Are You Making Your Life Harder Than It Needs To Be?

We all know that life can be hard sometimes.  But did you know that your brain is likely making your life much harder than it needs to be?

That’s because one of your brain’s primary goals is to avoid pain, both physical and emotional.  

The problem with this approach is that pain, especially emotional pain, is inevitable in life, especially if you want to grow by trying new things, have relationships with people who don’t always do what you want them to do (i.e., every other human on the planet), and put yourself and your work out into the world for potential criticism.      

Our brains try to spare us from emotional pain by fighting against negative emotions when they arise. If you’re like most people, your brain is fighting against negative emotions on three levels. 

The first is by avoiding the negative emotions themselves by trying to find a distraction or numbing out the feeling with a hit of dopamine, which provides some temporary relief.  (Think bingeing on chocolate, wine, Netflix, online shopping, social media, etc.)  

The second is by creating more negative emotion by telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be feeling negative emotion in the first place, otherwise known as resisting negative emotion. For example, you might feel tense when you are preparing a big presentation at work. That’s no big deal and is a common response to preparing for public speaking.  But if you start berating yourself for feeling nervous, i.e.“What is wrong with me?  Why am I so nervous about this?”, it will only create more negative emotion (probably shame) about the negative emotion you already had (nervousness). You will then also start to resist the shame by finding a distraction or numbing the feelings.  This is counter-productive and makes your life much harder than it needs to be.    

The third is by reacting to the negative emotion in a way that doesn’t serve you.  For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic and you feel overtaken by your emotion and yell at the other driver even though your kids are in the car. Reacting also makes our lives harder because we have to live with the consequences, which are almost always negative.

There are a few things you can do to coax your brain into making your life easier for you.

How To Make Your Life Easier

The best way that I know to make your life easier on yourself is to learn to feel and accept your negative emotions.  

Negative emotions are (by definition) unpleasant, but if you can learn to allow them, their power over you will diminish.  For example, let’s say that you’re feeling angry after a colleague interrupted you in a meeting.  When you’re feeling angry in the meeting, you probably start spinning in your head about what he did and how he shouldn’t have done that, and scanning for memories of all the other times that you can remember that he’s done something rude.  

But while you’re spinning in your head, you’re not focusing on the meeting anymore, and when your boss asks you a direct question, you might not even hear it.  

This reaction to anger is not useful.  To diminish its hold on you, try just feeling the anger and accepting it immediately, so that you can move on and get your attention back to where it needs to be.  

You can do this by identifying the emotion and then accepting it immediately by saying “and that’s okay.” For example, “I’m feeling angry and that’s okay.  Humans feel angry from time to time and I’m feeling angry now.  Nothing has gone wrong here.”  Then, get back to business. (You can always go back and process your anger later at a more productive time.)

Similarly, if you’re feeling the urge to avoid a negative emotion with a dopamine hit, consider stopping yourself and saying: “I feel the urge to eat these cookies, and that’s okay.  It’s okay to have an urge and not act on it.  I can just notice it, instead.  I can notice how my brain thinks the cookies will solve the problem.  I can notice that, actually, the cookies will not really solve the problem.”  

Then try to find the primary emotion that is creating the urge for you, and accept that emotion. “I’m feeling restless and that’s okay. This is what it’s like to feel restless. I can handle this. It’s okay to feel restless sometimes.”

Just acknowledging the emotion and letting yourself really feel it will bring you a greater sense of ease, even while the negative emotion is still present.

Lower Your Expectations

When I teach clients how to coach themselves to feel better by choosing better-feeling thoughts, sometimes they want to use the tool to eliminate all negative emotion from their lives.  They want to feel better 100% of the time.  After all, the world (especially Madison Avenue) likes to make us think that we should be happy all of the time.  

The problem with that is that life really is 50/50.  If you don’t know what sad is, you can’t really know what happy is, either.  Sad is what makes happy possible, just as we need shadows to really see light.  

To expect your life to be perfect and happy all the time is to create unnecessary suffering for yourself and make it even harder.  By accepting that negative emotion exists and should be present about 50% of the time, we can stop running away from the negative emotion.  

This is true for all aspects of our lives: our careers, our relationships, raising our children, etc.  Expect that it’s not always going to be wonderful.  There will be stumbles, failures, and hard times.  That doesn’t mean that anything has gone wrong. It means that everything is happening just as it should.  

When you lower your expectations, you’ll notice something interesting:  life gets less hard when you let it be hard.   

A good way to keep this top of mind is to put up post-it notes or reminders on your phone that say things like: “Nothing has gone wrong.  I feel ____ and that’s okay.”  

Welcome the negative emotions when they arise and notice the lightness and openness that follow.  

Charise 

What To Do When You’re Not Fulfilled at Work

If you’re truly unfulfilled in your career, something inside of you is trying to let you know that you need to make a change.  It’s an internal compass indicating that you’re off course and that an adjustment is required. 

If you’re not fulfilled in your career, it means that you’re not living out your true purpose, you’re not using or sharing your unique gifts and strengths, and you’re not living your best life.  

How do we know this?  

