girl doing meditation

Overcoming Fear: 5 Ways to Overcome Fear That You Create

Fear has two meanings – forget everything and run or face everything and rise.

What is fear and where does it come from?

Fear comes from us, from our own mind, head and imagination.

We should accept the fact that we are human beings, and that all of our fears are self-created.

We feel fear by thinking and imagining negative things about any important activity we pursue. However, just because we imagine those things happening doesn’t really mean they will happen, or that they will be as scary and catastrophic as we think.

That’s why psychologists like to say that fear stands for “Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.”

Because fear is actually all about what MIGHT happen – and not what WILL happen.

We are always afraid to do this or that thing because we are afraid to fail or succeed. And we always validate our decision by blaming fear for keeping us stuck where we are. But in reality, fear is just a mismanaged mind and reflects that you’re not managing your thoughts properly.

hands forming hear in the twilight

Overcoming Fear

The good news is that since we ourselves are the root source of our fears, it means we have the power to overcome fear. And there are certain tactics and methods to do so.

Here’s a simple exercise for overcoming fear to show how unfounded they really are.

Make a List of the Things You Afraid to Do

The list should contain things you are really afraid of doing.  It might include things such as leaving the country, changing careers, talking to your spouse about your relationship, asking for a raise, and so on….

Once you have completed your list, reclaim every fear in the following format:

I want to ____, and I have fear by imagining ____.

For example:

I want to leave the country, and I have a fear by imagining that I will regret it.

Or:

I want to talk to my husband about our relationship issues, and I have a fear by imagining that if he knew how I really felt and what I really wanted, he would leave me.

By completing this statement for all of the things you have fear about, you can see how you are the one creating your fears by imagining negative outcomes in the future.

woman meditation

Take More Control Over Fears

Next, take the last part – the fearful outcome you imagined – and convert it into something positive.

For example:

“Instead of having fear by imagining that I will have regrets, I will  do whatever it takes to have a new and beautiful life in a new country.”

Or:

“Instead of having fear by imagining that my husband will leave me, I will work with him to cultivate greater love and intimacy in our relationship.”

Do you see how each of these statements switches the fear and transforms it into a powerful positive belief and vision?

I really encourage and recommend you to try this for yourself – and transform all of your fears into powerful visions of success!

5 strategies to overcome fear

Once you use this method and make it a daily habit, you will see the change in your life gradually. But remember, even after you complete this exercise, you will still have fears from time to time. It’s part of being human. The trick is to learn to recognize the fear, address it and allow it to dissipate.

Here are 5 additional strategies I recommend for overcoming fear.

1. Recognize Fear For What It Is

Scientists describe fear as a reaction in the body – it’s an increased heart rate, it is tensing of the muscles, for some people it’s a negative psychological sensation. Since these sensations are not pleasant, most of us would rather run away from it rather than feel it in our bodies. 

In order to avoid feeling discomfort we find ways to numb the pain – some people drink instead of feeling fear, some people smoke,, some people work instead of feeling the unwanted feelings fear provokes. By staying busy we don’t have too much time left to deal with our emotions. However, keeping busy is actually just another way to escape the messages our body is trying to send us.. 

smiling girl sitting on the table meditating

But if you learn how to embrace the feelings associated with fear instead of resisting them, it helps uncover the unmet need underneath the fear. Most of the time, fear comes from an earlier childhood experience that taught us something was unsafe. Perhaps someone yelled at you when you were being a playful child which taught you it wasn’t okay to express yourself. Maybe you were beaten or abused as a child which taught you aren’t lovable or good enough. Whatever trauma we experienced in our childhood presents itself as fears and limiting beliefs in adulthood. 

What people don’t understand is that it’s okay to FEEL fear sometimes. It’s a natural feeling that we need to learn to eventually get to know and embrace. The first step is recognizing that fear is a natural response in the body that is triggered by a past experience and most of the time is not based in reality or actual fact. 

2. Become More Aware of Your Thoughts

Emotions are from a source of our thoughts – so if we want to change how we feel, then we must change our beliefs and therefore change our thoughts. Whenever you feel fear, retrace your mental steps and examine what you were thinking.

What thoughts guided you to your feelings of fear? Once you identify them, it will be easier to resolve them.

