Snap Out of It

I love a good juicy, gossipy story. Unsurprisingly, I love terrible reality tv. I suppose this speaks to our human tendency toward the negative but there is something about having a good ranting and raving session with your girlfriends about the terrible thing that happened to you or someone else. It’s cathartic! But catharsis aside, when spending too much time extrapolating on the negative aspects of our lives, it can quickly devolve into what behavioral psychologists call the drama triangle.

Have you ever had that moment when your dramatic rant is abruptly halted by someone suggesting that the problem might just be YOU?

Blasphemy!

When we’re accustomed to dripping in negativity about our bosses or our jobs, it is jarring and somewhat offensive when someone suddenly stops playing along in favor of some new perspective.

It’s like that group of single girlfriends that spends every Saturday night together bashing their love interests and blaming them for their lack of happiness and then one night, one of the friends interjects, “What if the problem is us, not them?” Battle lines are suddenly drawn. The mere suggestion that the group perception of reality is skewed and subtly suggesting that they are co-creators of their imperfect reality, is blasphemous. It challenges the very foundation of their friendship and their understanding of who they are in their worldview.

Although the pursuit of a career is not the same as the pursuit of a meaningful relationship, our tendency to fall into certain patterns remains constant, no matter the circumstances. Our tendency to see ourselves as the victim and others as the villain is commonplace and often pervasive in professional environments. Overgeneralizations about dating like “all men/women are dogs” turn into “my boss completely ignores me.” In either case, we are playing a role in what Stephen Karpman calls the “drama triangle.”

Karpman’s drama triangle examines the connection between personal relationships and power in conflicts. The triangle identifies three characters that play a role in conflicts: the persecutor, the rescuer, and the victim. The victim is the primary character who interacts with the persecutor whom the victim blames for their suffering. Then, there is the rescuer who periodically steps in to try and alleviate the victim’s suffering.

In the complicated world of practicing law, I often see my clients vacillating between the victim role and the rescuer.

In the former scenario, their partners/clients/bosses are the persecutor and in the latter, they become the rescuer to the poor planning/demands/needs of their persecutor. 

In one role, we are angry and suffering in our victimhood, and in the other, we are energized by our action as we imagine that our rescuing will “mend” the relationship with our persecutors.

On the one hand, we blame the persecutors for our experiences but then we shift to rescuers, aiming to please our persecutors and seeking some kernel of appreciation from our villains. The dynamic is incredibly toxic and co-dependent and many women that I work with feel compelled to seek out that positive feedback from their persecutors. They spend their entire career aiming to please the seemingly impossible to please persecutors–they are perpetually “rescuing” others in hopes that their value will one day be recognized.

The solution to the drama triangle is the empowerment dynamic developed by David Emerald Womeldorff. The empowerment dynamic asks the victim to take ownership of their lives. To creatively solution their problems and start focusing on what they want and what they can control. Similarly, the rescuer shifts to a coaching role where the codependency is broken and they offer detached support, no longer making the victim’s problems their own These shifts are the only solution to the drama triangle.

In either case, resolution of the drama triangle requires us to take ownership of what is ours and let others take ownership for what is their own. Period.

I work with women every day to recognize the roles they play in the power dynamics of their careers. My work supports women to take back their power and take control over their careers. We may not be able to fix the difficult personalities attendant to practicing law but we can stop blaming them for our unhappiness; we can take control and start taking active steps to create the life we want, the life we deserve.

The goal isn’t to find a perfect workplace, the goal is to do our best to make it work; to actively invest in our own happiness, and stop giving them all the control. Your happiness is worth it.

Sign up for a free consultation today and get the support you need to live empowered and escape the drama. 


Photo by Annie Gavin on Unsplash

Standing In Your Own Way

I’m a firm believer that everybody needs to be doing this work. Why is that? Because we all have ugly thinking that we are carrying around with us that acts as an energetic ball and chain keeping us from creating the life that we really want.

To illustrate this point, I’ve been thinking through accomplishments in history where it’s clear that the champions were able to challenge the thinking of the time in order to create something great.

