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How Fascination and Joy can Lead you to Your Purpose

From the smallest insect to the largest whale, each living being was created for a purpose and plays an integral role in the ecosystem. In an untouched and raw form, all of nature works in balance.

You, too, have been given talents, strengths, preferences and tastes that combine to create the unique you that you are. They wouldn’t be yours, and you wouldn’t be here, if you weren’t needed to serve the world in only the way you can. If everyone played the part they were born to, humanity could also be in balance.

Instead, we’ve built hierarchical power pyramids and convinced ourselves that the only way to be happy is to be at the top. Many struggle to stand on the backs of others to get just a bit higher, and higher. All the while believing if we could only reach the next level, then we’d finally be happy. Yet, upon reaching each level, we thirst for more. It’s never enough. (If this doesn’t sound even a teensy bit familiar, where do you live and can I join you?)

Why is it not enough? Because higher isn’t really what we want at our core. It doesn’t fit into the shape of our hearts, which knows our purpose and loves every aspect of it.

In ancient wisdom traditions, elders encouraged their youth to play their hearts out. Through observing what stoked the individual’s attention, fascination and imagination, they could determine how this child could eventually serve their greater community. While this practice has been lost in our current culture, everyone has an opportunity to tap back into that tradition to find their purpose.

The breadcrumbs are in what delights, fascinates, and energizes you.

Growing up, how did you love to play? What did you dream up? What imaginary problems did you solve? What topics fascinated you? What information did you soak up and remember easily?

Assuming you’re an adult, what activities cause you to lose all track of time because you are so enamored with the experience?

If you could get a free day to do whatever you wanted to do, no matter the financial cost (and within legal and moral boundaries), what would you do? (If your answer is sleep, then my hunch is you’re overworked. So what would you do after you caught up on however much sleep you need?)

There is a way to use what brings you joy to serve others. It makes you happy because it’s part of your path, it’s part of who you’re intended to be and what you’re intended to provide your community. It simply requires your imagination and problem-solving to understand how to make it your vocation.

It may not even exist as a job, business, product or service yet. You may need to create it. And while that takes work, your passion and sense of fulfillment will outweigh the trials to create it. If it doesn’t, you haven’t yet found the right fit, though you’re probably in the ballpark.

If you don’t love what you do, you’re robbing the world of your gifts. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your community to live a joyful life that also happens to give the world exactly what it needs.

***

If you’re ready to explore what brings you joy in order to find your purpose, coaching can help. Let’s talk!

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Why Diet & Exercise Alone Won’t Work

When we reject our body for not matching magazine-cover perfection, we disassociate from our body. That disconnection numbs us from the signals our body gives us that tells us what it wants and needs. What that is will be different in each moment because it is unique to the circumstances and context we are in. What our body needs for fuel can change from meal to meal and from person to person.

When we overwork ourselves to exhaustion, and then push ourselves to work out, our body starts to create a negative association with working out.

For those of us who struggle with our body image, we have a tendency to use diets and exercise as self-inflicted punishment for doing “bad” things like eating “bad” food and being “lazy.” We shame ourselves for not doing what we believe we should. It becomes a downward demotivating spiral.

It’s no wonder we push against it like a stubborn child wanting to do the exact opposite of what a parent advises. And it’s why standard dieting and exercise programs don’t work for those of us who are caught in the body-shame-spiral.

When we learn to love our body exactly as it is, we can then reconnect with the messages it gives about food, drink, movement, and rest. When we love and accept ourselves, we connect with the motivation to be our best self.

In my mid-twenties, my boyfriend frequently, verbally criticized my body. The more he critiqued, the more I shamed myself. This caused me to eat more to fill a void and I always felt too exhausted to be active, which led to more criticism, which led to more eating and exhaustion. I told myself I was unlovable because of my weight.

At one point, I forced myself to go on an extremely restrictive diet and hit the gym every day. In two months I lost fifteen pounds. I excitedly shared this achievement with my boyfriend, who responded, “Just imagine how you’d look if you lost twenty-five more.”

I gave up and gained it all back shortly after. When we broke up, I was forty-five pounds heavier than when we had first met. Shedding that unhealthy relationship, I easily lost weight without changing my daily routine because I was so much happier.

Contrast that with my husband. When we first started dating, he was genuinely complimentary and openly affectionate. When I would body shame myself, he knew exactly what to say to pull me out of it. When I learned to see myself how he saw me, with love and admiration, I had so much more energy. That energy and desire to be active and out doing things also sparked in me a natural desire to eat more fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t because I told myself I should, I actually wanted to. I was drawn to them.

