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.

Finding Your Purpose

So many of my clients come to me telling me that they are confused. They feel lost. They don’t know what they are supposed to do with their life. They come to me looking for answers and my response is always the same: I offer them a mirror.

We have been taught from a young age that our purpose is the same as our job. What’s the most common thing people ask children?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As if these kids are supposed to have any idea. What’s more, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and judgment that accompanies that question. If the child says “I want to be a lawyer,” people automatically think wow, the parents must be doing something right, good for them. If the child says, “I want to be a trash collector,” the parents cringe and the audience tries to keep their faces neutral while they smugly think good luck with that one, big dreams there, kiddo, my kid wants to be a doctor, etc. So convoluted.

Your purpose often times has nothing to do with your day-to-day job.

Your purpose should be what gets you out of bed everyday. Your job should be what pay the bills so that you can have time to enjoy your purpose. Sometimes those two things merge but only when they merge organically: when the purpose is pursued with honesty and love. Trying to force your purpose to pay the bills is a good way to ruin that joy your purpose used to give you. Enjoy those things that light you up and see where the path takes you. Don’t contaminate it by trying to make it something it doesn’t have to be (e.g., a formal profession).

This then begs the question, how do you find that purpose? Your purpose is what makes you tick. What makes your heart sing. That is not something anyone else can find for you — hence, the mirror.

When my clients are unsure about their purpose, I offer them an experiment. Years ago, I was struggling with life inside the machine that is a corporate law firm and I just couldn’t put my finger on the problem. I didn’t hate my job but I didn’t love my job. I was feeling blah about the whole thing and I couldn’t figure out why. I was completely unmotivated, just going through the motions.

So, for one month, at the end of every day, I would spend 5 minutes thinking about my day and writing down the things that made me happy that day and the things that got my blood boiling. After doing this for one month, I realized that the things I loved the most about my days were the moments that I was able to spend connecting with the young associates — talking to them about their challenges, their goals, their development. I relished the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with them, to learn about them and their struggles, to offer them support and gentle guidance. That lead to a larger evaluation of myself. I realized that this fit into my disdain for small talk. I hate it and I’m terrible at it. The way I see it, is that if we aren’t going to talk about something deep and meaningful, I would rather not talk at all. Let’s not chit chat about work and the weather. Let’s talk about what moves you, what excites you. So naturally, I love those people who overshare within the first 5 seconds of a conversation. Those people who put it all out there right away for public examination, the good, the bad, the ugly, the inappropriate. I LOVE skipping right over the pleasantries and diving right into real life and getting our hands dirty. I LOVE having deep and meaningful conversations with perfect strangers about their struggles and challenges.

You can see how this realization lead me to where I am today. That woke me up. I realized that those true connections and partnerships were the only part of my job that I was truly loving. So, I switched jobs to enjoy a steadier and less all-consuming career so that I could make space for my purpose. This purpose. I realized what moved me and I made room for it. I have never looked back.

So here’s your challenge . . . For one month, spend 5 minutes every day thinking about what you liked about your day. Were there parts of your day where you felt alive? Where you were excited about something? What parts of your day sapped your energy and left you feeling drained?

Only you can find that for yourself but you won’t find it outside of yourself. Do the work. Spend time within yourself. You will be amazed at what you discover.

Need help finding your path and taking that next step? Sign up for a free coaching session with me and let’s see what we can do together.

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.

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.