One thing that most readily came to mind was the concept that our earth is flat. And yes, I have seen the Netflix documentary Flat Earth exploring those of us who continue to subscribe to the belief that our earth is, in fact, flat. Flat Earth people aside, let’s consider the thinking that led to the discovery that our earth is actually round. In order to take the actions that ultimately confirmed the earth’s spherical shape, early thinkers from Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, Aristotle, Plato, Columbus, etc. had to be open to the possibility that the current thinking about the earth was wrong. They had to consider the possibility that everything we had always thought might not be the absolute truth. At the time, these men might not have known how right they were but at least they were open to the possibility.

We cannot do great things while carrying with us opposing beliefs.

These historical figures could not have generated the confidence and curiosity to challenge the theory of the earth’s flatness while being equally invested in the belief that the earth was flat. They had to shake that belief loose and consider the possibility that it might not be absolute. They were open to challenging the predominant certainties.

While this may seem an obvious and unnecessary exploration of history, I point this out because so often my clients are unwilling to dive into the ugly parts of their own brains. They want to develop the pretty thoughts and motivating thoughts or the thoughts that will generate action for them. They don’t want to spend time rolling up their sleeves and looking at their negative thinking and challenging those beliefs.

This is counterproductive and will serve only to create greater cognitive dissonance for my clients as they try to move forward. It’s like stretching a rubber band until it snaps back together — sure, you can make progress in that direction but the progress is never permanent; you always end up right back where you started. You simply cannot generate new action and new results from the same set of beliefs — you have to start thinking and feeling differently.

This requires us to challenge our existing thinking. 

In order to take action in a new direction, we need to generate emotions that will drive new actions and new explorations in recognition that a different truth may exist. Where we have conflicting beliefs that we continue to invest in and give energy to we’re never going to be open to equally investing in a new belief that will generate the energy needed to create the action that we want in order to create a new result.

In sum, unless and until we dismantle pre-existing belief models we will never have the energetic capacity to create new actions and results.

The conflicting, outdated beliefs will act as a ball-and-chain keeping the new beliefs from gaining traction. We will only be partially invested in the new belief, thus the emotions and actions that belief can generate will be restrained. The result is that we will never fully create what we want because we have always hedged our bets by holding onto our existing beliefs.

When we try to breathe life into new beliefs without dismantling our old operating system, we stifle our efforts.

We cannot shift to prettier thoughts and create better feelings and results while at the same time equally investing in opposing beliefs. It’s like putting on a pair of shoes that are 10 sizes too big and trying to run a marathon. It just doesn’t work. Those aren’t your shoes!

The majority of the women I work with want to be more confident. They want to believe they can do it, that they are doing a good job, and that they are good enough. They want to live and act from that space. The problem is they aren’t facing the reality that parts of them are still persuaded by beliefs that they aren’t good enough and that they aren’t going to make it. They are still holding on to the possibility that what they want to believe is not true.

Unless and until they unpack that circus, they will never be able to act from a genuine place of confident beliefs.

We have to look at those existing beliefs and get to a place where we can see them as just that. Choices were making and things we’re choosing to believe. We limit ourselves because we are not coming to new beliefs from a place of investment; rather, we are coming to a new belief from a place of uncertainty and exploration because we’re still committed to believing something else. We cannot create the life we want if we show up every day believing that law firms are unfriendly places for women, places where women can’t succeed as easily as men. That belief is never going to stop sucking part of your energy away from the true intended goal of building a practice you are happy in. That belief will always creep in and reinvest your energy in hopelessness.

If you are truly seeking success in your law firm, we have to start thinking about the law firm life differently.

We have to be open to the possibility that what we have been believing all along is not necessarily true. It’s just our opinion. It’s not factual and it is not serving us. In other words, we cannot shift any beliefs until we find ourselves in a place where we can see the old beliefs as what they are: bad choices that you’re no longer going to make. Not facts and clearly not places we choose to our energy. Only from there can we shift our energy to something new and start creating something new. To do otherwise is to divide our efforts and divide our energy and handicap yourself from the very beginning.

So there it is my friends, get to work looking at your ugly thinking and work on yourself from a place where you can see that all your beliefs about the situation are optional perceptions. You can choose something else. You can be open to the possibility that your perceptions are not the only truth available to you.

