A client recently noticed that she was continuing to let her sister tell her what to do. At the end of lamenting, she said the same thing she says every time this comes up, “I wonder why I do that?”
How many times have you asked yourself “Why?”
“Why did I blow off my walk today?”
“Why did I play video games instead of working on my job search?”
“Why did I finish that whole bag of peanut M&Ms?”
“Why, why, why?”
“Why?” is a strategy to stay stuck inside your comfort zone. When you ask, “Why is my apartment such a mess?” conversation shuts down and you end up going in the opposite direction of your destination. Suddenly you’re exploring the past, your mental woes and all the bad things that could have caused this when all you really wanted was a clean apartment.
“Why?” is a great diversion as it sends you on a journey to figure out what happened to cause this pattern of behavior.
You’re doing a great thing, right? You’re healing the past and your hurts.
Let’s say that you actually do figure out “why” you’re eating all those peanut M&Ms. Great!!!
Ok, now what? You know the “why,” so what?
Does knowing “why” help break out of the pattern that is keeping you stuck?
Nope. And you can tell by the results you’re getting.
So how do you break out of the analysis paralysis of “WHY?” Here are 4 simple steps:
- Practice noticing when “Why?” shows up. This can be tricky because we are so used to stopping when it shows up. Hint- Are feeling stuck? Are you thinking about the past?
- When you notice you’re stuck in “Why?,” stop, take a breath and tell yourself, “It doesn’t matter “Why?” or “Who cares?!” or “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a darn!”
- Remember the old cheer, A-C-T-I-O-N, ACTION, ACTION, WE WANT ACTION! Ask yourself, “What is the next right action I can take RIGHT NOW, that will get me closer to my goal?”
- Then DO IT, no matter how small.
For example, say you are miserable in your current job and are ready and anxious to find a new one. Instead of updating your resumé, like you said you would, you’re sitting on the couch playing video games, for the third time this week!
You hear yourself saying, “I did it again! WHY do I keep doing this?!” Instead of analyzing, get into action. Shut down the video game and grab your computer. Set a timer for 20 minutes and get to work on your resumé. When time’s up, set the timer again and give yourself permission to play video games for 20 minutes. Continue this pattern until the resumé is done.
The only way to break this or any pattern of behavior is to stop letting yourself get sucked into the “Why?” and get into action.
I hope this helps you to leave the drama of the “Whys?” behind and move toward designing your destiny!
Let me know how you handle your “Whys?” in the comments below.
It can be difficult to watch people struggle, especially someone we love and care about. Our first response is likely to want to fix or save them.
However, consider the following:
- In our struggles are lessons. If we rescue others (or wait for rescue), they (we) can miss the lesson that is waiting for them (us). That lesson may keep them (us) from making the same mistake over again.
- When we practice taking responsibility for our lives, we learn that we are strong and resilient as we come out on the other side. We not only rob someone of that feeling of accomplishment when we rush to rescue, we keep them from building their self-confidence.
- We are not the Happiness Police. It is not our job to make sure everyone around us is happy.
Sometimes we need to be unhappy or angry or frustrated or …insert feeling here… Sometimes we need to let others be in and work through their stuff.
- Rescuing creates dependence. Are we afraid if this person becomes independent they won’t need us anymore? Do we get our self-worth from taking care of them? We need to address our motives when creating this dynamic in a relationship.
- Rescuing and trying to fix sends the message that they are not capable of taking care of themselves.
What CAN we do?
Let them know that they are not alone and the door is open if, and when, they need support. It’s up to them to walk through that door, it’s not our job to carry them through.
Allow them to practice asking for what they need rather than trying to figure it out for them. Be empathetic, listen and try not to “fix” their problem.
What if YOU are struggling?
Ask yourself, “What do I need to process these thoughts and emotions?” Then practice reaching out to someone who is “holding the door open” and make a request for support.
It’s amazing what happens when we are given the space to feel how we feel with no judgement.