Because if you were living out your true purpose, sharing your unique gifts and strengths, and living your best life, you would be fulfilled by your work and contribution. 

Fulfilling Work Is Not Always Easy 

This is not to say that every moment in your career should be glorious.  And it certainly does not mean that living your purpose is supposed be easy.  To the contrary, there are moments in every job—even our dream jobs—that require doing things that we don’t feel like doing or overcoming challenges that we’d rather not face.  Moments like that are part of the human experience, not indicators that anything has gone wrong.

What I mean by being truly unfulfilled in your career is having the incessant feeling of disheartenment that leaves you empty instead of full.  When you look at the totality of what you’re contributing or trying to accomplish, your heart should sing.  If your heart sinks or feels empty, you know there’s something wrong.  

Feeling Unfulfilled Is a Gift—But Only When We Act On It 

It’s actually a gift that we have this built-in compass of feeling unfulfilled, to tell us when we need to make a change.  But it’s only a useful gift when you act on the message.  

Listening to the call to change and then doing nothing about it is like receiving a gift card for your birthday that you keep in a drawer until it expires. The time we have to act is finite.  

If you’re feeling unfulfilled with your work, you’re depriving yourself and the world of the best that is in you. Your contribution matters. The world receives no benefit from your particular gifts and talents unless you make the conscious decision to use them and find joy in using them.

If you find yourself unfulfilled at work, it’s time for a change.  It might not need to be a big change. Maybe you need to ask for more responsibility or change your current role.  Maybe it’s a matter of creating better work relationships with colleagues.  Maybe you need to change your mindset about the work that you’re currently doing. Or maybe you need to change jobs or careers entirely.

Whatever change you want to make, the most important thing is to take action. I’ve had many clients tell me that they stayed stuck for years, even decades, because they were afraid of failing. By not even trying to pursue their goals or take action, they actually failed ahead of time. Looking back, they always come to realize that failing ahead of time didn’t do them (or the world) any good. Rather than wasting any more time staying stuck, do yourself a favor and take action now.

Clarity, Commitment, and Action 

The first step toward fulfillment is getting really clear about what you want.  This means what you want (not what everyone else wants for you) now (not what you may have wanted 15 years ago, or even last year).  What sounds fun, exciting, or important to you now?  What did you come here to do?  What is your inner compass telling you that you need to change?  

The second step is fully committing to that result.  A good way to commit is to ask yourself what your reasons are for wanting that result.  How will your life be better?  How will the lives of others be better? Choosing goals that are aligned with your core values can provide compelling reasons. And when you have compelling reasons, you’re about a thousand times more likely to stay the course and do the work to get what you want.  

The third step is taking deliberate action to make the changes you need to make.  It means trying different things and failing, repeatedly, until you get the result you want.  Action and failure prompt growth.  And you’ve got to grow before you can bloom.

Do whatever you need to do, but please don’t let your gifts go unused.  The world needs you to use your gifts and make your contribution in a way that brings you joy, whatever that may be.  Your time is now.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO,

Charise 

P.S. If you need help getting clarity or taking action to get the results you want, click here to schedule a free one-hour strategy call.

When You Feel Like You Can’t Win As A Mom AND In Your Career At The Same Time – Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I showed you how to start looking at what thoughts you’re telling yourself that are making you feel like you can’t win as a mom and in your career at the same time.

Here are additional tools that will help you manage your mama brain so that you can begin creating more positive results at home and in your career.

Make A Conscious Choice, Every Day

When I coach moms who have demanding careers, I often hear “I have to” and “I can’t” when discussing potential career options. As in, “I have to stay at this job because I have to pay off my student loans/pay my mortgage/support my family” or “I can’t relocate because my spouse doesn’t want to move.”  

Clients report feeling trapped by their current circumstances, as if there were no way out.

But the circumstances are not what make us feel trapped.  It our thoughts about the circumstances that create the feeling of being trapped.

The truth is, you could walk away from it all today.  Many people do.  They decide to divorce their spouses and move.  They decide to leave their jobs and default on their mortgages or loans.  Some people sell everything and go travel or live in a cabin in the woods. Some people even decide to let their kids live with family members.

These choices are just as available to you now as the choices that you are currently making.  

You might not like the consequences of those choices but recognizing that it is your choice and owning it is the first step toward taking full responsibility for your life and feeling in control again.  

Saying “I choose to work at my job right now to support my family” is so much more powerful than saying “I’m stuck at this job and there’s no way out.”

Saying “I choose to stay in this city and stay married to this person whom I love” is so much more powerful than saying “I can’t relocate because my spouse won’t move.”

Starting today, make the conscious choice about what you want to do with your life and own that choice.  Then recommit to your choices every day and notice how differently you feel when you intentionally choose your life over and over again. 

If you think the difference is just semantics or that it’s not a real choice, I’d like to offer that your brain is already telling you a story.  It’s just a negative one if it’s causing you to feel badly about your circumstances.  You might as well turn it around and make it a story that serves you and makes you feel better.

How To Win As A Mom

The truth is, you already know how to be a good mom because you already love your kids fiercely. That’s all they really need.