Work with me; schedule a free consult and let’s start dismantling your “thought” balls and chains so you can start creating lasting change.


Photo by Joey Kyber from Pexels

Why We Procrastinate (and how to stop)

Procrastination much? We all do it from time to time and, with effort, we can develop different habits. Dare I say, we can stop procrastinating for good? I rarely procrastinate anymore and many of my clients have developed better planning skills and tools to combat the urge to procrastinate but we’ve done that song and dance so we aren’t going there today. Today, we are exploring the rationale behind our procrastination.

First and foremost, let’s blame biology.

In brief, as humans, we are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This means that when our brains perceive danger, rightly or wrongly, our brain will begin crafting an escape route. This biological wiring is designed to keep us out of the mouths of hungry lions.

So where does this danger come in? For those of you living in the thick of your practice, you might be thinking that some of your partners and clients actually resemble hungry lions out to rip your throat out and that’s actually not too far off…. When we have something that we are avoiding, the REASON we are avoiding that project is because we have some underlying fear associated with the project. There is something about the project that is arousing your biological flight response. It might sound something like this

I’m not going to get this right and she is going to be so pissed at me.

I don’t know how to figure this out and he is probably going to fire me when I mess it up.

I cannot stand working for this client, they always leave out crucial facts.

I am so nervous, I cannot botch this project.

I hate working for this partner, I really don’t want to do this.

This is going to be miserable.

All of those thoughts will arouse some type of fear-based response. All of those thoughts trigger more negative thoughts and on and on it goes until we have built up this project to be cruel and unusual punishment that must be avoided at all costs. We are afraid of the consequences of not getting it right, pissing off the partner or the client, or we simply dread the perceived misery of the project.

In either case, we are being driven by some unacknowledged fear.

No problem, says the procrastination fairy, Starbucks has a new latte you need to try, and have you checked out your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page lately? Then we indulge in our other biologically motivated response–seek pleasure! Gobble up endorphins wherever you can find them!

This routine will stretch on only until another, larger, and more critical fear enters the dance floor:

the deadline

Suddenly, the fear that we won’t get the project done in time looms larger in our minds and drowns out the earlier fears of failing the project. We start to imagine the SHOUTY CAPS emails raging over our missed deadline or failure to respond. Our mind is abuzz with a full-on parade of horribles showing us what will happen if we don’t stop shopping on Amazon and get. to. work.

Off we go, motivated by fear once again.

But this time, our earlier procrastination has likely set us up to fail in the exact same manner we were afraid of failing to begin with. We work frantically, our thoughts are scattered, and our work is filled with a chaotic sense of urgency. Ultimately, we end up beating the project to death with the procrastination stick until it is unrecognizable. We make mistakes that are completely out of character because we are rushed and panicked and now even MORE convinced that the partner is, in fact, going to seriously impede your survival at the firm. When we work from that mental space, motivated by fear, we do not do our best work. We miss things we would not normally miss and we overlook basic things that we KNOW. In sum, we fail ourselves and show up much less than our best.

This whole routine is tethered together by one small similarity: fear. We procrastinate because we are avoiding some negative emotion; we are afraid of something about the project. Then we procrastinate until a larger fear gets us moving. Ultimately, we end up creating our own self-fulling prophecy where we do the really terrible job that we feared we would do in the first place.

So what do we do?

We have to start getting honest with ourselves about why we are procrastinating to begin with. Once we get to the root of fear, we can ask whether we like that reasoning. Furthermore, we can acknowledge how this story will end if we choose to invest in that fear and go down the Facebook rabbit-hole instead. Combating procrastination only requires one thing from you: honesty. Honesty with yourself about your actions and your justifications. From there, all you have to do is ask yourself whether you like your reasons for acting or not acting and make a new, informed, honest choice about your next steps. Those are the choices that will determine the type of person you become — one who procrastinates or one who doesn’t. The choice is ultimately yours and all that matters is whether you are comfortable with your reasoning.

“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

Gene Hayden

Start taking actions towards your goals and stop letting fear derail your progress. Sign up for a free session and stop procrastinating today.


