You sabotage yourself either in obvious ways or unconsciously

    So, how do you believe in yourself, so that you can create the life you dream of living?

    How to Believe in Yourself

    Believing in yourself includes a variety of personal characteristics that you can develop no matter where you are in life. Things like self-worth, self-confidence, self-trust, and autonomy are a few of the characteristics that increase your self-belief.

    • Self-worth is the belief that your life has value as a human being.
    • Self-confidence is a belief that you’re competent in your abilities, qualities, and judgment.
    • Self-trust comes from your history of relying on yourself.
    • Autonomy is the ability to choose and direct your thoughts and behaviors.

    These four key components are the most important parts of believing in yourself. Regardless of if you struggle with just one of them or all of them you can improve them and believe in yourself more. When you understand where you struggle, it is easier to begin shifting your beliefs and points of view about yourself.

    Important Questions to Ask Yourself

    Ask yourself these questions to determine where you’re getting in the way of your believing in yourself:

    • Self-worth: Do I value myself as a human being? Do I compare myself with others and I view myself as worse off than others?
    • Self-confidence: Do I feel that my skills and abilities are effective? Do I generally feel good about my personal qualities? Do I perceive my judgment and decision-making are supportive of where I want to be in life?
    • Self-trust: Can I rely on myself? Can I trust that I’ll do what I say I’ll do?
    • Autonomy: Do I feel free to do what I want to do in life? Do I believe that I have what it takes to reach my dreams?

    If you answered any of the questions “no” or “sometimes,” then those are the areas that get in your way of believing in yourself. Shifting how you think and the self-talk that follows can help you shift your beliefs so that you can believe in yourself more.

    Top 2 Strategies to Believe in Yourself

    1.   Practice supportive self-talk

    Now that you know the areas get in the way of believing in yourself, it’s time to take action.

    One of the most powerful and effective ways to do this is to challenge old beliefs by talking back to your inner voice. If you feel like your life isn’t valuable, start by giving yourself supportive messages such as, “I am a person who contributes to good in the world.” If confidence is low, remind yourself of what you can do and the skills you possess that as evidence of your capabilities.

    What the research shows is that positive self-talk improves performance. By speaking to yourself as you would to a friend or family member, you can start to rewrite your narrative. When you shift the language, you use to more accurately reflect where you are in life and where you’re headed, you’ll begin to focus more on your potential.

    Shifting your beliefs about yourself with one small change at a time compounds and before you know it the narrative you have in your mind about yourself changes too.

    2.   Build self-trust

    The topic of trust is something that we usually think of as for others. But trusting in yourself and honoring your commitments to yourself is important. When you have (or don’t have) trust in yourself it is similar to having (or not having) trust in others – it’s difficult to have confidence that you’ll honor your commitment to you. You know that feeling when you can count on someone that they’ll keep their word? That’s the same feeling you can have for yourself as well. You be confident that you’re doing what’s best for you!

    So, what happens when you don’t trust yourself? Maybe you aren’t honest with yourself because you’re not sure what to do with the information. Or maybe you can’t count on yourself to do what you tell yourself you’ll do. It could also be that you’re afraid that the outcome won’t be what you wished for and instead will be more disappointing than not. There are several possibilities. What I’ve found is that most of us want a guarantee before we invest in ourselves and that’s a catch-22 situation where you’re in a stalemate with yourself!

    As strange as it might seem many of us have made promises to ourselves, no matter how impossible they may be to keep, and when they’re broken, it can lead to feeling like you can’t be trusted. For example, maybe you’ve promised yourself more than once that you’re going to stop hitting the snooze button, but it’s just so cozy that it doesn’t happen. Each morning it doesn’t happen it is confirmation that you can’t trust yourself to keep your word. Fortunately, there is a way to change this dynamic with yourself!

    Here are some tips and strategies to build more trust with yourself:

    • Honor your word and do what you say you’re going to do. This might mean reducing your number of commitments, saying “yes,” to what matters and no to what doesn’t.
    • Practice radical honesty with yourself. Think about the truth of what you think, how it feels, and what you need in life. This is the time to focus on what you want – you can negotiate how your needs can dovetail with your commitments, but if you don’t get clear on what you want it’s unlikely that you can build a strong foundation of self-trust.
    • Live your values and do what’s right. Following your inner compass is a sure way to be on the path that is true to you. When you’re moving through your day based on your values it’s easier to trust that you’ll make choices that matter.
    • Live with calm and clarity. When you manage your emotions, it’s easier to know who you are and what you want. When you’re clear about who you know yourself to be it makes trusting yourself so much easier. You’ll make good decisions with ease that you know are in alignment with who you know yourself to be.


    Believing in yourself has a bigger impact on your success than you might realize at first glance. It’s more than feeling good about yourself or having a positive self-image. It’s the foundation for your goals and dreams. It also supports you to see where you’re stuck and how to be compassionate as you get unstuck too. I hope that the tips and strategies in this post help you to believe in yourself more.

  • 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 big electronic billboard in your mind flashing messages like, “I should do more work today” or “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” or “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 that ultimately you set for yourself, but it lacks commitment to follow through. It’s like a way to feel bad about something you don’t want anyway.

    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 the exact opposite of feeling motivated and adopting a growth mindset that leads to possibility. A mindset where your relationship with yourself moves in the direction of 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 up to new possibilities.

    You might take a risk and see how it works out, you might make a decision that doesn’t really go anywhere and there’s a great 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 would need to be clear, encouraging, challenge any doubts and hold yourself accountable to move forward, especially when it’s difficult.

    This one change in your self-talk has the potential to change the way you think of yourself and your ability to go after a goal.

    I believe that you have what you need already. Since you’re here reading this post, it’s probable you believe that life can get better. But, even if you’re skeptical, that’s OK, keep moving forward. Simply the fact that you’ve read to this point is verification that you have hope for your future. Maybe what 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 mistake, 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 and when you don’t do it, you’re a bad person. It’s an emotional in the swamp land.


    We all do things that we need to apologize for. We’re all human and trying to muddle through and mistakes are 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 own 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, things that are selfish or unkind. Guilt can hold you accountable so you understand the effect your actions have on others as well as yourself. When ‘I should’ enters the picture, you are grounding your guilt on something that didn’t or hasn’t taken place. It’s like feeling bad about not having the future you think you need but are somehow unable to make happen.