But there is one thing that I recommend that will help you win even more as a mom.  I’ve never seen it in the parenting books, but I’ve been applying it in my own life and have found it to be a game changer:  The way to be more loving, patient, and understanding with your kids is to first learn how to be more loving, patient, and understanding with yourself. 

If you’re like most working moms and you’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to lose your patience and get frustrated with your kids. Just getting out the door in the morning for school and work can be challenging, especially with young kids who like to dawdle. When we lose our patience with our kids, we usually end up feel guilty or angry with ourselves. But guilt and self-anger don’t really help anybody and or prevent you from getting frustrated again the next time.

What does help is learning how to be patient and compassionate with yourself when you do lose your patience.

Of course you’re feeling stressed when you’ve got a meeting at work and your child is refusing to put on his socks.  Of course you’re going to yell at your kids sometimes, like when they make a game of pouring syrup all over the dining room table. You’re going to get frustrated, lose your patience, and even yell sometimes because you’re human.

Telling yourself you should never do those things isn’t going to help if you find yourself doing them anyway.  Being compassionate with yourself when it does happen will allow you to quickly recover, apologize if needed, and move on. 

It will also allow you to become more patient and compassionate with your children: Of course your toddler is going to think pouring syrup on the table is fun. He’s curious. He wants to know what will happen. Of course your pre-schooler isn’t going to want to stop playing with her toys and put her shoes on for school. Nobody likes to stop playing. 

The feelings of compassion and patience will be much more readily available for you to apply to your kids if you’re already applying them to yourself first. And when you do that, you’ll notice that you show up more consistently as the mom you want to be. 

Consider Whether You Want to Change Your Circumstances

If you’ve done the work of managing your thoughts, owning your choices, and cultivating compassion for yourself but your circumstances still don’t feel right for you, it might be time to make a change.

This happens for many moms who experience a life-altering shift in core values and priorities after having children.  They find that they want different things now than they did when they chose their careers. This is especially true if you have a demanding career that requires a lot of travel or late nights at the office. 

If you find yourself wanting to do something different, consider what would help you thrive as your very best self. Maybe you’d like to slow down but continue to work in the same industry.  (Research shows that people are happier when they choose to have more free time, rather than make more money.) Maybe you want to change careers completely or move to be closer to family. Maybe you want to downsize and live more simply.  Maybe you want to be your own boss. 

It all starts with getting crystal clear about what is really important to you and what you really want now (as opposed to what you wanted when you were 22 and single).

Whatever you want is available to you.  Feeling better about your current circumstances is an option for you.  Choosing new circumstances is also an option for you.  You get to decide to flourish—as a mom, as a professional, as whoever you want to be.     

Go forth and bloom.

XO,

Charise 

P.S.  If reading this made you realize that you could use some help seeing what options are really available to you and you’d like a fresh perspective, let’s talk.  I offer free one-hour strategy calls, designed to help you see your circumstances differently, so that you can get unstuck and start taking action to create the results you want for your career and your life.  Are you ready to flourish?

How To Make Decisions That You Won’t Regret

A friend and former colleague recently asked whether I ever regret my decision to leave my former job, become a coach, and move to Spain.  I told her that I have not even once regretted it.  

But deciding to take the leap wasn’t easy.  In fact, I hired a coach specifically to help me make that decision because I had so much uncertainty around it.  My coach taught me fail-proof tools that helped me make the decision and not look back. 

Now that I’m a coach, I use those tools every day to help others make big decisions and it’s one of my favorite parts of coaching because cultivating the ability to make good decisions for yourself is one of the most empowering skills you can learn.  Here are some tools that you can use in your own life to make decisions that you won’t regret.  

Consider Your Reasons

When making decisions, the conventional wisdom asks us to weigh the pros and cons.  But the pros and cons don’t necessarily merit equal attention or weight.  

A far better way to make decisions is to consider and write down your underlying reasons for wanting to choose one thing over another.  Then ask yourself:  Do I like these reasons?  

When I wrote down my underlying reasons for wanting to become a coach or stay where I was, I could clearly see a pattern.  

My underlying reasons for making the move were based on what I wanted:   

  • I love helping people become their best selves and finding fulfilment in their careers and lives.  
  • Coaching lights me up, energizes me, and comes naturally to me.  
  • I really want to try this.  

My underlying reasons for wanting to stay put were based on fear:  

  • I might not make it.  
  • It might be really hard.  
  • It would require me to get really uncomfortable.  

When I considered which set of reasons I liked better, the answer was clear: I liked my reasons for wanting to take the leap.  I did not want to let fear drive my decisions anymore.  I wanted to choose out of love instead.

Check In With Your Gut

As much as we love to analyze decisions with our minds, sometimes we just know what is right for us in our bodies.

For example, if thinking about choosing Option A over Option B gives you a sinking feeling in your gut, that’s something that warrants your attention.

If you have a gut feeling about a decision you’re trying to make, include that on your list of reasons.  That’s a tremendously compelling reason to consider.

