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Changing Your Perception for a New Perspective on Life

I saw this image on social media recently and it gave me pause to reflect on how we can reframe our perception of our reality and how doing so consistently can change our perspective on life. In some ways, it’s answering the classic half empty or half full question and then deciding you’d rather have a different perception than you tend to. For example, for the first 30 years of my life, I saw things negatively and in turn my perspective on life became a negative, pessimistic one. There were valid reasons for why I viewed things this way but I came to a point in my life that I had healed those issues and wanted to live more positively, more joyfully for my well being and the well being of my new baby. To shift my perception and my perspective was no quick, easy task and still occasionally requires recalibrating.

Reframing requires us to shift our thinking, rewriting those scripts we have ingrained in us and operate on autopilot. Here are some tips for reframing your perception and perspective that worked for me:

  1. Be intentional about the change you want to make and turn off autopilot mode. If you aren’t clear on what you want to change or aren’t committed to it, you will have a harder time changing.
  2. Be gentle and patient with yourself during the process because you won’t get it right every time. It takes time and practice to change.
  3. Find external ways to support the change. It’s easy to get all jumbled up in our thoughts and feelings so external supports can help us stay on track. For example, tell a confidant and make a plan for checking in with them on your progress. If journaling is a helpful way for you to process, journal about your successes and struggles with making the change. If you love inspirational quotes as much as I do, you could put quotes that inspire you in strategic places where you will see them in your home and office where you will be reminded and encouraged on your quest.
  4. Celebrate when you get it right! This will reinforce those instances where you have success and spark more of them.

Eventually, you will have created a shift in your perception and perspective and created a new normal for yourself. As always, know that I wish you well on your journey to the joyful life you want. #choosejoy

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What Will You Choose for Your Future?

At a recent training, I learned a simple yet powerful exercise for thinking about our power to choose. Draw a vertical squiggly line on a piece of paper. At the bottom write the year you were born. At the top, write the age you’d like to live to be. Place a dash on the line that represents your age today. From that dash to the bottom is your past. From that dash to the top is your future. As C.S. Lewis reminds us, “you can start where you are and change the ending.” What will you choose for your future?

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How is Life Calling You Out on Your Fear?

Fear breeds more fear. We all know how debilitating that feels. If we are paying attention, life provides us countless opportunities to see our fear for what it is and make a choice to handle it in a positive, joy giving way. It is not our natural inclination but we can grow in our ability to recognize and choose differently. Try it out today or maybe this weekend and practice choosing joy instead of fear when life presents you with the opportunity. Let me know how it goes!

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Can You Overcome Fear?

Here’s a little secret know one wants to admit: You can’t really overcome your fears and doubts. Wait. Don’t panic! You CAN put them in their proper place so they aren’t influencing your decision making and running your life so that you can meet your goals and create the vision you have for your life. Let’s break that down so you have something to work with and aren’t in a tailspin with this revelation.

To get a handle on fear and doubt, you first have to have a vision for your life. The great news is that every day you are making choices that creates your life. That’s right, YOU are the author. Even if you are a believer in a supreme being having a plan for you, you still get to decide minute by minute, choice by choice how that plan unfolds. You have great power in your choices. Don’t take that power for granted.

So you might be thinking “Having a vision sounds good, but what does that mean!?” It means you are intentional about thinking about what you want your life to be. Because this can feel too fuzzy or too big or too whatever, I have my clients create a vision board as a way to put their thoughts on paper. And to commit to those thoughts by saying them out loud and putting them on display (even if only they ever see the board). A vision board also serves as a tangible and powerful reminder that can serve as your north star to keep you focused. When doubt or fear show up, look at your vision board and ask if the decision at hand is aligned with your vision for your life.

Once you have a vision and know where you are going, you can then turn to getting a grip on your fears with these 2 steps:

Step 1 – Consider your fears. Let them bubble to the surface. Push yourself to be honest and name them. Are you scared to risk? Are you afraid others will judge you? Do you have limiting beliefs such as “I am not good enough”? What are the barriers that keep you stuck in a place you don’t want to be? This process itself can be difficult. We spend a lot of time, money, & energy avoiding our fears which backfires and gives fear the power to control our lives. Fear is always going to play it safe. It’s that ancient part of our brain’s job to keep us safe that kicks into overdrive when we perceive danger. But the reality is we no longer are prey to the same kinds of predators as our ancestors.