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

    3. ‘I should’ limits possibilities

    When you start feeling bad about the future the ability to think about other possibilities or options narrows. Should create an environment where your thoughts loop around the perceived failure. Rather than looking at the situation clearly as it is 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 bad about something really doesn’t get anyone in a positive frame of mind. Spend some time in nature, get some fresh air, go for a walk. When you get your body moving, feel the wind on your cheek, the sunshine warming your skin, it’s easier to be present, think about what you really want and define your goal. The possibilities are endless.

    4. ‘I should’ makes your world smaller

    Should closes your world in around you. Keeps you fixed on the viewpoint that; this is the way things have always been and this is the way 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 in an emotionally low state. 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. What you can do is 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 bigger and you have more options.

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

    Sometimes people reach back to their childhood, college days, early career, etc. They look at the events or choices they made and 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 focused 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 allows you to move beyond the circumstances that got you here. Kindness, compassion and love really do lead to better things.

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

    When should takes away your ability to move forward, hoping and wishing maybe even longing enter the picture. This is the stuff of fairy tales. Somehow, somewhere the hero will come to save the day and everything will be all better. This rarely happens. That another person would know you so well to know what you need and freely give it to you resulting in your personal 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 exactly what another wants.


    Hopes and wishes are essential to moving forward and they 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 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 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. When you focus on being responsible when it’s not necessary it seems honorable, but that dynamic is serving a different need. The reality is that it takes you further away from where you want to be in an effort to keep things the same. Change takes courage.


    Change, even when wanted is very difficult – 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 end result is being stuck. Effective responsibility is to put yourself out there and take the short-term risk, be a little uncomfortable, so that you can 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 really 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 and at the same time, there are lots of wonderful days ahead.

  • 5 Ways to Stop Overthinking – Be in The Present Moment

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    Has anyone ever told you to stop overthinking things?

    I know that I’ve heard it a few thousand times! That might be an exaggeration, but probably not! In this article learn 5 simple steps that I take to stop overthinking and be present.

    You’ll know if you’re overthinking when you experience repetitive and unproductive thoughts – like your mind is on a merry-go-round that keeps circling around and around. The challenge is that overthinking keeps you focused on one thing. That one thing is usually what you’re unsure about and at the same time you’re invested in a particular outcome – that you can’t control.

    Since thoughts are focused in many different ways, the research has generally made the distinction between rumination which is focused on the past and worry which is focused on the future. No matter which word you use overthinking tends to loop around the same thought and there isn’t a resolution to what you’re overthinking. In fact, the overthinking loop is what keeps the cycle of thoughts running in your mind.

    One of the most frustrating things about overthinking is that it doesn’t get you any further and is generally just not helpful. A good way to know if you’re overthinking is when you recognize that you are stuck thinking about the same thing over and over again but your thinking doesn’t lead to a solution.

    Overthinking tends to follow a pattern

    Re-evaluating the past

    Rumination is the term often used by researcher that includes repetitive thoughts about the past (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). Regrets (feeling badly about an event or missed opportunity) and resentments (anger about an experience) also fit within this area. Many people are disappointed that they didn’t pursue a different path in life or are angry about how they were treated in a relationship. But one of the things I hear a lot in my practice is when client’s keep thinking about something they said. It might be second guessing how a comment might be perceived or judging themselves about a comment and feeling embarrassed about it. No matter what your overthinking the past is about, the truth is that it’s not helping you to be present or confidently move toward your future.

    Be in the present moment

    Does overthinking lead to being stuck today? Many people overthink the present and it leads to feeling like they’re in quicksand. It could be that you question your choices and how they led to your current life circumstances, relationships or work.  Typically, this results in more stress and feeling less fulfilled in life.

    Your relationship with yourself is based on the thoughts you think about yourself, your life and the people in the present moment. Do you allow yourself to experience your life positively or overthink and focus on perceived flaws and mistakes? If so, this is an opportunity to reassess where you are in the present moment so that you can choose your next steps.

    Controlling the future

    Overthinking your future is what’s usually described as worry. Worry can be either short term or long term. Short term worry is something like not waking up when your alarm goes off two hours early to catch a flight or text anxiety – did I study enough or even the correct material. Long term worries might be, will I have enough money and be healthy enough to enjoy my retirement?

    Overthinking signals a problem

    When overthinking happens it’s a signal that there’s a problem and you don’t yet know how to solve it.  You might have thoughts –

    • I’m not happy with my career is it the job or me?
    • Is my partner my soulmate or is a soulmate even a real thing?
    • Is there a way for me to feel confident about my finances?

    While these are great questions to ask yourself, overthinking clouds or even prevents you from making decisions that lead to answers. van Randenborgh and colleagues found that rumination- replaying thoughts from the past, negatively affected decision-making. Participants in their study found making decisions more difficult and feeling less confident in the decisions they made (2010).

    Research has found that negative thinking is strongly associated with overthinking (Segerstrom et al., 2000). Another study found that, future-focused worry is associated with increased anxiety and thinking ability (McLaughlin et al., 2007). And lastly, research suggests that changing overthinking that leads to worry can reduce anxiety since they are interrelated (Gana et al., 2001).

    How to Stop Overthinking

    1. Relaxation techniques

    Not only can overthinking increase stress and anxiety, but it can work in reverse – anxiety can lead to increased worry – it’s a bi-directional vicious cycle. A powerful way to interrupt the cycle is to use relaxation techniques. There are many relaxation techniques you can use. One way to relax is engaging in physical activity like working out, going for a walk or practicing yoga. Another type of relaxation engages your mind and body like taking some deep breaths, practicing mediation or guided imagery.

    And then there is relaxation just because it helps you to shift out of overthinking and into being in the present moment. These techniques could be reading a good book, watching an enjoyable moving, spending time outside, talking with a neighbor, friend or family member journaling and the list could go on and on. When you notice that you’ve thought about the same thing more than once and it’s leading you to overthinking that’s the time to stop, plan some relaxation time and shift your thinking.