The only thing that will lead you astray from your gut is fear, which is generated by thoughts in your mind. Thoughts like: 

  • “I really want to enroll in this course but I’m afraid it’s just too expensive right now.”  
  • “I really want to write a book but I’m afraid I just can’t find the time right now.”  
  • “I really want to try this new program but there are just so many uncertainties right now.” 

Sometimes making a leap requires listening to the part of you that knows that everything will be okay and that you will make it work, if you can find the courage to move past the fear that is trying to keep you safe and playing small.  

Just Decide

As much as people like to take their time to make decisions, time usually doesn’t help.  

We like to think that if we have more time, we’ll eventually feel better or become more certain about making a decision, but we usually end up just finding more pros and cons and get dragged down by the uncertainty.  

To avoid this, the best thing to do is just decide. Consider your reasons, check in with your gut, recognize your fears for what they are, and then make a decision in your mind and commit to it for 48 hours.  Tell yourself “This is it.  This is what we’re doing.  The other option that I was considering is no longer available.  It’s completely off the table.”  

Then notice how you feel over those two days.  Do you feel excited?  Do you feel giddy, even if you think you might be a little crazy?  If you do, you’re on the right track.  If you’re deciding to do something you’ve never done or never thought you could do, it’s going to feel completely foreign and maybe even terrifying.  That doesn’t mean it’s not a sound decision.  It just means you’re stretching yourself and your brain is reacting to something new. 

If, on the other hand, you feel disappointed, let down, sad, or deflated, you know you’ve gone astray. Go back, try on the other decision for 48 hours, and see how you feel.

By deciding and moving forward, you’ll be gathering new information as you go. You’ll be learning instead of staying stuck.

Don’t Look Back

Once you make your decision, commit to it 100%. Go all in knowing that it’s the right decision and that you will make it the right decision. Keep your focus on the present and the future.

There will be obstacles no matter which path you choose.  Your job is to overcome them and you can only do that when you’re looking ahead, rather than back.   

If you like your reasons for your decisions and follow your gut, you won’t even want to look back anyway. 

Go forth, grow, and bloom. 

XO,

Charise 

A Powerful Tool To Create A Better Life

This is the season of excess.  There is just so much at this time of year. So much food and drink, so many gifts and events.   

In the midst of all the excess, it can be tremendously liberating to use a powerful tool to create a life that you love: constraint.  

The type of constraint I’m talking about is just a limitation or restriction that you decide ahead of time to impose on yourself because you realize that it’s in your best interest.  

When you decide ahead of time, you’re allowing your pre-frontal cortex to run the show and decide how you want to live your life.  And when you do that, you’re likely to find that you like your life a lot better.  

This is not about deprivation.  It’s about taking care of yourself, deciding what you really want, and living with intention. 

Most of the traditions that we follow at this time of year come from other people.  We spend, eat, and drink too much during the holidays because it’s what we’ve always done and we continue to do it every year.  But is it really serving us?  

When you constrain, you take a step back and evaluate what you really want for your life.  You get to throw out other people’s rulebooks and expectations and decide how you really to live on your own terms.   

Here are some ways to consider applying constraint in your own life: 

  • Maybe you decide that you don’t really want to have tons of sweets in the house from Christmas until New Year’s, or until you finish them.  You can decide to constrain.  You can decide ahead of time to enjoy the treats at one or two holiday gatherings and then throw (or give) the rest away.
  • Consider whether you want or need so much physical stuff in your life.  If the stuff is taking a significant amount of your time or energy to care for or maintain, it might be time to simplify.  
  • Think about what you really want in your life for the next year.  Write down your top five priorities and your core values and then see what changes you need to make to cut the rest out.  
  • If you want a less hectic schedule during the week and more time with your kids, you can decide to limit the number of extracurricular activities for the kids—many families require their kids to choose just one—and also the number of events that you’ll attend outside of work, etc.
  • Constraining your consumption of social media, news, and TV will give you both time and the mental space for creativity.  You can try going on a media fast for a week and see what it does to your productivity. Our brains need to rest and daydream, without consuming content during every waking hour.  You may try it and decide (like I did two years ago) to limit its presence in your life. 
  • You might decide not to buy any new books until you finish the one you’re currently reading. 
  • You might decide that you’re going to have a fixed weekly meal plan (i.e. Italian on Mondays, tacos on Tuesdays, etc.) so that you don’t have to spend so much time and energy figuring out what’s for dinner at this point in your life.   
  • You can decide that you’re only going to shop at one to three clothing stores from now on.  Why spend a lot of time looking everywhere when your three favorites will do?  

How To Practice Constraint

There are myriad ways to use this tool to improve your life.

Regardless of which area of your life you decide to focus on, there are three main steps to practicing constraint.

  1. Examine your life with a fresh perspective.  What do you have that you don’t need or want any more?  What are you doing just because you’ve always done it that way?  What are you doing because “everyone else” does it, too?  
  2. Then ask yourself:  Is this action/habit/practice/thing really serving me?  Is it in alignment with how I want to live?  Is it bringing me closer to my goals and the person I want to be?  Or is taking me further from them? Is it taking something away from my life (like time, energy, space, etc.) instead of adding to it in a positive way?
  3. Finally, decide now what you no longer need and want.  Decide now what the meal plan will be or what stores you’ll shop at or what your media usage will be.  Decide and commit to that decision and you will eliminate the brain chatter that goes on when we’re typically debating whether or not do something.  You’ve already decided ahead of time.  