Taking a culmination of these types of life lessons with my own body-image journey and combining that with the coaching tools that work for my clients, I’ve developed an online program called Learn to Love Your Body in 30 Days. If you struggle with your body image and are tired of fad diets and exercise routines that never become a habit, I’d love for you to join me. We start June 3!  Learn more here!

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Sometimes the Root of Worry is Grief

Equus Coaching

Grief is a fascinating emotion. It doesn’t follow linear time. Pieces of it hide in dark pockets waiting for a safe space and moment to come out and be seen.

This past weekend I participated in a retreat with small group of my wayfinding peers and mentors. Without a personal agenda, I set the intention to allow whatever came up to be. (For anyone who knows me, giving myself permission to not have a plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to be coached by our master of master wayfinders, Martha Beck, is quite unusual.)

Listening to frogs and crickets while sitting under an expansive net of stars in the rain forests of Cashiers, North Carolina, I realized that I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid big Square 1s* that come barreling out of nowhere to knock me off my feet. My habit of planning and organizing is an attempt to play out innumerable future scenarios in the hopes that I can spot a Square 1 coming. And if I can see it coming, that I could somehow lessen the blow or avoid it altogether. (Spoiler alert, this is impossible.)

My husband summarized this best when he said, “When you don’t have something to worry about, you find something to worry about.” (God bless those who truly see us.)

I’ve noticed that because of this, I have not relaxed into happiness. I simply haven’t trusted it. And thus, I’ve been stuck in my Square 3 Hero’s Journey.

Ok, so now what? I thought. Now that I’ve recognized this energy block, what do I do with it? How do I get unstuck?

Equus Coaching is a perfect opportunity to test your energy. A horse is a mirror, which reflects back physically what you’re doing energetically. As I entered the round pen on Day 2, I set the intention to figure out how to release my fear of Square 1 and embrace the elation of Square 4.*

When I tried to spiritually bypass my fear of Square 1 as “necessary for personal growth” and “will bring me to a better place because it all happens for a reason,” my horse Smokey walked to the opposite end of the pen with his hind quarters to me. This was a sign that I didn’t believe what I was saying – I was out of integrity.

When I admitted that, “Square 1s are F-ing HARD! They SUCK!” Smokey ran back toward me and put his head against my chest. When I broke down crying and shared that I didn’t want to be strong all the time, he stayed while stomping and yawning, which physically releases energy.

The heart knows when it is safe to be vulnerable. There’s something special about the sacred space wayfinders hold. It is a pure, gentle and fully accepting cradle of love. To be held so delicately and seen so fully is a true gift.

Although it has been 20 years since my mother’s suicide, I realized that I have not fully processed the grief and post-traumatic-stress around the details of her death. There were still little pockets that needed releasing (and will again and probably again).

In the safe space of my peers and mentors, I allowed all the emotions I’d thought were long past to surface and flow in aching waves through my core and out of my mouth and eyes.

There is no time limit to grieving. There is no deadline to process it. It isn’t a one and done kind of life experience. So if you’ve lost a loved one, or carry guilt and shame about someone’s suicide, know that it is absolutely okay to return to it when you’re ready to let the last pieces go. Even if 20-plus years have passed, it’s okay.

You don’t have to be strong all the time. Give yourself permission to find a safe and sacred space with someone (or people) you trust and let it flow. It does no good and offers no peace holding it in and shoving it down.

I trust that once I’ve fully processed all the remaining pieces, my constant worry about the future will also dissolve on its own. For years, I’d been trying to solve the symptom of anxiety instead of the root cause of grief. While coaching tools can absolutely help with reducing anxiety and managing stress, sometimes it’s a sign that there’s more underneath to explore.

If you, too, constantly worry about the future, I invite you to think about what long-past loss you may have suffered that might need some tender, loving care.

*****

If you don’t have a safe and sacred space to let your grief flow, I’d be honored to hold it for you. Let’s talk.

*Squares 1-4 are Martha Beck terms used in Steering by Starlight and is a framework for identifying coaching tools that might be most useful for a client. Square 1 represents the phase of life where we have the destruction of one identity (or role) before a new one forms. It’s a state of dissolving that can be created by any catalytic life event, such as the death of a loved one.

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What You Want to Know About Push & Pull Energies

Magnetic Attraction

I am often asked to explain the difference between push and pull energies. It’s helpful to recognize which one you’re emitting so that you can bring toward you more of what brings you joy and less of what doesn’t.

Do you remember playing with magnets as a kid? Think of these terms as the interaction between two magnets. When you’re giving off a pull-energy, you’re drawing people and your aspirations to you quickly and easily. When you’re giving off a push-energy, you’re energetically pushing other people and your desired circumstances away.