    2. Get some distance

    Sometimes it’s good to put a little space between you and what’s on your mind. Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from your thoughts so you can consider where you want to go with it. The ability to take an objective viewpoint of your thoughts is key to stop overthinking them. When you overthink, you can become consumed by issue you’re focusing on and lose perspective. When you realize that’s what’s happening, it’s helpful to future pace which is asking yourself, “will this be important to me in a year, five years?”

    3. Challenge yourself

    When you challenge yourself it’s easier to hold yourself accountable, so you can make changes as needed. Ask yourself, “are these thoughts helpful to me?” When you have more awareness of overthinking, you can put it into perspective and make a choice about how you’ll respond. A lot of the time overthinking is a way to pause taking action. We all have coping mechanisms, no matter how unhelpful they might be. Sometimes overthinking is a way to press the pause button and give yourself some space. Challenging yourself is one way to break through the overthinking noise and take action.

    4. Fact or fiction?

    Have you heard the phrase, “thoughts are not facts?” But we all know that at times it can feel like they are stone cold facts. Sometimes it’s helpful remember exceptions. It’s human nature to make mistakes or deviate from a habit.  When you realize that your thoughts aren’t helpful or reflect your reality it’s helpful to look for exceptions. Sometimes reminding yourself that very few things in are “always” one way or another can free you from overthinking.

    5. Spend time with a pet

    For the most part pets don’t seem to experience stress as humans do (Sapolsky, 2004). They don’t think overthink about or are embarrassed by their behavior. What they can show us is how to live in the present moment and enjoy it!


    Overthinking is not only unhelpful, but it can also actively harm your well-being by increasing stress, anxiety and negative emotional states. When you understand how overthinking functions in your life and how to stop it with the stress management skills above you have what you need to break free from the patterns that hold you back from living a fulfilling life!

  • 4 Simple Steps to Live More Simply and Savor Life

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    Do you want to live more simply and savor life in ways that are right for you?

    Read on to find out you can simplify and enjoy life more.

    Does life sometimes feel like it’s more complex than it needs to be? Do you feel like society expects you to buy more than is necessary, own more things than you need, or do more work than you want? As much as we might not want to admit it, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is alive and well. If any of these situations resonate with you, then you may want to find ways to live more simply.

    When you want to live more simply it means making choices that ultimately make life less stressful and more fulfilling because of their simplicity. There are lots of definitions on what it means to live a simple life. What most of the definitions include is some measure of eliminating extras, so you can focus on what’s really needed and live life with greater freedom, fulfillment and happiness.

    It’s often argued that to live more simply (or minimalism) is a reaction to materialism (Par, 2021). Others think that simple living is a part of “alternative hedonism” which is a movement that is a response to the destructive models of capitalist consumption (Caruana, Glozer, & Eckhardt, 2019).

    Here are a few different approaches to living more simply:

    • Minimalism – simplifies life by reducing your possessions and consumption. Sometimes it also includes ascetic called minimalism which focuses on clean, uncluttered design.
    • Self-sufficiency – is providing for yourself as much as possible without modern systems or what we might call convivences. Some examples are, living off-the-grid, growing your own food, sewing your own clothes or making your own self-care products (like soap).
    • Digital minimalism – is reducing or eliminating access to certain technologies like cell phones, social media, or the Internet as much as possible.
    • Connection with nature – spending more time outside, camping, or in wilderness environments.
    • Slowing down – which is sometimes called, “slow living,” is reducing a sense of urgency or busyness so you can make intentional choices and enjoy your life more.

    Living more simply is as individual as you are. You can live with a mixture of some or all of these approaches. It’s often helpful to try different approaches out to see how you feel and what effect they have on your stress level. When you do this, it helps to identify which style or styles you want to integrate into your life that have a positive effect on your well-being.

    Why is Living More Simply Important?

    A lot of people choose to live more simply after they realize that no matter how much they buy things do not make them happy. They find a greater sense of well-being when they reduce the pressure on themselves and gain time to spend doing the things that bring them true joy. In fact, living simply can result in many positive things in life, including:

    • feeling less stressed about money
    • better work-life balance
    • more time in the day to be present
    • environmental consciousness
    • clarity about what really matters (Talbot & Kaplan, 1986).
    • more freedom to choose what you really want
    • space to discover your passions (Cappetto, 2020).

    Living more simply has become important for many people and there are lots of different ways to simplify life. Many of us, maybe even most of us find a better fit practicing a few simplifying things rather than taking our lives completely off grid. Here are some examples that you might try and test out what feels like a good fit.

    • bake from scratch—bread, cookies, pizza – even better if you bake with someone
    • start a vegetable garden.
    • declutter and donate anything you don’t need.
    • stop buying things you don’t need and won’t use

    How to Live More Simply

    Does the idea of living simply seem great but you’re just not ready to (or you don’t want to-which is totally fine) change your entire lifestyle?

    Here are some ways to live more simply, give up consuming to prevent FOMO and instead enjoy your life.

    1. Say “no” more often

    Our lives often get cluttered and busy when we say yes to everything. Maybe we say yes to eating junk food we don’t want to eat, to participating in consumer holidays like black friday that we don’t want to participate in, agreeing to do more than we handle, or to accepting invites to events we don’t want to attend. By learning how to say no, you get back more of your time and take back power over your life. So, take some time to think about the things that you let into your life that don’t need to be there, and start saying no to them, so you can say yes to what you do want!

    2. Disconnect from technology

    There are so many ways to disconnect and at the same time disconnecting from tech is one of the most challenging habits to change. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it, as they say. Often it’s helpful to start small with one of these suggestions:

    • turn off notifications on your phone
    • take a break from social media
    • digital detox with a weekend off of the Internet

    I think you’ll experience extra time in your day and maybe even have some free time for relaxing. Many of my client’s experience much less information streaming into the brain when they decrease the use of technology. Think about how you can use this extra space in your mind when you get when you set limits with technology.

    3. Declutter your closets

    To start, put all the clothes you don’t wear in a box. Leave out just enough clothing to wear for one month. You aren’t getting rid of anything – you’re just putting extra clothes in a box. At the end of the month open the box and decide what to keep and what to donate. Once you get used to the idea of living without excess clothing, it’s easier to get rid of the extra stuff. You can do this challenge with other items as well and decide what you really need versus donating what you don’t.

    4. Set a budget

    Setting a budget can help you prevent you from filling up your spaces with more stuff. It also helps you discern what you value – is it stuff or experiences? Do you spend your way out of taking the trip you would enjoy so much more than another impulse purchase. One thing to ask yourself is this essential and/or will I use this? When you decrease your spending to what really matters there’s a lot less waste and you’ll have more money for what really matters to you.


    When you live more simply you can boost your well-being and even enrich your lifestyle. Fortunately, small changes give you to opportunity to test out what works for you as you go along. I hope the ideas and information provided here give you some ideas to help you create a simple life that you love.

  • 3 Ways to Turn Body Hate into Body Love

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    There are two paths – body hate vs body love.

    There is no in-between, justifications or talking yourself into what ifs.

    Maybe I like the color of my eyes, but my legs are too short. Or maybe I like the way my body moves, just not the muscles or the bit of jiggle. There isn’t room for a in between the lines sort of perspective.

    Can you parse out your relationship with your body like that and still have a “healthy body image?”

    It doesn’t happen much, but there really are all or nothing situations. The gray areas only serve to distract from how you truly feel. When the painful reality of how much body hate you endure on a daily basis, it’s time to make a real commitment to change.

    Two Paths: hate or love.

    Why do you hate your body?

    The path of hate is an easy one. You can continue living with negative thoughts and feelings about your body and you’ll find a lot of company. It’s how we’re socialized, especially women, that there’s always something not quite good enough. In fact, it’s expected that you will join in the negative body talk. For many people, it’s a bonding experience to share your pain of dissatisfaction with your body.

    If you tend toward stress eating is the usual fallback to soothe the pain – temporarily.

    Self-deprecating humor about your body is a way of saying, ‘yep, we’re in the same boat, I don’t like myself either!’

    Going along with the crowd

    You can continue to agree with the millions of magazines, social media posts, radio and TV commercials, billboards and on and on, that tell you your body could be better. The way to cure body hate is through diet and exercise. It’s the logic that if you do this then you will love yourself and your life will magically fall into place, because you’ve reached some sort of physical acceptability.

    Okay maybe they don’t say the last bit, but for lots of people, the message is loud and clear.

    You might think, yes, if this celebrity spokesmodel can make it happen, then so can I! The plan they’re selling will finally get me you where you’re supposed to be.

    Do this and you will receive lots of other good things in life.

    Sometimes it’s even presented that you don’t deserve good things in your life, that you aren’t worthy if your body is less than some arbitrary definition of acceptable.

    Many times these messages are followed by competing messages that show delicious looking foods that will bring fun and happiness into your life, so you follow the trigger and assure yourself once again that this is the last stress eating episode.

    Mindset and body love

    From a mindset perspective, this type of thinking falls into the fixed mindset category. You’re looking outside of yourself to change the way you feel. It makes sense if you haven’t experienced a different sort of self-relationship, how would you know a different way is possible?

    Carol Dweck, a Stanford researcher who studies mindset has shown that people who have a growth mindset are better able to take risks, challenge their fixed mindset beliefs and are willing to identify fixed mindset triggers and learn from them. This means that when you approach life from a growth mindset you’re willing to evolve and incorporate new ways of being with yourself even when what you know doesn’t work and you’re not sure what will work.

    When applied to transforming body hate into love it means that you need to willingly look clearly at your thoughts and feelings. As well as the conversations you have with yourself and others about body image, so you can identify triggers that keep you in a fixed state of hate.

    You can also take action when you stop paying attention to information that doesn’t help and even when it’s uncomfortable, try a different way.

    Just think of how much time and energy you’ve put into keeping things the same. Searching for an answer in something that worked for someone else instead of listening to yourself. Paying attention to your body, so that you receive the information you need to become who you need to be.

    How to grow your body love

    The path of love is much more difficult.

    The path of love takes time.

    The reward is transformation from the inside out – real lasting change.

    What I can promise you is that if you take the path of love, you will –

    • get frustrated
    • doubt you’re on the correct road
    • make mistakes.

    These are all to be expected and welcomed because this is where change grows into new ways of being with yourself.

    Transformational change results in a life shift that is nearly impossible to reverse.

    The changes become part of who you are.

    Why do we often take the path of hate when love is so much better?

    The path of hate has many people you can join up with.

    There’s a lot of advice and support to stay in the struggle and stay the same. Keep up the battle and live in discontent with your body because we’re all in this together. It’s familiar and the reinforcement you receive is all around.

    The old stories you tell yourself need somewhere to go. You need to stash the discomfort to get relief. All the better if you can put the blame outside of yourself. But the problem is that you’ll need to wait for society, your family, the media to change before you can feel better. Your power is stripped away.

    Family Body Stories

    Body stories are like other lore. They are passed down from your parents, teachers, coaches, culture and kids will either rebel or adopt these beliefs as their own.

    Many studies have looked at family relationship patterns (here, here, here) and their influence on body image. What we know is that, especially in mother – daughter relationships the unhappier mom is with her body there are increased body image and eating problems in the child. Without intervention, this relationship pattern continues into adulthood and then gets passed down to the next generation.

    The research has also shown that when the parents have a positive relationship with their bodies it provides insulation from body image issues and the diet messages that bombard us in daily life.

    It’s a big culturally acceptable bath of yuck that, most women, at one point or another, will jump into and sadly never get out of.

    The struggle is how to have a healthy loving relationship with your body.

    Maybe you would like to change your weight, find an exercise plan you enjoy, make some changes to the way you eat and generally feel better in your own body. That’s great!

    You can do any or all of those things and protect yourself from the influence of a fixed mindset, by focused on what you think and instead do what’s right for you.

    Your body story influences your day-to-day life, so make it supportive!

    Here are 3 ways to help you get started

    The first step is to pay attention to the little things you say to yourself. The judgements and comments you make to others about your body and eating habits. Also, the silent judgments you make about others that you would be mortified if they found out. Kindness and compassion are a circle that when it’s freely given and received supports emotional well-being for all.

    1. Challenge yourself with supportive questions

    • Is this what I want to say to myself and how does this affect me by giving voice to it?
    • Is this thought or feeling leading me to health and well-being?
    • Does this help me become who I need to be or does it keep me standing still?

    It’s also helpful to have some supportive and compassionate statements at the ready. Don’t worry I’ve got you covered just below.

    2. Reframe your story, every ‘because’ argument has at least two sides

    You’re the one who decides which direction to go. Sometimes it seems that if it’s something you’ve always thought or heard for many years then it must be true.

    But is it? People can change at any point in their lives. Sometimes it takes very little effort and other times it can seem like you’re moving with lead weights strapped to your ankles. Keep moving anyway.

    When change happens slowly, allow yourself to acknowledge all of the tiny victories because they will add up to the change you want to happen.

    When change happens quickly, remember all of the time, thought, planning and action you have put into making it a reality. Most overnight successes were years in the making.

    Both fast and slow changes need to be honored – with an abundance of love.

    When you feel better and your self-esteem is high, you’re more likely to make healthful decisions. Positive creates more positive. This is why the path of love, although more difficult to navigate at first becomes easier. You will experience more freedom and a greater sense of well-being in the process.

    3. You can choose love over hate at any time

    You can change your thoughts and they have the power to transform body hate.

    Here are some alternative statements to get you started:

    I hate my body.

    Alternative: I’m nurturing a loving relationship with my body.

    My ______ is too fat/thin.

    Alternative: My body is just as it needs to be right now and I am evolving. 

    My ______ say’s I’m ______.

    Alternative: I choose my relationship with my body and nurture myself with love.

    I feel fat!

    Alternative: I have many feelings and there’s more to feeling fat.

    I can’t eat ______.

    Alternative: I choose foods that nurture my mind, body and heart.

    I need to work off those calories!

    Alternative: I am integrating all food choices into my lifestyle and I move my body with peace.

    My body doesn’t like me.

    Alternative: I am getting to know another side of my relationship with my body and practicing self-compassion is part of it.

    I feel gross like this.

    Alternative: I am changing and sometimes I will feel uncomfortable and it will pass.

    I’m just not attractive.

    Alternative: I am growing in my appreciation of my beauty in all aspects of myself.

    I wish I had ______.

    Alternative: I have all that I need right now and know that I may change in the future.

    I just don’t feel like myself anymore.

    Alternative: I am focusing on being present and learning what I need to care for myself in new ways.

    In Sum

    Use this list as a starting point to become more aware of your internal conversation. Use the awareness to shape statements to provide you with the information you need to support and trust yourself – that you can change your self-relationship and be comfortable in your own body.

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  • 3 Principles to be a Conscious Eater for Life

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    3 Principles to be a Conscious Eater for Life

    We all want to eat healthy, live well and be our best selves. Unfortunately, stress eating can rob you of your best intentions. Fortunately, when you become a Conscious Eater, you learn how to experience and maintain freedom from stress eating.

    The cycle of stress eating usually goes something like this –

    • something happens that triggers an uncomfortable emotion
    • you reach for the chocolate (or whatever you like) one more time to calm down
    • enjoying the deliciousness of it is soothing
    • you promise yourself it’s the last time and you’ll “be good”
    • feeling guilty about eating for emotional comfort

    Sometimes it’s all of these emotions at the same time and that’s incredibly frustrating. The kicker is that it usually leads to even more stress in the long run.

    When you need quick relief from the stress it’s not like it can wait – you need it as soon as possible!

    At the same time, stress eating isn’t a solution that lasts and if you’re reading this article, I bet that you know it’s a cycle that repeats despite your best intentions.

    I also bet that you know when you stop stress eating, you’ll feel in control and that’s a good thing.  To be at peace with yourself, your body, your life and ultimately to make peace with food for good is the goal.

    Another diet isn’t the answer because it’s how you’re using food that’s the real problem.

    You’re probably at the point where you want more than feeling good about your body – you want to own your life!

    When you feel in control of your life it’s motivating to keep going.  Losing weight, joining a new gym, reading a great self-help book can be the spark, but when the sole focus is losing weight – that’s the definition of putting all of your eggs in one basket. The problem is that you either “fall off the wagon” or when you reach your goal the excitement wears off that’s when people revert back to the same eating and physical activity behaviors. What you’re left with—well, you—and that feeling of ‘what do I do now?’ How do I maintain without fearing the next stress eating episode is just around the corner.

    You want, no you need real freedom from stress eating.

    You know that a whole person perspective, one that integrates mind, body and heart, would be great. Afterall, you need to live with yourself and you want to be happy too.

    Conscious Eating is way of living in relationship with yourself that lasts a lifetime.

    You can live a long and happy life where you feel good in mind, body and heart while you experience freedom from stress eating.

    What leads to lasting change is creating a relationship with yourself, based on trust and respect that you can take care of your emotional well-being.

    You can stop stress eating and become a Conscious Eater.

    Fortunately, Conscious Eating supports you in making positive, life-enhancing changes that you can integrate into your life at any point in time.

    Conscious Eating is listening to your heart in the present moment, free from judgement, with the knowledge that you can provide yourself with the nourishment you need for a fulfilling life.

    Respect, kindness, and compassion are the hallmarks of Conscious Eating.

    Each time you eat, you have an opportunity to pause, center yourself and come to the table for nourishment and well-being.

    Conscious Eating frees you from the fear of missing out, which is often fueled by the anxiety that you must have what you want now for one of these reasons:

    • it may be gone soon
    • this is the last time
    • the diet starts tomorrow

    Mindless eating can be like that.

    Sometimes it’s:

    • distraction
    • avoidance
    • controlling feelings that seem unmanageable

    Stress eating is only focused on the food, without regard for your nutritional needs, preferences, or even if you want to eat.

    It is impossible to Consciously Eat what you don’t want or like without experiencing a conflict because you’re out of alignment with yourself.

    Conscious Eating is liberating.

    Conscious Eating frees you from overfocusing on food and under focusing on your emotional well-being.

    You can create the space you need to stop for a moment, give yourself time and identify your feelings.

    What you are hungry for and what might be satisfying?

    Conscious eating is a fundamental shift in your mindset about how you listen to yourself and take care of yourself.

    Conscious Eating requires compassionate patience.

    As you become a Conscious Eater, you’ll learn to nourish yourself in the full meaning of the word.

    Nourishment: to provide with food and other things that are needed for health, growth, etc.

    The goal is to truly enjoy your relationship with food and your body, without guilt, negative self-talk, excuses or shame.

    Each meal is one moment in time.

    Food has its proper place in your life, it is one aspect of life – sometimes it’s a big part and sometimes it’s a small part of it. Nonetheless, there are other equally meaningful parts of life.

    Sometimes you will eat purely for fuel. You are hungry, busy, and just need to get some nutrition in your system to function well.  Knowing when you need to be quick and efficient verses when you can savor your meal is part of Conscious Eating.

    There is no such thing as a perfect eater!

    Real life happens.

    You may have days where there is one meeting after another and your energy needs are met through one energy bar after another or one cup of coffee too many.

    You may have days where what’s available isn’t appealing and you need to take care for your body anyway and eat what’s available.

    Sometimes we eat just for energy and that’s okay.

    During times like these Conscious Eaters are kind and compassionate, knowing that they are making the best decisions they can at the time.

    You can nourish yourself and have confidence that you will have many opportunities to enjoy the foods you love to eat.

    You can get back to listening to your natural rhythms.

    Becoming a Conscious Eater is often like getting back to nature. Eating more naturally, most of the time.  It is like when you were little and you ate because you were hungry and stopped when you were full. Even when you had something delicious, like your favorite ice cream, you listened to your body and stopped when your body let you know it was enough.

    And if this was not your experience growing up — maybe you never had the opportunity to listen to your body — you can learn how to listen now.

    Conscious Eating is a skill that you can develop at any time in your life.

    On the other hand, stress eating is a habit you can unlearn at any time too!

    At some point in life, we all come to the realization that it’s not about weight or how you look in the mirror.

    It is more about how you want to live with yourself.

    Conscious Eating supports a relationship with yourself that is kind and compassionate in how you talk to yourself, how you feel about your body and your life.

    It’s difficult to break free from body criticisms, stress eating or the diet mentality.

    Whether it’s the conversations you have with others, television commercials, the latest magazine article, pop-up ads or books, the message is how easy it will be to follow this or that plan and lose weight. Your reward will be unending happiness because a perfect body is the key to the good life.  It’s a seductive message, but it isn’t reality.

    If a quick fix worked, we wouldn’t have so many new diets or so many diet “failures.”

    The solution isn’t easy. Freedom from stress eating takes effort.

    The reward for becoming a Conscious Eater is experiencing the fullness of life.

    Your life is yours to live right now-no longer being ruled by your feelings and led down the road of emotional eating one more time.

    You honor your life every time you have the courage to risk listening to yourself.

    There is a wealth of knowledge about good basic nutrition that’s easily accessed. Your challenge is to work within the parameters that fit for you. Respect any adjustments you may need to make given your specific health concerns.

    This is a process of increasing awareness, making adjustments, and moving forward with new knowledge.

    There is no one size fits all; there is only what best fits you.

    Most of all, Conscious Eating is natural, kind, and filled with peaceful self-compassion.

    Conscious Eating breaks diet habit and leads to a calmer, more reasonable, thoughtful relationship with food.

    Often when women talk about, “my relationship with food” it comes from a position of power – the food being more powerful.

    The diet mentality, (there are good foods/bad foods, healthy/unhealthy food, the need to count calories, fat, carbohydrates, gluten or whatever is the “baddy” of the moment), leaves your knowledge and wisdom about yourself out of the equation.

    There is a seesaw back and forth, between knowing that you need to follow your own path versus the overwhelming messages that this plan or that diet will be “the one.”  You never really reach a middle ground.

    Consciously make decisions that are guided by your self-knowledge.

    Struggle happens when you can’t integrate the latest diet fad into your life.  “I start my diet on Monday,” it is just too much of a jolt to the system.

    Making changes gradually over time and allowing yourself to adjust to change, step by step, is usually more successful.

    Many women have been brought up with the cultural idea that feeling good about yourself and your body is not possible. You may have grown up believing that you are supposed to look a certain way or that there is one body type that is acceptable.

    If your body does not match up well, how could you ever feel good, never mind accept yourself?

    Conscious Eating is grounded in caring and compassion and provides nourishment, not only for your body with food, but also your mind and heart with peace.

    Conscious Eating Questions:

    • What is your body is asking for?
    • What do you need to nurture your whole self?
    • What is your energy level in relationship to your planned activities?
    • What type of fuel do you need now—food, motivation, inspiration, peace or something else?
    • What are your emotional needs?
    • Where is your heart leading you?

    It can be difficult to thoughtfully answer these questions in the beginning.

    Sometimes you are swept up by emotions, thoughts, and memories, and are unclear what will calm your anxieties and fears.

    Longing for food can seem uncontrollable at times.

    The way out is to allow yourself some space, a break, to figure out what you need and how to nurture yourself as you experience it.

    Give yourself time and space to let the questions simmer.  Give yourself the gift of thoughtfulness.

    3 Basic Elements of Conscious Eating – Mind, Body and Heart

    1. Mind – how your thoughts are shaped by your feelings

    Most of us have the basic feelings down; mad, sad, happy. One of the great things about Conscious Eating is that you learn to be more specific in identifying your feelings.

    With increased emotional awareness your emotional vocabulary grows and leads to more options on how to best work with them.

    Rather than using food to calm or elevate your mood you have many choices available. For example, there are many ways to describe happiness. Joy, elation, glee, delight, well-being, merry.  Each of these feelings have a different quality and are different experiences of happiness.

    Increasing your repertoire or vocabulary of emotions gives you the opportunity to match the feeling with positive action.

    You can work with the emotion and move your life in the direction you need.

    Fulfillment, happiness, and peace in your relationship with food is possible, because now you are taking care of your emotional health in ways that directly address what is missing.

    2. Body – How do you physically feel?

    Conscious Eating naturally leads you to check in with your body, with kindness and compassion on a regular basis.

    Conscious Eating allows you to also check in with your subtle hunger cues, your need for movement, flexibility, sleep.

    Most importantly you respect the information your body communicates and follow through with your needs.

    A healthy relationship is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect.

    Your relationship with your body’s hunger and satiety signals needs trust and respect too!

    Conscious Eaters stop, listen, and take good care.

    Allow yourself the time to check-in and wait for an answer. Remember, snap judgments lead you away from consciousness.

    3. Heart – Quiet reflection

    The gift of listening to your heart is one of the guiding elements of Conscious Eating.

    This is where you will find the gentle strength of discernment.

    With experience and practice you will come to know when a craving leads to, “I just want it,” rather with a thoughtful centered perspective. You can ask yourself, “am I using food, exercise, focusing on my weight, counting calories or macros to calm an uncomfortable feeling or do I really just have a craving?” This makes choosing what you want very easy.

    In sum

    The heart of Conscious Eating is a movement toward a better relationship with yourself.  You know from your core what is best for you and freedom from stress eating is a big part of what you need.

    The tug of war no longer exists. Instead, you’ll live your life with increasing peace and clarity.

    Your needs are taken into account first and foremost, whether it is caring for your emotions, eating, quiet time, engaging in a physical activity you find nurturing or something even more fulfilling.

    Deepening your relationship with yourself in a new way that brings you happiness happens all the time!

    I hope that learning more about Conscious Eating and how it can bring more calm, happiness and peace into your life is helpful to you.

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  • How to Insulate Yourself from Toxic Positivity

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    What’s the difference between good positivity, bad positivity and when does it become toxic positivity?

    Positivity includes feelings like gratitude, optimism, and taking a positive point of view. It might seem like common sense that positivity is good for well-being, which is backed by research, but there are exceptions too. One of the exceptions is when positivity is forced, it can be annoying at best and infuriating at worst. Which does not enhance well-being at all!

    Positivity is good for well-being. The caveat is if positivity helps you avoid or suppress negative emotions it can become toxic.

    The definition of toxic positivity is when an individual rejects or denies stress, negativity, or other negative experiences that in fact exist (Sokal, Trudel, & Babb, 2020).

    Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between positivity from toxic positivity.

    For example, if someone encourages you to, “look at the bright side,” when you’re not ready to, you might feel that they are dismissing your experience and negative feelings that may result from it. Since negative emotions are as important as positive emotions for getting your needs met, storing them away without acknowledgement isn’t helpful. Even so, when it seems that positive advice from friends feels like toxic positivity when you’re on the receiving end, it might not be.

    There’s a thin line between positivity and toxic positivity and it quickly becomes very complicated, but here’s some help.

    Here are some more examples:

    • “I’m having a bad day.” Toxic response: “But you have so much to be grateful for in your life.”
    • “I don’t know if I can have a relationship with my sister. She doesn’t treat me with respect or kindness.” Toxic response: “She’s family. You should love her no matter what.”
    • “This job sucks.” Toxic response: “You’re lucky you even have a job.”

    In these examples, the responses are good examples of using toxic positivity to bypass the speakers’ negative experiences rather than compassionately listening to what the other is saying.

    On the other hand, when you feel heard it validates your experience, regardless of the situation.

    This type of response is accepting of the negative emotions we all experience from time to time and communicates compassion and kindness. This approach is not toxic because it doesn’t deny negative emotions or force a feeling that isn’t in alignment with the experience.

    When Does Positivity Become Toxic?

    1. Some research suggests that it is inappropriate to use positivity to reframe a difficult as positive when an individual’s identity is being threatened. For example, when people experience racial oppression, looking for positive side of things can lead to worse well-being (Perez & Soto, 2011).
    1. If people encourage you to use a specific emotion skill that you’re not skillful with, it can lead to feeling worse. For some people, positivity is a difficult skill to develop and implement. If your skillset for being optimistic, positive or reflecting on the bright side of your situation doesn’t come easily, it could be problematic for you (Ford & Troy, 2019).
    1. Most of us think positive emotions are a good thing, and more is better. Well, it turns out that the saying, “too much a good thing is bad,” might be right. Too much positive emotion is a known risk factor for mania (Gruber, Johnson, Oveis, & Keltner, 2008). Too much positive emotion can in fact, result in negative emotion.
    1. Obsession with happiness or over-focusing on being happy is shown to decrease well-being (Ford & Mauss, 2014).  This creates a gap between how you feel now and how you want to feel. Having ultra-high expectations for happiness tends to take you out of your experience and preoccupied with the future which is a set up for unfulfilled expectations.

    In Sum

    Toxic positivity is tricky at times.

    The benefits of positivity, backed by science, is that positivity improves well-being.

    At the same time, it can be easy to focus only on positivity which leads to toxic positivity.

    Hopefully, this post helps you understand the difference between positivity and toxic positivity and how to prevent it.

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  • Discover How to Grow Your Emotional Well-being

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    What if you could create more positive emotional experiences and improve your emotional well-being?

    Improving your emotional well-being is not about stopping or avoiding uncomfortable emotional experiences. Emotions are a normal and necessary part of life – both emotions we like as well as those that are uncomfortable. Emotional well-being includes your emotional awareness, emotion regulation, and emotional recovery for optimal functioning. Increasing emotional well-being is entirely possible. Emotional well-being skills can be built at any point in time.

    Here are some ways to have more emotional well-being:

    1. Grow your emotional awareness

    Emotional awareness increases when you engage in self-reflection—

    • What am I feeling?
    • Why do I feel this way?
    • What will help me stop feeling uncomfortable?

    When you’re unaware of your emotions, you may engage in behaviors that hurt your emotional well-being. But, when you pay more attention to your emotions, you begin to learn which situations, people, or thoughts affect your emotions – positive or negative. You can use your emotional awareness to take action and help you have more enjoyable emotional experiences.

    2. Engage in mindful acceptance

    Mindfulness includes emotional awareness and it also includes self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is when you experience emotions without judging and accept them as part of who you are. Self-acceptance helps prevent the secondary negative emotions. Here’s an example: when you feel guilty about feeling angry, guilt is a secondary emotion. Acceptance of all emotions (positive or negative) helps prevent adding extra negative emotions into the mix. When you practice non-judgmental self-acceptance, you let your emotions come and go without labeling them as good or bad. You allow yourself to be present and emotions to flow which enhances emotional well-being. One way to develop this skill is practicing mindfulness meditation.

    3. Shift your focus

    Shifting your focus or re-directing your attention from uncomfortable feelings you’re currently experiencing to the wider impact or “big picture” can help. If your focus is on a disappointing situation, you might shift your attention to focus on the other things in life that are going well. Most of us have a mix of things we feel good about as well as things we want less of in our lives. Looking at the big picture is easier said than done, but research shows that training ourselves to focus on neutral events or situations instead of threatening events can reduce anxiety (Amir et al., 2009). Reducing anxiety is a key factor in emotional well-being.

    4. Reframe your experience

    Reframing is an emotion regulation strategy where you interpret a stressful situation in a different and often more positive perspective. As a result, you understand that there is more than one point of view. This can help you prevent getting stuck in one emotion and instead boost overall emotional well-being.  You can practice reevaluating situations by listing things that are good as a positive –

    • How is this an opportunity to grow?
    • What can I learn?
    • What are the good parts of this situation?

    Reframing is a skill, so the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

    5. Get some emotional space

    Emotional distancing is taking on an observer perspective of yourself. It’s like being a “a fly on the wall” as you experience an emotion. Another option is to try future pacing.  Imagine being a day, month or year from now and as you look back on your current situation, what do you predict your perspective will be? For example, after an argument with your partner, think about how you’ll feel about this fight in a week, month, or year. By using emotional distancing, you usually don’t have as many negative judgments about it and can recover from negative experiences more easily (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). Recovery from negative experiences is another important factor in emotional well-being.

    6. Imagine/visualize the good things

    When you imagine positive events, your brain produces similar signals as if you were experiencing those things in real life. This is the reason positive imagination and visualization can be such a powerful tool for emotional well-being. When you’re going through a tough time, you might not have a lot of positive things to focus on. But when you use your imagination, you help your brain experience positive emotions, nonetheless. So, try to imagine yourself in a good place and generate more positive emotions.

    7. Share positive moments

    When you share your positive moments, you help them grow, expand, and last longer. When something good happens, show, tell, or share your experience with someone you care about since it supports emotional well-being for both of you. For example, you could send a text to a friend or call them on the phone. Just be careful not to ‘humble brag’. For example, if you got a promotion, you could say, I’m feeling so great today about my career. I’d love to celebrate by taking you out to dinner. The people who love you in your life will want to celebrate with you!

    In sum

    Emotional well-being is the foundation for a life well-lived. It helps you to manage challenging situations while remaining present. When you know that you have the skills to care for yourself no matter what happens – life gets easier. Practice these 7 well-being skills and you’ll create a solid foundation for your life.

  • How to Empower Yourself in Midlife

    How to empower yourself isn’t a topic that’s directly discussed much.

    You’ll often read about what’s empowering after the fact. It’s as if the feeling is a surprising result. Instead, the tools to empower yourself are simple and can become your way of being in the world. When you know what can help you reach your goals, it’s nearly impossible to go for it!

    Feeling confident, effective and competent are all important for growing and learning as a person. You are much more likely to be accomplish what you want to in life if you believe you can do it. The opposite is also true. Doubt and insecurity can steal to your confidence to learn new things and grow when they overshadow potential.

    While it may often feel like things are out of your control it is rarely the case. Stepping into the power you have in your own life is possible and it is called empowerment. Keep reading to learn more about what empowerment is, how you can use it to fuel your motivation, and how to build even more of it within yourself. ​​​​​​​​​

    What Is Empowerment?

    Have you ever felt like you can take on any challenge regardless of the stress swirling around you? The feelings of self-confidence, clarity, and self-determination are important parts of feeling empowered. Empowerment is defined as a “process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities, and their society, by acting on issues they define as important” (Page & Czuba, 1999). When you feel empowered, you feel you’re in power or control of your life. Empowerment is what allows you to feel confident that you have the power to create a personally fulfilling life. It’s also confidence that you are capable of accomplishing what’s important to you.

    Feeling empowered is motivating.  You can pursue your goals and dreams with enthusiasm. If you feel a lack motivation or doubt yourself, increasing your sense of empowerment within yourself can help build your self-esteem and a better quality of life.

    A study that used an online psychological-educational program to help people suffering with depression, measured changes in empowerment. Following the program, participants noted an increase in self-esteem and empowerment. The participants improved their quality of life even six months after the completion of the program (Crisp et al., 2014). What this shows is that improving your self-esteem and feeling more empowered can have a positive effect on your overall quality of life.

    The opposite of feeling empowered is powerlessness or defeat. A disempowered mindset can leave you to feel like you don’t have control of your life. While it isn’t possible to feel fully empowered and confident one hundred percent of the time, it is possible to have a more neutral mindset so you don’t experience negative consequences that can impact your health.

    A lack of empowerment (high powerlessness scores) is associated with:

    • Limits on physical activity with age
    • Negative psychosocial symptoms with age
    • Health problems five- and ten-years post-survey
    • Poorer of health in general (Seeman & Lewis, 1995)

    Empowerment is a trait that you can build within yourself with time and practice.

    How To Empower Yourself

    Now that empowerment is defined, it’s time to explore how you can build more empowerment within yourself? For some people, feeling empowered and self-confident may already be skills they’ve learned. Building a sense of empowerment may take a bit of a mindset shift, especially for midlife women. The following are empowerment skills you can develop and actions you can take to implement them on a daily basis.

    Develop more positive self-talk​

    Negative self-talk, especially when it involved negative self-assessments can be detrimental to an empowered mindset. To develop more positive self-talk, you may need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t do that”, think “I can do hard things”. This simple switch can make a world of difference.

    Create an action list for your goals

    Ideas and goals are a great start, but without taking action you won’t get very far! Empowered people know that to move forward and achieve your goals takes effort.  One way to make the process more practical is to write down your large goals.  Break them down into smaller parts by necessary progressive steps. Then step is to break them down even smaller info weekly and then daily goals that are “doable.” Small consistent goals keep you moving forward at a pace where you can integrate the changes you’ve made.

    Practice confidence and assertiveness

    Stepping into a more confident and powerful sense of yourself is a key component of feeling empowered. It often takes practice – you can learn to speak up and make your voice heard. Robin Sharma once said, “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.” Try practicing what you are going to say in your head before you say it out loud if you feel extra nervous.

    In Sum

    Empowerment is an important skill to support you in achieving your goals and dreams. When you feel confident and powerful in your ability to go after what you want it’s priceless. People who live with an empowered mindset have more positive self-talk, take action to reach their goals, and are assertive and confident. Once you start believing in your capacity, you’re your life, you will find you are capable of so much more than you’ve dreamed!

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