black hair girl sitting at an office table and doing meditation

6 Ways to Build Boundaries & Get More Recognition at Work

One of the more challenging aspects I’ve encountered both personally and professionally with the women I coach, is the ability to hold steadfast to our boundaries. Whether it’s saying no to a request by a co-worker or manager, or turning down a project that’s just not challenging enough,  a lot of us find it challenging to say no and end up people pleasing and accommodating.

The reason for why we do this is simple – we just want to fit in. We just want to belong. It’s what Brene Brown talks about when she discusses the feelings of shame and inadequacy that lead us to do things just to feel accepted and liked by others. Turns out, according to her research, we as humans are wired towards togetherness – we want to feel included by our tribe. As women in the workplace, there’s yet another layer to this – most of us feel like we have to work harder to prove our value and worth so we end up taking on more work just to make sure others know we belong in the role or position we’re in. 

women having talk at the office

This need for acceptance, belonging and the fear of shame or being left out of the tribe is what oftentimes leads us to bending our boundaries. The downside of that is that we aren’t strong in our “No” and oftentimes not only do we feel resentful afterwards, we end up betraying ourselves and our own values along with it, which makes us feel lousy anyway.

In a workplace context, this could also result in overwhelm and an inability to find a healthy work/life balance. Many times we end up taking on “office housework” or menial tasks so we can somehow convince others that we are superwomen and able to do it all. We make the incorrect assumption that we’ll be handsomely rewarded for this effort – when most of the time these efforts go totally unnoticed and we end up feeling unappreciated. 

A lot of times women who are on the “Nice girl” side of the Leadership Tightrope end up saying yes to everything that is asked of them. They want to be liked by everyone and therefore bite off more than they can chew. The problem with this is that when we do this, we end up taking on tasks that don’t position us to develop or grow in our careers. Instead of taking on new projects or responsibilities that will stretch us and grow our skillset, we end up getting stuck planning team events or taking notes during meetings. None of this shouts “promotion material” and here’s the honest truth – no one has ever received a promotion just because they planned amazing office parties. 

To change this, we need to learn to say no by first shifting our own perspective. As we value ourselves more, when we believe in our creativity, resourcefulness, intelligence and see ourselves as fully capable, we are able to ask others to value us more firmly in return.

 having notes in a notebook

Here are 6 tips I recommend to help you set and stick to boundaries so you can take on more meaningful work and help you get the recognition you deserve.

1. Value Yourself, Your Contributions and Own Your Gifts

Start with making a list of all the value you bring to the table – all your positive qualities, gifts, talents and expertise. Put that list somewhere prominent and refer back to it each day. Begin acknowledging yourself for your achievements and give yourself the praise you’re searching for externally. Being able to value yourself is the first step in being able to set strong boundaries. When we own our gifts and abilities, we can then let go of having to prove ourselves to others and it becomes easier to gracefully say no when necessary.

2. Pay Close Attention to Your Body

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages about our environment, the people around us and the situations we find ourselves in. If there is something that you don’t really want to do, your body will tell you – but you need to pay close attention.

blond hair girl reading near plants

Stress and anxiety can affect your body in noticeable ways.

For example if your body is rebelling, that means that you’ve said yes too much. Pay attention to your stomach pain, fatigue or a scratchy throat, these are the signs that saying no may be the right choice. Get comfortable with checking in with your body – practicing putting your attention and awareness on your bodily sensations and feelings throughout the day to make it a habit. Once we learn to trust our body’s signals, it can make it much easier to decide when we need to say no to something that doesn’t feel right.

3. Take Your Time Before Reaching a Decision

Oftentimes we feel like we need to give people an answer right away. Don’t rush to say yes immediately when you are unsure (aiming not to hurt anybody). Instead just say you’ll think about it or let them know you’ll get back to them in a few hours or even in a day. It’s easier to reject politely the next day.

4. Practice Saying No More Often

Start small. And little by little you will feel comfortable with your fair decisions. By getting into the rhythm of declining small tasks more regularly, you’ll get used to understanding where your boundaries lie. Here is a respectful way of saying  no.

 “I really appreciate that you thought of me for this project, but I have a few other commitments on my plate right now so I don’t think I’m the right person. Perhaps try asking Greg down the hall?

girls having discussion at the office

5. Keep in Mind –  it’s not Personal

As people pleasers, most of the time we’re afraid of hurting the others’ feelings and worry that they might not think of us positively if we say no to them. But most of the time, people aren’t going to take your rejection personally – especially in a business context. Begin telling yourself that your no is not going to hurt this person’s feelings and they are not going to take it personally. Usually what happens is the opposite – many times people start respecting you more when you are honest with them. And if it’s a task that you would rather not do anyway, after a few rejections, they’ll probably stop asking you!

 

6. Begin Asking for Stretch Assignments

Now that you’re more comfortable saying no, it’s time to begin to say YES! Think about assignments, projects, skills or tasks that will stretch you, help you grow and challenge you. Envision where you want to be in 1, 2, 3 years and speak to your supervisor about what type of projects you can take on that will help you build the skills to get there. These types of “stretch” assignments not only will help position you for that promotion you’re aiming for, but it will prove to your peers and your manager that you’re proactive and ready to take on more. The more responsibility you have, the more visibility you get, which only elevates you in the eyes of those that make the decisions of who gets promoted. 

Good boundaries free you | Sarri Gilman | TEDxSnoIsleLibraries

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

feminine leadership

Fit for Joy Podcast with Valerie Teles

I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with the lovely Valerie Teles, host of the Fit for Joy Podcast. We had a wonderful chat about how women can lean into their natural, feminine strengths to find balance as leaders.  She was very curious about my own journey and how I embarked on my own self-discovery through practicing vulnerability, building self-confidence, and reclaiming my authentic Self. We spoke about the meaning of life, what it means to be strong, how we define Love, and a vision for a new world before we dove into a rich discussion about themes from Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership.

It’s not every day I get asked these types of questions because I’m typically talking to groups of women in corporate settings. I don’t usually get asked about my personal beliefs about Life, Love and God but I thought it was such a beautiful way to ground the conversation. One of the things people may not know about me is that I have a deeply spiritual side (not religious, more woo woo), which I tend to hide because it’s not “done” in business. But what I’m feeling more and more these days is that not only are these themes important to me and in my personal evolution but they are themes that are coming up a lot for many people. I am grateful for Valerie in creating the space for me to explore these questions and set them in the context of how women can more fully access feminine strengths to lead in their careers and personal lives.

Here’s some highlights from our interview:

-The types of common challenges women face in male-dominated industries like tech

-The Feminine Leadership Model and how to apply it in your everyday leadership (in life and your career!)

-The importance of authenticity and vulnerability as a means to effective leadership

-Some real life examples from my personal leadership journey!

You can listen to the full interview here: https://fitforjoy.org/guests1/2020/7/5/monique-svazlian-tallon

 

 

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.

walk in nature

7 Ways to Get Back to Basics and Create a More Beautiful Post COVID-19 World

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Albert Einstein

It seems as if the world has grown weary of lockdown life and even though infection numbers are climbing in many countries like the United States, it seems as if some people and many politicians want to get back to business as usual.  It is normal for people to want to get out and enjoy the lovely Spring weather because let’s face it, being socially distant goes against our instincts as humans. But my personal feeling about going back to “business as usual” is that it’s going to be short-lived and counterproductive to our collective goal of fighting COVID-19 and an opportunity wasted to usher in a new world.

Whenever we experience deep trauma, loss or separation as humans, we go through various stages in response to the triggering event. In fact, according to the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle, it seems as if we are currently toggling between “denial” – “anger” – “bargaining” in how we are choosing to deal with this crisis. In order to heal, we must allow ourselves to go through these stages in the amount of time that it takes – which is solely dependent on the person’s ability to stay with the feelings, go into the emotions, experience them fully and then come out the other side to a place of acceptance. Having experienced these grief cycles myself, I can say that it is not an easy thing to go through. When you are in it, it can feel like there is no end in sight to the painful feelings that ensue. But relief and healing do eventually come and you become stronger because of it.

5 stages of grief

So if we look at the current crisis from this lens, we can understand why people spent the last weekend protesting in large numbers in Huntington Beach or at Michigan’s State Capitol. We can understand why New York parks were filled with people. We can understand why our government seems to be spinning the truth just so they can get the economy back up and running again. Denial seems to be our way of dealing with the ‘triggering’ event of a global pandemic and handling our grief around losing our individual freedoms. How long we cycle through the first four stages of grief will largely depend on our ability to transcend the pain and trauma to move into acceptance.

The Great Realization

I’ve spent the past weekend watching films like Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans and Dr. Stephen Greer’s Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind. These two films are almost like bookends to describe where we are as a human species. Although Planet of the Humans has been criticized by many environmentalists for using outdated facts and figures to argue that the green movement isn’t doing enough to deal with climate change, it has been lauded for pointing to the big elephants in the room: overpopulation and overconsumption. The main point the film alludes to is that we are well past the point of ‘solar paneling’ or ‘wind turbining’ ourselves out of the climate crisis. It claims that if we do not make massive shifts in the way we live our day-to-day lives and change our consumption habits drastically, we will not be able to tackle climate change in any meaningful way. 

In Close Encounters, the documentary talks about the deep state cover-up around UFO’s and ET’s which ironically seems to be ending with the recent admission by the Pentagon of the existence of UFO’s (no one seemed to be surprised by this). However, a good portion of the film is dedicated to the work of Dr. Stephen Greer who has established a series of protocols called CE5 protocols to initiate peaceful contact with intelligent beings from other planets. He claims that no human being has been harmed in all the decades he has been leading groups in making contact (and he has massive amounts of incredible footage to prove it). The theme throughout the film is that in order to make contact with aliens, we need to raise our consciousness and develop our innate abilities of telepathy and ESP. These are abilities that all human beings have latent inside them and he thinks this is the central technology that ET’s use to transport themselves to Earth from their far away galaxies and planets. 

galaxy

While all this may sound far-fetched, some of the world’s oldest religious teachings seek to help their devotees to attain exactly this type of consciousness raising. In fact, there have been stories of many great avatars who have been able to bilocate or materialize out of nowhere. Jesus himself was said to be able to levitate and in the Bible it describes him walking on water. Psychics use this ability in order to intuit information. Many artists and creative people innately know that their creativity comes from a mysterious “other” place. What would be possible if we were able to tap into this power inside of ourselves as a human collective? What if we were able to make peaceful contact with other civilizations much more advanced than ours? Might they be willing to share their advanced technology so that we could save planet earth? What if that is the reason why they are trying to make contact in the first place? 

As I reflect on these two films and look at where we are today from a meta-perspective, it seems to me that this moment is calling us forth into a great realization about where humanity finds itself today and a need to reassess how we might organize ourselves as a society post pandemic. It requires us to look at the social agreements we have in place in all aspects of our society – from our institutions to how we govern ourselves. It requires a deeper inquiry and a shift in perspective about the role each one of us plays in reimagining our world. This requires a fundamental shift in consciousness and a greater awareness about how we begin redesigning our social contracts to make them more aligned with a more equitable, sustainable, peaceful and inclusive way of being in the world. 

breathe the air

So you might be reading this and wondering – what can I do to help bring about this shift in consciousness? Luckily, I’ve got a few simple suggestions you can take to make a difference by going back to the basics. 

To be empowered – to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are…. Once you feel this way, memorize this feeling; remember this feeling. This is who you really are. ― Joe Dispenza

1. Begin meditating on a regular basis. 

I’ve talked about the importance of meditation in earlier posts and how effective it is in dealing with anxiety and stress. Lately I’ve stumbled upon the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza – a neuroscientist and former doctor who has extensively researched the power of the mind to heal ourselves and to change our lives in concrete and tangible ways. I recommend his book Becoming Supernatural as a starting point or his many interviews on Youtube. You can also find his guided meditations available for download through Amazon. His latest campaign is #GoLove20 is about spreading love and positivity to heal the planet. Make time on a daily basis to meditate, quiet your mind and raise your awareness. This will help in not only bringing about personal well-being, but as I talk about below, has been shown to have positive, long lasting effects locally and globally as well.

mindfulness and meditation

2. Get out in nature, safely.

We’ve all realized and have a new found appreciation for the healing power of nature during this time in lockdown. Human beings need fresh air and sunlight to function properly. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to all sorts of health problems and our lungs and bodies need exercise to feel good, boost our immune system and lower stress. We all need to find safe ways to be out in nature but to do so safely, which means wearing masks, keeping social distance and not touching your face. This is not difficult!! Drive to a hiking trail that is off the beaten path. Find a park that isn’t crowded. Get up early to beat the crowds or take a late night brisk walk. Be respectful of others’ personal space.

walking in nature

3. Plant a garden.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the relationship between humans and nature has largely been about dominion over the natural world. We live disconnected from it and have forgotten the basic skills of tending the land. If something were to happen to our food supply, god forbid, most of us would not be able to survive off the land. With long lines at supermarkets and empty shelves quickly becoming a new reality, it’s becoming clear that we need to relearn how to grow our own food and become more in tune with nature. Transportation of food is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint. One of the most radical acts you can do right now is learn how to grow plants and vegetables. You can start by planting a garden in your front or backyard.  Learning basic gardening skills, permaculture or sustainable agriculture to feed your family or local community while doing something beneficial for the planet. Get inspiration from the Dervaes family who converted their residential property to an urban farm which now produces 6,000 pounds of food for their local community.  Imagine what would be possible if we turned all our lawns into community gardens?

growing plants

4. Make a list of your consumption habits.

If we want to truly begin shifting away from over-consumption, it has to start locally. In order to do this, we have to become aware of our unconscious spending habits. We need to become aware of where we spend our money, time and resources. Make a list of your spending habits and put them into three categories – Must haves, Nice to haves, Don’t need to haves. Begin whittling yourself down to the must haves and nice to haves, and then over time see if you can do away with the nice to haves as well. However, add an additional category of “Experiences” that you are going to add in place of the items you are eliminating. How do you want to fill up your time? Where do you want to put your resources instead? Spending more time with your kids, learning a new skill, volunteering in your community are a few examples. In order to take the pain out of making do with less, fill that time with activities that feed your soul.

5. Work on raising your vibrational frequency.

If you’ve ever heard of the movie The Secret or the Law of Attraction then you know that raising your vibrational frequency is key in manifesting your heart’s desire. Not only is this important in attracting the things you want more of in your life, it is also instrumental in lowering stress and anxiety and increasing well-being. It is also key in raising your consciousness and being able to tap into latent abilities such as telepathy. Heart Math Institute has done decades of research on heart coherence and has developed a tool called Inner Balance which is a nifty bluetooth-enabled device that can measure your heart coherence while you meditate in real time. They conduct Global Coherence events where people around the world practice heart coherence meditations at the same time which has been proven to positively affect the electromagnetic field of the planet (raises planetary consciousness). It only takes 1% of the population to go into coherence to impact the rest of the 99%, lowering crime rates and violence, which is called the Maharishi Effect. 

watching nature

6. Begin writing a new story for the world

We spend so much time dwelling on what is NOT working in our lives or in the world that we end up spending very little time thinking about the world we DO want. We have the perfect opportunity right now to begin envisioning the new world we want to create post COVID-19. The planet has had a brief respite from all the polluting and over-consumption of its inhabitants. Animals are getting to enjoy some of the empty space that was previously occupied by humans. It’s beautiful to see the waters in the Venice canals clearing up or bioluminescent waves in Southern California. It’s inspiring to watch funny and creative videos made by ordinary folks who are tapping into their innate playfulness during this lockdown. It seems like simple acts of kindness and courage have increased too. Isn’t this the type of planet we want to move into? Begin spending time each day dreaming of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Think about the type of work, relationships, communities and planet we could create if we tapped into our creativity, wholeness and resourcefulness. Write it down, journal about it or get into dialogue about it with someone and share those ideas out loud. 

write your story

7. Be a Leader – Invite friends to join you.

All these things are well and good but without a tipping point, it will take a long time to see real change. The time has come for all of us to take personal leadership over our lives instead of waiting for an external entity to dictate what we should do to better our lives. We can no longer wait for politicians or governments to enact change that will lead to a better future. We must be our own leaders and take charge of our destiny. If you feel a calling to make a difference in the world, listen to that inner knowing.. Start a community garden in your neighborhood. Hold group meditations over Zoom. Find online communities that are organizing themselves in raising planetary consciousness. Invite people in your network to practice these new habits. The minute you liberate yourself from programming via social media or the mainstream media, the more energy and creativity you will have in taking positive actions in your life that can impact you and society in general.

keep the balance

When you get back to doing the basics, you’ll begin to notice changes in your relationship with yourself, with other people and with nature. You’ll begin to feel more peaceful, maybe more loving and kind, you might even feel more vitality and wholeness. You might feel inclined to review your consumption habits and find ways to be more conscious about how you spend your time, money and energy. And you might even begin thinking about how you can make a difference locally. If all of us step up to take leadership of ourselves and in our communities, I think we would be able to not only defeat COVID-19 in less time, but we might be able to save Mother Earth and walk into a different world, a more beautiful one our hearts know is possible.

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. – Thich Nhat Hahn

Dalai Lama speaks on Inner Peace,Inner Values & Mental States



female leadership combat combat covid

Female Leadership is Proving to be the Secret Weapon in the Battle against Coronavirus

Women leaders around the world are showcasing the type of leadership that is proving to be most effective in handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland have had one of the more successful responses to the pandemic. From Jacinda Ardern to Angela Merkel, women are once again proving that female leaders can lead equally, if not better, than many of their male counterparts especially in times of crisis. 

In this post, I’d like to take a closer look at the specific leadership skills global female leaders are embodying as a lesson for all of us in how to lead gracefully in times of great hardship and challenge. Click here to read more.

 

practice mindfulness

10 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness In Our Daily Life

“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi

These days as we are all learning to adapt to a new normal of staying indoors, I’ve been personally finding it difficult to focus on what is going right with the world instead of what is going wrong. I find myself sometimes getting sucked into hours of scrolling through my social media feed to read the latest news (which is mostly all terrible) or to feel more connected to friends and family. With all the unknowns of what the future holds, it’s easy to get stuck in negative feedback loops which ultimately breed stress in the body. And right now stress is the last thing we need if we want to boost our immune systems and keep a healthy mental state.

mindfullness meditation
So in this blog post, I want to talk about how to train your brain through mindfulness practices to stay focused on the positive, lower stress, and keep yourself mentally healthy during this uncertain time we’re going through. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It’s our ability to not think about the past or the future but to instead observe what is happening in the moment. 

Why Should We Practice Mindfulness?

There have been many prominent teachers like Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle and others who teach us about the power of mindfulness and why it’s so important to incorporate it into our daily practice. It has many proven benefits from reducing anxiety, depression and chronic pain to improving sleep and reducing stress. Mindfulness also helps us in achieving our goals such as weight-loss or starting a new project. And from a leadership perspective, mindfulness can help us stay centered in order to more effectively manage people or deal with external challenges. All in all, mindfulness is an important practice for us to cultivate to lead happy and meaningful lives.

yoga and mindfulness

But it’s not something that comes naturally for us especially with the many distractions that take our attention and focus elsewhere. Most of us are now addicted to our technology and have less ability to focus our attention for a long period of time. We constantly check our news feed, email or texts and are bombarded with information overload. The day goes by without us even checking in with ourselves, let alone spending time practicing mindfulness, which ironically ends up making us feel disconnected and unhappy. And when we do slow down we tend to feel guilty for doing so, like there’s some kind of rule that tells us we need to be busy in every given moment to be productive and make the most of each minute.

The result of this is we become much more susceptible to bad news, misinformation and anxiety which drag us down both mentally and physically. We end up being uncomfortable with just being with ourselves, we lose our connection to something bigger or to our inner power. We lose our ability to create our future consciously through focusing on what’s working for us right now. 

Cultivating Mindfulness in our Daily Lives

Since breaking our addiction to technology is a much bigger task (and a topic for another blog), we need to build practices in our daily lives to bring ourselves back to what really matters. Although nothing beats a good mindfulness meditation it can sometimes be difficult to squeeze in a 20-30 minute meditation in our busy lives. Instead, we can build micro-practices throughout the day to focus our attention.

buddha and mindfulness

 

Here are my top 10 mindfulness activities you can practice throughout the day:

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

1. Practice gratitude 

When we practice gratitude, we have to focus our attention to what is positive in our lives in the present moment. It gently brings the good stuff to the forefront of our mind so that we are able to more easily come back into the now moment, instead of fretting about the future or rehashing the past. By focusing on the positive we then become more available to create a more positive future.

practice gratitude

 

2. Check in with your body

The body functions without your participation – you breathe automatically, your heart beats continuously and your bodily functions keep going regardless of what you do. But the body is constantly sending us messages through sensations in the body. Take a moment and check in with your body – what do you notice?
Where are you holding tension? Do you have aches or pains? Do you feel heavy or light? Bringing your attention to your body can help realign your attention to the present but also connects you to the information you need to take better care of your body. For more tips on how to lean into body wisdom, you can check out my new course on building more confidence.

beat the inner bully

 

3. Pay attention to your heart

Our emotions are another way the body communicates with us at any given moment. Throughout the day, you might experience a range of emotions from sadness to joy. By checking in with your heart where your emotions originate, you come into more coherence with yourself. My favorite resource for this is the Heart Math Institute that has done decades of research on the power of the heart and how it affects not only our individual health but the well-being of others.

4. Fire up your five senses

One of the simplest ways of staying mindful is to bring your attention to the present moment. Stop what you are doing for a moment and observe what is going on around you. What noises do you hear? What scents do you smell? What are others around you doing? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, put your full attention there and observe it through your five senses for a few moments to practice bringing your mind to the now moment.

5. Practice the centering exercise

One of the best exercises I teach my clients is a short 30 second practice called the Centering Exercise that helps you tune into your body and into the present moment through centering. Here’s a quick video that runs you through the step by step process on how to do it. You can also find it featured in my book, Leading Gracefully. It’s a great exercise for leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and busy moms!

hardcover of book leading gracefully

6. Focus on your breath

Another access point to bringing our attention to the moment is by focusing on our breath. The breath is happening with or without our conscious awareness, but by bringing our attention to our breath we can help our mind focus. Notice how you are breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Take five deep belly breaths and focus your attention on your inhale and exhale. Repeat that three times and practice it multiple times during the day.

7. Observe your thoughts

Here’s a fun game – stop what you’re doing and start observing your thoughts. Can you do that? What do you notice? Try it and see what happens!

8. Mindful eating

Another time to focus on the present moment is when we eat. Most of the time we aren’t paying attention to the food we eat because we’re eating at our desk, watching a Youtube video or reading while we eat. But research has shown that when we eat with more mindfulness, we digest our food better which helps get more vitamins and minerals and aids in overall digestive health.

mindfulness and weight loss

So next time you sit down for a meal, put down the phone, chew your food mindfully and notice how you eat. Do you eat fast or slow? Do you chew your food or inhale it? What does your food taste like? What you discover might even inspire you to take up an online cooking class! 

9. Practice active listening

Most of the time when others speak we are in our heads trying to think of how we are going to respond. We tune out about halfway before the person is even finished with their thought. Next time you have a conversation, try active listening where you are putting your full attention on the other person. Listen with your ears, heart and intuition. Practice mindful listening and observe whether the quality of your conversations change.

mindfulness and meditation

10. Observe your surroundings

I like practicing this when I’m outdoors – just focusing on what is happening around me. Notice the traffic. Focus on the people walking by. Notice a beautiful flower. The wind in your hair. The sun on your face. You can practice this when you’re going for a walk or a hike or just sitting on your patio or from your yard if you’re homebound.

I hope these simple exercises help give you access to the world of mindfulness without having to read books or sit through long meditations. Of course those are great mindfulness activities if you have the time, but I find it easier to make practicing mindfulness part of my daily activities so I can train my mind and stay more positive, feel happier and be in charge of what I choose to attract to myself by staying in the here and now.  

Do you have any tips or exercises that help you stay mindful? Share them in the comments below!

The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger | Shauna Shapiro

 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much–seek too much–want too much–and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle

covid19: work from home

Covid19: 10 Tips for Staying Productive and Mentally Healthy While You’re Working From Home

By now all of us have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have temporarily changed, however drastically, in order to collectively fight against this dangerous epidemic. This is requiring all of us to change our behaviors, make tough decisions and think about alternative ways to stay productive. It’s also requiring us to step into self-leadership to be able to keep ourselves safe and at the same time make sure we are helping our friends, family and co-workers handle this challenging time with more grace and ease.

In order to do that, I’ve created a quick check-list to help you care for your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and stay productive while staying and working from home.

1. Create a separate workspace

Many of us are having to share our living space with multiple family members during this period of self-quarantine. If you’re like me, having your own space and privacy is super important to your sanity. While having your own space may not be entirely possible, you can carve out a specific space in your home that is dedicated to you. You can use this as your workspace if you are working from home or an area where you can go to reflect, meditate or chill out. Let your family members know it’s important for your well-being and productivity to have this clearly defined space and request that they respect the area by keeping it clean.

work from home working space

 

2. Create a Weekly & Daily Plan (and stick to it!)

For many people, working from home for an extended period of time is a new experience and it can be daunting to get into a routine and not fall into the trap of watching Netflix for hours on end. Add in having to care for children, homeschool, cook and clean and it might feel like you are working two full time jobs (which most working mom’s have been feeling for decades!). It’s important to get into a regular routine and have a weekly and daily calendar for yourself and for your household chores, including your children’s school schedule. On a Sunday afternoon, map out your plan for the week and then block out chunks of time on your calendar for all the various tasks you need to get through each day. Don’t forget to schedule time for exercise, meditation and fun!weekly planning

 

3. Utilize Technology and Discover New Apps

There are virtually endless technological solutions to keep us connected, productive and happy! Here are some of my recent favorites that are helping me stay on track:

Zoom: Online Conferencing technology to help you conduct meetings, webinars, classes or a virtual happy hour with your friends!

Calendly: Schedule virtual meetings, phone dates, or other appointments easily. You can block out dates/times with your availability and send out links for others to automatically schedule a meeting with you. 

Krisp: A new noise-cancelling technology that blocks out background noise while you’re on a conference call.

Happify: An app to help you reduce stress or negative thoughts and build skills for a healthy life with fun activities and games.

Insight Timer: An app where you can learn how to meditate, cope with anxiety, manage stress and improve your sleep

 

4. Discover & Learn New Skills

If you’ve been thinking about learning a new skill, this is a great time to take advantage of having some down time to dedicate to self-improvement. There are endless resources and distance learning courses available to develop virtually any new skill, many which are free! If you’re into professional development, LinkedIn Learning has a great repository of online classes you can take to improve your communication skills, learn how to work remotely or brush up that resume. If you’re into personal development or interested in spiritual development, MindValley offers great classes on meditation, breathwork, and similar topics. My recent fave is the MasterClass series that offers online classes with celebrities where you can learn how to cook with the world’s most famous chef, Massimo Botturo or take an acting class by Helen Mirren. If you’re interested in developing more self-confidence, check out my new Beat the Bully Course I recently released to help you build the confidence you need to reach your goals!

new skills while covid19

 

5. Make Money Online

If you’ve been laid off you’re or worried about getting laid off due to the coronavirus epidemic, fear not! You probably have a skill that you can transfer online by teaching others through platforms like UpWork and Fiverr that connect freelance workers with potential employers. Now more than ever, companies will be hiring remote customer service workers and industries such as technology that already see a wide gap in skilled IT professionals are going to search for new talent. If you don’t have the skills necessary, then use this time to gain the knowledge to make yourself relevant in the future job market. Or think about developing an online course that you can sell on Udemy or elsewhere. Don’t let fear immobilize you – make a plan on how to adapt to the changing job market (which was going to happen with or without this pandemic according to recent studies). 

 

6. Prioritize Self-Care

These are stressful times calling us to step up and prioritize self-care. This crisis is forcing us to slow down, look within, and really re-examine whether being stuck in the rat race has been serving us. While it may be stressful to have to homeschool your kids, isn’t it great that you can spend some quality time with your kids and take more interest in their development? Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways we can keep a positive mental attitude and see the bright side of where we currently find ourselves. Make sure you are scheduling time to move your body, exercise and practice yoga and meditation – remember it’s about mind-body-spirit balance! I myself have been enjoying PopSugar’s Latin Dance workouts in my living room which I find is the best home workout (and the great part is nobody can see how bad my moves are!)

practice self-care

 

7. Avoid Feeling Isolated

During this time of imposed quarantine, it’s easy to feel isolated especially if you live alone. So it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect that are healthy for you. Limit your daily dose of news and social media to keep your stress levels down. Opt instead to read a good book, do some journaling, or set up a virtual happy hour with your friends! Share your gifts with the world whether that’s reading a poem you’ve written, giving a private concert or doing a nine hour DJ set like D-Nice has been doing from his living room which even broke the internet and went viral! Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to for a long time, coordinate a virtual lunch hour with your teammates or participate in one of the many online webinars and events taking place.

 

8. Practice Leading Gracefully

Now is the time to practice selflessness and to give back by helping others. If you have an idea you think will help, make a plan, ask for help and see it through. Find ways to volunteer (safely) by delivering food to an elderly neighbor, share your provisions if you a stocked pantry, or start a fundraising campaign to help your community. Fight for the rights of the vulnerable and realize that if you are in a position of privilege, you have an obligation to help those not as fortunate as you. It is not time to blame, point fingers or give into feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. You are always at choice as to how to react in any given situation and you can choose leading with kindness and empathy over selfishness at any moment.

 

hardcover of book leading gracefully

 

9. Practice Art Therapy

Art therapy is a well-known technique to help soothe the nerves, work through emotions and express

yourself creatively. If you’re like me and have no idea where to start, watch a free Intro to Art Therapy video on Youtube that can guide you through the steps. No supplies? No problem – all you need is some paper and a pencil. You can also ask your kids to share their art supplies with you. Better yet, why not co-create a painting with your children?! Find fun ways to tap into your creative side and if painting isn’t your thing, try a new recipe, write a poem, or do some outdoor karaoke (it seems to be helping the Italians!).art therapy work from home

 

10. Remind Yourself – This Too Shall Pass

It’s easy to give into the fear and anxiety of our current situation and it does require us to all stay vigilant, be responsible and care for the safety of ourselves and others. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that even this challenging time is temporary and we will get through it. Places like China that were hardest hit are now slowly going back to normal life. If we all do our part (like staying indoors!) then we will get out of this situation sooner than later. As the great spiritual teacher the Dalai Lama has said, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source for strength. No matter what difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s the real disaster.”

 

Hopefully these tips allow you to make the best of the current situation that we all find ourselves in. No matter how long we have to stay in quarantine, we can all use this time to build healthier habits for ourselves and our families that can help us far after we’ve combatted this pandemic. Have some other ideas on how to increase productivity or your well-being during these trying times? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

strong confident woman

4 Practical Ways to Build More Self-Confidence for Women in Leadership – Part II

 

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin

In my last post, we looked at the definition of self-confidence and why it’s so important for women looking to move forward in their careers. If you need more evidence of why confidence is imperative for women, we know that a lack of confidence in millennials can prevent them from  entering the workforce. And since they are now the biggest segment of the workforce, it should be in everyone’s interest to ensure these issues are addressed in companies through women’s leadership training through offering leadership development, mentoring and coaching opportunities for up-and-coming female leaders.

In this post, we’ll introduce four practical ways you can begin working on how to gain confidence, build inner strength and be free of that pesky voice that tells you you’re never good enough!

1. Write down the words of your Inner Bully

Now it’s also important to know the primary job of our Inner Bully. The job of our Inner Bully is to keep us safe. It wants to protect us by reminding us of our past failures and limitations so we won’t repeat the same actions that have caused us pain and humiliation in the past. But although it thinks it’s keeping us safe, it’s unaware of the damage it’s doing in the process, especially to our self-confidence. It’s like the operating system on a computer – it runs in the background so you can’t see it but it runs the entire thing.

 

woman working on herself

 

So how do we control the Inner Bully? We have to update our operating system.

The first step is to identify the voice of our Inner Bully. We are going to bring the Inner Bully into our conscious awareness so we can begin reshaping our beliefs into more positive ones. 

Take a moment now to think about your Inner Bully – what does it say to you? What are the words it uses? What is the dialogue? What are those limiting beliefs? 

Pick the main one, the one that is usually right there, and jot it down in your journal.   

2. Get in touch with your Inner Cheerleader

Now that we have identified the words of our Inner Bully, the next step is to replace those words with the words of our Inner Cheerleader.

Our Inner Cheerleader is the part of us that knows that we are good enough, we are smart enough, capable enough. It is the part of ourselves that is confident. Think about your best friends. Every time you are sad or not feeling particularly confident, you will probably call a close friend or family member and they will remind you of how wonderful you are. And you would do the same in return. What we have to learn to do is to do that same thing for ourselves especially when we notice the Inner Bully becoming loud.

So we are going to get in touch with our Inner Cheerleader as the second step to learning how to boost self-confidence. This exercise is a favorite with women who attend my workshops and keynotes because it helps them immediately connect to their power and authenticity.

To do that, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment. Bring to mind a peak experience from your past – a moment or a time in your life where you accomplished something big where you felt like you were at the top of the mountain. Really visualize that moment in time and bring it into your mind’s eye.

 

 

Think about the qualities you showed up with to reach that moment. Who were you being? What did it take to get there? Think about the qualities that got you there, and who you had to be to get there. What words come to mind?

 Open your eyes and write down the words that came to mind. What qualities did you exhibit to reach that moment? Write those down in your journal. Then turn those words into phrases or sentences. These phrases will begin to make up the dialogue of your Inner Cheerleader.

 3. Replace the Inner Bully with the Inner Cheerleader

Every time you notice your Inner Bully voice, you’re going to replace it with the words of your Inner Cheerleader from Step #2. I recommend starting out by first:

  • Keep a tally of every time you hear your Inner Bully getting loud.
  • Notice how many times a day it speaks to you.
  • In what situations or contexts does it tend to come up?
  • Do this for at least one week.

woman keeping the balance

 

In the second week, begin replacing the words of your Inner Bully with phrases you came up with from your Inner Cheerleader. You’re going to use this confidence building activity by practicing self-compassion and kindness with yourself. You’re going to talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend and it’s going to help you remember how amazing you truly are.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

As you continue to replace the words of your Inner Bully with the words of your Inner Cheerleader you’ll begin to notice the volume of your Inner Bully go down and you’ll be able to turn up the volume of your Inner Cheerleader. Over time the voice of your Inner Cheerleader will become a part of your inner Operating System. But in order for this to become truly a habit, you will need to practice to get good at noticing each time your Inner Bully rears its ugly head!

If you want further exercises to help you practice, check out the additional exercises I’ve developed featured in my book Leading Gracefully.Leading gracefully

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Dalai Lama

 

What Results Can You Expect?

I usually recommend at least three to six months to begin noting a shift in your inner dialogue. Be patient and realize that it’s taken you a lifetime to develop an Inner Bully, so it will take some time to undo that programming. But if you approach these exercises with the same dedication and discipline required to lose weight, learn a new language, or develop any habit, you’ll begin to see changes over time. The goal is to eventually turn down the volume on your Inner Bully and turn up the volume on feeling more self-confident, have more self-esteem, and more inner trust.

 

happy woman walking

 

As you complete these exercises:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. Does your Inner Bully become less loud?
  3. Are you feeling more confident?

Leave your comments in the feed below and share how these tools worked for you!