They Gossip and I Let Them.

gossip

Early last week, I heard some gossip. Someone I know was saying untrue and unkind things about me. Then over the weekend, I heard some more gossip – that a friend was dramatizing and blowing out of proportion something about my daughter.

When I found out about both of these situations, my immediate response was to think that I had done something wrong and that I was to blame.

Of course, it had to be my fault!

My stomach started to hurt. And I scanned my mind for every possible clue of how I could have upset these two people. I was fixated on this for days and became completely distracted by it.

I desperately needed to find the evidence of what went wrong, so I could immediately get to work fixing it.

I had to find a way to change their minds.

I replayed every interaction, every conversation in my mind. I put myself in their shoes.

How could I have let this happen? How could I have given them just cause for the gossip?

Wait a second….hold on here. What was happening?

Who was this obsessed, self-critical, crazy person that just showed up?

Oh, right – I know her. It was ‘the old me’ back to pay me a visit.

I knew ‘the old me’ very, very well. We had lived together for a very long time.

She didn’t like confrontation and she liked everything to be perfect. She wanted everyone to be happy.

She was a master at taking responsibility and apologizing for things that were not her fault.

She also always wanted to be liked, understood and never judged harshly.

She hated gossip {especially when it was about her or anyone she loved}!

No wonder she was back.

A few years ago, when ‘the old me’ was running the show, she worked hard to make sure that everyone got the right impression about her. She people-pleased her way through life trying to make sure that no one ever said anything negative about her, ever.

Except, that they did.

She tried to control the impossible.

She turned her life upside down to manipulate outcomes that she had no business trying to manipulate.

Despite her best efforts, she found out that not everyone liked her.

And that they definitely didn’t understand her and they also judged her harshly whenever they felt like it.

They were going to keep on gossiping.

Learning this lesson was crushing at first. Quite devastating, actually. To think about all that wasted effort. All the hard work that you can pour into getting someone to know you, to like you, to understand you and be loyal and kind to you forever.

Except that it just doesn’t work that way.

Grown-ups get to do whatever they want. Boy, did I resist this lesson at first – but, the fact is that it’s still true.

Yes, they get to think and feel whatever they want. ANYTHING they want, ANYTIME they want!

They can form their own opinions, change their minds and behave however they want.

Even if it is not what I want and it makes me uncomfortable.

Even if it means that they decide not to like me or my daughter or to say untrue or unkind things about either one of us.

katie pulsifer coaching, gossip

Yes, what I want them to do is completely irrelevant. Just like what they want me to do, is irrelevant to me.

When I really began to understand this and apply it to my life, I realized that I didn’t want anyone trying to manipulate my thoughts, feelings or actions either. I wanted to be free to decide what is true for me. I wanted to conduct myself according to my standards and be responsible for my own emotions and not someone else’s.

And, here is the part of the learning of this lesson that has brought me the greatest relief and has helped keep ‘the old me” in check – I decided to believe that I am really OK with other people being wrong about me.

Yes, people get to be wrong about me. And I can just let them.

They can misunderstand me. They can judge me harshly. They don’t have to like me for whatever reason. And, it’s totally ok.

AND IT’S SO MUCH EASIER…

Because here’s the deal.

All my efforting to please others, to be understood, judged fairly and to be liked was based on convincing others to be RIGHT about me. And that pulled all my focus, energy and power away from me (something I can always control) and placed it all on other people (something that I can never control).

I was spending my entire life inside of other people’s lives trying to influence things that were actually none of my business.

The only person that ever has to be RIGHT about me, is me.

So, I told ‘the old me’ to take a hike.

And I settled into the acceptance that these two people have some negative thinking about me and my daughter. And that I don’t have to do anything about it. They can gossip and I can let them.

At first, it was hard to accept this. But I keep practicing the acceptance and letting go of wanting to control these situations. I knew that despite my discomfort, I was choosing the easier path.
Because I knew the alternative (convincing them to change their minds, believe something different, be right about me) is much harder and ultimately, impossible.