Photo by RODOLFO BARRETO on Unsplash

They Don’t Like You

Humans are social animals. There is a part of us that is drawn to community. So when a seed is planted that we are not liked, it’s easy to become consumed with worries and fantasized arguments with others. Not only does this waste your energy in the moment, it’s typically unwarranted. When we get curious about our “I’m disliked” fantasies, we can uncover the root of the issue: our own self-judgment.

When we find ourselves being criticized, we often have an impulse to react and to defend ourselves. No one wants to be a doormat. But there are also times in our lives when we don’t rush to our own defenses: when we don’t see a glimpse of truth in the criticism. In those instances, we are rarely drawn into the foray.

If your neighbor gruffly tells you that they would appreciate it if you would pick up after your dogs and you, in fact, do not have any dogs, that feedback would not upset you. You might take issue with their tone and assumptions but you aren’t going to go to battle about picking up after your dog. That comment would not send you into a tailspin about whether you are a good neighbor or dog owner or a good person in general.

Similarly, if I told you how I hated your blue hair you wouldn’t be offended (unless of course, you have blue hair). Confused? Yes. Concerned for my mental state? Probably. But you wouldn’t be self-conscious about your blue hair or second guess your fashion choices.

This logic rings true when we are concerned that someone doesn’t like us. If we didn’t have a mountain of reasons why we think they don’t like us, it wouldn’t bother us. The problem is that when we are in that headspace, the criticisms and arguments running through our heads are more likely criticisms we have against ourselves. We have plenty of reasons why we think others might not like us, we just have choose amongst the myriad options.

Our internal battles are often punctuated by words the other person didn’t actually say. Things they didn’t actually do. We make assumptions about their “issues” with us and from there we get worked up. Where do those assumptions come from?

Our own stockpile of negative self-talk.

That is why we get so caught up in it. We explain to ourselves what the other person doesn’t like about us and then we go on a defensive rampage in our heads. If we didn’t believe, at least in part, that there was some truth to those criticisms we *think* the other person is lobbing at us, we wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t be so easy to get caught up in it.

BUT this doesn’t mean that you are uncovering subconscious truths about yourself. It doesn’t mean those criticisms are true. It’s simply a mirror, giving you a glimpse of your own self-judgments and the unkind words we say to ourselves over and over and over again. It’s like taking off the soundproof headphones and listening to our horrible inner self-talk for the first time.

So the next time you find yourself stewing about how someone doesn’t like you and drawing conclusions about why that might be, ask yourself

What parts of my story are factual? Did the other person actually SAY or DO anything to confirm these conclusions?

Why does it bother me? Is part of  my story based upon my own personal fears and judgments about myself?

When we worry about why others don’t like us, it is easy for our brain to pull out the reasons WE don’t like ourselves and offer those up to support your conclusion. This does not make it true. Use this as an opportunity to better understand your relationship with yourself. From there you can decide what type of friend you want to be — to YOURSELF.

Negative self talk is toxic and it permeates so many of our relationships with other people. Do your own work and watch your relationships with those around you flourish.


Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash

Timelines

As an unmarried woman tap dancing around 40, timelines are often a topic of conversation. People LOVE to talk timelines at me — baby timelines, marriage timelines, “when will you start acting like a grown-up”-timelines. We make timelines for marriage, kids and the white picket fence. We are acutely aware of the impact time has on our bodies, our skin, and our metabolism.

Our career trajectory has its own timeline and our days are constantly at the mercy of the clock in 6 minute increments. With all this focus on time, we have to take *time* to pause and reflect on all this rigidity.

Are the timelines we adopt in our minds really timelines or are we sacrificing our peace to arbitrary metrics?

Many of my clients speak of a mystical timeline for attorney-success. There seems to be some notion of when we are *most* marketable and when we lose that marketability. This timeline puts pressure on the decision whether to get serious about partnership or begin examining other alternatives.

Practicing law, like all professions, will certainly come with its own unique decisions to be made. Unless utilizing the ostrich approach to your career, you are undoubtedly going to have to decide whether partnership is something you want. You will be exposed to other opportunities. You will likely be courted by headhunters as your skillset is sharpened. You will have choices to make.

But these choices are yours to make. In your own time. As you see fit. PERIOD.