Step 2 – Do something to put the fears you’ve named in check. Show them who’s boss! (Another secret revealed: YOU are the boss!) This also requires a tangible reminder. We all know how easy it is to let that little voice of doubt grow into a roaring lion in our heads. To help with this, I have my clients create a fear chair where they paint their fears onto a stool or chair. I even had my 8 year old do this a couple of years and it has been very powerful for her as she stares down all the fears that come with the onset of puberty. This chair project was inspired by a story Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her magnificent book “Big Magic.” In her book, she also writes a letter to her fears letting them know that she respects them enough to bring them on the trip but that they in no uncertain terms NEVER get to drive (or even touch the control panel). Maybe writing a letter is your tangible reminder. Tell your fears that you appreciate how they keep you safe but that you are putting them on notice that they are no longer in control.

And now for the big reveal! Once you have a vision for your life and have put your fears in check, you can start embracing the JOY of your power by setting 3 to 5 SMART goals to begin the work of turning that vision into reality. More on SMART goals to come if you aren’t familiar with that concept.

I know that this is all easier said than done but trust me when I tell you that YOU do have the power to choose and create the life you want. I am living proof! I lived my life for decades in a fog (and vortex) of depression and grief as a result of childhood abuse. I let fear and doubts take the wheel for so long. Like the lotus flower, I transformed in the muck and bloomed into a strong, beautiful woman who daily practices using my power to choose joy over fear and doubt. Don’t let fear and doubt hold you back from the joy of creating the life you want for yourself! You have the power of choice. Use it!

If you would like the support of a coach to guide and hold you accountable in this process of putting fears in their place and envisioning a life that is full of joy and purpose, take that first brave step and send me a message at msweatman@gmail.com.

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What’s Holding You Back?

What’s holding you back from living a life full of joy and meaning? Bad boss? Role that doesn’t challenge you? No, it’s the thing that holds us all back – FEAR, especially fear of change! Bosses and roles can be changed if you get your fears in check. 

Fear is different for each of us though some of us have certain fears in common. One of my fears is not being good enough. I bet some of you can relate. My coach has challenged me in the past to find the joy in good enough as is and I am continually practicing and growing that muscle. You see, I’m one of those type A, overachieving superwomen who prides herself on being able to juggle it all. The truth is I am pushing myself from a place where the fear of not being good enough reigns. My childhood experiences gave me an internal script of not being good enough that drives me to seek perfection. The good news is that I have been rewriting that script and rewiring my brain as an adult to not believe that fear when it comes to call and accept myself at any given moment as good enough.

While our fears may never go away completely because the truth is that fear serves the purpose of protecting us on a very primal, reptilian brain level, we can tame those fears so that we are aware of them. They don’t have to control our lives. We CAN control them! The first step in doing so is naming your fears. 

So, what fears hold you back from living a joyful life? Are they real and alive to you or are they repressed and periodically show up unexpectedly and throw you off your path? Whatever the case may be, take some intentional time to reflect on your life and see your fears. Really see them! Call them by name and embrace them for their attempt to keep you safe and then grow the muscles that put fears in their proper place and leave you in control.

 

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Get Up. Again.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think much about perseverance until I’m living a moment when I have to embody it. Pushing the last half mile of that walk/run or going up that mountain of a hill. Picking myself up after a set back at work or in personal relationships. Having faith in doctors and treatments during that health scare. 

For some of us, parenting is one of the hardest challenges we face. We think we won’t survive the toddler tantrum phase or the moody tween phase, but we do and so do our children. Because it is after all, just a phase. And the even better news is that we are often better for having made it to the other side of that phase!   

As summer break draws to a close, kids return to school and work projects and pace pick up. It’s easy to run out of steam quickly. But just like a long distance runner, we have to pace ourselves. Having a vision for our life including our career and related SMART goals helps us to stay focused, pace ourselves, and tap into our ability to persevere in the face of a challenging moment or phase. Having an accountability partner for support, whether a relative, a dear friend, or a coach, is helpful too. I shudder to think of the state of my psyche if I didn’t have family, friends, and a good coach to support me through life’s struggles.

Challenging moments can seem like a lifetime in duration. When you find yourself there, remember that it is just a moment or phase that will eventually pass. You WILL make it! Even when you don’t know what to do, Get Up. Again.