For example, I have decided that my family will only have sweets after dinner on the weekends, so my kids never ask for treats during the week.  There’s no point in arguing or pleading. The decision has been made.

When you decide ahead of time, you are more free to focus on what you’ve already decided is the most important. You practice honoring your commitments to yourself. You cut out the excess that is no longer serving you and intentionally enjoy what is most important to you.

Have a beautiful New Year.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise 

Why I’m A Coach

Why I’m A Coach 

I am a coach.  

When I tell people that I coach now instead of practice law, they are often surprised.  What is coaching?  

Here is what I do as a coach: I help people get clarity about what is most important to them and what they really want for their lives, and then I help them figure out how to achieve that.

I have always wanted to help people in my career but figuring out exactly how I was best suited to do that hasn’t been easy.  I first thought medicine would be my way to help people (I was pre-med in college), but after spending time shadowing doctors, it didn’t feel like a good fit for me.  After exploring many more options, I landed on law.  But even when I was helping people with hugely important legal issues, something was still missing for me.   

Then, a few years ago, I was tremendously fortunate to be able to participate in a coaching program offered for female attorneys at my former law firm. Once I experienced coaching as a client, I knew I had to learn more. I researched and enrolled in several different coaching programs and was hooked. I knew that coaching was the way that I most wanted to help people.

For me coaching is in (what Gay Hendricks calls) my “zone of genius.”  Everyone has a zone of genius.  It’s work that invigorates you, that allows you to really shine, and that feels amazing to do.  It’s like a sweet spot that combines what the individual loves doing and what the world needs.  When you’re working in your zone of genius, it can feel almost effortless.  It can feel like play.   

When I’m coaching, I get to show people how to live their very best lives by helping them find the work they love, to do that work confidently, and to balance that work with the rest of their lives:  their families, their creativity, their hobbies, their relationships.

Looking back, I can see that I’ve been coaching my entire adult life.  I didn’t call it coaching and I didn’t always have the tools that I have now, but ever since I can remember I have always loved helping people figure out what they wanted and live at their highest potential.  I was coaching my peers in high school when I was leading church retreats.  I was coaching in college when I was a Resident Assistant and a camp leader.  I was also coaching when I was practicing law at a large law firm by mentoring junior associates as they developed new skills and confidence.  

Now in my coaching practice, I get to work in my zone of genius every day.  

I see in others the potential that they can’t always see in themselves and I help them overcome obstacles (most of which are in their own minds) so they can do the work they love and show up as the people they want to be.  To me, it’s the most exciting work on the planet.  

How Is Coaching Different From Therapy? 

People often ask me how coaching is different than therapy.  

Others can tell you about therapy, so I will stick to describing the type of coaching that I do.  Coaching is helping people who are already healthy and functioning to live at a higher level. People seek coaching to improve and evolve towards their ever-expanding potential.  It’s the equivalent of a personal trainer for personal growth.  

I never tell clients what they “should” do.  They’ve heard enough about that their entire lives.  

I never tell them what to do.  They always decide.  They are always in control.  

My job is simply to show them why they have their current results and how to create the results they want instead. It’s a practical approach using cognitive science-based tools.

Each coaching session is impactful and transformational.  The client leaves the session seeing their issue from a completely different perspective and with practical tools they can apply to progress between sessions.  

They learn how to feel better in their current circumstances.  They also learn how to take action to change their results.  

My one-to-one coaching programs are designed to teach clients how to manage their own minds so that they can self-coach going forward, for continued benefit and impact.  I do most of my coaching via video conference or by phone, which makes scheduling easier because there is no travel time.  

It’s an amazing process.  It’s life-changing for those who try it.  

What do you want to do with your one, precious life?  Whatever it is—or if you don’t know yet—I can help.  I love to help.  

That’s why I’m a coach.    

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

How To Deal With The Fear Of Failure

One of the first things that tends to happen when we start to dream big and think about what we really want for our lives (instead of what everyone else tells us that we should want) is that our brains freak out and tell us all the ways why our dreams are not going to work.

It’s like an internal alarm system goes off when you cross the perimeter of your comfort zone and it’s one of those systems that keeps repeating “Warning! Warning!  Fire detected!” until you retreat back to your comfort zone and close the door.

And the most common concern that our brains raise is, “What if you fail?  And look like an idiot to everyone you know?”

To your brain, this prospect feels like death.  Going after what you want is too scary with too many alarm bells ringing, so we decide to sit tight and stay where we are.  Even if we’re not growing or fully utilizing our skills.  Even if we’re not becoming the person that we know in our hearts we were born to be.

But there are ways that you can “reprogram” your built-in alarm system, so that you can start venturing outside of your comfort zone.

You Get To Define What “Failure” Is

Just as nobody else can define what success is for you, nobody else can define what failure is for you, either.  Your definition of failure is basically your thoughts around failure.  And your thoughts are always optional.

For example, say you’re trying to get a manuscript published.  How many queries do you have to make that are rejected or unanswered before you decide that you’ve “failed”? For some people, it will be one query. For others, it might be 50 or 200.  And then some people will not consider themselves to have failed at all until they stop writing and submitting queries.  Those people are so committed to their long-term vision and their passion for writing, that they will never let themselves stop.  And thus, they will never let themselves fail.     

How do you want to define failure?  You can decide that you’ll only really fail if you give up and stop pursuing your goal.  This is a great definition because you always get to decide if you’re going to give up or not.  So whether or not you fail is completely within your control.     

You Get To Decide What It Means About You

Let’s consider two possible approaches to the concept of failure.

  1. There are people who are so frozen with fear about the prospect of failing at anything that they never pursue their dreams at all.
  2. And then there are people who have a standing goal of failing at something, at least five times per week.  They keep a “fail file” and they love to look back at that file and see how far they’ve come.

What’s the difference between the two groups of people?  It’s not their intelligence, it’s not their education, and it’s not their abilities.  It’s their thoughts about what failure means about them.

The people in the first group make failure mean something really terrible about themselves.

Their thought goes something like this: “If I try something and fail, it would mean that I am really stupid, fundamentally flawed, and not worthy as a human being.”  They might not actually be conscious of this thought, but it’s a belief that’s been adopted by their subconscious and it’s having a huge impact on them by creating a paralyzing fear, which prevents them from taking action.  (I mean, who would want to take a significant risk if their very worth were on the line?)

On the other hand, the people in the second group make failure mean something really good about themselves.

Their thought is more like this: “If I try something and fail, it means that I’m putting myself out there, I’m learning by doing, and I’m figuring things out as I go.  The faster I fail, the faster I will learn and grow.”  This way of thinking creates very different emotions, such as motivation and commitment, which drive action.  Massive action.

The fear of failure is likely to still be there at some level because the comfort zone alarm system is pretty much built-in for all humans, but these people are not letting the fear of failure hold them back.  They are acting despite the fear.

It’s kind of like a rollercoaster ride.  We all feel the rush of adrenaline when we’re falling.  Some people think “I could never do that” and so they never do.  Others think “wow, this is going to be a wild ride.”  And so it is.

Which one do you want to choose?

Go forth, fail, grow, and bloom.

XO,

Charise

How To Show Up As The Mom You Want To Be

Nothing in my prior life experience and education could quite prepare me for the challenge of motherhood.  Especially mothering two young boys.

I was totally unprepared for the intensity of the love that I feel for my children, but I have also been taken by surprise by the intensity of negative emotions that can sometimes come with being a mom.  For example, I have felt tremendous anger when one of my children hurts the other, or someone else.  I have felt maddening frustration when my youngest wakes up two hours early on a night when I really needed the sleep and my husband is out of town.

I still feel anger and frustration on some days (and nights).  But I’ve learned through a lot of coaching (both self-coaching and being coached) that how I think, feel, and show up are still within my control.  Now that I’ve been practicing this, I’m starting to create more evidence that this is true.  Here’s how you can do the same.

They Should Be Doing This

Frustration and anger, like all emotions, come from our thoughts.  The number one thought that creates anger and frustration in parenting is the thought that “my kid should not be doing that!”  We have a whole rule book of “shoulds” and “should nots” that we want our children to follow.

Rules like:

  • Kids should not hurt/hit/bite/push/throw, etc.
  • Kids should listen to/obey their parents.
  • Kids should not wake up in the middle of the night after __ age.
  • Kids should be polite.

These seem like reasonable enough expectations and, in fact, part of our job as parents is to teach children these basic norms.

The problem with believing these thoughts is that, as a parent, you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling incredibly frustrated (and angry) as you go through the process of educating your kids.  I’m not suggesting for a second that you don’t teach your kids not to hurt, how to listen, manners, etc.

What I’m suggesting is that you turn those thoughts around in your mind so that you can create more positive feelings for yourself as you parent.

For example, instead of thinking “kids should not hurt each other,” you can choose to think, “of course kids should hurt each other because that is how they learn that it’s not okay to hurt someone else.”

Or you could try “of course kids are going to hurt each other and this is my opportunity as a parent to show them how to stop doing that.”  The feeling that these thoughts create is one of acceptance, calm, and motivation to teach, instead of anger or frustration.

Your Feelings Really Matter

The reason to consider cultivating more positive feelings such as acceptance and calm is that you will show up like the mom you want to be when you are coming from that place, instead of frustration or anger.

You will also be able to teach your kids much more effectively when you’re using your rational mind, which goes off-line the moment you’ve flipped your lid in anger and frustration.  That’s when your problem-solving abilities and creativity become disabled and your amygdala takes over, which is what causes the waves of intense emotion.  Once this has happened, you’re not going to be able to show up as the mom you want to be.

