Calling all Tired Overachievers

Clear half an hour. Turn off your phone.
Let’s reclaim some energy.

Are you feeling…
• Depleted?
• Like your mojo has left town?
• Wanting to shift this, but have no idea how? (It all feels too tiring…)

If that’s you, let’s roll. Download the pdf below to get started…


21 Years On, Forgiveness is Still a Bugger (though it’s less hard)

This is a story about me (but it’s not just about me). It is for anyone who has ever struggled with forgiveness…

My father was the kind of guy who used a shopping cart at the liquor store. I say ‘was’ because he is dead.

12 December, 2000, was the day my father died at the age of 53. That was the day his lungs stopped functioning. He had no more thoughts, no heartbeat, no pulse. It was lights out. Game over.

But really, I had lost my father long before that. I’d had a Tony Soprano, ‘You’re dead to me,’ kind of attitude towards him for years.  It was his addiction that inflamed me, the fact that his priorities were bottle-shaped.

The anger that was a brushfire in my teenage years mellowed into a smoldering long-term resentment. God, I was angry about his sternness. What an epic jerk. What a loser. I loathed him for pushing me relentlessly to achieve, and for shaming me relentlessly when I didn’t.  I was mad – hornet mad – that he wouldn’t control his addiction that was killing our family.  And don’t get me started about the embarrassment.  We couldn’t take the guy anywhere.

But my disapproval never stopped him from stowing whisky bottles in the filing cabinet or in the garage. They were behind the curtains and in the kitchen cupboards too.

Weak, despicably weak – that’s what I used to think, pursing my lips like a cat’s bum. I remember those crisp, righteous judgments that felt so binary.  I’m right, and you’re wrong, Mister. YOU are responsible for this whole heinous mess.

For years, this is how I thought of him.

Even now, I can see him stumbling down the corridor, large steps and tiny steps, his silhouette swaying side to side like a great ship.

For twenty one years, his bones have been in the earth.  In that time, my anger became numbness, and even that is shape-shifting into something softer and more malleable now.  The fist in my sternum isn’t clenched quite as tightly. I’ve stopped keeping tally of all his failures on the yellow legal pad in my mind.

Has forgiveness been an elegant process, you ask, like the gentle opening of a flower?

Did I cut him some slack since he’s dead and all? ‘Dead as a doornail,’ as my grandma used to say.

(Insert record scratch sound).


I kept right on crusading.

One of our childhood neighbors used to have a sign in her kitchen that read, ‘Bless this mess.’

It’s only recently that I’m discovering that forgiveness is more like that – blessing the mess.

My kids sometimes ask questions about my father. So I breathe deeply, allowing my memory to unspool, pausing at the highlight reel of happy moments from my childhood. Fetching Christmas trees on skis from the forest. Watching the northern lights, bundled up, laying on our backs on a freezing winter’s night. Swimming at the lake. Blowing dandelion tufts into the wind.

My children listen with interest, and then, in that matter-of-fact way that kids have, my daughter says: ‘Your dad is dead.’

Then it kinda hits me.

My father doesn’t get to be here anymore. He doesn’t get to know my wonderful children with their foibles and hugs and funny ways. He doesn’t get to see how we grew up, my brothers and I, because he checked out.

It’s not that he wanted to depart. He was simply living his own truth, responding to his own memories and experiences in the way that felt right for him.  I didn’t agree with it (I still don’t). But he was living his truth, just like I am intuiting and living my own.  We all are.

Seeing my father as a human being, not as a super villain who did something purposely ‘to me,’ has been an important step.

I can’t say if it’s age or the passing of time, but resentment no longer makes me feel superior, or even comforted in the weird sort of way it once did.  I don’t need that armour anymore.

And honestly, what is the point of being ‘right’ when the other party has left the party?

So what if I stopped making my father wrong? What would be possible then? Resentment is, after all, just a habit.  I can think of better ones.

Iyanla Vanzant says, ‘If someone has offended you, insulted you, or disappointed you, LET IT GO! If you are remembering all the ways you have been hurt, or forgotten, let it go! Ask yourself, what good does it do for me to hold onto this?

My best self knows the folly of holding old resentment. It’s like clutching a handful of broken glass.

That mess of ill-expressed love, sternness and overzealous ambition was my father, and I love him. I can’t remember when I last said that. Maybe never. I can love him now because it’s not so difficult to like him anymore.

Rumi wrote, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.’

What I lost on 12 December, twenty one years ago, was hope. Maybe that’s what made me so angry for so long – that my father chose to give up; that he seemed to choose whisky over us.

What I’m choosing to lose today (and tomorrow, and the next day), is my resentment. That, and the disappointment of all my weighty expectations.  I am a 50 year old woman now.  The past is so over. One lesson that is surfacing for me is that I cannot be at my best, not really, if I’m schlepping around all that pointless baggage. I long to travel lighter in this lifetime.

But forgiveness is a fickle thing. That’s actually a polite way of saying it’s a bugger. Just when you think you’re done, an old blame-soaked thought broadsides you on a Tuesday afternoon. In my experience forgiveness is more like a daily practice. I’m not yet sure if I’ll ever be done with this mess.

I do know this, though: when the old stories rise up, I head to Rumi’s field in my mind. There I lie on my back, looking up at the expanse of blue sky. And I let them go one by one, those old resentful thoughts, like tufts of dandelion on the wind. I am learning.  Little by little, I am learning.

Blog: Do You Over-Yes?

You buy books that you don’t have time to read. You’ve signed up for online courses that you never even started (yep, me too). You fantasize about sleeping for weeks.

Your default response to “How are you?” is a wild-eyed “SO busy!”  Add a few arm flails for effect.

You start your day feeling buried, and your inbox, well, lets just say it makes you want to do your dead fly impression.

Your energy and mojo left the building in 1977.

So you search (and search, and search) for the magic something that’ll give you the Instagram lifestyle and resuscitate your moxie.

Sound familiar?

You, my dear, might be suffering from chronic overwhelm (been there too).

It often comes from over-yes-ing. I’m inventing a term here.

This happens when we agree to take on even more, thinking it will make us more valued, happy and successful.

We over-yes when we don’t know what we really want.

Over-yes-ing is a sign that we’re groping in the dark for something that we can’t really articulate, except that it’s more than what we currently have.

It sucks, right?

We over-yes because we don’t want to miss out.

The irony is, we miss out precisely because we over-yes.

The freaky-outty part of us gets fuelled by comparing ourselves to others, who seem to have the “something more” that we’re frantically searching for. I call it comparisonitis. It triggers heaping on more “doing” and chasing to close the gap.

That sh*t stops here.

This is an invitation to get curious about your chronic overwhelm.

What do YOU really want? What’s a real priority?

When you start building your curiosity muscles, you can sit quietly with these important questions. And the dizzy-dancing freedom that comes from knowing what you want makes “No” your new BFF.

The people who really have it goin’ on – they’re not worried about FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out).

They’re not comparing themselves relentlessly with others.

They are too busy focusing on creating a life and way of serving that juices them up.

Need a Mojo Defibrillator?

If you’re creating something important (but feel stalled and disgruntled), here are 3 ways to keep your mojo in flow

This post is for anyone who is creating something – a podcast, a blog, a book, a business, a social media following, a career that makes you light up. More specifically, it’s for anyone who has felt deflated or questioned themselves during the creative process. You’re not alone, superstar.

Here are three mojo defibrillators if you’ve ever uttered the words, ‘What is the bleeping point?’

Challenge 1: I’m not making any progress, and therefore I must suck

There is a lag between work and result. Hoping that your work and your community will develop at Polaroid speed is a surefire way to get discouraged. Before you quit as a self-proclaimed loser, ask yourself: Am I actually in the lag zone?

We are such mean bosses to ourselves, especially when nothing seems to be happening, in spite of our hard work. The good news? Chances are, you don’t suck (even if it feels like you do). Lets face it, working for a meanie pants never brings out the best work in anyone.

How to Un-Suck

So here’s an invitation: Think about the amazing, inspiring, super-understanding boss, coach or mentor you’d love to have – then go and be that boss to yourself.

How would that amazing person support you when you were feeling disheartened in the lag zone? What would they say? How would they keep you motivated? Would they give you a pep talk? A reframe? A day off? A hug? Maybe they’d suggest that you get some help, a coach, a virtual assistant, a weekly massage.

It’s so useful to get out of yourself for a moment, to see from another perspective, even if that perspective is imaginary. Our emotions create mental smoke bombs, but this little trick (what would a great boss do in this situation?) can clear things up quickly.

So here’s the mojo pump: Become a kinder supporter of yourself, because we’re always occupying the space between work and result. Creating something of value is a marathon, not a sprint (my great me-boss reminds me of this every day).


Challenge 2: I’m busy all day, but I’m not getting any traction

There’s work – the dull, unsexy, necessary grind – and there’s busy-ness masquerading as the work. A tip off for identifying busy-ness: it often starts like this, “I’ll just quickly….” (check Facebook; rearrange my workstation; floss; throw on a load of whites; trim my cuticles). This is a seemingly innocuous zone, this busy-work, that lulls you into feeling productive. But really, in your heart of hearts, you know it is avoidance.

Your real work can’t emerge if you don’t keep showing up. It’s so simple that it’s analog.

How to Bust those Distractions

I make it a game to identify my mental minions, the name I give those seemingly innocent urges.

Try this. Challenge yourself to notice the urge to pivot from the work – the siren call of the breakfast dishes, or “researching” something online (OMG those dancing Chihuahuas are adorable!).

When the urge comes, notice it, then expose it: “AHA, you again, trying to hook me” (or language it however you like). The method is simple and effective: Notice, then bust. You can even put a Post-it note on your computer with big minion eyes as a reminder.

When I call out an urge, I smile and allow it to pass. If I need a boost of energy when I notice the mental minion, I might even break into song, doing a Freddie Mercury – ‘Don’t stop me now; I’m having such a good time, I’m havin’ a ball!’

Yes, I mostly work alone…

So here’s the mojo pump: Notice and disrupt the urge, whatever that means for you. Having fun with the lure of distraction also helps to bust it (hence the Freddie Mercury). If you struggle with mental minions too, I’m podcasting on this soon – stay tuned.


Challenge 3: My self-belief is having a Chernobyl-scale meltdown

The good news? Self-doubt is totally normal. Knowing that drops everyone’s shoulders a couple of inches. The bad news is that self-doubt is paralyzing, unhelpful and can be darned tricky to shake off. It kinda barnacles onto you, meaning you can spend days, weeks, even years in this mode, generating plenty of stories for your stuckness and lack of talent.

How to switch gears

Noticing is important here too. Again, try making it a game. Ask yourself: Am I identifying with any of the seven self-abusive dwarves? (Cranky, Self-Judgey, Mopey, Doubtful, Weepy, Apathetic and Clueless).

Notice your self-talk when your belief is in meltdown.

Maybe you’re in Victim mode, which might sound like this: I’m working SO hard and it’s just not happening for me. She’s rocking it, but she’s got money and support and better hair. Some people have all the luck.

In victim mode, you have zero responsibility for fixing or taking ownership of anything. Nada. This is where the wallowing can start, and where productive work and creativity taper off.

We also have a Persecutor mode – ever notice that? It often follows the victim mode, and it’s mean and has no sense of humour. It might say things like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ Or ‘I told you that you’d fail at that. Did someone say LOSER?’

The Victim and the Persecutor get all frothed up when you’re doing work that matters. If you’re creating something that feels risky in a good, I’m-nervo-cited-kind-of-way, you can bet these two killjoys will gatecrash the party.

So here’s the mojo pump: Instead of trying to make them disappear, take a leaf from Brené Brown’s work and reserve the victim and persecutor a seat. That’s right, save ’em a seat.  Expect that they’ll show up (because they always do).  But here’s the kicker – you can acknowledge their presence, but you don’t have to take their feedback.

Like Brené says, if you’re not in the ring getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.

So yes, I hear you Victim and Persecutor, but I’m not listening.


Quick recap:

  • Try being the ultimate self-supporter when your mojo dips. What would an understanding, kind, inspired and motivated boss or mentor do to support you in this situation? Then go and do that for yourself.
  • When the mental minions try to disrupt your work, feigning urgency, notice the urge and disrupt it. Try using humour (“Don’t stop me now!”).
  • And notice your self-talk when your mojo has gone AWOL. Have the victim and persecutor invited themselves to tea? Acknowledge them (sadly, they never go away), but they are not getting their butts kicked in the ring. You are. That means you get to choose whose feedback you listen to.

Keep shining, superstar. We need what you are making.

2 Need-to-Know Ways to Handle Fear

This post is for anyone who ever had the following thought: So I want to do this thing, but I’m afraid I’ll fail…


And if I fail, they’ll think less of me. They won’t respect me. They’ll criticize me (and I’m so afraid of the jerk-wads and haters). And that would be awful, right, being criticized and not respected?

I was talking to another coach about how we (as in, most humans) create the perfect formulae to live small, safe lives. Work hard, but don’t get too big for your britches. Put yourself out there, but not too out there…

Playing small is a kind of armour. It keeps us just under the radar, seemingly impervious to criticism, rejection and failure.

Playing small can show up like this:

Not prioritizing yourself – constantly choosing seemingly urgent tasks that override the real stuff: social media over meditation; shampooing the cat over writing the business plan; laundry over laps; KFC over kale. Tomorrow, I promise I’ll start tomorrow….And before you know it, mañana is the busiest day of the week.

Glorifying busy. I’m SO busy is a toxic badge of honour, as if life is happening to us, leaving us responding like automatons. The reality is, it’s on our to-do list because we said YES to it. The funny thing about being too busy and overwhelmed is that it gives us a crafty, guilt-free way to avoid what is really calling to us. Hand on heart question: Is at least some of my “busy-ness” really a form of distraction? #dancingchihuahuavideos

Replaying stories of when things went wrong (and fixating on them). These stories are incredibly seductive because they lie with a poker face. We can convince ourselves that we’re not brave or talented enough, because (cue ominous voice) remember that time when…?

We focus on all the occasions when the shitake hit the fan, not the times we rose to a challenge.

So how do we cut it out already?

I’m not going to kid you. It takes chops.

Fear is at the core of all the ways in which we stop ourselves.

Consider a few possible scenarios.

Exhibit A: I want to make videos, but I cringe hearing my own voice. I’m scared to suck in public.


Exhibit B: I want to write my book (or start my kale smoothie business; or record my harpsichord CD), but I’m scared it’ll fail. That’ll mean I’m a failure, right?


Exhibit C: I really want to ______(fill in the blank), but I don’t know where to start. I’m afraid that if I proceed, my pristine un-lived dream, you know the BIG one, won’t work or turn out like I thought. What if it flops, and no one cares? Then I’m dreamless, plus I’ve pancaked in public. This terrifies me.

How is fear-avoidance working out for you?

Fear rules the roost when our critic is in charge. The critic would happily have us cleave off all the “less-than” parts of ourselves to avoid failing or sucking in public.

Truth is, those curious, creative parts of ourselves that long to unfurl, come with no guarantees. But they are also the propelling forces of our dreams and unborn creative projects. We simply can’t make stuff without them.

So what can you do? Take a step, one small step, and try this when fear starts closing in.

Cancel-cancel. D.C. Gonzalez is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a former federal agent and naval aviator. During his aviation training, his flight instructor was tasked with trying to discombobulate the pilot, trying to break D.C’s laser focus and fuel the nasty self-talk that we all get when pursuing a dream.

But D.C. had a trick up his sleeve, something he’d learned from his Brazilian Mr. Miyagi. When the negative self-talk started, D.C. disrupted it by saying, “cancel-cancel.” He then plugged in an alternative reality, something like, “I am powerful.” It worked for him in his Top-Gun training, where lives and expensive machinery were at stake.

Curious and intrigued, I wondered if “cancel-cancel” could work for my clients and me too – and it does.

I don’t know how, or why you have to say it twice.

And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t need to be said out loud.

I’ve been known to mentally utter “cancel-cancel” dozens of times in a single conversation, plugging in “I’m brave” instead, even if I’m trembling.

The beautiful thing is, you need to use “cancel-cancel” less and less as new neural networks develop. But don’t believe me. Try it for yourself.


Connect with your core values. In 2005, David Creswell and David Sherman conducted some research, which showed that affirming personal values buffered neuroendocrine and physiological stress responses.

That’s geek for personal values can prevent you from having a wobbler in a stressful situation.

The scholars created a Trier Social Stress Test, designed to maximize stress to see how people responded to it.

Participants were asked to deliver an impromptu speech before a panel of seemingly stern, unapproachable judges. If that wasn’t bad enough, participants were then asked to count backwards, in increments of thirteen, from 2,083 for five minutes. This is my idea of hell.

Prior to the experiment, one part of the group had been asked to write about a value that was central to their self-definition. The other part of the group was asked to write about a value that was not deeply linked to their sense of self.

After the experiment, both groups took a saliva test to measure their cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone released when we are under stress, particularly stress that’s related to social judgment).

Now here’s the cracker. The group that had written about a value that was central to their self-definition showed no increase in cortisol after this harrowing exercise. The group that did not write about a core value had a cortisol spike.

Consider your core values, the ones that really make you who you are. One of mine is courage. So when I’m faced with fears of failure, rejection and criticism from jerk-wads and haters, I dig deep on what it means to be brave.

Before I start a potentially stressful task (like giving an important speech), I might write a few sentences about being courageous, or even think about past times when I’ve rocked the mic.  This helps me to stop stopping myself.

And handily enough, I can use that core value in the cancel-cancel reframe. “You might suck” becomes “I am brave.”

Have a go with these tools, and drop me an email or a tweet how you’re cancel-canceling your negative self-talk, and braving up with your values. I’m curious, and just a wee bit nosy.

15 Yoda-Like Things to Remember When You’re Growing

  1. So you’re stuck.  Maybe you even feel lost and defeated, wondering what you were thinking going after your dream. This will change. Everything does. That is so useful to remember when you’re on your knees in the mud. Whatever you’re stuck in, it will let up. So go ahead and listen to Sinead O’Connor on repeat. Cry your heart out. Eat the chocolate. Kick box. Stare blankly into the middle distance while drinking your tea wine. This will change. You will change, with love and patience and consciousness.
  2. Be gentle with yourself. Holy moly, we need this when we are creating a new way of being. Think about it: creation is a destructive act. There’s so much unlearning going on, so many outdated habits that are unraveling, that it can feel like everything’s going to hell in a hand basket. Keep breathing. Keep trusting. Bearing witness to the deep, important work of transformation takes time and patience and kindness with yourself. A little kitchen dancing and some long, life-affirming naps probably won’t hurt either.
  3. Chances are, everything non-material that you want – all the love, self-belief, and comfort in your own skin – has been there all along. You just have to get out of the way.
  4. Focusing obsessively on mastery can be an incentive, a kind of tough-love motivator, till it becomes a straightjacket. It’s hard to be a beginner when you are used to being a Jedi. Failing – and flailing – again is a challenging, but necessary, adjustment if you want to keep growing.   The beginner’s mind is how you get deeper, not only “out there” traveling towards a shiny goal, but “in here,” inside of yourself. Especially inside of yourself.
  5. Wag, just because. If you’ve ever spent time with dogs or small children, you’ll notice how darn happy they are for no apparent reason. Why is that? You might say, ‘Umm, because they have no deadlines, no troll for a boss, no hideous commute.’ Ok, but here’s a bone to chew on: What can’t you see when you’re focused on what sucks?
  6. Learned helplessness is a bugger. I can’t. I don’t know how. It’s hard and I’m scared. The bad news is, nobody is coming. Not your friends, or your siblings or your parents. Not unicorns or fairy godmothers. Not Yoda. Loved-ones can comfort you when you’re in the howl, administering soup and hugs and advice. The good news? It’s the same – nobody is coming. The real hard work of change is up to you. This is good because you’re the expert on you.
  7. Bravery is a moment-to-moment phenomenon, not a permanent, transcendent state. It’s nudging forward, one small, unsure step after another, because it’s scarier not to keep going than to plod vulnerably forward.
  8. Growth has beautiful and painful patches. Both are there to nourish and teach you, if you let them.
  9. Other people’s crap is, well, other people’s crap. That’s true even if it’s directed at you. Not everyone may be comfortable or supportive about your growth because it makes them feel something squidgy about themselves. Crap is always about the person dishing ‘er out. Always.
  10. Don’t hang out with crabs. Have you heard of the Crab Effect? Put a bunch of crabs into a bucket and start watching. If one crab starts trying to crawl up over the side of the bucket, the other crabs will pull it back down. Remind you of anyone? Surround yourself with other people upping their game, not yanking you down.
  11. If something feels wrong, don’t do it. Your gut is an inbuilt SAT-NAV to your best self.  If something feels terrifying and exciting in equal measure, you know what to do.
  12. You cannot and should not do it all. Not all at once, anyway. Boundaries are healthy, sanity-saving, mojo-boosting declarations of our deepest needs and wants and capabilities. Badassery requires boundaries. Really.
  13. We cling when we feel afraid. Think old habits, bad relationships, clutter.  But as Martha Beck says, anything that is a security blanket is really an insecurity blanket. Knowing this is a game-changer. If it helps, go back and re-read no. 7.
  14. Trust in abundance. There is enough work/peace/money/greatness/happiness/love for all of us. Someone else’s awesomeness does not diminish yours. Au contraire. Do a happy dance with them. Gush. Tell the world about them with unbridled glee. The more tuned in you are to the abundance frequency, the more will come your way too. I don’t know how it works, but it does.
  15. Ask yourself: What is my wisest, bravest self whispering to me right now, at this particular juncture? Ask: Is this really the time for me to wither into the underbrush? (I’d bet it’s not). You have pulled water out of deep wells before with no idea how you were going to do it. You will do it again. So how about it?

How to Stop Approval-Seeking Already…

Once upon a time, I was in a romantic relationship with a man who loved Gorgonzola cheese. And because I really liked him, I convinced myself that I should love Gorgonzola too. Like really love it. Just a little white lie then…

Get this: I even started buying Gorgonzola when he wasn’t there, reiterating how much I loved it.  It took me years to admit that I didn’t actually much care for Gorgonzola, or the man, for that matter.

But at the time, this was a little symptom of something much bigger.  There was practically no personal boundary I wasn’t able to override because I wanted his approval.  No hoop I wouldn’t jump through.

My name is Mandy, and I am an approval seeker.  Or I used to be.  It still happens occasionally (please like my Tweet; tell me you like my speech, my dress, or my witty dinner time conversation).  Nowadays, I catch it – and nip it – much quicker.

This post is for anyone who is fed up with their approval-seeking, and all the icky feelings that come with it.

Brené Brown calls this hustling for worthiness – and it is an icky kind of hustle.  Approval seekers give away their time, energy and desires in exchange for a hit of recognition.  This works momentarily, but before long, the need for validation strikes again.

This hustle causes all kinds of trouble.  Not only do you end up eating/wearing/doing things you may not really enjoy.  You also become dependent on the personal rewards you get from over-giving and over-doing.  Even more disturbing is that you can feel heroic, maybe even saintly, while selling yourself short.  But it’s short-lived.  A shot of praise always has a chaser of emptiness.  Then the sorry cycle starts again.

Approval-seeking usually exists in a scarcity mentality, a fear that you must operate this way to get the validation you need.  It’s as if there isn’t enough peace, abundance and acceptance to go around, hence the radical measures an approval-seeker is willing to adopt.

If you’ve ever thought, ‘enough already,’ but don’t know how to pull the plug, here are 3 strategies to play with.

NOTICE:  How does your approval-seeking play out?  In my cheesy relationship, I’d get this clutchy feeling in my chest and stomach (love me; need me; want me; tell me I’m special, tell me, tell me, tell me).  This graspy neediness was a tip-off that I was, well, grasping.  By the way, this is always super attractive in a relationship.

When I believed, deep down, that I wasn’t enough, or that I had to be on board with all of Mr. Gorgonzola’s likes (even if they weren’t my likes), it actually precluded real intimacy.  Little by little, I drifted away from my true self.  I didn’t have my own opinions, or interests that were truly mine.  You can guess how this story ends…

Approval-seeking can be stopped, and noticing is the first step.

ASK: WHAT CAN’T I SEE?  Once you’ve recognized that you’re clutching (or whatever you do), try this question from Byron Katie:

What can’t I see when I’m believing that thought? – in this case, that I need this approval to survive (grasp, grasp, grasp)…

What about you?  It may not be a relationship thing.  Maybe it’s obsessively checking for “likes” on your latest FaceBook post (and feeling crestfallen that it’s being ignored).  Or maybe you’re hurt that your boss hasn’t commented on the stellar quality of your latest project.  You might find yourself checking emails more frequently, or offering to stay late again, hoping to cross paths.

Ok, so you notice that you’re hooked (a bodily feeling or unpleasant emotion is a usually a clue).  Once you notice, ask yourself:

What can’t I see when I believe that I’m not enough?  Or that my work/talent/efforts/skills aren’t enough?

What can’t I see when I believe I need this person’s approval/praise/validation?

Then you can pause and reflect if the morsel you’re hoping to get is worth selling yourself short for.  Is it worth the dignity you might sacrifice?  The time?  The energy?  The potential for angst and pent up rage?

Probably not.

BE YOU (I’VE GOTTA BE ME):  A core need has been triggered when we seek validation.  How could you meet that need in a healthier way, and start self-approving?

After my dysfunctional relationship ended, I started getting really clear on what I liked; what wanted; what I was yearning for.  I started protecting my time and energy as an act of self-compassion.  I stopped bulldozing through my fledgling boundaries.  I started saying, ‘No.’ I started voicing my opinions, and being ok, really ok, if someone didn’t agree with me, or (fasten your seatbelt) didn’t like me.  And it was OK, because I like me!

I like the work I do; the clothes I wear; the foods I eat. That’s ultimately what matters.

When you are really OK with yourself, it’s surprisingly, liberatingly OK for others to have their own, totally different tastes and likes.  I don’t need to say ‘yes’ to the Gorgonzola ice cream, or anything else that doesn’t jive with me.  Neither do you (unless you love Gorgonzola, then by all means…).

The coach, Rich Litvin, played a Sammy Davis Jr. song at a coaching Intensive I attended last year.  I’ll never forget as the refrain rang out in the audience: “I’ve gotta be me.”  It reaffirmed this message so powerfully and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that I’m on the right path.  I’ve gotta be me.  And you’ve gotta be YOU, the gorgeous, boundaried, self-validating you.  Have opinions.  Speak out.  Be unique.  It’s the real you we want.

23 Lies We Self-Administer

Liar, liar, pants on fire. It’s a school yard ditty you wouldn’t necessarily associate with yourself. And yet you tell yourself lies all the time – we all do. We make up stories that are so darn convincing, they feel real. I’m curious – which lies resonate with you? (I’m wrestling with 19 & 20…)

  1.  If I am perfect, I will avoid criticism and be immune to pain.
  2.  My past determines my future.
  3.  Worrying is a way of controlling a situation and it’s outcome.
  4.  I must take up the toxicity that others dish out, and carry it for hours, maybe even days (weeks/months/years).
  5.  I believe my thoughts, especially the self-critical ones.
  6.  Avoiding disapproval will keep me safe and liked.
  7.  Holding onto resentment means that I can continue punishing someone who has done me wrong.  This gives me power and superiority.
  8.  Quitting is always a bad thing.
  9.  Pain, discomfort and risk are to be avoided at all costs.
  10.  If I am vulnerable, people will think less of me.
  11.  I need others to validate my talent, success and good-enoughness.
  12.  I need to be confident and 100% prepared before I begin working on anything (…If I’m a surgeon or pilot, ignore and proceed to number 13).
  13.  When others are short with me, or are in a bad mood, I suspect it has something to do with me.
  14.  I must do everything myself.  Asking for help means I’m a wuss, and can’t cope.
  15.  I override all physical signs that things are too much.  My mind is in charge.
  16.  My personality is fixed.  This is how I am.
  17.  Life happens to me.  I do not have power.  Other people have power.
  18.  I must be in control at all times – my environment, my diary, my hair…
  19.  Work needs to be hard and terribly serious.  I am suspicious if something is easy and fun.  If it’s fun, it can’t be any good.
  20.  My value is based on my output.
  21.  I negatively rehearse what could go wrong, and focus on this.  It’s called realism, baby.
  22.  Other people have their lives together.  They’ve got it all figured out.  There is something wrong with me.
  23.  I’m not brave.  In fact, I’m afraid and unsure a lot of the time.  Courage must be something you’re born with.

Is Your Self-Belief Like a Mushroom (in the dark, with poop up to its chin)? Quick, read this…

Self-belief is like any other skill – it needs to be practiced, like piano or Italian.

It gets built in the gym of daily life, in everything from changing a flat to changing your career.

Your ability to see yourself succeeding is the greatest predictor in actually creating that success.

In his book Unbeatable Mind, former Navy Seal, Mark Divine, writes about starving doubt and feeding vision.  Doubt feeds off of feelings, particularly the pessimistic, cowardly ones that emerge when you’re creating something.

When negative feelings dictate your actions, self-belief peters out.  There is always another course to take, another book to read, another person to talk to over coffee.

Mostly these are dithering techniques, excuses to stay out of action.

It’s so easy to listen your inner critic saying, ‘I don’t feel like it,’ or ‘Not today.’

Feeding your vision means knowing that it doesn’t matter if you feel like it.  Begin, and you’ll start feeling like it.

Self-belief is not a destination.

It is not something you achieve before you start writing the book, or training for the marathon.

Self-belief is a daily practice.

It’s the willingness, even if it’s just for the next two minutes, to say to yourself, ‘I got this.’

Breathing never hurts either.

Self-belief tends to show up like a cheerful companion when you say to yourself, “I’m IN” and take a step in that direction.

Still, self-belief can go a little floppy.

I have moments, many, many moments when the grasping, self-obsessed, negatively vocal parts of me show up.  With megaphones.

And actually, that’s ok.

As Pema Chodron says:  “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of sh*t and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

Look.  Listen.  Learn.  Then get back on the path.

Think of it like parallel parking in a really tight spot.  There’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of small adjustments.

In your head, the process might look something like this: Sulk.  Notice.  Reboot.  Repeat as necessary.

Again, breathing never hurts.

Negatively rehearsing and outcome, judging yourself, or comparing yourself to others…we all do it.  It is only a challenge if we stay stuck there, in the quagmire of negativity.

But don’t look where you don’t want to go (not for too long anyway).  Toggle back.  I’ve got this.  Even if it’s just for five minutes.  And even if your inner voice shakes.

The daily practice of self-belief is something to keep testing.  Test it, don’t trust it.

This is the life gym where self-belief muscles are built.

Be a tourist outside of your comfort zone.  Try stuff.  Self-belief builds incrementally, choice by choice and breath by breath.

The alternative isn’t very attractive.  As Anne Lamott says:

“If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck, where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there.  We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins.”

And no one wants that…

How Apathy is Anaesthetising Your Dream (and what Yoda has to say about it)

Apathy is a slow rot.

The thing with apathy is that you don’t really notice it setting in (until you do).

In the meantime, it’s like unknowingly self-administering a regular low dose anaesthetic and sleepwalking through life.

Apathy is often the result of busy-ness, lesser goals masquerading as something in your urgent quadrant.

It might look like this:

I have a dream to write a book.

But before I write today, I’ll just do those breakfast dishes and that load of laundry.

I’ll just check for any stray eyebrows in the high magnification mirror.

I have no inspiration. I wonder what’s come up on FaceBook since I checked an hour ago? OMG that dancing Chihuahua is adorable.

I should call my mother. Family is so important.

Oh darn, a hangnail.

I’m feeling peckish. Lunchtime already? Can’t work on an empty tank now, can I?

I can’t really get into this till I’ve had a shower.

I should really tidy up my office – look at the state of this desk! Outer order creates inner order.

Post lunch coma. Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee.

Before you know it, the workday is over. Yes, you’ve been “busy” all day, but the big stuff doesn’t budge. Spending precious time getting ready to do the real work is like falling off a log. Easy. Stupid-easy…

And this is not just a dilemma of the self-employed.

Most of us have a goal that’s slowly making its way to the dream graveyard, dragged along by apathy. It’s so much easier to be reactive.

I love this quote by Robert Brault: ‘We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.’

Apathy requires these things to keep its life-support switched on: no clear goal; no deadline or accountability; and no (or low) self-belief.

It thrives on excuses and defensiveness (‘I just don’t have the headspace – look at my day for heaven’s sakes!’).

It loves over-analysis (which feels like getting started, but there’s no traction once the overwhelm kicks in).

Apathy also requires Pollyanna thinking about how circumstances will be favourable in the promised land that is ‘someday’ – the land of lottery wins, good hair days and care-free existence.

More wine?

Dr. Piers Steel, a procrastination expert, suggests using the concept of mental contrast. Consider the reality of where you are with your dream – the reality that includes watching dancing Chihuahuas – and contrast it to where you would like it to be.

How would your day need to look to get what you want?

Get really, really honest about all the slow leaks that are smothering your dream.

It’s not rocket science, but it is powerful.

Getting clear on how you’re farting around can really help to flip the toggle switch in your brain to ‘Committed.’

Am I in, or not in? Am I a hell-yes, or a maybe-someday?

Yoda says, ‘Do or do not do. There is no try.’

I’m with the little guy.