I’m reminded of the story about a butterfly. (Take a moment to read Paulo Coehlo’s version of the story below)
If we want to fly, we must first be willing to struggle out of our cocoon.
What’s harder, sometimes, is we must allow others to do the same.
The Lesson of the Butterfly
December 10, 2007
By Paulo Coelho
A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.
(Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)
In the election this week, the popular vote was split down the middle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
We have seen Trump supporters cheering and Hillary supporters crying.
I have friends and family who are Trump supporters. I know them to be good people and they truly believe that he is the answer to get this country back on track.
I also have friends and family who are Hillary supporters. They are also good people who feel the country is on the right track and they believe Donald Trump will derail it.
Our country is truly divided right now but it’s not the first time.
According to Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, this has been the case in America since its inception. Even the founding fathers didn’t agree on everything.
That’s what makes our country great.
We are allowed the freedom to debate our beliefs and ideas.
But who’s right and who’s wrong? They are both right and wrong.
No one person or group has the right to push their ideology on others. I know I get angry and resentful the minute someone tells me how I should be living my life.
All of us, not just our representatives, need to start listening to each other. We need to stop talking, get our anger in check and start trying to understand our fellow human beings. Especially those whose opinions are different than ours.
I believe we are more alike than we are different.
Most of us want to make a decent living, have access to affordable healthcare, raise our families in a safe environment, and enjoy the freedoms that this country was founded on.
And, each side has a different idea of how to get there.
The founders of this country knew that compromise needed to be part of the solution. The art of compromise is that neither party walks away totally happy but they are each able to live with the deal at hand.
One of those deals is what landed our capitol in Washington DC.
Try this today, stop talking and be curious about someone who is different than you. Ask questions and listen, really listen.
Practice looking for common ground and for a way to create a win-win.
This is how we make our relationships, work places and nation great!
With the rash of shootings and violence going on in the Rochester area, our country and around the world, it’s hard not to be scared these days.
Living in a small town, it’s easy to turn off the TV and say “I don’t want to think about this because it doesn’t effect me.”
Or “I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.”
Or even, “I don’t want to think about this because there is nothing I can do.”
However, I know I need to do something, but what?
According to an expert on peace and nonviolence, Arun Gandhi, “The world is what we have made it. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication.”
Arun learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, that violence occurs everywhere. We may think we live in a world where violence can’t touch us if we only focus on physical violence. I know I feel pretty safe in my neighborhood and in most places I travel.
However, Arun Gandhi states in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, that there is a more insidious form of violence, “passive” violence.
This takes the form of speaking to or treating others disrespectfully, name calling, bullying, even eye rolling.
Any act where it causes an emotional hurt is an act of “passive” violence.
For example, a nasty or hurtful Tweet or post. Mocking someone’s appearance. Rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid.
I remember being picked on as kid and complaining to my mom. Her advice was to just ignore it and the kids will stop. She was right but it took a while. I can still feel the anger and frustration I felt sitting in silence on the bus as some boys told me how fat and ugly I was.
And it doesn’t just happen to us as kids. Fast forward 35 years and there I am again, sitting in a boardroom having insults thrown at me by a superior.
The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is BS!
Gandhi explained that “passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently. In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.”
With all of the hate speech and negativity being thrown around in the political arena, there has been plenty of fuel being added to the fire lately.
Could it be helping to create the homegrown violence in our country? I believe 100% YES!
We all need to get: Words are powerful.
What we are doing is NOT working. The answer is not more police. The answer is not meeting violence with violence.
“Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.” Arun Gandhi
It is not our job to try and fix what everyone else is doing. It is our job to be sure WE are doing the right thing.
What can you do to stop passive violence?
~ Stop, take a breath and think before you speak, act or respond to someone.
~ Ask yourself, “How can I respond with kindness and respect?” (Sometimes the best response is no response)
~ Give yourself permission to take a time out, if needed. Step away, collect yourself and then go back to “How can I respond with kindness and respect?”