It would have taken hours and hours, perhaps even days away from my own life. It would have taken me to places (their minds and emotions) where I didn’t belong. It would have triggered all my old manipulating and people pleasing.

And I am done with that, for good.

Hello, ‘new me’!

What about you? Ready to let them gossip and not have it turn your life upside down?

If you prefer, we can figure this out together – because I know that two minds are better than one. Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session to see how letting go of what you can’t control and allowing others to be wrong about you, can help you to start feeling better immediately! Let’s take 30 minutes to talk about it. Book your session today!

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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make yourself #1

ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

Over and over again I hear women say they don’t have enough time to plan healthy meals, have connected time with their partners, declutter their home, feel their feelings or exercise. It’s a tragedy. All of these well-meaning, intelligent and accomplished women give so much to everyone else but leave the scraps to themselves.

They forget that they can’t pour love from an empty pitcher.

The hardest part of this scenario is that giving to others at your expense can be externally rewarding. You are viewed as a giver and you really are – but inside, you are starving for your own attention. This is one of the main reasons we self-sabotage – because we are trying to get our own attention.

The most important person to take care of is you. Period. If you aren’t healthy you won’t be any good to anyone. Also, women who have children need to remember the best legacy they can give to their kids is an example of a life well-lived. Kids might listen to what you say, but they will do what you do. If you tell them to take care of themselves and you don’t do it yourself, what kind of message are you sending?

You must become number one. You do not ever have to sacrifice healthy eating, intimacy in your relationships, exercise, or your emotional health for the sake of anyone else…ever. If someone really needs you, they need you to be healthy and available. Put your own oxygen mask on first and then take care of the kids or anyone else who needs you. The ironic part of this process is that once you start taking care of yourself, you have so much more to give to others. Your attention to you doesn’t take away anything from anyone else – it actually adds value and joy to their lives.

When I work with clients who struggle to prioritize their needs, they have usually all heard this advice before and understand it intellectually. My job is to help them start applying it. Sometimes this requires that I be extreme with this advice and require my clients to at least try it out. In support of my clients making themselves their number one priority, I have said…”sometimes the kids will have to give up on some of their activities so that you can have one of your own. It will mean that your friends don’t always get the help they need and dinner is not quite ready at the exact time expected.”

My clients will often tell me there is a special circumstance which made it impossible for them to take care of themselves and when I inquire about the situation, it will be because of a party they were throwing or a meeting or a son’s soccer tournament. The truth is that there will always be these things vying for our attention because we live full and busy lives and those things are still always secondary to their emotional health and physical care. And I will tell them this…”if you can’t take care of yourself and throw a party, cancel the party. If you can’t work out and attend your son’s tournament, you don’t see your son play soccer.”

And almost 100% of the time, my clients will find a way to do both.

I know this approach can be very difficult for my clients to accept at first. Many women will feel terrible asking their families to wait for what they need while they get in their exercise. The worry that their families and friends will be shocked because they are used to her dropping everything so that they can be happy. My clients have conditioned everyone to believe that taking care of herself isn’t important or as important as everyone else.

I tell my clients that they should expect their families or friends to be a bit surprised when she introduces a new way of treating herself. I tell my clients that there will be a period of time where everyone is uncomfortable with a change in routine and behavior. Expect it. Know that it will be a natural reaction to the adjustment. And that feelings of discomfort are just vibrations in our bodies caused by the thoughts we think. It is always temporary. Consistent follow-through of the new plan will eventually shift the feelings that everyone is experiencing. A new pattern will be established and the old negative thought cycles will be replaced. The external reward of giving to others at your own expense will be replaced with the internal reward – for making yourself your number one priority, by giving yourself attention, by eliminating self-sabotaging patterns. The internal reward will come from helping and supporting those in your life from a place of pure joy, knowing that when you treat yourself with the respect and love that you deserve, everyone ultimately benefits.