How To Successfully Prepare For A Hard Conversation

hard conversation

Life is full of times we need to have a hard conversation.

Having to fire an employee
Telling your parents you want to follow your own dream instead of theirs
Setting boundaries
Giving someone feedback
Saying no
Telling someone you no longer love them

As different as these examples are, they are similar in that, they are considered by most to be “hard conversations.”

What makes these types of conversations, hard?

Fear of the other person’s reaction.
Worry about their emotional response.
Concern for hurting someone’s feelings.
Anxiety about the other person no longer “liking us”.

Before we have to have one of these conversations, we often play it out in our minds over and over again.
We rehearse it.
We worry.
We prepare for the worst-case scenario.
We anticipate the pain and the hurt feelings.

Sometimes we become so afraid of the conversation that we procrastinate having it.

This future conversation just becomes bigger and scarier in our minds.

A huge obstacle.
A massive distraction.
Sometimes the worry and the dread about having the conversation just eat us alive.

Let me tell you the truth about something that will bring you some relief if you need to have a difficult conversation and it’s making you crazy with worry and dread.

Here is what you need to know…

You can never actually hurt another person’s feelings.

Seriously. Nothing you can say or do can actually hurt a person’s feelings.

I know that you might be thinking – this doesn’t make any sense – because, if you are like me, then you were told your entire life to be careful of other people’s feelings and try to never hurt them.

That’s what most people believe and I am here to tell you that it is not true and why this is such good news.

Words and actions do not create feelings.
Thoughts create feelings.
Each person creates their own thoughts.
And they get to think whatever they want about what the hear, see or experience in the world.
They may choose to think that I hurt their feelings by saying or doing what I did, but that does not make it true.
The thought ‘She hurt my feelings’ is what is actually hurting their feelings, not what actually I said or did.

See the difference?

It’s subtle and it’s extremely important.

Of course, we want people in our lives to be happy and listen to us and like us and not judge us…but at the end of the day, we have absolutely no control over any of that.

But the craziest part is that we go around believing that we can control what other people think and feel and so we try really hard to make sure that we control their thoughts and emotions for our benefit so that we always feel good.

And when we are always pursuing making other people happy so that we can always feel good, then we are basically deciding to lie – to avoid having hard conversations and telling the truth.

And that is when we get ourselves into so much trouble.

That type of avoidance (of hard conversations) and speaking our truths, setting boundaries, being honest, ending or beginning new things is exactly what keeps us stuck and trapped in situations or lifestyles that we don’t want to be in.

So here is what you can do, if you recognize that you avoiding having hard conversations.

Know what you do control (and it’s way more than you think!)

How we deliver our message
Being truthful and honest
Speaking from my heart and with integrity
Being kind and compassionate
Allowing others to experience whatever they want to, based on their thoughts and feelings
Managing our own minds
Noticing and responding appropriately to our own emotions
When in doubt, pouring more love into the situation for our benefit

And one final thing that you can control is how you prepare for a hard conversation – because worrying and dreading and procrastinating doesn’t get you anything.

It only delays and postpones what you want or need to do and makes the conversation seem 10x worse than it really is.

Focus on all the things you can control and check out my step by step guide on how to prep for a hard conversation.

  1. What is the hard conversation that you need to have?
  2. Why do you need to have it?
  3. Why do you think it will be hard?
  4. What will your life be like if you never have this conversation?
  5. What is it costing you to postpone this conversation?
  6. What do you want the outcome of this conversation to be?
  7. What part of that outcome do you control?
  8. How can you have the conversation from a place of truth and integrity?
  9. How can you be loving towards yourself, even if you don’t get the response that you would like?
  10. Have the conversation.Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings before, during and after the conversation. Be kind and loving towards yourself. Celebrate your compassionate side. Allow the other person to have their own experience.

If you prefer, we can do this work together – because I know that two minds are better than one. Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session to see how to shift your thinking about hard conversations so you can feel more empowered. Let’s take 30 minutes to talk about it. Book your session today!

How to Overcome Old and Painful Blame.

katie pulsifer coaching, blame

A few weeks ago, I was helping a client understand blame and the subtle difference between 2 types of blaming.

With blame, there is appropriate responsibility assigning and inappropriate responsibility assigning.

One focuses on the thing that someone did or the action they took. And the other focuses on the way that action makes you feel.

Assigning responsibility to someone else based on an action they took is totally appropriate.

Assigning responsibility to someone else based on how that action made you feel is not appropriate.

My client admitted having 10-year-old blame towards her mother-in-law.

And the most interesting thing about this was that she couldn’t even remember what her mother-in-law did 10 years ago.

She could only remember how it made her feel. She was still so angry at her mother-in-law for hurting her feelings.

She had been blaming her mother-in-law for her own negative emotions for the past 10 years and she couldn’t figure out how to feel better.

I told her that the secret to feeling better is always very simple.

Take back the responsibility for your feelings.

I explained that she had inadvertently assigned the responsibility of her emotions to her mother-in-law and she was now totally dependent on her mother-in-law apologizing, changing, or doing something different so that she could feel better.

She had already invested 10 years of waiting for her mother-in-law to make the first move.

And she could keep on waiting.

Or, she could say enough is enough and decide to feel better now.

She could release the 10-year-old blame and accept responsibility for deciding how she wants to feel now based on what she chooses to think now.

She tentatively agreed to let go of the old and inappropriately assigned blame.

She was curious to see if it would make her feel better.

And was unsure, feeling somewhat exposed and uncomfortable.

This was unchartered territory. That old blame had become a dear friend of sorts.

This would be a process, I explained.

Taking responsibility for our emotions is hard work. Blaming others for our emotions is way easier.

One leaves you feeling empowered, the other does not.

She committed to the letting go of the old and painful blame. She practiced it daily.

It took about a month and then it was gone.

Every once in a while, this old blame comes back and tries to get her attention.

She gently refuses the invitation.

She genuinely feels better.

Now, what about you?

  • Is there some old blame hanging out in your life?
  • Do you want to let it go for a chance to feel better?
  • Can you separate out the blame-able action from the feelings you are experiencing as a result of that action in this situation?
  • Can you assign responsibility appropriately in this situation?

If you prefer, we can do this work together – because I know that two minds are better than one. Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session to see how letting go of old and painful blame can help you to start feeling better. Let’s take 30 minutes to talk about it. Book your session today!

How To Process Pain In A Positive Way

katie pulsifer coaching, processing pain

We all experience pain at regular intervals in our life. And yet, most of us will go to great lengths to never experience painful feelings or understand the options we have in how we process pain.

Often, we turn to food, alcohol, shopping, work or something else to ignore the pain we feel. These temporary distractions only prevent the process that needs to happen to let the pain go, permanently.

Here is what happens:

something happens to trigger pain
a rush of thoughts flood our minds
these thoughts create emotions (vibrations in the body) that can feel unbearable
we make a choice to avoid emotions, resist and react to the emotions or process the emotions

Avoiding the pain

When we avoid the pain, it is like we pretend it isn’t there. Which, is essentially lying to ourselves. This feels better in the moment but never works long term. Because the more we avoid pain, the more we have to keep avoiding it. So, if we make a choice to drink wine instead of feeling the pain, then we teach ourselves to respond to negative emotions with wine – which can lead to drinking when we really don’t want to – which can lead to overdrinking, lethargy, fogginess, weight gain and guilt – which can produce more pain in the long run.

Resisting and reacting to the pain

If we resist the pain, it looks like acting out or fighting against it. This is usually uncontrolled and responses towards something or someone that we may perceive to be “responsible” for our pain. We might yell, over-react and blow something out of proportion. We might slam a door, talk about someone behind their back or give them the silent treatment. These behaviors can provide a temporary relief from the pain, but ultimately the pain takes on more intensity as we fuel it with these negative responses. And when we react from a negative emotion, we always get a negative result – and this can produce more pain down the road.

Processing the pain

When we choose to process pain, it means that we are deciding to feel it. Many of us have a very difficult time doing this. We are reluctant to feel pain on purpose. We have told ourselves that it is a bad thing to do or that it will be too hard. And yet, processing and feeling our pain is always more manageable than we think and it means that we can avoid long-term consequences that come from avoiding, resisting and reacting to it.

I am a firm believer in processing my pain. I have learned how to get very comfortable experiencing painful feelings – allowing them to be with me and knowing that the immediate discomfort that they create is only temporary. I can control when the suffering ends. I have learned how to do the work and it has changed my life.

Here’s what I do and what I teach my clients to do:

  • Allow the painful feelings to be in my body, even when I can’t make sense of them in my mind
    I watch and wait
  • Notice that I may want to distract myself from my feelings with _________ (food, wine, sleep, social media, shopping, etc…)
  • Notice that I may want to act out________ (place blame, speak harshly, be judgmental, be manipulative)
  • Decide that I am processing the pain instead of any of those other things
  • Commit to this decision
  • Go on with my life, bringing the painful feelings with me
  • Keep noticing what wants to distract me from the pain. Tell myself that it is not worth the temporary relief. Tell myself that I am choosing the harder path, but it will be well worth it.
  • Recommit to experiencing the painful feelings as often as necessary
  • Keep going on with life
  • Take notice of the new thoughts that start to emerge – this may take minutes, hours, days or weeks. Let it take as long as it takes
  • Keep the thoughts that help the healing process and ditch the rest
  • Feel more positive when the pain subsides

After you go through the journey of processing pain, there is something that you must do.

Own it. Own your pain. It’s yours.

Remember, this is how it happens.

something happens to trigger pain
a rush of thoughts flood our minds
these thoughts create emotions (vibrations in the body) that can feel unbearable (the painful feelings)
we make a choice to avoid the emotions, resist and react to the emotions or process the emotions

Whenever I am confronted with pain, I tell myself this:

I am responsible for this pain. I have created it with my thoughts. I can use this opportunity to learn so much about myself – if I am willing to process this pain, instead of avoiding, resisting or reacting to it. This is happening for my benefit. If I can create pain with my mind, then I can create the relief with my mind.

If you prefer, we can do this work together – because I know that two minds are better than one. Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session to see how to shift your approach to processing pain so you can feel more positive and empowered moving through it. Let’s take 30 minutes to talk about it. Book your session today!

What Boundaries Can Never Do For You And Why.

boundaries

As a coach, I get a lot of questions about boundaries.
Here’s one from a recent client:
“I feel like everyone in my life is taking advantage of me. I guess I have no boundaries. Can you help me with that?”

I start the conversation asking her to share an example.

And the example always goes something like this…

“So-and-so wants me to help her out with such-and-such. She is constantly asking me to do things for her. She has absolutely no respect for my time or my schedule. She always thinks that I can drop everything and be there for her. She has no appreciation for me at all and I am sick of it.”

I am curious about what she does next.
And the answer is always something like this…
“I tell her that I can help her out.”
I ask why.
“Because she asked and I don’t want to disappoint her.”
A-ha.

I told her she didn’t help to create boundaries.
She needed help getting good at no.
We all get this one confused – especially when we are people-pleasers.

We believe some crazy things about boundaries.

1. We think boundaries are these invisible shields of protection that will prevent the requests, the favors and the phone calls for help.
2. We believe boundaries will teach people to stop taking advantage of us and then they will know exactly how to treat us better.
3. We think that boundaries with stop the potential disappointment that others will have in us.
4. And finally, those boundaries set an expectation of how other people should act with us.

Boundaries don’t have these 4 superpowers. They can’t do any of these things.

And here’s why.

People are going to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

They are going to ask for help, favors and make requests. And they get to do that.

And you get to respond to those requests in whatever way you want to.

Just because someone asks you for something, does not mean that you have to say yes or believe that you are being taken advantage of.

Here’s the real superpower that you are looking for – getting good at no.

Getting good at no means getting good at telling the truth.

This matters because every time you say yes when you really mean no – you are choosing to tell yourself and the other person a big, fat lie.
Lying is choosing to take advantage of yourself, to not appreciate yourself, and to disappoint yourself.

Telling the truth is what teaches people how you want to be treated because it shows them how you treat yourself.

Boundaries do play a role in our relationships but rarely do we actually need them. 9 times out of 10, the problems that we are having in our relationships are about the way we treat ourselves. The better we treat ourselves, the better our relationships. Treating ourselves better begins with us telling the truth.

And here’s what getting good at no can do for you.
A no can be delivered with kindness and love. Kindness and love are emotions that you experience and they feel good!
No is a sign of self-respect. Self-respect increases your trust in yourself!

No makes your future yes that much sweeter.

You will be much more excited about your yeses without all the resentment and irritation!

Ready to say no more in your life? Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session and let’s talk about why saying no is a challenge and how you can move past it.

 

Overwhelmed with an Over Problem?

Overwhelmed, Self-Care, Confidence, Self-Sabotage

Are you overwhelmed with a pattern of Over-ing?

Over-committing.
Over-spending.
Over-eating.
Over-preparing.
Over-promising.
Over-dramatizing.
Over-drinking.
Over-purchasing.
Over-worrying.
Over-complaining.
Over-perfecting.
Over-compensating.

Over-ing is going WAY above and beyond what is necessary or what serves a purpose – done with the best intentions and usually for all the wrong reasons.

The wrong reason is all about feelings. Creating and preventing feelings. In other words, we “Over Do It” when we want to make other people feel something specific or we want to make ourselves stop feeling something specific.

Here are real stories that my clients have shared:

“I eat everything on my plate even when I’m no longer hungry because I don’t want to hurt my husband’s or my mother-in-law’s feelings.”

“I constantly apologize for everything not being perfect in my house when my friends come over. I’m worried that they only see my flaws.”

“I buy way beyond my budget and sometimes even hide it from my husband. I know this creates a lot of stress in my life – I just want to have my son what he wants. I just want him to be happy.”

“Everyone always asks me to help out or for a favor. I can’t say no. I always say yes. They depend on me and I need to be there for them.”

I’m sure you are reading some of these client’s stories and wondering “what’s wrong with that?” or “isn’t that what we are supposed to do?” 

I know – I totally understand. I used to think the exact same thing.

Each of the examples shared comes from amazing women who are working really hard to take incredible care of the people in their lives. They want to do the right thing, make other people happy, not hurt anyone’s feelings. They were raised to be kind and loving. They’re doing the best they can, every single day. They just want to feel good, except, they don’t.

Each of these women has fallen into a pattern which on the surface seems like no big deal, but underneath is causing them to feel absolutely terrible.

Client 1 is gaining weight because she is eating more than her body requires to fuel itself. She is unintentionally over-eating because she would rather eat when she is not hungry than hurt someone’s feelings at the dinner table.

Meet client 2, who is constantly searching for external approval to feel good about herself. She is worried that nothing is ever good enough and spends a lot of time trying to make everything perfect. She’s stuck in cycle of over-compensating.

Here’s client 3, who thinks that her son’s happiness comes from having all the things he says he wants. She over-spends to ensure that his needs are met and then has little to no money left to do the things that she would like to do for herself, like take a class or join the gym.

Client 4 is exhausted and overwhelmed. She constantly over-commits herself and says yes to every request from friends and family. She never wants to let anyone down, but in the end, she is letting herself down because she is so tired and run-down all the time.

These are the negative consequences that happen when we fall into a pattern of trying to manipulate other people’s feelings.

We want people to like us, we want them to be happy, we don’t want to disappoint them, we don’t want to hurt their feelings….and yet, we do not have any control on how other people feel, ever.

We work so hard to try and control this and it is ultimately beyond our control. The way people feel or what they think is always their own responsibility. Just like our own thoughts and feelings are our own responsibility.

So, how do you overcome being overwhelmed with an over problem?

How do you stop a cycle of manipulating other people’s emotions so that you will feel better?

I help my clients move past being overwhelmed by teaching them how to manage their own emotions first.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Know that you create your feelings from your own thoughts 100% of the time
  2. Understand that feeling are just vibrations that pass through your body, caused by your thoughts
  3. Be willing to fully experience your own emotions – even the negative or uncomfortable ones
  4. Accept that others get to think and feel anything they want, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable or you don’t like it
  5. Believe that you wouldn’t want anyone to try an manipulate your feelings, so it is unfair to try and manipulate theirs
  6. Notice where you are ultimately hurting yourself because you are trying to avoid a feeling or trying to hard to manage other people’s feelings. Notice what you do and ask yourself why you do it.
  7. Now ask yourself, if it’s worth it? Is the negative consequence worth the potential temporary discomfort of a negative emotion? Chances are, that it is not.

This is a process and it is hard work. And the upside is spectacular!

Clients who learn how to manage their own emotions (all of them) – also learn how to lose the weight, gain their own approval, save their money for what they really want and feel less exhausted and overwhelmed.

Emotional management allows you to focus on what you can control and to direct all the actions in your life to the results that are most meaningful. It allows you to quite spinning your wheels trying to manage other people and circumstances that are really beyond your control.

If you are overwhelmed with an over problem, I would love to show you exactly how you can move past it, so you can get back on track in taking exceptional care of yourself and everyone else, in a way that is positive and energizing. I believe that you deserve that and I would love to show you how it’s possible.

Let’s schedule a complimentary Breakthrough Session to talk about it.

Got Perfect Pairings?

katie puslifer coaching

When I talk to my clients about perfect pairings, we usually aren’t talking about what their local wine shop owner suggests to serve with that new grilled fish dish that she’s cooking on Saturday night.

And we are not talking about what heels to pair with her cute new dress, either

Nope, we are talking about a whole other kind of perfect pairing.

We are talking about the unusual combination of two things – that have absolutely nothing in common, but go together perfectly!

When I first start working with my clients, they aren’t even aware that they create perfect pairings in their life. They don’t even know what they are and they can’t see them right away.

But working together for awhile, they get really good at noticing what is going on. They start to pay attention to what they do and what they feel. It’s completely fascinating to them. It’s like the lights come on in their life. Their awareness is ignited and suddenly, they see perfect pairings that they had never noticed before.

Here are five stories about five women and their perfect pairings…

She is following her instincts and pairing back her weekend yoga workshop offerings, so she can create more time to be with her family. She is worried about how this business decision will affect her students. She is worried that they will be mad at her. She really wants to make this change in her schedule and she is totally afraid to do it. She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. She is filled with doubt as she creates her new fall on-line calendar and then publishes it. She goes to the freezer for ice cream to make her feel better. It’s interesting to point out that she doesn’t even like ice cream, but it makes her feel better. Perfect Pairing = Self-Doubt + Ice Cream

She gets the kids off to school after packing backpacks, lunches, reviewing the day’s schedule and preparing breakfast. She looks around the kitchen and sees the messes that need to be cleaned up. There are exploding laundry baskets in every bedroom. The pile of bills and papers on the dining room table is so high, it’s blocking her view out the front window. She is exhausted. There is clutter everywhere. She loves being a mom and has such a challenging time staying on top of all of all the household stuff. And she feels so guilty that she can’t figure this out. So, she heads back upstairs and climbs under the covers, right after setting the alarm for 2:30pm. She wants to wake up before the kids get home from school and more rest will definitely make her feel better. Perfect Pairing = Guilt + Napping

This woman is writing a project proposal to a non-profit that she hopes will hire her. With every words she types, she is filling up with discomfort as she writes about her qualifications and experience. She starts to think that she is a fraud and that they will see right through her and never hire her. She keeps getting up from her desk and going to kitchen for a small spoonful of cookie dough. When it is all said and done, she has made 10 trips to the kitchen while writing the proposal and it takes all morning. Despite the fact that she is currently on a 3 week cleanse, she eats the cookie dough anyway. It doesn’t really taste that good, but make her feel better. Perfect Pairing = Fear + Cookie Dough

She is moving to a new town and is facing 17 years worth of stuff in her house. Every item is screaming for her attention. And she sees 1000 decisions ahead of her, just to decide what to pack and what to purge. She looks around her house and feels completely overwhelmed and knows she should just get to work, but she can’t quite motivate. She is beginning to regret her decision to move and starts to question everything. Then, she curls up on the couch and watches two movies and eats a cheese plate. It’s 10 in the morning and it does make her feel better. Perfect Pairing = Overwhelm + Cheese plate with Bridget Jones double feature

This woman is gives and gives all day long. She takes care of other people for a living and for fun. She expends a lot of energy for those she loves. Sometimes in the evening, when she is making dinner, she can feel invisible and unappreciated in her house. It feels like everybody needs something and doesn’t seem to notice that she could use some help. It doesn’t help that she’s not great at asking for help and in fact, it makes her really uncomfortable. So, she does all the work of preparing and cleaning up from dinner herself, while her resentment towards her family builds beneath the surface. She opens a bottle of wine almost every night while she cooks. The wine always makes her feel better. Perfect Pairing = Unappreciated + Cabernet Sauvignon

These pairings all have 3 things in common.

Each begins with experiencing of an uncomfortable emotion first. Followed by doing something, eating something, drinking something to soothe that discomfort and to feel better. And finally, after that momentary soothing subsides, here comes another uncomfortable emotion, like regret, guilt, shame, or embarrassment.

Here’s how it works….

You feel something unpleasant or uncomfortable. And you want seek relief from that discomfort with something that feels better. So, you give what you want in that moment, there is relief. YES! The discomfort dissolves.

And then the discomfort is replaced with another negative emotion and you return to the familiar lecture that you have given yourself a million times and it goes something like this…

Why did you eat that? You know better. 

Why did you do that? You wasted hours that you don’t have.

Why did you drink that? You overslept this morning, again.

What’s wrong with you? You know better. Seriously, why did you do that?

Here’s why…

We don’t like to be uncomfortable or to experience negative emotions.

We like to feel good, as much as we possibly can. In fact, we want and almost expect to be happy all the time. We get so many messages in the world about trying to be positive, optimistic and grateful. It creates this unrealistic expectation for sustained and continuous happiness (at all costs) and we start to believe that something is wrong with us, if we can’t achieve it.

As the perfect pairing stories suggest, we seek comfort and happiness when things get hard and find ourselves eating things we don’t want or avoiding things we need to do. We seek pleasure or escape as a way to avoid the pain of discomfort.

And most of the time, we are only mildly aware of what is happening. We talk ourselves into the fact that we are just giving ourselves a little treat or a small reward – for the hard work, the big decision, the struggle or the effort.

We tell ourselves that we deserve it. And say anything to justify it. It’s just a little self-care. No biggie!

It’s just one little bowl, one glass, one hour…

And if it is just that…every once in a while…it would be no big deal.

But, most of the time it is more than one. It’s a few.

And it happens whenever there is a feeling that is uncomfortable or unpleasant.

It becomes a habit. Coping. Soothing. Dealing. Managing. Escaping.

It’s a little pick-me-up or a treat disguised as self-care coming to our rescue, when things get tough.

And yet, that seemingly innocent treat has a negative consequence attached to it if it goes unchanged – gaining extra weight, breaking a commitment, not showing up, missing a deadline, feeling hungover.

Which brings more negative emotions…more guilt, more shame, more discomfort and disappointment. It’s basically choosing to sabotage ourselves with these results, instead of just being uncomfortable.

Here’s what you can learn to do about this.

Look at the whole sequence of events. Slow down and turn the lights on. Notice what is happening. See how the perfect pairing is formed. They go through every step.

Feel the un-appreciation. Notice the desire for Cabernet to soothe the discomfort. Feel the relief that Cabernet brings. Followed by regret and disappointment, when you remember that you want to stop drinking on weeknights. Notice how you keep hitting the snooze button the next morning. See how hard it is to wake up. Feel the sluggishness and fogginess. Feel the new wave of regret and disappointment.

Ask yourself if it’s worth it? Is this perfect pairing working for you? Do you like the end result?

If not, decide to make a new one. Begin with the un-appreciation again and try a new way to pair it.

Breathing. Music. Asking for help. New thoughts. Decide to feel appreciated. Seltzer water in a wine glass. Just be with the uncomfortable emotion until it goes away.

Do this until you find the pairing that is perfect for you. Find one that allows you to not sabotage your way through discomfort. And that has no negative consequences. One that feels better in a lasting way, not a fleeting and temporary way.

Interested in exploring and overcoming a Perfect Pairing in your life?

Download the Perfect Pairing cheat sheet here. This free worksheet will help uncover what you are doing and how you can make some positive changes going forward.

Free Download

Think you might have a perfect pairing problem?

This free (and highly actionable) worksheet will help you discover how your perfect pairing is impacting your life and exactly how to create a positive pairing going forward.

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Why Quitting Feels Good.

katie pulsifer coaching, life coaching, life coach

Last week, I had a severe case of writer’s block. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

I sat down to write this weekly email so many times and had absolutely nothing to say.

I called it writer’s block because that felt legitimate. It meant I was a serious writer, plagued with this “official” and “inconvenient” curse of not being able to produce the words when I needed something to write.

So, I let myself off the hook and said – “Just don’t send it. You have nothing to say this week.”

And, so I quit.

And it felt like such a relief.

And I tried again the next day and the day after that, with the same result.

So, I kept quitting and I kept feeling relieved when I let myself off the hook.

I justified my writer’s block as the week went on with these thoughts.

You have so many things on your plate right now, it makes perfect sense that you don’t know what to write
You work so hard, it’s ok to skip a week
Give yourself this break and you will be full of ideas next week
Everyone else is so busy too
No one reads it anyway
No one will notice that it wasn’t in their inbox this week

But here is what is interesting – I noticed.

All week – I noticed that I had not done something that I had done every Tuesday for 18 months.

I thought about it all week.
And it bothered me.
And it really distracted me.

The quitting didn’t actually bring me any lasting relief. The quitting that felt good in the moment, left me with this heavy feeling of remorse and disappointment instead.

Here is what I also noticed.
Not sending out the weekly email on Tuesday wasn’t for the reason that I wanted it to be.

It wasn’t writer’s block.

I knew that because I had written plenty of draft versions that were waiting for me in my folder and I could have hit send on any one of them.

Here’s what really happened and why I didn’t publish anything last week.

Sometime early last week, I allowed my ego to start making important decisions for me.
And my ego operates from a place of fear.
And my ego is a harsh and judgmental critic.
And my ego wants to keep me safe and comfortable.

I also refer to my ego as my “old brain” – the un-evolved part of my brain that wants to seek comfort, security and not take any risks. This old brain wants my life to be easy.

This is why quitting felt so good. My ego was protecting me from feeling embarrassed or not good enough or judged by others who would read what I wrote.
And why justifying the quitting and calling it writer’s block felt safe and protected me from experiencing any that discomfort.

But I know better.

I do not get the results that I want in my life when I let my ego make the decisions. Period.

Because my ego will always be working to keep me safe, comfortable – expending minimal effort – basically not growing or evolving.

I have to overcome my “old brain” (ego) to grow, to take risks and to challenge myself. I have to be willing to be uncomfortable in pursuit of moving my life forward. Otherwise, I will always stay in exactly the same place.

So when I look back at last week, I am fascinated by how quickly my ego got the better of me.

And I let it.

There was definitely a part of me that felt unsure and tentative in my writing last week.

And that became the perfect moment for my ego to show up and begin to fill my thoughts with doubt, uncertainty, fear, and worry. I bought into those thoughts 100%. I justified the thoughts and then gave myself permission to quit. Fascinating.

As you head into this week – think about where you might be letting your ego make the decisions for you. And how do you feel about that? Can you be curious about where you might want to push through the self-doubt and fear anyway and overcome your ego, for your benefit?

Remember that your ego is trying to keep you safe and protected, which probably also means not putting yourself out there or doing something uncomfortable. How can you overcome your “old brain” in pursuit of something that matters to you? And most importantly, what can you learn about yourself in the process?

If you prefer, we can do this work together – because I know that two minds are better than one. Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session to see how to overcome a desire to quit in pursuit of relief. Let’s take 30 minutes to talk about it. Book your session today!

The Most Powerful Question

powerful question

Sometimes I just can’t make sense of myself.
I forget what I am doing.
I get really distracted.
I say one thing and actually mean something else.
I decide, then change my mind, then re-decide, then change my mind again.
And so on.
It’s messy.
And awkward.
I say “no” a lot.
I’m uncertain.
And I’m pretty sure that I seem very confusing to everyone around me.

Then other times, I am really efficient.
I’m organized for my day.
I’m on time.
Productive.
I have clear intentions and I follow through.
I create everything on purpose.
I am unstoppable.
I accomplish small things and I accomplish big things.
Time is on my side.
Anything is possible.

So, what is really going on here?
How can I be one person and have such diverse ways of behaving in my life?

The answer is simple and complicated.

It’s feelings. The answer is always – feelings.

Everything we do or don’t do is based on how we feel.
I will say that again just to really make a point here.
The way we behave and the action we take (or don’t take) is based on how we feel.
Feelings drive all of our actions.

If this is how it works, then it becomes imperative that we are able to identify what we are feeling to understand our behavior.

Which leads me to the question that we can always ask ourselves.

Why am I doing / not doing ________ right now?

And the answer always has to be a feeling.

It is not always easy to locate that feeling. But that feeling is the source of all our action or inaction. And that feeling is always the only answer.

If you can figure out what you feel and understand it is the reason you do or don’t do something, then you are getting to close to understanding yourself and taking responsibility for yourself.

If you want to ask yourself the question: Why am I doing / not doing ________ right now?

The answer will never sound like these:

I have to.
They are expecting me to do this.
I made a promise.
He will be mad at me if I don’t do this.
What will they say if I do it?
She wants me to.
This is a waste of my time.
I don’t know how to do this.
What will they think if I don’t do it?
I can’t wait to get started.

These answers are all thoughts. They are not feelings.

The correct answer to your question will be one-word answers like this.
Because I feel…

Bored
Excited
Irritated
Motivated
Happy
Confused
Afraid
Inspired
Conflicted
Calm

Feelings tell you EVERYTHING. They tell you exactly what is going on in your mind and the thoughts that you are creating. They explain your behavior and give you the control to makes changes in what you do/don’t do. Your feelings are your responsibility. No one else creates them. And you get to feel whatever you want. It is just so important to understand that everything you do and don’t do, is based on a feeling. That is powerful.

So, as you head into this week, can you get curious about your behavior?

Can you notice what you are doing or not doing?

How are you acting? Or reacting?

Then ask yourself the question. Why am I doing / not doing ________ right now?

Find the answer inside your feelings. What does that feeling tell you about you? What thoughts are creating that feeling? Do you like the feeling? Do you want to keep the feeling? Do you want a new feeling? Are others thoughts available to you that will inspire a new feeling?

You always have way more power and control over things that you think you do, so get comfortable with connecting to what you are feeling. It will tell you everything you need to know about yourself. And from there, you can decide to stay the course or make changes if you want to be behaving and acting in a new way. The choice is always yours.

And I know that 2 minds are always better than 1 – so if you would like help in learning how to more easily access your feelings to determine your actions – book a complimentary Breakthrough Session today. This is no-obligation conversation where I can help you uncover what feelings might be blocking your productivity and organization. Let’s work together to help you implement this powerful question into your life!

Self-Doubt.

ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

Most people let self-doubt stand between them and the thing that they desire most in their life.

Self-doubt is powerful.
And it has a grip on many of us.
It is a quiet and subtle dream killer.

Here is how I approach self-doubt, especially as it relates to setting a new goal or attempting to create something new in my life.

If you set a new goal for yourself and the goal is going to stretch you, as a good goal should, then is likely you will experience some self-doubt and fear. This is a very good sign because it means that you have the opportunity to grow. To overcome the self-doubt, is to grow.

On the other hand, if you pretend that self-doubt doesn’t exist and just ignore it, you do not overcome it. Instead you let it determine your action with very little awareness. Most people, at this point, run away from the feeling by changing the goal or deciding that they don’t like goal setting because of the negative emotion (self-doubt) that it causes.

Instead, be willing to feel it…to feel the self-doubt.

Let’s think about it. What does doubt feel like? I am guessing that it must feel pretty terrible to work so hard at avoiding it, right?

If you had to describe your self-doubt, what would you say about it?
Can you distinguish the way that it is different from other feelings you experience?
Does it have a color?
Do it move through your body at a slow or rapid pace?
Where is located in your body?

If you can get there and describe your self-doubt,or any emotion with this level of detail, then you are the one in control of it. When we avoid our emotions or try to push them away, we experience resistance.
It is always the negative emotion + resistance that feel unbearable.
And that is where the emotion is controlling us instead of the other way around.

I would describe my own self-doubt as being located in the pit of my stomach. It is slow moving with a subtle vibration to it. It is usually dark green and feels heavy.

I know this may sound a little weird, but stay with me on this.

Because I have paid attention to my self-doubt. I recognize it as soon as it shows up. In fact I have even been know to talk to my self-doubt and the conversation goes something like this…

“Hey self-doubt. What’s up? I have been expecting you. I just set a new goal (or I want to do this new thing) and whenever I put myself in a situation like this, you show up! I know you are here because of the thoughts that I am creating in my mind and you will leave when I have found new thoughts to think. So, self-doubt, let’s do this!”

OK, you might be laughing at me at this point or have stopped reading this altogether, but seriously, imagine this…

What if I actually let a dark green, heavy, slow moving with a slight vibration in the pit of my stomach emotion, prevent me from working on a stretch goal in my life?
Seriously, that would be the saddest thing ever.
And as I wrote at the beginning – most people let self-doubt stand between them and the thing that they desire most in their life.

If you allow yourself to experience self doubt and describe it in detail, lean into it and embrace it, you begin to realize you can do it. You can do self-doubt. You can do humiliation. You can do fear.

This works with any emotion!

What would happen if you were willing to feel any emotion on purpose? Not just tolerate them but really feel and allow all of them. Think about the all the things that you would be able to do and the relationships that you would hold the space for. Think about the goals you would set and dreams that could be fulfilled.

It’s powerful.

It is called taking emotional responsibility for yourself. Instead of your emotions taking responsibility for you.

Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you.

Be Good Company.

ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

You are stuck with yourself for the rest of your life.

How does that thought make you feel?
Do you like to hang out with yourself?
Are you kind, loving and sweet to yourself?

Many times, we wait for someone else to pay attention to us and to make us feel good. We dislike being alone because it means that we have no one to entertain us, to make us feel better and to distract us from our own thoughts.

Our thoughts can be very damaging and destructive, especially if we have made it a habit to think unkind things about ourselves. Without knowing better, we convince ourselves that what we think is 100% true and therefore we become reliant on other people to convince us otherwise.

Here are some example thoughts that my clients have shared with me – thoughts that they have carried around with them on a daily basis, for years.

  • They will never like me
  • I am ugly
  • I have no will-power
  • I will never be able to figure it out
  • I look old
  • I am too old
  • I have no follow-through
  • I don’t like to get my hopes up
  • I am not good enough
  • I will probably just get hurt (again)
  • I will never be thin
  • I will never lose the weight
  • This is just as good as it will ever be

When my clients share these thoughts with me – they are usually very attached to them. They have held these beliefs for a long time and feel that their only option is to believe that they are true. They don’t like what they think, but they feel like they don’t have a choice. They often go to great lengths to distract themselves from their thoughts – trying to avoid them, to push them away and to ignore them. And what ends up happening is that they begin to ignore themselves. They stop paying attention to themselves or keeping themselves company. They dread being alone. They forget their joy. They stop being their own best friend. They forget what makes them happy.

This is when I tell them the good news!

Thoughts are just sentences that run through our minds. They are opinions. They are judgements. They are impressions. And they are ALWAYS OPTIONAL. Thoughts are never facts. Thoughts are changeable. There is an infinite supply of thoughts to think. There is always a choice. Our brains do not know how to distinguish between negative thoughts and positive thoughts. Our brains do not try to hurt our feelings on purpose. They just want to be efficient and process the thoughts that we usually think. So, it is our job and our responsibility to direct our minds towards what we want to think about ourselves.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have someone in your life who adored you all the time and told you how amazing you are on a regular basis? You can! You can feel joy by remembering how exceptional you are. You won’t need anyone else to tell you because you are telling it to yourself every day. You don’t have to wait for compliments – you can always give them to yourself.

Start right now. Write your 25 Things that I Love About Myself list. You can give yourself some serious credit for everything about you that is amazing. Creating your own joy and love is a skill that just takes practice and you can begin today with creating this list. If it is hard to begin, then just start with writing down the smaller things – like getting up on time, eating a healthy breakfast, providing an education for your kids, not yelling at anyone, being a good driver, being kind…etc. – start anywhere and just keep writing until you have 25 Things. Then do it again tomorrow and every day this week until you have a substantial list that you can refer to, often. Write it and read it. This list will help to retrain your brain to create more positive thoughts than negative ones. With practice, these new thoughts will become habit.

When you love yourself, you will never mind being alone. It will give you time to reflect and connect with yourself. You can give yourself credit for what you have done well, and you can allow yourself to be filled with gratitude for all the joy you have in your life. When you love yourself, you can genuinely have a good time hanging out with yourself. You can be good company to yourself. Talk to yourself in a wonderful way, find out what you love to do and then do it. You will never feel “stuck with yourself” again – instead you will feel grateful and inspired by your own company.