In my case, I had to leave the toxic situation I was in. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my family and friends and a great therapist to help me sort through the anger, hurt and betrayal I felt. Not everyone has the support or tools to handle those difficult feelings.
Imagine what would be possible if we all practiced treating others with kindness and respect.
I try and meet each person with kindness and respect because I know how it feels when met with the opposite. And most times, people return the favor.
Kindness and respect creates connection and makes for a much more peaceful and productive world.
When it is not returned, I give myself permission to take myself out of the toxic space. I practice choosing to “go high when others go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).
We will only stop the out of control violence in our world by knowing that what we say and how we treat others matters just as much as physically injuring someone.
We CAN make a difference. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Go to MK Gandhi Center for Nonviolence for more information.
Also read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, to learn more about nonviolent communication.
Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.
I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.
Here’s my update:
-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.
I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.
I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:
Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”
And on and on and on!
Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.
This felt so familiar.
I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.
The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.
Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.
I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.
Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.
After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.
Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.
The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.
I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.
When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.
I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.
I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!
A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.
How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?
As a volunteer for the program, Step By Step, I helped facilitate workshops for women in jail. The workshop leader and I were there to provide a safe, nonjudgmental space for these women. It was an opportunity for them to open up and be seen.
A majority of the women in jail have experienced physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Many said that this was the first time they could express their feelings without consequence.
It’s programs like Step By Step that show people who are incarcerated that they matter and there is hope. Hope of stopping the cycle of abuse, poverty, addiction and jail.
But programs like Step By Step are few and most (Step By Step included) are grossly underfunded.
Bill Whitaker reports in the CBS 60 Minutes segment entitled Crime And Punishment, “We (the US) have 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its prisoners.”
He also states that we incarcerate more of our nation’s citizens than any other country in the world at a cost of $80 billion per year.
According to a report by the National Justice Institute,
the US has 5 times the number of prisoners than Britain and 9 times more than Germany.
But is our prison system working?
A 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that 56% of prisoners released were rearrested in the first year. That number jumps to 67% by the third year and 76% by 5 years.
That means that over 3/4 of the people released from prison today will be back in prison within 5 years.
Our prison system does not work. If it is not changed, we will continue to have a growing criminal population and debt to go along with it.
Currently society sees people who commit crime as disposable. We put people in jail and forget about them because it doesn’t seem to effect us.
In some cases, we treat animals better than we treat those who commit crime.
“I don’t matter” is the message a lot of prisoners have gotten all of their lives and our current system reinforces that.
Germany uses a different approach to incarceration. They focus on treating prisoners as human beings and they work to rehabilitate them.
Joerg Jesse is a state Director of Prisons in Germany. He says of prisoners,
“If you treat them as if they are your enemy, they will react as enemies.”
In Germany, they create personalized programs for each prisoner that includes counseling, classes, vocational training and work.
As the prisoners work their program, they earn more and more freedom.
The results? Germany spends less and they have 1/2 the recidivism rate of the US.
Is it a perfect system, of course not. But it is working better than our current system.
John Wetzel, the Secretary of Corrections in Pennsylvania, says:
“…we’ve– frankly screwed up the corrections system for 30 years and it’s time to do something different. It really starts with understanding that, you know, a human being’s value isn’t diminished by being incarcerated.”
We need to wake up and see that what we are doing is not working.
What’s it going to take to change this?
We begin by treating criminals like human beings.
Instead of meeting them with anger and retribution, guide them with a strong hand of love and rehabilitation.
Redirect them to a road other than the path of destruction (for them and society) they are currently on.
Ultimately, we have two choices, we can do nothing and continue to watch crime rates, our debt and prison populations grow.
Or we can start a dialogue to let go of the old mindset of “lock them up and throw away the key” and embrace the change needed to make a difference for everyone.
I witnessed first hand, women who came through the Step By Step program, did the work, and changed their lives and the lives of their children forever.
It’s time to stop retribution and reform our prisons. Rehabilitation that includes counseling, education and programs similar to Step By Step are the key to transforming not only our prison system but our communities, society and ultimately the world.
Without my precious food to numb me, I recently came face to face with the
thoughts and beliefs that could keep my business stuck.
Specifically, my thoughts and judgments about marketing, selling and
promoting myself and my business.
I resist promoting myself because I’m afraid I’ll be
perceived as arrogant, manipulative or self-serving.
However, if I don’t promote myself then I will either not be in
business very long or I’ll only reach a small number of people.
“… pay attention when you want
to eat a box of Oreos,
drink a bottle of wine or
whatever your drug of choice is.”
What can I (we) do with these thoughts and beliefs rather
than divert them with food, wine or keeping crazy busy?
I chose to look deeper rather than going for the distraction and found
there was a message for me.
Below are 4 steps you can use when you’re stuck:
1. Notice your negative or limiting thoughts and beliefs.
If it’s hard to recognize your thoughts, check in with how you’re
feeling then back track to find the thought that created it.
Your thoughts create how you feel.
Use your feelings as signposts to point to what’s going on
in your head. And definitely pay attention when you want to eat
a box of Oreos, drink a bottle of wine or whatever your drug of choice is.
My limiting beliefs were:
“I can’t promote myself or my business because people will see
me as arrogant, manipulative or pushy. They’ll get angry and not want
to have anything to do with me.”
“When we carry negative thoughts, fear
and limiting beliefs from childhood,
we aren’t able to be who we truly are.”
2. Once you realize your negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, ask yourself,
“Who is this coming from?” and “What is the message it has for me?”
My beliefs came from this scared little girl inside of me. A little girl who,
when she dared to be who she was, was often met with disdain and the question,
“Who do you think you are?” and with statements like “You’re stupid,”
“You’re ugly,” or “You’re a girl so you don’t count.”
My inner little girl came away feeling like the world was against her
and had to “be a good girl” and not standout in any way. This was
the part of me that was afraid to shine because it had been
met with pain in the past.
The message she had for me, was that she wanted to be accepted
for who she was and she wanted to come out and play.
3. Ask yourself, “What do I need?”
When we carry negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs
from childhood, we aren’t able to be who we truly are.
There was a part of me that wanted to come out and play but
every time it tried, I pushed it down by telling myself not
to get “too big for my britches.”
I wound up feeling like I betrayed myself.
What I need in these moments, is a shot of reassurance
along with a large dose of self-love and non-judgment.
I need to be more worried about taking care of myself and less worried
about what others think.
4. Give yourself what you need.
It’s not enough to ask yourself what you need. You actually have to
give yourself permission to have it.
That little girl is part of me. It’s the part that wants to have fun and play.
It’s also the part that has been trying to protect me from being hurt
AND the part that has been keeping me stuck.
I need to give this part of me love, acceptance and reassurance
that we can handle anything life throws at us.
Then trust myself, relax and enjoy the ride!
Lather, rinse, repeat! This is a constant process of bumping up against
our fear, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.
We are never finished.
When I choose not to numb or distract myself with food,
I open myself up
to fun, joy and endless possibilities.
What negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs are ready for you to transform?
When I decided to tackle my weight thing once and for all, I went back and did an “autopsy” to determine why things went sideways in the past.
The last time I got to a weight where I was happy and comfortable, I was following a low carb diet. Not South Beach, Atkins or even paleo but one that included lean meat, fish, poultry and dairy and lots of vegetables, some fruit and grains. I ate carbs like cookies, cake, crackers and bread very rarely.
After about 8 months, I reached my goal weight and kept it off for about a year and a half.
I seem to be good at losing weight but I stink at keeping it off.
Step one in the “autopsy:” Tell the truth.
I used the excuse that I had a bad case of shingles, was basically bedridden for 3 months and the inactivity caused my weight gain.
Not the truth.
My eating habits had started to fall off before I got sick.
I had begun allowing myself a taste of cake here, a spoonful of ice cream there. Then it turned into a cookie here and a candy bar there.
At first the scale didn’t move so I didn’t panic. But then it slowly began to inch up little by little and before long I had put on 6 pounds.
My workouts became intermittent.
I was pushing myself to succeed in my business and volunteering a lot of my time. I was stressed and tired and I began to use food, mainly sweets, to make myself feel better.
I now see that it wasn’t the shingles that caused me to gain weight. It was my lack of self-care that brought on the shingles. And that led to many bags of Doritos trying to take my mind off the pain.
But the main thing I realized was, I got cocky. I thought that I would never go back to being addicted to sugar and carbs.
I even remember saying the words, “I’ll never go back!”
Words that came back to haunt me.
I see now that I lost the fear of the weight coming back. I forgot about the tired, wrung out feeling when I eat too much crap. And didn’t even consider the possibility of not only getting sick but contracting a chronic condition like high blood pressure or a disease like cancer.
I got cocky and the weight came back.
I’ve lived most of my life worrying about what others think and I’ve done a lot of work to break through that. I don’t believe I should live in constant terror and worry about becoming obese.
What I do now believe is that there is nothing wrong with a little healthy fear to keep me on my toes and out of trouble.
This fear includes a healthy respect for things like alcohol and food. It is an awareness that I have to be careful not to let my guard down too much.
I need to set my own limits and be clear where the line is.
I’m back to cutting down on processed carbs and sweets and eating more whole foods. And I’m always paying attention to what makes me feel like I want to eat and drink a bit too much.
That’s working for me right now.
Do you struggle with keeping weight off once you lose it? What have you learned from your past experiences when it comes to losing weight? What do you think about having a “healthy” fear of food?
I am often inspired not only by people but by animals as well. This week I want to share with you a human who uses her dog to inspire people.
I’d like you to meet Julie. She and I met about ten years ago when we worked together. She was someone with whom I felt an instant connection. Even after we no longer worked together, we kept in touch.
What inspires me most about Julie is her spirit. She has a certain kind of joy and energy that lights up any room she walks into.
Although Julie has suffered her share of trials and tribulations, you would never know it to meet her. She always has a smile and a word of encouragement for anyone she meets.
One thing that strengthened our bond was our mutual love for animals. We’re always sharing funny stories about our pets.
Julie talked about writing a blog that tells of the adventures she has with her dog, Cocoa. She told me about the blogs that she followed and that she would really like to be able to inspire others. She also talked about the good she could do by spotlighting animal rescues and just bringing animal lovers together.
Good news! Julie recently pulled the trigger and started sharing her stories. Take a look at Julie and Cocoa’s fun here at CocoaBeanAdventures.com.
I can’t imagine my life without animals. I have told my kids that if they ever have to put me in a home, to please find one that has a resident dog or cat or one that allows them to bring their dogs or cats to visit.
The two animals who currently let us live with them are our daughter’s cats, our grand kitties, Olivia and Cocoa (yes, another Cocoa).
Olivia and Cocoa came out of an abusive situation. Olivia dealt with the abuse by lashing out and fighting. When she first came to live with us, she was so angry, I was sure she might try to kill us in our sleep!
Cocoa was the opposite. She was extremely timid and found safety hiding behind the dryer. It took months for her to let us near her and even longer before we could touch her.
We allowed both of them to be who they were and did not push ourselves on them. There were many days that I would just look at them and tell them they were good kitties and that I loved them so much.
Slowly they began to mellow until one day, Olivia allowed us to pet her without fear of losing a hand. And we were ecstatic on the day that Cocoa jumped into my husband’s lap. What a sweet sound to hear this little kitty purr for the first time!
Olivia still has an attitude but she has turned into a loving, gentle cat.
And now Cocoa spends most evenings purring in my lap.
(Cocoa loves being a lap cat even without a lap!)
These two kitties have taught me that patience plus love heals even the deepest wounds.
Who are the people and the animals who inspire you? What have they taught you?
This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine.
Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.
Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.
Thank you to Brenda Steffon, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.
Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired