The world within you

“Before you can change the world around you, you must learn to change the world within you.” Said someone really smart but strangely anonymous 

As a culture, we spend far too much time trying to improve our physical appearance. But of course we do, because we’re a culture that judges books by their covers. We’ll do anything we can to avoid the pain of judgment, criticism and the infamous stank eye.

We also commit to the Body because it’s only the surface layer of who we are and requires a very shallow commitment. However, deep to the Body are the dimensions of the Mind and Spirit; where most of our wounds lie and opportunities for deep, meaningful transformation exists.

It takes a brave soul to step back and forge the path less traveled to address their issues beneath the superficial layers of life and patiently allow their body to reflect that healing process. Before you can change the world around you, you must change the world within you.

To help my clients breakthrough, I’ll ask them to start forming the habit of journaling…a simple method of connecting with Mind and Spirit and direct access to the root of their wounds.

Below are ten topics, themes and questions to journal around. Customize them to make them specific to your situation.

  1. How has my upbringing impacted who I am today and where can I grow?
  2. What am I communicating to myself when I don’t prioritize my fundamental needs?
  3. How are my numbing behaviors (eating, drinking, blaming, watching TV, etc.) helping me to lead my preferred life?
  4. Why do I need others approval and acceptance to feel good about myself?
  5. Why does my work define my worth? Who am I without it? How can I separate my identity from my 9-5?
  6. How can I love myself more so that my marriage bounces back to what it used to be?
  7. Forget my goals…what are my dreams? How can I start participating in that reality?
  8. What boundaries can I create in my life that support my preferred status?
  9. What does my confident self look, act and feel like and what’s the gap between us?
  10. When I’m feeling frustrated, anxious or vulnerable…what’s a constructive way of dealing with those emotions?

We can no longer think so linearly about our health and ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions and feelings (the world within us), drive everything we do and until we understand how they impact our behaviors, we’ll remain stuck on the surface (the world around us) hoping that diet and exercise or that next program will eventually start working.

 

“The more room you give yourself to express your true thoughts and feelings, the more room there is for your wisdom to emerge.” Marianne Williamson

I am worthy

Your experiences create beliefs and sometimes that belief my leave you feeling unworthy of love and belonging or down time or peace or joy.

The only way to change what you believe is to engage redefining behaviors consistent with your personal values, what you find important in life.

It’s not easy because it requires moving out of your comfort zone, embracing uncertainty and adopting a spirit of courage. #noteasyworthit

As you invest and continue investing in yourself, at some point, you’ll discover your worth doesn’t come from your past experiences, it comes from your Individuality and the simple fact that you are here and you’re an imperfect creation along with the rest of humanity.

As you behave yourself into becoming who you ought to be, your perspective shifts and you’ll find you are worthy of…

  • getting up when your alarm clock goes off
  • making mistakes and learning from them
  • putting yourself first so you can support others
  • taking your time before taking action
  • loving yourself through the pain of failing
  • the lessons fear and doubt have taught you
  • living your best life and acting as if
  • establishing priorities and scheduling them early in the day
  • free time and can release #busyness as a status symbol
  • being calm, cool and collected over frantic, worried and out of control
  • creating space in your life to find your purpose
  • smiling more to make the world a better place

The list goes on and on because our worth goes on and on. Self-worth starts with self-respect, leads to the creation of boundaries and ends with acts of courage consistent with who, what and where you want to be in your life.

 

“Get in the arena, show up, do your thing and don’t be afraid to get your ass kicked a little bit.” Brene Brown

Don’t judge a book

Although people come to me to enhance their body (weight loss, toning, etc.), I’m far more interested in developing the whole person.

My objective is always to help my clients find a sense of balance in their lives so that they can focus the majority of their energy in the direction of their preferred life. Any other direction is considered a leakage and a mismanagement of resources.

One area that some of my clients are expending too much energy is on judging others. Oftentimes, they see the speck of dust in other’s eyes but not the plank in their own.

My advice is always to replace criticism, which comes from a space of fear with compassion, which comes from a space of love.

When judging anything, you’re doing so with a dualistic mindset, which is a very black and white, all-or-none and linear way of navigating the complexities of life.

So I’ll ask: “What emotions or feelings are present when you’re judging others?”

They’ll say: Frustration, anger, disappointment, anxiety, tension, worry, etc.

It’s important to know that when you’re harboring fear-based emotions, they have deleterious effects on your health and well-being. In other words, judgment comes at a massive cost!

Judging doesn’t make anyone a bad person but it is a problem that needs a solution.

The solution to judgmentalism is to replace criticism (fear) with compassion (love). To practice compassion, gently shift your focus from “what” you see others doing to “why” they may be doing it.

Keep in mind that we’re all byproducts of our experiences, especially our upbringing. My father was and still is a workaholic and to that end, I’ve earned a first class course in workaholism.

From the outside looking in, you could easily judge me and say I don’t have my priorities straight, I’m selfish and I’m using work to escape/avoid something in my life.

However, your understanding of my upbringing allows you to appreciate “why” I’m doing “what” I’m doing.
At the same time, the realization that working too much was problematic for my family and me gave me an opportunity to choose differently and strive towards creating balance in my life. Our biggest challenges are also our biggest opportunities!

I can tell you to stop judging a book by it’s cover or that you couldn’t possibly understand someone’s behaviors until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes but that would only serve to speak to your rational mind and judging is an emotional issue.

There’s nothing I can say to make you choose compassion over criticism, I can only highlight the differences between the two, help you realize that you have a choice and remind you that love heals all. Awareness precedes transformation!

 

“Don’t judge the behavior, seek to understand the motivation.” Joyce Meyer

Less is more, less is enough

People come to me to reach all sorts of health, fitness and wellness goals: weight loss, toning, energy, posture, stress management, etc.

My objective is to help them create an Environment/Lifestyle that supports their goals and that balance causes their goals to manifest.

Given our resources of time, energy, money, etc. are limited; one of my key strategies is to help someone lead an efficient lifestyle.

Their first question is often: “What more do I have to do in order to get where I want to be?”

My answer is often: “You don’t need to do anything more (because you are already whole/complete), in fact; you can stand to do a lot less.”

You don’t have to look too far to notice the inefficiencies in your life: all-or-none thinking, emotional eating/drinking, over-committing/under-delivering, lack of movement/quality nourishment, strained relationships, short on sleep, etc.

One of the most overlooked inefficiencies is our need to please others…we fall prey to believing that if we always say yes, put others first and impress others, we will be well liked.

People-pleasing is a fear based behavior driven by the protective thought that if we give more than we receive, people will like us and in turn, we may end up liking ourselves.

The problem with that strategy is that it fills up your piggy bank of extrinsic worth but leaves you empty on the inside.

When you people-please, you’re doing the “right things” (showing up for others) for the “wrong reasons” (acceptance/approval) and instead of adding to your life, it only stands to take from you over and again.

The opposite of people-pleasing is self-assurance, self-respect and self-worth.

How do you get there? You’re already on your way because change happens in the mind first but here’s the process we share with our clients:

  1. Be aware that you’re engaged in people-pleasing
  2. Be accountable to the fact you’re doing it for acceptance
  3. Take meaningful action by saying no to others (yes to self)
  4. Manage decisions consistent with the positive self (self-assurance, self-respect and self-worth).

You need not do a thing more to get where you want to be…less is more, less is enough.

 

“I can’t tell you the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Ed Sheeran

How to live your preferred life

When clients come to me, they tell me all about where they want to be.

The fact that they’re not there indicates there’s a problem.

Problems need solutions.

So I ask: What’s the solution to living your preferred life?

They say: Working out, eating right, getting plenty of rest, drinking water, etc.

I say: Maybe?! That’s part of living a balanced lifestyle but there’s much more to consider.

I ask: Lets say those activities will get you where you want to be, then what’s keeping you from doing them?

They say: Busyness, laziness, procrastination, demotivation, fear, doubt, etc.

I say: The key to living your preferred life has less to do with your list of health activities and more to do with directly addressing your resistance.

Interestingly, we come up with healthy to-do lists primarily centered in the physical realm but our resistance lies in the mental, emotional and spiritual realm.

If you’ve ever wondered why people miserably fail resolutions time and again, that’s why…they’re trying to screw a screw with a hammer.

I only say it once more because it warrants being repeated: Living your preferred life is a matter of addressing the resistance that keeps you where you are; remove the resistance and your preferred life will come rushing at you.

 

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” Steven Pressfield

One to One

When clients come to me as a Lifestyle & Performance Catalyst, the have aspiration of losing weight, getting in shape, eating right, stressing less, connecting more and balancing their overall lifestyle.

Even though they have the best of intentions, they engage protective fear-based behaviors that keep them from achieving their desired outcome.

I’ve learned not to judge their behavior but to seek to understand their motivation.

Adopting this compassionate, non-judgmental stance has helped me to understand the fear-based drivers behind their less than ideal actions: shame, guilt, anxiety, frustration, anger, disappointment, worthlessness, etc.

MLK Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

When I encounter their fears, I respond with love: mano a mano!

I could easily interpret their fears as a lack of discipline, will-power and integrity or I could label them as lazy and demotivated but I don’t because that would be my fears, insecurities and ignorance adding to their already fearful state—a loss for all parties involved.

No, I fight with love because it endures, it’s perpetuating and it’s the only way of creating a safe space for people to release their fears.

Interestingly, love is the best remedy for weight loss, toning, nourishment and peaceful living…who knew?

 

“Go and love someone exactly as they are and watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest versions of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” Wes Angelozzi

Identify the Emotion

When you find yourself behaving inconsistent with your values or the life you want to lead, are you aware of the emotions driving your behaviors?

The behavior is what you are doing; the emotion is why you are doing it.

Just before you splurge and engage a protective action (emotionally eating, drinking, drugging, numbing, zoning, shaming, blaming, arguing, criticizing, etc.), pause and ask yourself: “What am I feeling in this moment?”

Are you feeling fear, guilt, anger, shame, anxiety, worry, frustration, inferior, hopeless, lonely, worthless, etc.?

Your ability to analyze and interpret what you are feeling is called emotional intelligence or your emotional quotient (EQ), now said to be more important than your IQ.

Don’t confuse your emotion with the person or activity surrounding your situation. It’s easy to blame others for causing us to feel a particular way but we must be accountable to our emotions, otherwise, we never learn how to mange and grow from them.

Once you’ve identified your painful emotion, sit with it, own it and breathe through it. Know you can replace any of the protective behaviors outlined above for a three-minute cycle of deep breathing.

Breath work is an authentic stress-management tool that helps you mitigate stress and remain in alignment with your values all while operating as your own solution—a true win, win, win!!!

“It’s not the stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.” Hans Selye

Transforming fear into love

While people come to me primarily to improve their health, I find that most individuals are far more emotionally than physically deconditioned.

Sure, lets get moving and stronger but lets be sure you know what to do with all the fear-based feelings and emotions you’re going to encounter today, from guilt to anger, anxiety, shame, isolation, betrayal, criticism, inferiority, etc. so you don’t emotionally eat, drink, blame, argue and numb yourself from reaching your goals.

The thing is, fear-based emotions aren’t bad. In fact, they’re just the other side of the emotional coin. On the other side of fear is love. Without fear, we couldn’t understand, appreciate or know love. They provide context for one another and they are our two greatest teachers.

I show all of my clients how to transform fear into love, so they don’t transmit their fear into protective behaviors inconsistent with their goals.

Start by selecting the three, fear-based emotions you struggle with most. Let’s say you selected shame. Here’s how it applies:

Example: Without feeling Shame, I wouldn’t know Honor.

To help someone overcome feeling shameful, I could: Show compassion and empathy and give them my undivided attention without trying to fix them.

You try…

  1. Without _________________________, I couldn’t know _________________________

To help someone overcome feeling _________________________, I could: ________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

This activity is very powerful and can be used with anyone struggling with any fear-based emotions. It’s helped everyone from my clients to my nine-year-old son as it offers them an alternative perspective on what to do with their pain.

 

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” Richard Rohr

Actually different

Last week, were your choices consistent with where you want to be in your life?

If not and you’re aware of it, choose different.

Not conceptually different, actually different.

Get up earlier, ditch the snooze, move your body, quiet your mind, read a book, write a book, pray, plan, prepare, prioritize, recommit, make breakfast, give a compliment, receive a compliment, initiate, do that one thing, take a break, lean in again, do the work, behave to become, close out your day, get home, disconnect, wind down, shut off the TV, contemplate, sleep easy and plan to make tomorrow a great day again!

Our current patterns will never lead us where we prefer to be.

It is our privilege and responsibility to choose ourselves, again and again.

The only way to make a difference is to live different, actually different.

 

“You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.” Richard Bach

Living Reactively vs. Proactively

We all have a choice to live behind the 8-ball or ahead of the curve, out-of-control or under control and reactively or proactively.

Living reactively…

I was just diagnosed hypertensive…I should start taking yoga classes

My son just got detention for cheating…I should have helped him study

My wife said she wants a divorce…I should have paid more attention to her

I don’t have many close relationships…I shouldn’t have worked so much

My daughter was just diagnosed with terminal cancer…I should have played more

While living an urgent lifestyle, we confuse what’s really important. We place things that will never fulfill us before the only things that ever will. It’s a choice nonetheless.

Living proactively…

Work is stressful but my meditation practice is helping me remain under control…

I can’t stay late today; my son needs help studying for his exam tomorrow

I’d like to go golfing with my buddies but my wife’s been under a lot of stress

Sure I’ll be there to support you; work is secondary to our relationship

I have an idea, I’ll pick you up from school on Friday and we go away for the weekend

While living an important lifestyle, we have low tolerance for the urgencies of life. We place the people and hobbies and activities that fill us up before everything else. We choose to lead a life marked by our values and allow everything else to adapt.

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” Winnie the Pooh