Prescription For Self-Love

Prescription For Self-Love

Selfulness

The evidence is clear, research supports our social relationships are the most powerful predictor of happiness. Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert, there’s tons of evidence supporting that the common thread amongst “happy” people is that they all have broad social networks and positive relationships with those people in their networks. And to be clear here, we’re not talking about quantity but rather the quality of our social relationships in all areas of our life; work, community, personal, intimate and moreover with ourselves. As without love of self there is no basis to start from, self-love is the pre-condition to loving others. Understandably though for some, the act of practicing self-love can feel initially uncomfortable, and overly self-indulgent but self-love is not to be confused with self-centeredness. Rather self-love is more about thinking about the “me” so that you can build a strong “we”.

I was recently introduced to the word “selfulness”. As you can see it’s a play on words, it’s definition in the urban dictionary is used to describe a person that creates a balance between caring for themselves along with others. With contemporary western culture often plagued by the schism between love of self (egoism or selfishness) and love of others (altruistic or selflessness), the word selfulness I think is a great way to capture a way of being where we extend how we relate to ourselves towards others as well. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it, how can we have loving, positive relationships with others if we don’t practice a healthy relationship with ourselves? A great analogy for this is when we hear the infamous instructions of flight attendants reminding us to first put on our oxygen mask before helping others in case of an emergency landing. Why is this an important rule for ensuring everyone’s survival? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. This is a perfect metaphor to consider especially for women as we are notoriously known to put our self-care and needs on the back burner.

Learning to love oneself is a key ingredient to greater happiness. Self-love is at the very core of well-being, joy and empowerment. If we don’t care for ourselves we limit our success in all aspects of our lives; experiencing burnout, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, health problems, anxiety, stress, and heightened frustration. It’s time to let go of the guilt and the excuses, put your oxygen mask on first and start practicing a little more self-love in your life.

 SELF-LOVE PRACTICES

 #1 Recognize Your Own Good Qualities– Many of us have the tendency to focus on what it is that we aren’t enough of. Defaulting to negative self-talk is one of the least loving things you can do for yourself. So today, right now, take a few minutes to make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Think of physical attributes, mental or emotional strengths, successes you’ve experienced, the way you support your friends and family, or anything else. Make your list as long as possible, and keep adding to it. Go to people you trust and ask them what they’d list as your positive characteristics. You may be surprised to find out that people see a lot more of your strengths than you realize.

#2 Treat Yourself With The Same Level Of Kindness & Respect You Do For Others You Love- You know how you treat someone you really care about, the way you love  and support that person and treat him or her with kindness and respect? Well, do that for yourself and just as you’d challenge a close friend who’s making bad decisions with his or her life, challenge yourself as well. Remind yourself just as you would a good friend of your worth as an individual and that you deserve great things in your life. Resist the tendency for settling for less, encourage yourself as you would someone you love to challenge yourself to achieve the best life possible.

#3 Give Attention To Your Needs And Desires– This may sound a bit silly, but some people really don’t know what they want and need. They can go through their entire adult lives never stopping to self-assess and check in with how they are truly doing. One of the best ways to love yourself is to carve out some time weekly to answer honestly how you are feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some great questions to consider: 

  • Do you feel significant/loved/respected?
  • Are you allowing companionship to lift and enlighten your life?
  • Do you feel in control of how you react to situations in your life?
  • Are you treating your body well (i.e. sleep, diet, exercise, necessary doc apps, stress management)?
  • Do you feel a sense of inner-peace and calmness?
  • Do you have a sense of purpose and appreciation for your place in this world?

Now take it one step further and ask yourself, how can you, at this very moment, take better care of yourself, so that you have more to give instead of less?  Remember self-love may start with the “me” but it ends with a “we”. In the spirit of Valentines Day, a holiday many of us designate as time to express love to those near and dear to us, I’m going to ask you do the same for yourself!

 Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

-Holly-

 

2020…Setting The Stage!

2020…Setting The Stage!

