The people around you

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Take a minute and think about the people with whom you spend time.

Why is this important?

The energy of the people around you has an impact — on your mood, your confidence, your outlook and your overall wellbeing.

And you get to choose with whom you engage.

Sure, there are some people in your life who may challenge you and with whom your connection is somewhat fixed. Family members, neighbors, and coworkers come to mind. Even in such relationships, making adjustments to the way you engage is possible.

I have had many clients, all accomplished women, tell me they have hung on to — and tolerated — relationships and “friendships” that drag them down. People who are needy, or judgmental, or envious (if not jealous), and who are takers more than givers. Some of those people demonstrate resentment for the positive changes they see my clients making, and are subtly critical, or try and seed doubts.

We’ve all had people like this come in and out of our lives.

If a relationship with such a person has been in place for a long time (a childhood friend, a pal from college, a colleague from the past) — or even with someone who recently came into your life — it’s easy to feel stuck with it. You may feel guilty just thinking about initiating a change.

But you owe it to yourself to change things that impede your ability to live your best life. And sometimes that means pruning relationships.

Pruning a shrub can mean cutting it back to make it healthier. And sometimes the shrub needs to be replaced, or needs to be removed for more light to fill your garden.

And so it can be with relationships.

Here’s what to do if you are thinking of someone who is not a positive force in your life.

Start with some mindset work to help you get clear

Set aside some time to get clear about the issues you have with that person. You need to be honest about problematic issues.

Self-love will help if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable embarking on this process. Check out some self-love information and advice I've shared before and see how focusing on some solid self-love can help you navigate this exploration.

Next, try this process

1. To take an honest look at the concerns you have about your interactions with this person, make a list or do some free writing to pour out your thoughts. Fill a page or two with everything on your mind.

2. If you determine that this relationship is sub-optimal, it’s time to get really clear about how making a change in the relationship will support your wellbeing.

A good way to do that is to make a new two-column list. On the left side, write the costs to you of staying in relationship with this person as you are now. On the right side, list the benefits you will experience if you initiate a change.

3. If you are clear that you would be better off without the negative impact of a trying relationship, and are willing to make a commitment to initiate a change, consider asking yourself these big questions:

Do I want to set a boundary, to stay in contact but with less frequency?
Do I want to disengage completely?

These questions may make you feel a bit shaky. Just sit with them for now. You do not need to rush into action, or fuss about what action to take.

I will guide you to moving forward on a pruning process — to set new boundaries, or to disengage — in my next post.

Until then, leave a comment me and share what insights you have about the people with whom you are choosing to surround yourself — in every part of your life.

Who are the people who truly support you, believe in you, and want only the best for you?
And who may need to be pruned to allow you to truly thrive?

Let love be your secret power

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I hope your new year is off to a great start. For many, January was a time for making resolutions. If you set goals for the year, this is a good time to check in and take stock of how things are going.

If you are committed — and are taking consistent action — to the exercise you want to do more of, or the decluttering you set out to tackle, the job search you decided to initiate, or any other objective you have to make this a great year, I say, “Bravo!”

On the other hand, if you’ve struggled to get traction, take consistent action, or have had set-backs or feel discouraged, this is a great time to get back on track. There are still 11 months of the year ahead!

Here’s how to stay the course — or get back on track — as you pursue your goals and resolutions.

Leverage love!

Love is a powerful resource that’s always available to you, and that you can turn to at any time. Curious about how love will help you meet your goals? Here's the way this works.

Love powers your life in remarkable ways when you put it into action. And to help love do its magic, I suggest you begin with a simple technique: Pay attention to the words you say to yourself.

Because the words you use have a huge impact. The actual language of your thoughts matters!

It’s time to start speaking to yourself with love.

We tend to be incredibly hard on ourselves when we feel we are falling short in some way. If someone walked up to you and said, “What a loser! I can’t believe you didn’t make it to yoga class today!“ how would you feel? That would be harsh and mean, right? 

If you’d be unhappy to hear that from someone else, why would you use a similarly negative tone when thinking to yourself? Instead, consider loving ways to speak to yourself.

Loving self-talk about something that feels discouraging might sound like this: “Okay, you missed the yoga class today. Why not register now for the next one, and clear space on the calendar to be sure to get there? It will feel wonderful to spend that hour with a great teacher and so many lovely people! And, it will make the rest of the day so much more pleasant.”

Speaking to yourself with love will come naturally when you cultivate self-love in many ways. The idea is to stop being accusatory. Stop putting yourself down. Start treating yourself tenderly, like the deserving person you are.

Try these 3 easy ways to practice self-love and bring more loving self-talk into your life.

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror for a minute or two after you’ve washed your face each evening. Smile. Place a hand on your heart and say a few loving words to yourself. Yes, it will likely feel awkward, but if you do this every day for a week or two, it will get easier. Keep going! You’ll start to notice a shift in your self-talk throughout each day.

