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  • Didn't Work Out
    Q: I did identify a work-out program. But, didnt' start on Thursday like I had planned. I could give you a million excuses (didn't sleep well, got up late, etc, etc), but the bottom line is I didn't do it. I know we identified my reason, but we may need to hone in more on it as it may not be motivating me, in and of itself. I had a bit of a mind funk this weekend, but yelled at myself via a quick journal entry and told myself to get my act together! I was nice to myself and didn't call myself names or anything, it was pretty much, "you are the only one that can do this, that has control of this. No one else is going to do it for you." That seemed to work. I created my habit tracker and printed out the 3 month workout program. I decided on cardio MWF and Strength T/H. Weekends are for hiking, paddleboarding or other fun ways to move. And then I followed through on a meet-up that just ended up being me and one other gal and we seemed to hit it off. I really wanted to cancel for another multitude of reasons, but re-read my journal entry and just left before I could change my mind again. It took me 15 minutes and a silent barage of "Jenn, just get up, you need to get up, 54321 get up" before I actually got up, put on my work out clothes and completed my spin class. It did feel good to mark it off my habit tracker. :-) I did not move forward with meditation or anything that felt forced like we discussed. I did take my journal outside and wrote in that while I threw the ball for the dog. And then I did an afternoon stretch followed by a short meditation after work; that seemed to feel better and not all feel like "work". I think I will try to do that, when it feels right. A: A clear why will act as motivation SOME of the time, but we can’t always rely on the why to keep us consistent. I’d invite you to pause and reflect on why you didn’t work out on Thursday like you’d planned. There’s information there for you. Coming from a place of curiosity, not judgment, what were you thinking/believing when you made the decision to not follow through on your plan? Not sleeping well doesn’t cause you to skip a workout, what you make not sleeping well mean (what you think about it) causes you to skip a workout. Getting up late doesn’t cause a skipped workout, your belief about getting up late (I don’t have time now) is what causes a skipped workout. Remember, we have circumstances, then we have thoughts, beliefs, stories and opinions about those circumstances that drive our feelings (unmotivated, defeated, uninspired, powerless etc) Those feelings drive actions, and actions create results. Circumstance: Got up late Thought: ? Feeling: ? Action: Skipped workout, what else? Result: Created more evidence that I have a hard time sticking to my plans. Most of us want to skip over this part and go straight for trying to find what “works” to get us going. Knowledge is power though. Identifying the thoughts and feelings that stall your progress is just as important as finding the power sentences that motivate you. When you start to recognize the difference between a circumstance and a thought (I woke up feeling tired/I'm too tired to work out) you're able to see more clearly what you can control vs what you can't. You may not be able to control how tired you are, but you get to decide if you really believe you're too tired to exercise, or if you want to believe something else.
  • Practice the Pause
    Q: I struggle to notice thoughts before I respond emotionally. I often react quickly and then have to deal with the regret and embarrassment of saying something that doesn’t align with who I want to be. How do I work on noticing the thoughts before I say something and catch them so that I can stop the spiral? It’s causing a lot of issues in my life and within my relationships. A: Breaking a habit (reactions are habits) is all about finding ways to interrupt the habit cycle. The cycle: 1. Something happens that's beyond your control (someone says something to you etc) 2. You have a thought. You interpret the thing that's just happened and make meaning out of it. 3. That interpretation, the story your brain tells you, causes a feeling 4. You react to that feeling. If you're annoyed you might make a snarky comment back. If you're disappointed you might blame the other person. Your most powerful moment is between step 3 and 4. Between feeling and reaction. Most of us have a harder time noticing what we're thinking in the moment. We notice what we're feeling, or really THAT we're feeling. You may notice that you're feeling activated or energetic. When you think back to recent situations where you've responded emotionally, what were the emotions you were experiencing? What is it about those emotions that makes you want to react? What would it be like to feel those emotions come up for you and not react to them? Practice pausing here. Sometimes it will just be a deep breath, other times you may want to say "can I get back to you in 15 minutes (or an hour, or tomorrow) once I've thought this through? When I first started working on this myself, I asked the people closest to me for their support as I practiced. I let them know I was trying to change my reactivity, and gave them permission to remind me to pause if they noticed me reacting emotionally. If it feels safe to do so, invite others in to support you on your journey.
  • Losing Myself
    Q: I’m going through divorce and feeling like I’m losing the person I’ve worked so hard to become. The last three years I focused on self care more and getting out and showing my son how to get involved and be a good human. But the ex in process makes me feel so small. Has in past and more now that if I want to have lunch with friends I’m a bad person and mom for choosing friends over my son. I have some friends I haven’t introduced him to because they are a sacred circle to me and he’s so negative and quite frankly embarrassing. I’m started to recoil and give up things because I’m afraid to lose my son even though I know I’m not in the wrong. I’m even thinking that depending how he is, I’ll have to drop out of my bike rides and hiking trip. It’s so infuriating. I try to stay positive and redirect but I’m lost in this sea of emotions and worry. What can I do? A: I think of situations like this as a piece of woven fabric, and I find it helpful to start with one thread at a time. Starting small helps to keep overwhelm at bay. You’re going through a divorce and one of (I’m sure many) thoughts you have is “I’m losing the person I’ve worked so hard to become.” When you think and believe that thought, how do you react emotionally? How do you feel believing, “I’m losing the person I’ve worked so hard to become?” Sit with that thought for a moment and really give yourself time to identify the feelings/emotions that come up for you when you think it. When you feel clear on how that thought feels for you, I’d invite you to notice how you react to that thought and feeling. You mentioned recoiling and giving up on things you love. Is that behavior fueled by the thought “I’m losing the person I’ve worked so hard to become”? In what ways does thinking that influence what you do/don’t do in your life? How does it influence what you notice and pay attention to? Some other questions to consider: -What does the thought “I’m losing the person I’ve worked so hard to become” do for you/protect you from? Why do you think your brain chooses that thought to think? -What does it mean to you to 'lose yourself'? -Who would you be without that thought? -Are there ways that thought is not true? That you’re actually not losing yourself? -What would you want to think and believe about yourself through your experience with divorce? -What would you need to believe in order to not recoil and give up the things you love? Can you find truth in those thoughts? Take your time going through each of these questions, and feel free to respond with anything that comes up for you and we can continue exploring.
  • Mom Drama
    Q: I'm currently in marriage counseling with my husband, and am learning more about attachment styles. I am really becoming aware of my tendency to be avoidant or defensive when I start to feel vulnerable, and see the same tendency in my mom. Now, every time I talk to her, I notice her aloofness, and her inability to talk about her real feelings. She just acts like nothing bothers her, even when I can see that it does. Anyway, my problem here isn't so much that I want my mom to be different, it's that I don't want to end up like her: 70 years old and completely unaware of her protective mechanisms and pushing everyone around her away. How do I love my mom, and also make sure I don't end up like her? A: Right now, your driving thought is: I don't want to end up like my mom. First, let's normalize. You see your mom "pushing everyone away" and "avoiding her real feelings". You've done those things in your own life and it's proved quite painful. It's normal for your brain to try to prevent future pain. Neutralize this thought. Take your mom out entirely. Having her there is just creating judgment. You don't want to wind up 70 years old, avoidant and alone. You also love your mom. Both can be true and separate from each other. What could you think next? How is it possible (and very likely) that you won't end up 70 years old, avoidant and alone? It sounds like you're already doing lots of work to change your own patterns (you're here, getting coached). How will your self work and awareness actually make it easier to love and appreciate your mom?