When we acknowledge that we have choices but then pile on arbitrary deadlines, the decision-making process becomes compressed and our emotions become heightened. Your legal career is not borne within some hourglass that tracks your marketability and viability. We are not counting embryos here. You get to decide when it’s time for a change. You get to decide what your path looks like.

There is nothing wrong with never making partner. There is nothing wrong with working at a firm for 9 years and then moving on. There is no expiration on your value and the contributions that you can make. When we buy into the notion that our marketability has an expiration date, we are selling ourselves short. We ignore all that we have learned thus far and make ourselves the victim to some arbitrary standard.

When we buy into beliefs the our choices (our FREE WILL) has an expiration date, we compound the difficulties that are inherent in life. It is hard enough to decide what we want to do with our lives, why add an arbitrary deadline to it?

What I often see are young attorneys who have concluded, after 3-5 years of practice, that they MUST make a decision about what they want long term. They visit with me in hopes that I can provide them with some clarity about the right path for them.

While there are a variety of factors that will play into the decision to leave a firm, expiration of your value should not be one of them.

I have seen senior attorneys, without any book of business, get hired to build their own practice group. I have seen tenured in-house attorneys, practicing 20+ years, return to big law practice. I have seen associates start their own firms after practicing for 1 year. There is no limit on your value and there is no deadline for determining your next step.

If you could believe that you were under no deadline make a decision, what would you do? That is the only relevant inquiry.

If you are investing in some sort of timeline–for your career, your relationship, marriage, procreation–I invite you to explore how that timeline came to be? Is it founded in “good law”? Is it serving you? Don’t let dramatics cloud your judgment and your decisions. This is your life. You get to make the timeline, no one else.

The majority of my clients are driven to find a coach because they are looking to make a change in their career–they are either seeking to show up differently in their current environment or they are looking for  a dramatic overhaul. If you are looking to make some changes, schedule a free consult and let me support you in gaining clarity.

Being On Call 24/7

In everything that we do, we are expressing our values not only to ourselves but those around us. In that expression, others will learn to anticipate where they fall on your hierarchy of values. If your choices communicate to them that they will always be #1 no matter what, they will come to expect that treatment every time. Why wouldn’t they?

When you get that phone call late at night, you are choosing to value it more than your time at home with your family.  You are choosing to place greater value on not being yelled at than getting a full night sleep.

You are always making choices where to spend your energy.

Your job is not robbing you of the balance you seek. You are opening the doors and burning down all your guard towers. Why then are we so surprised when they keep doing it? You set the precedent by communicating where these types of interactions fall on your list of priorities: right at the top, above all else.

The only person you need to be mad at for constantly pushing your boundaries is you. Other people will not naturally violate our boundaries — they are taught what is acceptable. WE teach them what is acceptable by our actions. When they continually do so, it is only because they have become the monsters WE CREATED.

We’ve all seen those attorneys who just don’t give a F about not responding immediately to calls and emails. Everyone knows it, everyone gossips and gripes about it, and everyone is secretly jealous that they don’t have the guts to do the same. Not only do those attorneys still have a job but they also have all the balance we’ve been craving. People learned not to call them after 6 and deduced that they won’t respond to late night emails unless it’s truly an emergency.

They made a choice about what they valued more — not being gossiped about or having work life balance. For them, having more balance is worth so much more than being gossiped about for not be “responsive” all the time.

They made conscious decisions about their values and where the demands of the job fell with respect to those values. They clearly communicated their values and they stuck to their guns.

It can be as simple as that.

You do not have to respond to every email just because you saw it and just because someone else decided it was an emergency.  Develop the art of cultivating your mail and only responding after hours to true emergencies (here’s a hint: they never are, we’re not ER doctors) or when you REALLY want to.

Humans are creatures of habit. If we allow others to call on us at all hours of the night, they will continue to do so if it yields the result they want. And they will stop if it doesn’t get the result they want.

You are not a victim to others.

You are only a victim to your own choices and luckily for all of us, we can start making better choices. Choices more in tune with our values.

Sick of the constant barrage of emails and phone calls 24/7? Get support figuring out how to chart a new course at work by signing up for a free session.


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“Yes” Women

Impostor syndrome: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

Many of the women that I work with suffer from various manifestations of imposter syndrome. Recently, I have noticed that many of my clients “handle” their imposter syndrome by slipping to a persistent helper role.