The Power Of Visualization

Alright everyone…here we are, HELLO 2020! So what’s it gonna be this year? Though I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions, I am a huge advocate for setting the stage and believe immensely in the power of positive visualization. In fact every morning, upon awakening I take the first 15 minutes of my day to envision the next 24 hours. Literally, going hour by hour, imagining and designing action steps that align with how I want to show up and experience the day. Naturally, some days are harder then others. But the second part of this two step visualization process-designing the action steps of the day-give me the clarity and direction I need to build in the greatest likelihood for success.  Of course, there are plenty of days when I’m feeling more overwhelmed or rather uninspired by what lies ahead. But make no mistake the power of suggestion goes a long way, it is now a well known fact that we stimulate the same brain regions when we visualize an action and when we actually perform that same action. Brain studies have shown that positive mental imagery “primes” our brains for success. 

On a bigger level, every new year I take pen to paper and return to one of my most trusted practices I learned back in 2010 when I was first just a student at iPEC (Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching) pursuing my coaching certification. It is a visualization exercise in which I imagine it is one year from now (Dec 31, 2020) and what I aspire for is actually occurring. I then proceed to consider all aspects of my life; personal development, career, health/wellness, intimate/social/professional relationships, parenting, fun/enjoyment, even spiritual wellbeing and paint a picture of what I like to see. Essentially, I design a vision that is exciting, purposeful and fulfilling, one that I find inspiring. I ask myself:

  • What am I doing? (In all the above stated aspects of life)
  • With whom am I doing it with?
  • What am I feeling?
  • How much income am I earning?
  • How much fun am I having?
  • What difference am I making, personally and professionally, in the world?

Ultimately, using this exercise to create a vision of what I aspire to be, feel, and experience in the new coming year. This process, of seeing and even feeling a new improved self in all aspects of my life allows me to then develop life objectives that support this vision, helping me break it all down into specific goals that lead me to my desired destination by years end. This exercise has become one of the most favored amongst my clients, not only promoting clarity in their goal setting but accountability as we use it as a tool to check in with to help them stay on track and develop necessary action plans and task driven work in order they be able to obtain what it is they want in and for their lives.

The most important thing to remember when doing this exercise is that not everything is written in stone, there needs to be some level of flexibility, however, not at the risk of losing sight of our vision. Remember, there is never an end state to self-development, greater success and happiness is always a work in progress but without a vision it is very hard to find direction. As the most revered book states “Where There Is No Vision The People Perish.” PROVERBS  29:18

Wishing Everyone A Very Happy New Year

-Holly-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where And Who You Are Now

Where And Who You Are Now

The Power In Acceptance

For many, December is a month of reflection.  As we end the year and begin to contemplate new year resolutions,  it’s a perfect time to surrender to the discipline of acceptance. Without acceptance we are only fighting or denying what is, making it almost impossible to behave proactively and move forward to create the change we seek in the coming year. 

It’s important not to confuse acceptance with resignation. Resignation is an act of giving up of our control, quitting, or succumbing to less than desirable outcomes. Whereas acceptance is more about gaining control and increasing the likelihood for more optimal results through embracing what actually is, in order to better assist ourselves with the understanding of what really needs to be addressed.

So before we can create the change we desire for the coming year we must first accept where we are now. Grab some paper and pen and start considering how you spent this past year, what did you accomplish that you are proud of and where may have you fallen short. Let’s explore the highs and lows, celebrations and shortcomings to find the lessons to be learned from all our experiences, positive and negative and move forward with a renewed conviction in this new coming year.

Ask Yourself:

  • What were the most significant events (good or ugly) of the year past? (List the top 3)
  • What did you accomplish? (List wins and achievements)
  • What were your disappointments? ( Regarding yourself )
  • What were your biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties?
  • What did you learn? (skills, knowledge, awareness, etc)
  • What would you do differently? Why?
  • What do you feel especially good about? What was your greatest contribution?
  • What were the fun things you did? What were the not-so-fun?
  • How are you different this year than last?

Let these reflections inform your plans for the new year. Say good-bye to 2019. Give thanks for the learning and usefulness this year has brought and welcome in 2020 with your eyes wide open and ready to move forward!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

-Holly-

 

 

 

Failing Is The New Black

Failing Is The New Black

Learn To Fail Or Fail To Learn

Here I was thinking I had such a catchy title, “Failing Is The New Black”, but when I googled it, literally tons of articles with the same or similar title came up. Thus, my point…failing is in! As much as it hurts to fail, it is an important part of life. In fact, it’s an  absolute must if you want to be successful. Simply said, failure teaches us in ways success cannot. If you’re not failing you’re likely not growing. The time has come to starting failing more!

If you really want to understand what it takes to succeed, bottom-line you need to rethink your relationship with failure and start embracing it more. Because as anyone who’s achieved something great will tell you, the road to success, with very few exceptions, is anything but a straight line. Though we all have been conditioned since a young age to equate failing with weakness there now is another school of thought which teaches that the path to success goes through failure, and that it is almost necessary to stumble and fall on your path to getting what you want. So here are some reasons that you shouldn’t fear failure, but rather embrace it.

1. Failure helps you refine your process -As Thomas Edison said it best, “I have not failed I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Use your failures as stepping-stones to evolve to the next best version of yourself, becoming increasingly more equipped and skilled, so you get it better the next time.

2. Failure makes you resilient -Every time we overcome something that is challenging to us but where we ultimately prevail, we build our resilience a little bit more. As a result we become more strong, increasing our ability to then withstand even greater challenges. 

3. Failure is inevitable, perfection is impossible –If you research the stories of the most successful people of our time, you’ll find they, too, have failed. It was failure that produced the success stories of people like Michael Jordon, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Walt Disney, just to name a few. It’s all apart of the process, no one goes from 0 to 100 overnight.

4. Failure helps you reach your potential – Extraordinary things will only happen as a result of extraordinary efforts. Embracing failure rather than avoiding it creates the conditions we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Otherwise, we will be more inclined to only work within them. To bring out the best in us-reach our greater potential-we must have a “no fear” attitude towards failure, allowing us to detach from the outcomes, knowing regardless of what comes, success is already in the works just by the sheer nature of trying.

Let’s face it, the sweetest victories are the ones that are the most difficult. When things come too easily, we don’t appreciate our achievements. You deserve to be proud of what you’ve done, and unfortunately that pride comes in no small part from the knowledge that you’ve overcome challenges and failures to arrive there. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid of not trying!

Wishing You the Very Best Of Success

-Holly-

 

Finding Your Sweet Spot

Finding Your Sweet Spot

Striving vs. Straining

We live in a “do more” culture — one that prides ourselves on how busy and full our lives can be.  A culture that endlessly encourages us to take on new goals and pile on task after task. But what happens when our to-do list starts to feel overwhelming…we burnout! Listen, I’m a leadership coach, I’m all about goals and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to tap into our greater potential. But there’s a fine line between striving and straining. 

Think of it this way, when we work out we purposely stress our muscles and cardiovascular system to overtax our bodies in order to build ourselves up. But it is in the recovery where we make the most gains.  When our body repairs and replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process to fuse muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands. These new muscle protein strands enable us to get stronger and leaner improving our performance the next time we workout. The same holds true with our performance in life, there’s nothing wrong with “stressing” or “pushing” ourselves for a period of time just not all the time.

Truth is some stress in our lives is actually good for us. We learn how to be resilient, and get things done, our body primes us with an increase in blood flow and a healthy dose of adrenaline, making us more alert and attentive. However, chronic levels of stress, that is stress without reprieve for long periods of time, works against us, which hinders our performance and our wellbeing.  But as you can see stress isn’t the culprit here, it’s the lack of recovery.  More is not always better,  periods of recovery are necessary.  The key to high performance lies in both these actions where we push ourselves for periods of time to tap into greater potential yet factor in R& R.

Whether it be on a small level like a coffee break or stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, or even better yet a day off and a good night sleep, and of course on a bigger level through vacations, long weekends, and holidays to enjoy.  

I encourage you to find the sweet spot between striving and straining, know your tipping points and embrace pushing yourself out of your comfort zone as long as you are sure to factor in recovery!

Wishing You The Best Of Success

-Holly-

 

Anxious?

Anxious?

The Elephant In The Room

Believe it or not there’s nothing wrong with you. Anxiety affects tens of millions of people world wide, though we don’t talk about it, many of us grapple daily with intrusive thoughts and worries — sometimes to a disabling degree. Quite frankly, it’s a very normal response to unprecedented times where the bombardment of email, social media, and onslaught of constant world news is now the norm. We never get an opportunity to shut down or recover, unless we consciously take steps to do so. There is only so much the human mind and body can process and wrap ourselves around. In this month’s blog post, I’m inviting you to consider the role anxiety may be playing in your own life, and options you have for making it better. 

After close to 20 years in the helping profession, as therapist and now women’s leadership coach, the one thing I have come to learn for sure is that there is no one silver bullet or magic pill out there that serves as a cure-all. Just as there is no one thing that causes us anxiety, we need to consider a number of practical shifts we can make daily that will help to build our own collection of anti-anxiety strategies. From simple self-calming techniques to fundamental lifestyle and perspective shifts, I will offer suggestions on a wide-range of anti-anxiety tactics that are now out there and proven to be making a huge difference in the quality of people’s lives.

Combatting Anxiety One Step At Time

*Please note-anti-anxiety tactics are not numbered in any intentional order to follow 

#1: Nutrition– The relationship between food, mood, and anxiety is garnering more and more attention. There is a growing body of evidence and research explaining how anxiety can be triggered by inadequate nutrition. Here, I share a great article found in Experience Life Magazine titled ANTI-ANXIETY EATINGIt gives you the skinny and the scoop along with four key nutritional strategies that support a calmer state of mind. It’s a great place to start understanding how our eating habits can be vital in keeping anxiety at bay. 

#2: Sleep– Sleep plays an essential role in regulating our emotions, behavior, and physiology. Experts agree that 7-9 hours of sleep are necessary for optimal health and wellbeing. However, as many as 40% of adults are sleep deprived, or regularly getting less than 6 hours a sleep a night. As someone who has struggled with quality sleep issues herself, this has become a number one priority for me to master as I know the toll it has taken on my mind and body.  After much personal research, I have come up with an arsenal of sleep strategies ranging from deep breathing exercises, pre-bed-time rituals, understanding the effects of caffeine and alcohol on my system, along with tips for dealing with sleep interruptions and falling back to sleep. Here, I share a great podcast found on The Living Experiment “SLEEP” episode. Well worth carving out some time to listen to, it covers all you need to know.

#3: Exercise– Nothing surprising here, physical activity as we all know is a key factor when it comes to fighting off anxiety. From the obvious of  creating a venue to release pent up emotions as well as distracting us from daily stressors-as it’s really hard to exert ourselves physically and ruminate on negative thoughts. But there is also a real science (“EFFECTS OF EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY ON ANXIETY” by Elizabeth Anderson and Geetha Shivakumar) behind how exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates productions of endorphins which together help foster a calmer state of mind. 

#4: Social Connections– Meaningful relationships and physical interaction with others is a critical factor in helping to mitigate anxiety. People need people, whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert, having the support of others tells our brain that we are safe, loved, and accepted. It’s not about the quantity of relationships but rather quality and most importantly physical proximity. Do not mistake likes on your social media page to go the distance. Or texts to qualify for meaningful conversations. Carve out time on your calendar to be with those who lift you up, make you laugh and support the best version of yourself. 

#5: Digital Diet– Unplugging from the digital world is a great way to reduce the stress that being “on” all the time brings into our lives. Start powering down, limit the number of emails or texts that you send. Pick up the phone and have an actual conversation with someone or better yet go with face to face contact. Turn off your alerts from time to time, put your phone on silence mode, and only check into all correspondence or social media during specifically set times of your day for only a set amount of time each day. Create boundaries…technology isn’t going to slow down, it’s only going to become more consuming.

#6: Spend time Outdoors– Research indicates that getting out into nature reduces anxiety by increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for digestion and rest; part of its activity involves slowing the heart rate. When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, physical side effects of anxietydecrease and subjective feelings of peace and relaxation increase. It doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture like a hike in the mountains, simply just stepping outside, breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sun or wind on your face, and focusing your attention on the sights sounds, and smells around you can be enough to make a difference. But of course, the more you make a point to get outside the greater the benefits you will reap.

#7: Medication– As a former therapist I understand that everyone has different levels, types, and ways their body experiences anxiety. In some instances, when anxiety becomes so debilitating that putting into practice any of the above tactics becomes far reaching, medication may be a consideration. This is when it is time to consult with your doctor or a mental health practitioner. But with the understanding that anxiety is not like an infection that can be cured with medication. As it only helps to dull anxiety, acting as a bridge to access life long coping skills that when practiced daily can truly eradicate anxiety.

The reality is, life is challenging. There is no sugar coating that but I know despite how hectic, stressful, and complicated life can get, every woman with the right “tools” and self-knowledge can live a life with greater ease and success!

Wishing You Always The Best Of Success

-Holly-