3. Choose More Positive Thoughts

It is not possible to get rid of negative thoughts by not thinking them. The Law of Replacement dictates that you can’t replace something with nothing – but it allows you to replace it with something else.

plant and peace love

So when you notice yourself experiencing a negative, fear-producing thought, replace it with a positive thought instead – like the exercise above.

4. Use Positive Affirmations

Use affirmations to create a more positive, success-driven mindset. Affirmations are powerful things that describe the reality you want to create – and they are a powerful antidote to fear.

How to do that?

Clearly imagine the reality you would like to create for you then form a positive statement that describes it as already being achieved, as already being yours. For example: “I am so happy and grateful now that I am enjoying my vacation with my husband and kids.”

By claiming that it has already been achieved, you create a tension between what you are claiming and experiencing physically, and what your mind knows to be more than true.

gratitude journal

5. Charge Your Visualizations with Powerful Positive Emotions

Take this affirmation for example:

 “I am so happy and grateful now that I am enjoying my vacation with my husband and kids.”

When your statement includes a positive emotion – such as happiness or gratitude – you allow  yourself to experience that emotion in your body, giving your affirmation far more impact and effect.

Just as the emotion of fear can paralyze you, intense positive emotions can motivate you toward greater happiness.

blond hair girl sitting on a bed drinking coffee and reading

5 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist: How to Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott

Have you ever asked yourself “am I a perfectionist”?

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re a perfectionist, there’s a pretty good chance that you are. And if we’re being honest here, there’s also a good chance you have some investment in the identity of being a perfectionist because of the positive connotations of the word “perfect”—who doesn’t want to be perfect?

girl standing near plants

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a broad personality style characterized by a person’s concern with striving for flawlessness and perfection and is accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.

It’s the exact feeling we get when we expect things of ourselves that we would never expect from others. It’s working ourselves to exhaustion in hopes that we’ll feel whole, complete, worthy. It’s basing our self-worth on external accomplishments, feeling like we have something to prove all the time. It’s piling on the emotions of guilt, burnout, and self-hate. It’s always coloring inside the lines and giving ourselves the metaphorical whip if we screw up.

Perfectionism lives and breathes in our fear of making a mistake. When we are afraid of what might happen, we don’t always make the best possible choices.

What perfectionism is not?

Perfectionism is not the same as self-improvement or wanting to be your best. Perfectionism is about managing your reputation where you are constantly motivated by the desire to please others rather than yourself.

Why perfectionism makes you less than perfect:

You are in danger of being a tweaker and not an innovator. If you always have to have it perfect, be perfect, be ready, your vision as a leader becomes narrow. You may find yourself refining the same territory rather than introducing anything new. You create a climate of fear in your organization, and fear stifles innovation. Your people become afraid to take risks for fear of making mistakes because their efforts might be viewed as failures, and they won’t ask for help because they are afraid you might perceive it as a weakness.

girl typing in bed

No one can relate to you. Sad to say, but it’s near impossible to gain someone’s loyalty and trust if they cannot relate to you as a human being. Think of the character “House” from the hit TV show. He’s a genius but his abrasive, brutish manner is not one that inspires trust and loyalty. And great leaders know the value of both. 

Specially for that purpose, for showing new leaders a path to effective leadership and how to let go of being perfect, I have written the book “Leading GracefullyA Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership.In the book, I feature exercises that you can use immediately to begin owning your strengths and letting go of the need to be perfect.

What problems can perfectionism arise?

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of self-acceptance
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

“The real secret to a fabulous life is to live imperfectly with great delight.”

So how to let go of perfectionism? 

Here are 5 ways to let go of a need to be perfect

#1 Make peace with the “now” before you feel satisfied with the “later.” 

We can’t feel totally satisfied with where we’re going until we can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where we are. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is the grounding force of inner peace. We all have something to be grateful for every single day, and if we don’t think we do, then that is the first sign that we are sacrificing our own inner peace for an ideal that doesn’t exist.

#2 Build self-reliance/self-confidence

It is an open secret that  none of us is born with self-reliance, we gain it through trials and errors while we go through life making our own decisions. We gain it through life’s tough experiences. I personally started to build and develop confidence when I decided to think for myself and move forward with my decisions. And I started to feel that the more I trusted my decisions the less I needed the approval of others. People who act with self-reliance feel more in control of their environment, and feeling this way is an important ingredient of wellbeing.

girl standing in a field

One of the main factors of building self-confidence is the ability to know how to beat the inner bully. This is the inner critic that keeps us from moving to where we are eager to go. The more we develop our strength and confidence, the more we are capable of shutting that bully down.

#3 Learn to celebrate your failures

Trying and failing at something is no fun. It can make us feel upset, disappointed, and sometimes even angry. The problem with this reaction to failure is that it shuts us down and makes us not want to try anymore. However, on the other hand, if we can learn to celebrate our failures as steps toward an eventual goal, we will continue to put in effort, keep trying, and eventually achieve the results we desired for so long. We’re talking  here about resilience and perseverance.

bucket of multicolor roses

Here are a few steps you can take to get there:

STEP 1: Recognize that resilience and perseverance are qualities you’d like to develop further.

STEP 2: Be aware of what your current reaction to “failure” is. This is great info to have so that you can create a plan that will eliminate your negative behaviors and replace them with a more resilient outcome.

STEP 3: Decide how you’d like to react instead. 

STEP 4: Decide on a set of inspiring quotes or mantras that you can employ if you’re unable to stop the negative behavior.

STEP 5: Don’t forget to give yourself some props when you make progress.

STEP 6: Last but not least, learn to see the silver lining behind every “failure.” Challenges make us work harder, learn more, become stronger, powerful and stretch our capacities—that’s all really great stuff. When we can experience a bump in the road and actually celebrate it, we know we’re on track to doing great things.

#4 Change your mindset 

Our mindset contains our ideas and views about life, our previous experiences and perceptions of the world. How we look at the world affects our experience in it. Our beliefs then create our reality and whatever we focus on is what we manifest.  Creating a good-enough mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations will help you cultivate a sense of wellbeing.

girl in a lake smiling

#5 Learn to let go

Holding on to pain doesn’t fix anything, ever. Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t change it, and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. In some cases, especially when it comes to the past, all you can do is accept whatever it is you’re holding on to and then let it go. You need to let it flow all over your body, live there and then you CAN let it go with ease. Letting go should be a ceremony, a release…  That’s how everything changes. You have to let go of what is hurting you, even if it feels almost impossible. Deciding to hold on to the past will hold you back from creating a strong sense of self — a self that isn’t defined by your past, but rather by who you want to be.

In a nutshell!

Just know that habits take time. But the work is definitely worth it. Letting go of your perfectionism allows you to be truly perfect at one thing that IS attainable – being a perfectly imperfect human being.

 

 

 

 

 

manager woman is leading the meeting

Assertive vs Aggressive: 5 Tips for Women Walking the Tightrope

The one question that I get asked the most as a women’s leadership coach is how to walk the tightrope and find balance between being aggressive and assertive in the workplace. This also happens to be one of the main themes in my book, Leading Gracefully, which presents a whole new roadmap on how women can achieve that sometimes elusive balance.

hardcover of book leading gracefully

One of the biggest challenges women face is something called the “double bind” which are the confusing messages they get about how to behave in a work environment. Women are told they need to be assertive, but not too much, otherwise they might be seen as a “bitch” or “difficult to work with” or an “Ice Queen.” However, if they are too accommodating, then they might get labeled as the “Nice girl.” Each of these polarities make up two ends of the Leadership Tightrope and both sides of this spectrum have pitfalls and force women to choose between being respected versus being liked, which ends up being a zero sum game.

The Nice Girl vs The Ice Queen

What happens when you get labeled as the nice girl? Sure, people may like you because they know you’ll be responsible, take care of all the office housework and not mess up their Starbucks order, but when it comes time to assign challenging projects or take on more responsibility, you’re most likely not going to be top of mind for people. On the flip side, when we’re on the other end of the Tightrope, people may not necessarily like working for you or with you because you might come off as cold and unemotional. Sure you are respected, but what happens when there’s a fire? Will you hear about it? Most likely not, because people are most likely intimidated by you and could be afraid of an aggressive reaction. There are trade offs on either side of this Leadership Tightrope and they are both bad for women’s advancement. And this is one of the main reasons we continue to see a leadership gap in organizations today because it seems as if women are damned either way, so they either check out, opt out of their careers, or worse yet, burn out from having to constantly manage their image and perception.

assertive ice queen at office

So it’s really easy to give up and say, “well there’s not really much I can do and men need to change the way they stereotype women.” My answer to that is – yes and no. Do men need to check their gender bias at the door? Absolutely? Do organizations need to make sure men have the tools to do so? Yes. However, women can also work on their effectiveness by finding balance between being the Ice Queen or the Nice Girl through practicing Feminine Leadership. When practicing feminine leadership, women are able to take back control of their impact through building self-awareness and leaning into the strengths they bring to the table. 

Defining Assertiveness

Let me start my defining assertiveness. Being assertive means being able to clearly and confidently communicate your ideas, influence others, and contribute fully. It means being direct, being able to make decisions and having the courage to speak up when you don’t agree or have a strong opinion about something. Now the way we do this can be the difference between being assertive and being too aggressive. The tone of voice we use as well as our body language and facial expressions make up about 80% of what people perceive of us. To be able to be assertive means our body language is aligned with our thoughts and we are able to articulate them with confidence and ease. This means we feel calm and centered in our body. It means that our body language is open and receptive. We are able to listen deeply and acknowledge others. We allow others to express their opinions and give others credit for their input.

boss woman at workplace

How does this differ from being aggressive? When we are aggressive, we tend to leave our emotions at the door. There isn’t much empathy or kindness in the way we speak, we might be rude or indifferent and our body language might be more closed rather than open and receptive. We might roll our eyes or cross our arms for example. We might not listen well to others or rudely interrupt. We might be demanding and not really give people the credit they deserve. Although you are direct and vocal, the tone of voice you use and the energy behind it is very different. It is much more controlling and dominating and makes people feel intimidated, afraid and uncomfortable.

Here are five steps you can take to be more assertive and less aggressive:

1. What is my current impact?

Self-awareness is the key to personal and professional development, so we start there. Most of the time, we don’t have any clue about how we are showing up and how others perceive us. Depending on your level, you may or may not be getting feedback about your performance or leadership style. So it’s imperative that you develop self-awareness and ask yourself, what is the impact I am having on the people on my team, on my peers, direct reports, or others I interact with on a daily basis. Begin noticing how people react to you and whether you are creating a healthy or toxic environment around you through your actions and behavior. Are you a team player and get along well with the majority of your team or do you complain and act a victim? Are you able to communicate your ideas well or are you more emotional and volatile? How do you handle stress? Begin noticing your impact and be honest with yourself. If you don’t like what you see, that’s okay. You can’t change what you don’t see, so this is the first step in choosing behaviors that bring you to the desired impact you want to have.

be self-aware

2. What is my desired impact?

Once you’ve given yourself an honest assessment (or taken a 360 Leadership Assessment), you can ask yourself – What is the desired impact I want to have? Do you want to be more collaborative with others? Do you want to build more trust with your peers? Do you want to improve a relationship with someone you work with? Do you want to be a more assertive and less aggressive woman? Write down the types of impact you want to have on the various groups of people you work with (peers, direct reports, manager, customers etc). This will give you a goal or objective to work towards and you can then work backwards to figure out what qualities you need to develop in order to get to your desired impact.

3. Practice Centering

At the center of the Feminine Leadership model is the quality of Centering. If you’re wondering what that is, think about how you feel after a yoga or meditation class. You probably feel more grounded, present, calm and relaxed. That is what we mean by Centering. Most of the time we are in some kind of stress response during the work day. We have to run from one meeting to the next, constantly put out fires and handle many demands. All of these put stress on the body which significantly reduces our ability to think clearly. When we are in a stress response we might respond more emotionally or aggressively. However, we can quickly get out of that stress response by practicing a Centering exercise (there’s a great one I recommend in my book), or you can find an easy practice that you enjoy like deep breathing exercises or going for a quick walk around the block or listening to relaxing music. Find a practice that works for you and do that before you respond to an email, resolve a conflict or walk into an important meeting or presentation. 

4. Choose a leadership capacity(s) to develop.

Once you’ve Centered, you can then ask yourself – what leadership quality do I need to use in this given situation so I can have my desired impact? You can then refer to the Feminine Leadership Model to ask yourself what qualities will help you get to your desired impact. If you tend to be more aggressive in your leadership style, perhaps you need to practice more empathy and humility in order to achieve your desired impact. If you tend to be more shy and withdrawn, then perhaps you need to be more direct and become assertive in how you communicate your ideas and opinions. Pick one or two leadership qualities from the model that you think will help you balance out your impact and commit to working on those for the next few months. Use the specific exercises outlined in my book to help you do so or book coaching sessions with me directly if you want further support.

woman in balance and calm mood

5. Ask for feedback.

A great way to know whether you’re on the right track is to tell people you work with that you are working on a specific leadership quality. This will help you stay accountable and get feedback on your progress. Not only will you be acting as a role model for self-development, but you’ll also be getting valuable feedback on the changes you’re trying to implement in your leadership style. This insight can be pivotal to your success when you’re working on behavior change because it gives you the positive reinforcement to keep going and also helps you gauge if you’re on track to achieve your desired impact.

one to one meeting at office

You Are Always at Choice

One of the most valuable things you can discover is that you are always at choice at how you show up, whether you lead others or just lead yourself. Whether you’re a manager, an entrepreneur or a mom, you can practice these leadership skills to better manage yourself and others with more ease, grace and effectiveness. Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to look at ourselves honestly in the mirror and ask ourselves some tough questions. But in the end, doing the work to improve your effectiveness can mean the difference between staying stagnant in your career or moving upwards, making more money, and being more successful in your endeavors. For women to move up the ladder and close the gender gap, we must learn how to assertively and confidently communicate, offer our opinions, and contribute our gifts fully. I hope these steps will help you not only be liked but also respected by the people you work with and relate to.

7 Steps to Gracefully Transition into a New Career Path

With the future unknown and millions out of work, it is more important than ever to reevaluate our careers and think about how we’re going to support ourselves if we’ve been laid off. Instead of going into fear and becoming immobilized with the not knowing, I’m encouraging people to use this as an opportunity to turn inward and reflect on next steps to begin laying the groundwork if it feels time to reinvent your career.

I’ve laid out a simple step-by-step process to guide yourself easily and more gracefully into a new career path based on my personal experience changing careers from working in the corporate world to becoming an entrepreneur. Click here to read the full article on Highest Path.

The “Coach Approach” in Management

During a recent coaching session, a client of mine who manages several teams excitedly reported he was utilizing coaching skills with his direct reports. “Instead of just telling them what to do, or correcting their mistakes for them, I’m coaching them to learn from their mistakes, think outside the box, and take ownership.”
Using a Coach Approach in Management

Needless to say, I was thrilled my client was using a coach approach with his team. Anyone who has led a team knows that inspiring, motivating and empowering people is integral to driving results. However, managers sometimes tend to lean on a more directive approach, which can be useful in certain situations, but not all. Helping people be creative, innovative, and collaborative requires leadership and awareness around how to create an environment where people can really thrive.

Here are a few “coach approach” tips to try with your teams:

  1. Create a Clear Roadmap: The first thing we do when establishing a coaching relationship is create a roadmap. We set clear goals and objectives with a reasonable timeline. When delegating projects or tasks to your teams, make sure you are setting clear expectations, setting clear guidelines and timelines. This ensures you are setting them up for success, and decreasing the chances for miscommunication, or receiving less than desirable results.
  2. Accountability: This is an integral piece of the coaching relationship – the client knows they will be held accountable to the assignment they committed to at the end of a coaching session. Many managers forget to build in accountability during a project or task, assuming people will come to them with questions. If you build in time for updates, questions or time to discuss issues, this holds people accountable and helps you stay ahead of the curve.
  3. Failure is OK: Creating an environment where failure is OK can be really challenging for some managers (esp those with perfectionist streaks!). In a coaching relationship, mistakes are allowed, and often times even celebrated! Learning from mistakes is essential to people development – and it’s up to the manager to make that OK. This is a great coaching opportunity to get curious, ask questions and listen deeply to understand challenges and help people grow.

The best way to learn coaching skills is to work with a coach yourself to experience the power of coaching firsthand. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try it, I encourage you to do so to develop the skills you need to help develop your teams.