Imposter syndrome persistently tells us that we are a “fake” and that we will be found out; that eventually everyone will realize that we don’t belong and they will get rid of us. One tendency to combat these fears is to make yourself irreplaceable. For many women, this takes the form of caretaker or helper.

I recently had a client who expressed how important it was to her to always been seen as reliable and someone that others could always count on. She was always offering to support new projects and teams even when she knew that she didn’t have the time or capacity. More often than not, she would come to our sessions operating on fumes. Completely exhausted and frustrated that no one can do anything without her. She was burnt out and wanted to change this pattern.

As we explored her patterns, we came to understand that this was completely a mess of her own making. She consciously took on more than she was able and was reluctant to give up that part of her practice. On the one hand, she knew that it was making her miserable but at the same time, she didn’t want to give up that important position. She didn’t want people to gripe if she said no to work. She didn’t want people to judge her if she scaled back and she imagined a parade of horrible comments she believed her co-workers would make if she stopped helping everyone. She wanted to be needed. She wanted to be an essential player on every team. It made her feel safe and secure.

This is what imposter syndrome does! It creates patterns of coping with our fears of inadequacy. We craft ways to “cover up” our perceived shortcomings to keep our secret safe. In my client’s instance, she was bending over backwards to be available to anyone for any project, at any moment. She was constantly cancelling personal trips and social gatherings to jump on new projects. It had become part of her persona and it was what made her feel like she belonged–it helped to soothe the fears of inadequacy. It silenced the negative rantings in her head — they couldn’t possibly fire her even if they discovered her inadequacies, too many people NEEDED her!

The patterns that accompany imposter syndrome are not sustainable. It is neither fulfilling nor rewarding to be at everyone’s beck and call. While it filled my client with a momentary sense of pride, more often it made her angry and frustrated. She felt trapped and out of control. She believed she had nowhere to go but to a full-fledged, out-of-nowhere explosive resignation. But in order to avoid that meltdown, my client needed to take a hard look at her helper tendencies and invest in making some changes.

What is it costing you to say yes to work and projects that you really don’t want to do?

What is really motivating you to take on all these things?

What would it get you if you were better able to set boundaries?

What would it be like to be able to unplug and enjoy your personal life?

Changing how we think of ourselves and how we show up in our lives is painful. Facing the fears associated with setting boundaries is hard work — it is FAR easier to just keeping saying yes to every man, woman, child, and dog that want your time and energy. The only way to truly make the shift is to first get really clear on what your current pattern is costing you and what it will cost you in the long-term if you fail to make a change.

Are you sacrificing your personal life and relationships because you are afraid to say “no” at work? What is that costing you?

Some day, you will leave that job and your friends and family will still be there. Your body, your health, your mental well-being will still be with you. Are you investing in those as well? Is your pattern costing you all those things that will remain once this job is done?

Our patterns are persuasive and convincing. It’s easy to believe we are doing the right things. Those tendencies likely created your immediate success, after all. In order to break this cycle, we have to open our eyes and see that these patterns are costing us more than they are getting us. We have to start believing that if we remain in place, we will destroy everything. Because it’s true. We have to see the forest for the trees. We have to do the hard work.

In order to change we have to understand the cost-benefits of staying where we are versus evolving. If you need support deconstructing your current patterns, grab a free session and start re-investing in your own wellbeing. After all, it’s just a job…

Toxic Beliefs

There are going to be people in your life who are going to challenge you. As an attorney, I can fully buy into the idea of toxic work environments and all the challenges that go along with them. But today, I want to back up the conversation one step and examine what it means for someone or some place to be “toxic”? What I have found is that this idea of “toxicity” is filled with more drama than fact.

Typically, when we identify something or someone as toxic, we are the only ones who show up ugly and toxic.

I focus my coaching on recognizing our own innate power to create our reality and our own happiness. My clients will tell you that I have helped them see the role they are playing in their own struggles. However, as a reiki master, I can also agree that our lives are filled with energy–our energy and the energy of those around us. When we characterize an environment or a person as “toxic” there is so much work to be done on that conclusion. Through coaching, I help my clients more closely examine that conclusion and challenge it BUT we are not doing that today.