  • Help identifying thoughts
    Q: I’m newer and working through the workbook right now. I would like some help or tips about identifying thoughts behind emotions. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m thinking, I just know I feel off. For example, this week I am feeling kind of off – maybe a little sad and insecure. This makes sense because I had a challenging week last week and I’m worried about some issues with my son’s health. In that feeling off, I procrastinated a lot and got behind on some things and now I’m feeling frustrated with myself. I did a 4 N’s worksheet, but I didn’t really know what thought to examine or how to identify it, so I just did the best I could to try to dig into what I was feeling. How can I try to uncover some of these hidden thoughts when I’m having hard or uncomfortable emotions? A: You were able to identify the feeling of worried, next ask yourself why? It's not the state of your son's health that has you worried, it's the thoughts about his health. What are they? Example: Circumstance: son's health (so far, totally neutral, just the facts) Thought: what's your opinion or thought about his health? What's making you feel worried? Feeling: Worried Action: How you react to the worry-procrastinate to-do list, what else? When you notice a feeling, ask yourself, why am I feeling this? Write out the story on paper where it's easier to tease apart. Separate facts from thought: Fact: x,y,z happened this week Thought: This week was challenging Fact: Son's health Thought: ? (the thought that's making you feel worried Fact: I procrastinated and didn't get work done Thought: ? (whatever you're thinking is making you feel frustrated with yourself)
  • Family Dynamic
    Q: I've noticed that I devote a lot of my life to my extended family. I’m working through the idea of taking time for myself but I'm feeling guilty if I’m not there for every event or activity. For example, I stayed home with my husband for Easter instead of going to my mom’s and making Easter dinner. I had visited with her the day before, but I felt bad for not being there Sunday. Is it normal to feel torn about this when you’re working on your own health and well being? How do I stop feeling so guilty? Thanks! A: Anytime you do something new or different from what you've done in the past, your brain will protest. It wants to keep you safe, and to the survival brain, familiar is safe. So yes, it's absolutely normal to feel torn. I always recommend checking in to make sure you like your reasons for taking time for yourself (It sounds like it's tied to managing your health and wellbeing, so I'm guessing you do like your reasons). Liking your "why' makes it easier to follow through. Lastly, rather than trying to get rid of the guilt, can you get curious about it? Why is it there? What are you thinking that's making you feel guilty? If the thought is something like "I should spend time with my family", can you see how that thought might be coming from your survival brain as an attempt to protect you? Of course your survival brain thinks you "should" spend time with your family. It's what you've always done. Can you reassure your survival brain that you're just trying something different? The guilt will probably be present until your brain sees that taking time for yourself doesn't put you in danger.
  • Had your cake, and ate it too.
    Q: Recently, I was at a wedding reception and was already stuffed, when my husband asked me to share a piece of cake with him. I said ok even though I didn’t actually want a piece of cake. Then I ate the whole thing! After staring down at the empty plate I thought why in the world did I just do that?? A: First of all, congrats on NOTICING that you ate cake that you didn't really want. How is it normal for you to do that? Perhaps that's something you've done in the past? It's certainly normal for the survival brain to over-emphasize the importance of sugar. A more neutral thought might be: I ate cake. Next best thought or action: I am learning that I have habits to address. I am also learning that I want to play around with different planning tools for when I am around food at social situations. How can you use what you learned from this today? This week? This is how you gain forward momentum.
  • Maintaining my routine while traveling
    Q: In late May I will be going on a 2 week vacation to Europe. I know I will be eating out a lot, dealing with jet-lag and won't have access to my gym for my normal workout routine I am really excited about the trip, but I am sad about having to give up my routine, and terrified of not being able to get back on track when I get home. A: It sounds like you've already decided that you won't be able to maintain you routine on your trip, but is that what you want? Of course you may choose to make adjustments or modifications, but If you look for the ways you can, over the ways you can't, you'll find a path forward. Make a list of all the ways you can think of to stick to your routine. Example: Bring my own coffee. Do a 30 minute workout every other day. Cook all meals Then, go back through the list, and see which things you like and want to consider implementing. Which things might you want to modify? Maybe you substitute a bodyweight workout with your usual free weight workout. Perhaps you want to cook some of your meals, or buy fresh food from a market instead of always eating in restaurants. Notice how to show up when you tell yourself you can't have a routine, vs how you show up when you believe you can have a routine. Your brain will only allow you to see possibilities when you believe there's something to see. The same goes for your routine upon returning. Imagine your future self, the one that has no problem getting back on track after her trip. What is she thinking an feeling that allows her to get back on her routine with ease? How can you start thinking and feeling that way right now?
  • My Friend Won't Text Me Back!
    Q: When I text my best friend, she routinely doesn’t text me back right away or sometimes not at all. I find this rude. How do I tell her that I need her to respond in a normal amount of time? A: How are you choosing to define normal? If you get back to someone right away or within a few hours, you have decided that’s the “normal” response, but your friend may think “normal” is within a few days. Her version isn’t a deviation of normal, it’s her normal. It’s entirely possible that she didn’t think the text required an acknowledgement or a response, or she meant to respond and got distracted or she typed a response and never hit send (I do this all the time). Pay attention to what you deem normal and more importantly investigate what you are making her slow or lack of response mean about her, you and your relationship. What if neither of you are wrong and need to change? What if your friends perspective is perfectly normal?
  • Can't Commit to New Years Resolution
    Q:I made a New Year’s resolution to exercise one hour 5X per week, and here I am, less than a week into 2022 and I’ve only worked out twice. I want to get stronger and healthier, but how am I supposed to do some thing for a year that I can’t commit to for a week? A: You worked out twice this week and you’re making it mean that you can’t commit to your new year’s resolution. How do you feel when you think that? I’m guessing not great. Maybe something along the lines of discouraged or disappointed? And when you feel discouraged, what do you do? What do you not do? Again, guessing here, you start giving up on yourself, skipping workouts and beating yourself up. Those actions prove your belief: I can’t commit. Let’s go back to the beginning. You worked out twice this week. What else could be true? Decide what you want to think and feel about yourself and exercise. Choose a thought that’s believable to you, practice it, and take action from that belief 5x per week.
  • Miserable Working from Home
    Q: I’ve been working at home from the start of the pandemic and I feel so isolated and lonely being stuck at home. I know I should be grateful that I have a house and job and such, but I’m miserable. I don’t know what to do to feel better! A: Let’s table what you’re wanting to feel and acknowledge what you actually ARE feeling. When you’re thinking that all of your social interaction has been taken from you with this new work-from-home environment, it makes sense that you’d be feeling lonely. Working from home isn’t making you feel lonely, believing that your work should provide you with connection is creating loneliness. Is there something else you can believe here? Perhaps you can believe that connection is available to you elsewhere? Getting back to your desire to feel grateful, thinking that you should feel grateful for your job won’t make you feel grateful, it will make you feel guilty. I’d be willing to bet that there are parts of your life that you are truly grateful for. What are they? Can you feel both grateful and lonely?
  • Boyfriend's Boundaries
    Q: My boyfriend has a close female friend and he spends a lot of time with and has very intimate conversations with. I trust him, and I like her, but I’m just not comfortable with her friendship. How do I get him to set appropriate boundaries with her? A: We often want other people to change their behavior just so we can feel better. We don’t want to do the work to really figure out why we feel “off” or “suspicious”. We react to our feelings in an attempt to get rid of them instead of investigating them. What is the actual problem is for you? Is it that you feel that he’s spending time with her that should be with you? Or that he shares information with her that you think should be reserved for you? Or could it be the societal idea that men and women can’t be friends without things getting complicated? Find out what’s really bothering you here, what exactly is making you uncomfortable? Once you have some clarity on what the problem is, you can decide if it’s an issue that requires a boundary or request. It’s possible neither will be necessary and this isn’t actually a problem at all.
  • Toxic Friend
    Q: My friend talks badly about other people constantly. I figure if she’s talking about other people, she’s probably probably gossiping about me too. She is so toxic. I think I just need to stop hanging out with her. What should I do? A: “Toxic” is two things, hands down the best Britney Spears song, and a judgement-an opinion. When you believe that people are toxic, of course you are going to want to cut them out of your life. That’s what we do with toxic things, we get them away from us so we can’t be poisoned. But people aren’t toxic, they’re just human. What if you take the drama out and think, “I don’t like her behavior.” Or "when she acts that way, I don’t like being around her.” That thought probably feels less intense, and then your actions become less intense as well. Rather than cut her out, you can create boundaries for yourself. Something like, I don’t want to participate in gossip, so if you continue, I’m going to leave. Setting the boundary gives her the opportunity to connect differently with you. And if your friend doesn’t want to change her behavior, the consequences of your boundaries will naturally create distance from her.
  • Holiday Exhaustion
    Q: I feel exhausted all the time. My kids, my husband, everything exhausts me. Now the holidays are here, and I’m even more exhausted. How do I tell everyone I just need a break from them, my responsibilities and from holiday activities? A: Exhaustion and overwhelm are placeholder emotions. When we indulge in them, they completely stop our progress and keep us from taking action, sucking us in deeper because nothing gets done. Try shifting your focus to what can be done, rather than what can’t. There may not be enough time to get everything done, but there might be enough time to get through a few things. Feeling calm and focused will help you get through the to-do list, or allow you to delegate or delete tasks and give you more free time to enjoy your kids, husband and even the holidays.The first step is always to be aware of what you are thinking and feeling. Notice the thoughts that create useful vs. indulgent emotions.
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