  2. Closely watch the words you choose in your thoughts about yourself. Do not label yourself in ways you would find unacceptable by others. Be positive, supportive, and encouraging — just as you would with someone special in your life. Reflect on the language you use and the circumstances when you give yourself the messages that most touch your heart, and find opportunities to do more of that.

  3. Treat yourself to small moments of delight — like time to sit and simply breath quietly for two minutes. Or take a break to walk in the fresh air. Or soak in a bubble bath. Or take a few extra minutes to savor the taste of your meal in quiet, rather than multitasking. As you take time for yourself, remind yourself of your talents and all the great things you do in the world. You might even want to start a self-love journal, where you can make a note each day of several ways that you are special. (Keep it handy and refer to it whenever you feel discouraged!)

While everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day as a single day for love, you can choose to fill your heart with love, and fill your thoughts with loving words about and to yourself, every day. This self-love will be an enormous help as you pursue the goals and dreams that deeply matter to you. 

And, there’s a bonus: The more fully you love yourself, the more love you will have for others in your life!

Creating light in dark days

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The last week has been intense, stressful and even overwhelming for many women (and men). I put aside the topic I had planned to write about today because I feel a pressing need to address the flood of emotion that so many are struggling with — friends, family members, clients, and my own troubling emotions.

If you have a different political orientation, and feel happy with the current state of affairs in our country, I welcome you to stop reading now.

But if, like me, you have been distressed by the political climate and you feel that hope is hard to hold onto, you are not alone. We have witnessed deeply disturbing changes put in place that impact our health and environment, damaging changes to educational and our justice system, policies that are cruel and inhumane, and unspeakable omissions such as withholding standard levels of support for everything from health insurance to help for those hit by devesting hurricanes.

And then we watched the events of the last week unfold.

A brave, articulate, remarkable, composed and credible victim of sexual assault came forward with important testimony. A nominee for a seat on the highest court in this country, for a lifetime appointment, was frighteningly partisan, shockingly emotional, and seemingly untruthful. The sham of a limited investigation gave cover to lawmakers to approve the nominee, despite the outpouring of cries not to do so from scores of women who have suffered sexual assault, scores of prominent lawyers and academics, the editorial boards of the most respected news organizations, and countless citizens.

It has felt for many that this is a new and especially frightening low, one that surpasses many points where we thought things could surely not get worse.

Which brings me to address our collective state of mind, and how we can live and move forward in such troubling times.

We have been bullied, and bullies want to silence us.
They want us to cower and hide.

I say, “No!”

I urge you to resist the temptation to go fetal, or simply wring your hands with other like-minded people, or numb yourself to all the distress. 

Here are some of the tenets of my manifesto for living a creative life that are top of mind for me today, and that you may want to consider.

1. Slow down. Be still.

In quiet we can honor ourselves and have time to feel our emotions. And, we can collect our thoughts. This is important self-care that provides a foundation for taking action.

2. Live without fear.

Fear paralyzes, which is why it’s used by powerful people to quiet those they don’t want to hear from. Two sure antidotes to fear are love and action. Start by surrounding yourself with people you love, who fill your heart with good, positive energy, and who you can shower with love.

Filled with this positive energy you will think more clearly and be able to consider the actions that you can take to influence the situation in positive ways. In this circumstance, you can actively work to get like-minded people out to vote in great numbers. You can send financial support to candidates and causes you are aligned with. You can show up at rallies and be counted among the masses who will not be cowed.

3. Tap your passion.

Your passion connects you to your heart, your beliefs and your values. Let these guide you each day, and they will serve you well.

4. Live boldly.

Being bold requires that you think big. When you are bold you speak your mind. You show up to support the causes that matter to you, and encourage others with shared sentiments to do the same.

5. Create!

We all have the capacity to create our futures, rather than resigning ourselves to being passive, or worse yet, victims. When we adopt the mindset of a creator, life is full of vast possibilities, and we can be agents of change. Creativity can resolve confusion and inspire effective action. Test it and see what happens. Then keep reminding yourself that you are a creator until it is embedded in your thinking.

6. Be patient.

The challenges we face are huge, and there are few quick fixes for the changes that are needed. We must be patient and diligent as we work to turn the tide on so many fronts.

7. Carry on.

As we work as individuals and together to create a better future, new challenges will show up. Setbacks are inevitable. These will test us. We must live with intention and return to the themes discussed above as needed. We can and must maintain our commitment and persevere.

Our nation has rebounded from other dark periods, and often come out of them stronger than before. It’s by standing together and staying committed that we will turn the tide and restore justice, decency and honor, to live up to the true values of our nation. We have been the light of the world and we can be that light again.

I invite you to join me in voting in the coming election, in working to get all committed citizens to the polls, in supporting candidates with values worthy of our respect, and to staying the course for the big work that lies ahead for all of us.