Today, I want to allow space for this concept of toxic people and toxic environments. I want to go along with the idea that people and things can be toxic and ask:

When we characterize a person or an environment as toxic, what is the impact that has on YOU?

Our brains are not capable of processing all the information at our disposal in every moment. Rather, we give our brains direction and focus with our thoughts. We tell our brains where to focus its energy and our brain will buzz along compiling evidence to support that thought-directive. Evidence from both our past and present experience.

This is critical awareness because when we believe that someone or something is toxic, we become the victim of our own confirmation bias. Our brain is only going to gather data to support that directive and it is going to disregard data to the contrary. We essentially put on information blinders.

We all like to believe that we are open-minded and willing to see things from someone else’s point of view. But it is not possible to be open-minded when we are running around with these types of beliefs in our minds. It is not possible for us to see the opposing evidence when we allow ourselves to draw these types of conclusions!

A belief, any belief, will inevitably overlook contradictory facts and opposing evidence.

Furthermore, when we characterize those around us as toxic, this can be a subconscious green light to show up like a total asshole. Our negative characterization of the other person will impact how we show up and, let’s be honest, it’s not often our best. We see these toxic people as not worth the energy to be polite or kind to: we give ourselves a pass to show up as so much less than our best.

This robs us of the opportunity to grow. “Toxic” people are your perfect opportunity to show up as your best self. You don’t have to be affected by what they say or do. Practice disconnecting your emotions and thoughts from their actions. Practice allowing other people to be whomever they want to be — it only has to affect you if you let it. It only affects you if you allow their actions to shift your own energy.

It’s easy to label people or circumstances as toxic. The hard work comes from honing our ability to show up as the best version of ourselves. There will always be difficult people — practice dealing with them and stop practicing running away from them.

When you find yourself challenged with a “difficult” person or situation, be cautious not to place a negative label on it. That label will cloud your judgment and prevent you from being the open-minded person you strive to be. You will be blinded by your own confirmation bias and you inhibit your ability to show up as the best version of yourself.

So what do you do when you find yourself pulling your hair out and frustrated about a person or situation? Get curious. Stop investing and participating in the drama and become an observer. Watch the scenario as if it were  a movie — a movie staring you and your boss the chauvinist!  Whatever it takes, make efforts to disconnect from the drama and your judgments. Examine the experience from outside of yourself. Ask yourself what the situation has to teach you. Get curious about why people act the way that they do and try to foster some compassion. Be open to seeing the good in the other person — what might they be struggling with?

It’s hard work but no one ever said that being the best version of yourself would  be easy. Look around at the people in your life you have labeled negatively and start using them as your greatest teachers. How much better would your life be if you could transform those relationships? Get started transforming those relationships today.


“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Career Changes

At some point in your career, you may find yourself wondering if it is time for a career change. Many of my clients grapple with the notion of leaving their current career path in favor of another.

When evaluating whether to make a career change, the most important question you can ask yourself is: why not?

I’m a firm believer that is something is nagging at your consciousness – like the question of a career change – there is something going on that is worth paying attention to. Most people disregard those nagging feelings because when they are asked “why not make the change?” their justifications are based on fear. It’s easier to stay put than it is to take the risk and try something new. Just because something is “easy” or “comfortable” doesn’t mean it is the right decision for you.

When you are 80 years old looking back on your life and your career, are you going to be happy you choose to remain put because it was easy? Are you going to regret not shaking things up?

When you ask yourself “why not do the damn thing?” and you don’t have good reasons, you need to take a hard look at your life. If your reasons are fear-based or comfort-focused, you are selling yourself short.

Stay because you WANT to stay. Stay because you like your reasons for staying.

If you are questioning your current path, that feeling rarely goes away. If anything it will only amplify. If you accepted that as true, what would you do with your life? If you knew that every job, every position, was simply a different and evolving season of your life, what would you do next?

I like to think about my life and my choices like the evolution of fashion or tastes. What I once thought was my most promising fashion choice in the 80s does not hold up well today. We change. We want new things. We become different people. It’s perfectly natural to want to be challenged in a new way or to experience new things professionally.

When you find yourself asking whether it is time for a new career choice, honor yourself by giving space to that question. Why do you find yourself asking that question? What is lacking in your current experience that you are wanting. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and explore what is going on with you that is arousing that question.

We must learn to honor ourselves and respect the questions we present to ourselves. Ask the questions. You are the only one who can ever determine if it is time for a change but if you keep ignoring those nagging questions, you will never get to the right answer for yourself.

Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.

—M. Scott Peck

Of course, prior to making any type of  a significant change, I believe that we must act from a place of peace and happiness. Big decisions should not be made when we are feeling emotional or when we are worn out. Part of what I do as a coach is help my clients clean up all the mental garbage they have bogging them down so that they can make decisions from a place of clarity: decisions based upon sound reasoning and intention. If you aren’t in a good mental headspace, you must first work on your relationship with yourself. Good decisions will then flow from that place. Need support? Grab a free session while they are still available!


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Believing New Things

One of the questions I get most often when coaching my clients is:

How do I stop thinking that?

Once we understand the correlation between our thoughts and how those thoughts are creating our present reality, the first thing my clients want to do as professional perfectionists is FIX it. Once we understand the equation, we want to clean it up and get back to work.

As attorneys, it is our job to strategize, navigate, and fix problems. When we realize that our brain is part of the “problem” it is natural for us to want to fix it.

The problem is that our brain is a formidable adversary and, no matter how much coaching we do, will we ever be able to build you a brain that only thinks, productive, worthy thoughts.

So we must learn to co-exist with our nasty little thoughts.

We must stop fighting them! Unproductive thoughts will always be part of our reality. The key is getting to a place where we see those thoughts as neither good nor bad. Simply a sentence our brain is really good at offering us.

Whenever we botch a big project, our brain is always going to want to tell us that we don’t belong, we will never figure it out, etc. We are SO GOOD at thinking those thoughts! It is natural that our efficient, primitive brain would continue to do so.

So what do we do?

(The second most common question I get from my clients.)

We see the thought, we understand the negative impact it is having on our life, and now we are ready to change it, right?!

Nope.

We want to erase the “bad” thought. We want to shift to a new thought or build upon ladder thoughts to feel better or create the results that we want. However, when we jump right in like that, we continually find ourselves back at the original thought and more frustrated that we can’t make the shift.

This is a sign that we are not yet ready to move on to a new thought. We keep coming back because there is a part of us that still believes the original thought. We don’t yet see it as a set of words that pop into our head.

There is still a part of us that hasn’t accepted it as an optional description of reality.

What we have to do in that situation is to challenge ourselves and force a paradigm shift. We’ve all had those experiences in our lives where suddenly a long-held thought or belief is completely deconstructed due to something that we’ve learned, witnessed, or experienced. We need to create that same type of paradigm shift within ourselves about that thought.

For each of those automatic thoughts that we want to move away from we have to really start asking:

Is it true how?

Could I understand things differently?

Where does that thought come from?

Why am I choosing to believe that?

What if that weren’t true?

What are the facts of my story?

What if nothing has gone wrong?

Can I imagine this another way?

What if I did know what to do?

Questioning and challenging the thought will allow your mind the space to start examining whether or not that belief is really true. It helps us get to a place where we can accept that the thought is just a thought–it’s not a fact and other alternatives exist.

Once we start dismantling the belief and seeing it as just that a belief or optional thought, only from there can we starts shifting to a new thought.

Whenever we find ourselves in a mental thought boomerang, it’s a sign that we’re not ready to accept that belief as untrue. We tried to move forward with a new, contrary belief while we’re continuing to believe the old thought.

In order to solidify the shift, we have to come to a place where we accept that the original belief is optional.

We have to allow ourselves to dismantle that belief and start seeing poking holes in it.

If you don’t allow yourself the space to dismantle that belief it will always pop up and continue to derail any shifting that you are trying to make. First we must disprove the thoughts and loosen its grip on ourselves.

Many of my clients have struggled to “clean up” their negative thoughts patterns unsuccessfully. They come to me frustrated with their inability to move to higher mental ground. This is part of the process we work through in the coaching space–dismantling closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that aren’t serving you.

Schedule a free consultation and check it out for yourself.


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels