Save the Drama for . . . well, you know . . .

Recently I’ve had several sessions with a similar underlying theme relating to drama and the stories about ourselves and our lives that we carry around with us.

So many of us carry stories about ourselves or our past that are so riddled with drama that it is making all of us crazy!

Not only does this drama typically bring with it some unwanted and unproductive emotions but the habit of creating drama in your life is going to make it difficult to find space for the things you truly WANT to spend your energy doing. As you make bigger goals and strive to do new things, you are going to encounter struggles and negative emotions and if you spin out in drama every time this happens, you will handicap that goal…and you will likely make yourself crazy in the process, so that’s fun too.

I once had a client tell me that the reason she is stuck in her life is because she can’t move home to the Midwest. “I can’t move home to the Midwest because I have this house and it needs all this work and I keep trying to hire contractors but I don’t trust them and there really aren’t any good contractors out there any way, and the house is practically unlivable because the last contractors I hired completed botched the roof and now water is coming in everywhere. . .”

On and on she went about how the house was so terrible and no one could be trusted to fix it for her so she would just have to be stuck where she was until she could figure something else out.

Come to find out that the issue with the house was that the contractors didn’t properly seal her skylights so the roof was leaking over her kitchen. That was the huge catastrophe that was keeping her from moving. Of course, when she initially related all this to me, I was horrified, imaging contractors who had left huge sections of her roof completely unfinished and exposed to the elements and a roof that was about to cave in and lions, tiger, and bears, oh my!

My mind immediately went for the drama.

That is what our reptilian brain does! It looks for danger to try and keep us from getting eaten by lions! This situation was not worthy of that level of panic but that’s what our brain immediately wants to do.

Here’s another example. My partner is selling his home and recently found out that his roof had some damage and would need to be replaced prior to the sale. When I got his message that he was going to have to replace the roof, my mind LITERALLY imagined that there must be huge holes in his roof from some cataclysmic overnight hail storm that I slept through. My heart started to race and I imagined all the horrible possibilities. When I spoke to him, he was very matter-of-fact: the home inspector says there is hail damage, I spoke to my insurance carrier and filed a claim, they will let me know more soon. That was it. No drama. Just the facts. My mental chaos was immediately snuffed out.

The distinction here is that one person was focused on the facts of the situation and JUST the facts. No superfluous details or embellishments.

Just those aspects of the situation that everyone would agree were universally true about the situation. That is the trick that so many of us are missing. When our brains want to spin out of control joyriding a parade of horribles, we have to stop and focus on the facts. Once these scenarios are boiled down to simple facts, they become so much less dramatic. So much easier to solve for and they require so much less of your energy!

I most often see this when people speak about their pasts. Try it sometime on people that you know well. For instance, that friend of yours who is always sending you 11pm text messages “Call me immediately!” for some new drama. If you ask her to describe her childhood or last relationship, her description will likely be laden with drama.

On the other hand, your friend that always seems calm, cool, and collected will likely describe her past with simplicity and without unnecessary drama or extravagant stories. It doesn’t mean that one of them had a past that was any easier or less challenging, it just means that one of them chooses not to create drama around her childhood and chooses instead to cast her childhood in factual and positive tones.

How we describe our past experiences is a choice.

It doesn’t mean you deny that you have had difficult experiences; it means that when you think about those experiences, you focus on the facts and you find truths about those experiences that make you feel good instead of focusing on the facts that make you feel miserable. This is SO important because if you cast your past in a drama-filled, chaotic manner, those thoughts are not likely going to make you feel like you are ready to take on the world and build your empire. I personally know that when I allow myself to sift through the drama of my past relationships and the negativity of those experiences, the only thing I want to do is sit on the couch and eat an entire bag of chips with queso. Those thoughts are not helpful. They are not making you feel better and they are not helping you move forward.

The only reason your past exists today is because you let it. The only way your past exists is in your mind.

How you think about that past in your mind is YOUR CHOICE. Separate the facts of your past from the drama. You will free up so much mental space when you do.

Here is an example to help drive home this point. I once left a firm and believed that I was not leaving on good terms. I believed that we were both angry about how things worked out and I believed there was a lot of resentment in both camps. So, when I received my last paycheck from the firm and it was about 10% of my usual paycheck, I went through the roof! I was so upset and angry and indignant that they would “do that to me.” I had convinced myself that it was an intentional slight and was the ultimate “last straw” in my relationship with them. I would never have anything good to say about them EVER! On and on I went. I told myself there was no need to call them and challenge my compensation because they would have all sorts of excuses and rationalizations and it “just wouldn’t be worth the energy to ask them about it” I just didn’t “want the fight.” I didn’t want the fight but I was seething no less. I was fighting, alright, I just didn’t have an opponent.

So I decided to heed some of my own advice. I ditched the drama and endeavored to find the facts. That required me to reach out and start asking questions. Turns out, the payment was correct but without the breakdown of how they landed at that number, I didn’t have a full picture. Health insurance, retirement contributions, final deductions, etc.  for the full month of my termination had whittled my final paycheck down to almost nothing. Once I saw the numbers, it made sense. All that drama for WEEKS. What a waste.

What could I have done differently? Rather than making myself crazy for weeks, I could have focused on the facts of the situation: I got my last paycheck, it was $X less than usual, I did not ask for an explanation. Those facts, standing alone don’t seem worthy of a meltdown. Those facts instead beg the question—why aren’t you asking for an explanation? Those facts are confusing and require additional research! Simple. If I had looked at the facts sooner, I could have spared the drama and asked for the information earlier. Or I could have decided not to ask for an explanation and added another fact: I am not asking for an explanation and I am okay with that. Done. No more mental work to be done here.

If you can learn to identify and clean up the drama in your brain and in your life, imagine what you could do with all that extra time and energy. The possibilities are endless!

Need support ditching the drama? Coach with me and let’s start cleaning up your brain.

Failing Hard

Have you ever asked yourself why you aren’t doing something or why you aren’t taking action toward your goals? What I have found is that most people simply are afraid to fail. If you are going on a diet and plan to lose 50 pounds, do you tell your friends? Do you put it on Facebook and declare it to the world? Probably not and here’s why: no one wants their failure to be up for public scrutiny. As humans, we prefer to fail quietly and privately or not fail at all. If we succeed, great, THAT we will shout from the rooftops. But if we keep our failures privately, it’s like it never happened. No unmet expectations of others and no disappointments other than your own. But what is so bad about failure after all?

The fear of failure, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of how we will feel if it all falls apart, is at the heart of it all. Here’s what our friend Merriam-Webster Google has to say about fear:

an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Let’s break this down…

Fear is an “unpleasant emotion” caused by a “belief”. Beliefs are choices we make in our brains based upon thoughts we hold to be true. So fear is an uncomfortable emotion caused by our thoughts. That is all that is holding you back from taking action, from making that move, from leaving your soul-less job. You are letting your brain ruin all the fun.

If you want to lose 50 pounds, don’t let an unpleasant emotion hold you back, don’t be afraid to fail. So what if you fail? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Embarrassment? It’s just a feeling caused by what you are thinking. How you will feel after a failure is driven 100% by what you make that failure mean. We all do it. You set a lofty goal and then when you miss the mark you think “I’m never going to fit into those pants again” or “I’m never going to get promoted” or “Why do I even bother trying.” Ugh those thoughts are dream-killers. You are choosing to think that garbage and it is making you feel terrible.

If you have a lofty goal that you are not pursuing, ask yourself why. What is the worst that could happen? You don’t achieve it? So what? What is it about that failure that is so scary? 99% of the time we are afraid of how we will feel once we fail. We are afraid of feeling disappointed in ourselves. So instead, we put our little dream on the shelf and feel disappointed in ourselves for not trying. Don’t you see that we are already feeling those things we are trying to avoid!? Instead of trying, failing, and feeling disappointed. We are not trying, not failing, and feeling disappointed all the same. People, this is some kind of crazy.

I am challenging you to try and fail, despite the fear. Try and fail and feel those feelings having known that you actually tried. If you’re going to feel crappy you might as well do something first to feel crappy about. Don’t feel crappy about your inaction. You don’t deserve to feel crappy about your situation unless and until you have actually tried and failed.

But let me challenge you even more. I submit that, if you try and fail and continue to try and fail, despite those feelings, you will win every time. Every single time you try and fail, you will develop yourself. You will learn how not  to achieve your goal, you will learn alternative methods to try and achieve your goal. You will learn how to manage those feelings of shame, fear, embarrassment, etc. You may not even have the same goals on the other side of all the trying. I do not believe that someone can try and fail to achieve a goal repeatedly and gain nothing from the process. It’s impossible.

If you are not trying and failing on a regular basis, my guess is that you are already sitting with those ugly feelings you are trying to avoid by preventing failure. If you are not trying and failing at something all the time, I am begging you to examine what it is that is holding you back. Shame? Embarrassment? Those are all just feelings. Driven by your thoughts. Driven by what you are making your “failures” mean! Failure doesn’t have to mean you are hopeless and destined to be unhappy. Failure can mean that you are dedicated to learning and evolving. To challenging yourself and learning to manage your brain. Are your dreams really worth ignoring because you don’t have what it takes to experience uncomfortable emotions? Take that leap.

What is the worst that could happen?

Coach with me and learn the skills to fail forward.

Want More. Fail More

Want more. There is no question mark in the title of this post. This is less a question and more a directive to you: Want more for yourself. Want more for your life.  

If I had a magic wand and told you that I could give you the career of your dreams, would you be interested? What if I told you I would give it to you only if you first promised to fail 10 times trying to do it on your own? Big fails. EPIC fails. All I ask of you is that you try to figure it out on your own 10 times, and fail 10 times. After those 10 tries, it’s yours. Fail ten times and I will waive my magic wand and I will make it so. Would you do that?  

Of course you would. The problem is that we are truly faced with this very offer every single day of our lives and very few of us take the challenge. We are too afraid to fail. We are too caught up in our reptilian brain that says “welp, I hate my boss and I don’t LOVE my job but it pays the bills and life is secure under this cozy little comfort blanket. I am not going to rock the boat, things are fine; this is what it means to be a grown-up.”

Are things fine?

Are you going to be satisfied when you are 80 years old and you look back at that job and that life that were just fine?! What if you were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow and had only one year left to live? Would you keep playing it safe and being fine.  

Fine is such a blasé, gross word. There are so many beautiful words in our vocabulary. If “fine” truly sums up your present state, rest assured, my friend, you are far from fine. I refuse to believe that we were meant to live a life that is “fine.” I believe we were meant to live a life that is exciting and full of highs and lows and all the colors of the rainbow.  We aren’t meant to live in the doldrums.

I want you to live with the old lady version of yourself on your shoulder urging you on, saying, “let’s make this happen, lady, I’m not getting any younger!” 

Years ago I found myself in the middle of a violent and abusive relationship. Drifting through life pretending I was fine despite my deep depression and dark thoughts. You know what finally snapped me out it? What really made me wake up and decide I wasn’t going to live like that anymore? I could not reconcile the person I had become with the person I dreamt of becoming. I looked in the mirror and realized that my 5-year-old self would be disappointed in the woman I had become. Ouch. It broke my heart how far I had strayed from my true north. I wanted more for myself and I had set my little 5-year old heart on a bright future. A future that I was presently squandering. 

I want you to have that wake up moment too. I want you to see the big picture, step out of the race, breathe, and own your space in this world.

What do you want your story to be? What kind of tales do you want to create for your old lady self to recite to her friends in the retirement home over a cup of tea?   What kind of legacy do you want to leave?   Don’t disappoint yourself by living out of tune with your purpose. You never know what news is waiting for you tomorrow.   How do you find that purpose? Coach with me and let’s find out.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford.

Why You Aren’t Taking Action

Have you ever considered why you aren’t taking action? You want to write that book you always imagined, you want to break out and start your own practice or change practice areas, you want to tell your spouse that you aren’t happy.

Why is it that we don’t do those things?

For many of my clients it’s because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of how they will feel if that book gets rejected by every editor, your solo practice tanks, you realize you hate this new practice area after all, or your spouse decides to leave you. They are afraid of failing.

Given that this thing, failure, is standing in the way of so many dreams and preventing us from honoring ourselves, I think it makes sense to see what this failure thing is all about.

If you put “what is failure” into your magical computing machine, you get all sorts of interesting feedback. Wikipedia tells me that “failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.” As you go down the internet rabbit hole, you will also find other interesting tidbits. Success.com says that failure is caused by lack of persistence, lack of conviction, rationalization, poor self-esteem, etc.

Putting this all together, it seems that the reason we are not writing the next Harry Potter series or asking for that promotion, is because we are afraid we will not be successful — we will not meet the desired result or objective.

So, instead of trying and failing, we choose to fail in this very moment.

Rather than try and not achieve the desired result, we are not trying and not achieving the desired result. Do you see that it’s certainly possible that we will fail in either event but in one instance we are actually taking authentic action and in the second we are giving in to the lack of persistence, lack of conviction, rationalization, and poor self-esteem?

Rather than taking the chance and failing in the future, you are not taking the chance and choosing to fail now.

What’s more is that most of my clients also choose to give themselves the gift of those negative failure feelings right now. Instead of first trying and riding the waves of motivation and excitement to pursue their dreams and then fail, they are not pursing their dreams at all and feeling terrible now for not pursuing them. They are beating themselves up as if they actually tried and failed but in reality they did nothing. What lunacy is this!?

So what’s the big deal with failure anyway – whether it’s now or in the future – why do we let it keep us from our goals? The truth of the matter is that failure is NOT a big deal. It’s not a big deal until we choose to make it a big deal.

Until we decide what it means to us . . . what it means about us. Failing is simply not meeting your desired objective. It does not mean you are a bad person, it does not mean you can’t achieve your dreams, it doesn’t mean anything until you ascribe a meaning to it and have thoughts about it!

You can choose what to think about your failures and how you think about it will drive how you feel about it and how you feel about yourself. Why are so many of us choosing to make it mean something so negative? When we make failure mean something negative about ourselves, we allow ourselves to fear failure because we are afraid of how we will feel when we fail. That fear is paralyzing so many of my clients and it’s all because of a choice they are making.

Henry Ford famously said “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” He knew that every. single. time. you fail you learn how to not do something. You learn something about yourself, you learn something about the process, you might even learn that you no longer want that goal. Fearing failure is nothing more than being afraid to learn and grow.

If someone said to you, “I am going to win a gold medal at the Olympics on my first try and I am never going to lose a race on my way to the top,” you would think they were crazy. We know failure is a precursor to great success. So why is it that we can’t give that same rational grace to ourselves?

To attain your goals, you are going to have to get comfortable with failure and treat those failures as simply getting you one step closer.

If you want to do something, if you have a dream or a goal or a conversation you want to have, don’t be afraid to take that action and learn from your experience. Don’t anticipate that failure and plan on how you will make that failure mean something negative about yourself. Failure means nothing until you have a thought about it – good or bad – so why let it hold you back? However that experience turns out, you will learn something and, who knows, you might actually write the next Harry Potter on your first try but you won’t know until you act.

I think we should all commit to failing regularly. Ask someone out on a date, try a new workout class, pick up a new language, ask for that raise . . . whatever that might be. If the only thing that is holding you back is the fear about how you will feel if you don’t achieve it, you are allowing your life to be dominated by the fear of failure. Don’t fear failure. Embrace it like a badge of honor because the more you fail, the better you are going to know how to succeed.

After all, fear only hurts if you make it mean something negative.

I teach my clients that they need to be failing massively and often. They take the fruits of those failures and build their dreams. It’s amazing to see what people can do if they adjust the way they see failure and its necessary place in our lives.

Having an uncomfortable dream means being willing to fail and knowing that you can think about those failures however you want — positive or negative. In the end, it’s all progress toward your dreams.

Overcoming the fear of failure and learning to fail forward is at the heart of my coaching practice. Join me and let’s see what fearless looks like on you.

How to be happier

Do you want to be happier in your life? Do you want to find your purpose?

We all do. Let’s be honest, no one has ever declined the possibility for more happiness. The problem is that most of the people I work with are looking for something to make themselves happier, something to bring “purpose” to their life. Usually this search is tied to something concrete and measurable…a job or relationship that will finally make them happy.

Once I lose 10 pounds, I can finally figure out my life.

Once I find a good guy, I will be so much happier.

When I get my law degree and start making money, life will be so much easier.

Most people know better than to tell themselves that doing XYZ will make them happy. They know they are not supposed to say that. But while they are not outright saying it, it is in there quietly driving the search.

It is hidden in the motives they are not questioning or challenging. When you ask yourself why you are doing something or why you want something, THAT is the first step in getting to the heart of the matter and truly understanding where you are and what is driving you.

Often times, what is driving people is the belief that once these things are attained, they will feel happy/fulfilled/worthy, etc.

That. Is. Impossible.

For some of us who are lucky, we lose those 10 pounds, we find that great guy or we finally get that career. But then it sets in. That heavy, dark feeling when you have achieved all of the things and yet you still feel lost. Confused. It didn’t feel like you thought that it would. Didn’t make you happy like you wanted. Everything still feels the same. So now what?

For many people, we recognize the feeling but continue on with our daily lives, riding the merry-go-round…around and around, day after day. We are making good money, we wear nice clothes, we are doing everything we are supposed to be doing, so what if we don’t feel completely fulfilled?

So what?

So what is that you don’t have to feel this way. The root of this problem is that we have been so conditioned by advertisers and the media that our happiness lies outside of ourselves. If we get that power office, that partnership, lose those last 10 pounds, THEN we will have it all. Then we will be happy. Whenever I have a client who tells me that they want to make partner at their firm or get a better job, I ask them why.

Why do you want that? What will be different for you? What will be exactly the same?

Most people have convinced themselves that once they attain these goals, they will finally feel a certain way. That is the crux of this problem. A feeling is something we create for ourselves. A feeling is a direct result of what is happening in your head. It is not something you can get externally. You create your happiness. Period.

You also create your own unhappiness. If you spend your time thinking about how your life is sub-par right now but if and when XYZ happens, then your life will be better, the mental space you are currently living in is not conducive to happiness.

In what realm do thoughts about lack and not being good enough, create a positive and happy life?! You cannot create success from a place of lack.

You cannot reach your dreams while residing in negativity about your current accomplishments. No one who achieved great things did so from a place of victim-hood or emptiness; they achieved success from a place of confidence, peace, and belief in themselves. Their mind was not filled with all the things they disliked about their present state.

Your happiness has nothing to do with what pays the bills or how you spend your days. It is not your career, your status as a parent, or all those parts of our resume we use to define ourselves. Your happiness is created by you and you alone.

Do you want to be happier? Learn to manage your thoughts and understand your motivations. That is the place were happiness can be found and fostered.

Only once you identify those toxins, can you start to build happiness that is unflappable because it is 100% within your control.

That is the power and beauty of a coaching relationship. In my coaching practice, I support you in examining your mindset and the thoughts that are holding you back. Coach with me and uncover the ugly thoughts that are handicapping your happiness.