On that night when my son woke up two hours early and my husband was out of town, I was creating all kinds of upset for myself because I was thinking: “He shouldn’t be awake this early! I should be able to sleep longer! This should not be happening!”  I was arguing with reality, reality was winning, and I was getting frustrated instead of showing up as the mom I wanted to be.

In retrospect, I can see that arguing with reality in that situation had zero benefit.  It did not make my three-year old want to go to sleep.  It did not help me get any additional sleep.  It only made me feel guilty for getting frustrated with him.  Now I understand that he should have woken up two hours early that day because he did.  From that place of acceptance, calm, and peace, I’m able to stay in control with my rational mind and avoid having my amygdala take over.

Now when he wakes up early, I accept it from the beginning.  I’m not necessarily always happy about it, but I accept that this is what is happening and that it should be happening, because it is happening.  I might try to coax my son into getting a little more sleep and snuggling with me, but if he’s not interested, then I take a deep breath, get up, and go make oatmeal for him and tea for me.  I choose to spend this time with him.  I get to spend this time with him.  When he’s a teenager, I’ll look back on these moments and be so glad that I had them.  I’ll be so glad that I chose to show up as the mom that I want to be.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

How To Make A Bad Day A Little Better

Sometimes you just have a terrible day.  Maybe you find out that you didn’t get the promotion you applied for or your boss says something and you can’t seem to shake it.  Or maybe everything seems normal on the outside, but you just wake up in a funk and you’re feeling terrible on the inside.  Maybe you know what you need to get done today but you’re dragging your feet.  Or perhaps you’re just spinning in confusion and overwhelm about what to do next.

On this kind of terrible, awful, no-good, bad day, you might be asking yourself questions like “what is wrong with me?”  Or “why can’t I get myself together?”

I coach moms on finding fulfillment in their work and lives and I still have days like this, too.  Being fulfilled in your life does not mean being happy all the time.  In fact, doing what brings you true fulfillment requires you to get very uncomfortable on a regular basis to go after what you want.  There are days when my inner critic is telling me to stay safe in the cave, to not put myself out there.  It sometimes tells me that my goals are too challenging and that I should just give up and go home.

Here’s what I do on those days.

Recognize That We Should Have Days Like This

Days like this are part of being human.  If we expect to always be happy, feel great, and be super motivated, then we’re setting ourselves up for even more disappointment and suffering.  Our resistance to external circumstances comes directly from the thought “this shouldn’t be happening.”  But trying to argue against the pain of life is not going to make it better – it’s actually going to make it much worse.

When you feel yourself having a bad day and thinking “this shouldn’t be happening,” try turning that thought around:  What if this should be happening?  How can this day become my teacher?  What can I learn from here?  How can I grow from this?  What if this is exactly the opportunity that I need right now?

When you’re growing and evolving into the next best version of yourself, you will definitely have days like this.  Growing pains always accompany growth.  But instead of thinking that bad days are happening to you, welcome them and see what is there for you.

Allow Yourself To Feel Terrible

Negative emotions feel uncomfortable by definition and our brains do not like to feel uncomfortable. What they most like are to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and minimize effort.  So when we’re feeling negative emotion, we usually resist it by trying not to feel it, react to it, but yelling or being short with people, or avoid it with either a distraction (example: social media or Netflix) or dulling the discomfort with something that will give us an immediate dopamine hit (a glass of wine anyone?).

Allowing the negative emotion is very different.  To allow it, try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and noticing what the negative emotion feels like in your body.  Just sit with it and allow it to be there and then notice how you can handle it. You can handle being disappointed, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed.  Welcome all of it.

If you’re willing to feel any emotion, then there’s nothing you won’t be willing to do.  And that is the most empowering place you can ever be.

Take Good Care

Be extra nice to yourself on bad days.  This does not mean indulging in false pleasures like overloading on sugar or alcohol or binge-watching Netflix.  It means doing things that actually make you better off for having done them.  They are the natural comforts that bring us joy, without any negative consequences.

Ask your partner or a babysitter to take the kids out for a few hours so that you can do something that will give your spirit a real boost.  Things like taking a walk outside, having a hot bath, reading a book that lifts you up, listening to music you love, lighting scented candles, getting a massage, watching a feel-good movie.  Even if you don’t have the luxury of alone time, there are ways to envelop yourself in comfort even with the kids around.  Make a cup of tea or some nourishing soup, put on a cozy sweater or soft clothing, go to bed two hours earlier if you’re chronically sleep-deprived.  Whatever would lift you up and comfort you.

Manage Your Thoughts

Once we understand that our thoughts create our feelings, we often just want to jump to the place where we change our thoughts to create more positive feelings.  But sometimes you will want to think negative thoughts, so always resisting and trying to change those thoughts right away doesn’t always work.

That said, once you have learned how to allow negative emotions, it is useful to take a look at the thoughts causing those negative emotions and see if you still want to keep them.  The first step in managing your mind is to a thought download or inventory and write down what’s in your head.  The next step is to separate out the circumstances from the thoughts.

Then take a hard look at the thoughts that are bringing you down and imagine the possibility of living without them.  Who would you be?

What if you started telling yourself positive thoughts that lift you up, instead?  Thoughts like: I am enough.  I am imperfect and that’s okay.  I’m learning how to do something new and that’s okay.  These are the gentle thoughts of a friend and they are available to you 24/7.  Be nice to yourself.  Have your own back.

Then think about how you want to feel instead of how you feel right now.  What would you need to think to create that feeling?

In my case, I want to feel committed to my goal and purpose of helping as many moms as I can to find fulfillment in their careers and their lives.  In order to feel committed, I need to think the thought “I’m willing to do whatever it takes, including being uncomfortable, to help as many moms as I can.”  And then I think that thought and feel committed, I take action and put my message out there.  My result is that I do whatever it takes to help as many moms as I can.  Even if I’m still having a bad day.

We can handle bad days. When we really know that, it makes them a little better.

Go forth, grow, and bloom.  Even on the bad days.

XO

Charise

You Are Worthy Of Your Dreams

Have you ever let yourself dream big about what you’d really love to have in your life and felt a sensation of expansion, opening or rising up in your chest?

And have you ever immediately thereafter felt shot down when you hear a voice in your head say “who are you to do that?”  The bubble bursts and it’s like you tumble down to the ground, back to “reality.”

When you feel that opening, rising up, or expansion in your heart, that’s coming from your highest self, beckoning you to grow and bloom, and become the next version of yourself.

The voice that says “who are you to do that?” is your inner critic, which comes from your primitive brain, whose sole mission is to keep you safe in your comfort zone.  The inner critic is usually quite mean and it likes to tell us all of the reasons why we should not try new things or take any risks.  It will use every line that it can to convince you to stay in the cave, even if it’s a damp, dark cave that’s not any fun.

It loves to say things that we heard or believed as children and are still believing as adults.

Things like:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • Don’t get too big for your britches.
  • You can’t do that.
  • That’s dangerous.
  • You don’t have what it takes.
  • You’re not good enough.
  • You don’t deserve that.
  • You’re not worthy of that.

The inner critic aims right for our Achilles’ heels and tells us that we’re fundamentally deficient and flawed.

The bad news is that, since you’re human, the inner critic is probably here to stay.  As much as you’d like to, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to extract it completely from your brain.

The good news is that you can choose not to believe your inner critic.  You always get to decide how you want to think, feel, and act in response to your inner critic.  And you can give your inner critic much less air time by managing your mind.

Create Distance From Your Inner Critic

Until now, you’ve probably been hearing the inner critic’s voice in your head and thinking that what it tells you is 100% factual.  That is why it is so important to understand the difference between circumstances and thoughts as a first step.

Writing down the thoughts that your inner critic tells you is essential to help you create some distance between your true self and the thoughts that your inner critic is telling you.

As an exercise, think about a big dream that you have, something that you’d love to realize, but that also brings you some discomfort, such as doubt or fear.  What are your thoughts about your ability to go out and achieve that?  Write them down.

Any negative thoughts resembling the ones I listed above are coming from your inner critic.

The next step is to ask yourself why you’re choosing to think or believe those things.  Your answer might be that you didn’t know you had a choice.  Your inner critic has always told you these things and you’ve always believed them.  But you don’t have to believe them anymore.

Instead, you can start to just notice them, as an impartial observer, as the “watcher” of your own mind. Develop a sense of curiosity your inner critic.  Become fascinated by your primitive brain and the reasons that it gives you for not taking any risks.  Is it using lines that your parents used to tell you?  Instead of believing those things as true, you might notice how interesting it is that your brain has held onto that same thought or belief for so long.

Giving your inner critic a name can also help you create more distance between her and you.  When you hear the voice come up, you can say “there goes old Betsy again,” as if your inner critic were some crazy relative that you don’t really pay much attention to.  The point is to notice the inner critic but not believe her. Because believing her is what causes you to become paralyzed with fear, doubt, and shame.

What If Everybody Were Worthy? 

The belief that we are not ourselves worthy or deserving of success often comes from a larger belief that some people are more worthy and deserving than others, as if there were some sort of pecking order of worthiness among people.  Or perhaps you were taught that you have to prove or earn your worth by what you do in the world.  You might have been taught these beliefs as a child and perhaps you’ve accepted them as true.

The problem with these beliefs is that they allow for the possibility that some people might not be worthy or might be less worthy, including you.  These beliefs also provide a justification for judging others harshly, but often that judgment backfires and you end up judging yourself even more harshly.

If, on the other hand, you choose to believe that everyone is worthy just because they are human, then it means that you are also worthy just because you’re human.  If you believe that you are already worthy and don’t have to do anything to prove your worth, then it takes the pressure off and life becomes fun again.

You could sit on the couch and eat bonbons all day if you wanted and you would still be worthy.  But if you really feel worthy, you probably won’t want to sit on the couch and eat bonbons.  You’ll likely want to go share your gifts with the world, which is what you’re already dreaming about anyway.

Decide Today

You can decide today that you’re already worthy of your dreams.  And when you hear your inner critic say, “who are you to do that?” remember this quote from Marianne Williamson:

“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world . . . We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

You are already worthy. Go forth, bloom, and let yourself shine.

XO

Charise