With magnets, opposite poles attract, while like poles repel. The reason for this is the directional flow of energy comes in through the magnet’s south pole and exits the north pole. Opposite poles connect because energy is flowing in the same direction. The same poles facing each other creates a push energy and they’ll never meet, no matter how much you force it.

So how can you tell which energy you’re giving off?

I’ll give two generalized examples that may trigger memories of people you’ve engaged with before.

Example 1:

Ashley (made up name) really, really, really wants to be your best friend. She doesn’t have many and complains that people are always making excuses for why they’re too busy to accept her many invitations to hang out. She shares this with you in the hopes to pull on your compassion strings. When you agree to meet her for lunch, she spends the time lamenting over how her boss has it out for her, her coworkers never invite her to lunch and all she really wants is for them to be nice to her. She fishes for validation and compliments, and when you give them, she hangs on your words like a lifeline.

At the end of lunch, she tries to get you to commit to a day and time for your next outing, which she’d love to be dinner tomorrow. When you explain you have plans, she presses you with a bunch of other options until you run out of excuses and commit. Then she tells you that she hopes you won’t be as flakey as her other friends while giving you an uncomfortably long, tight hug like she’s going to squeeze the air out of you. You leave hoping to catch the plague so you have a legitimate excuse to cancel and be quarantined without visitors.

Example 2:

Ellie looks radiant, although there is nothing in particular about her physical characteristics that would set her apart in a crowd. She walks in a room and people naturally gravitate toward her. Strangers hold doors open for her as she approaches, hostesses make eye contact with her first amongst a crowd, and she beams with an inner joy and confidence.

You meet her for lunch and everything feels comfortable and easy. Conversation flows, you both laugh easily and frequently, and there is an equal exchange of chatting. There’s just something about her that brings out the best in you. You leave the lunch feeling light and airy, both knowing you’ll get together again soon without any need to set specific plans.

****

My hunch is you recognize that Ashley has the push energy and Ellie has the pull energy.

I invite you to recall a paste experience with your Ashley. How did you physically feel around them? What was your corresponding behavior toward them?

Ok, now shake that off and recall an experience with your Ellie. How did you physically feel around them?  What was your corresponding behavior toward them?

Congratulations, you now know viscerally what push and pull energies are.

So what specifically causes this?

Ashley believes that she needs others to be and act a certain way in order for her to be happy. The more desperately she needs and craves the approval and company of others, the more she forces it away, which only compounds her anxiety about it. She’s flustered, so she tries harder. She’s also learned that pity can temporarily get her what she wants, so she shares her victim-story liberally hoping to reel in an unsuspecting bleeding heart.

Ellie, on the other hand, accepts people and circumstances as they are without a desire to change them. She believes that only she controls whether she’s happy or sad, and she chooses joy. She knows what is in her control and what isn’t. She trusts that everything, even what others might view as a misfortune, is as it should be. Her casual approach and natural confidence sets others at ease.

What does this mean for you?

The power is yours to create. If you notice that things just aren’t going your way, especially when you really, really “need” them to…you’re probably giving off a push energy. The only way to release it is to surrender into and accept whatever is while also tuning into an abundance mindset.

Here are 5 simple steps to loosen your push and embrace your pull:

  1. Recognize that the only thing within your control is yourself, your behavior and your thoughts. The more you try to control or change others, the less likely that will happen. (This doesn’t mean we condone or approve of other’s hurtful behavior, it merely means we accept them as they are.)
  2. Recognize what you can and can’t control about your circumstances. Change what you can, let go of the rest.
  3. Adopt the mantra: “I accept things exactly as they are. Everything is as it should be because that is reality.”
  4. Acknowledge that in this very moment (right now), you have everything you need. (Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, you’d be dead or held captive in someone’s basement.)
  5. Turn your attention toward fun and relaxing activities. The more you can create the feeling states of joy and peace within yourself, the more you elevate your vibration to match a pull one.

If you aren’t able to shake a push energy with the above 5 steps, scheduling a one-on-one coaching session can allow us to dive deeper and offer you a fuller release around bigger challenges. Let’s talk!

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What is Your Time, Joy & Health Worth?

Great blue heron

Our minds are incredible. We create music, art, technology, and solutions to our ever-evolving problems. We process millions of bits of information per second. We are constantly innovating, learning and growing. We dream up alternate worlds and fantastical stories that entertain and delight us. And yet, with all that power, we can find ourselves spending much of it on reliving painful memories or envisioning worst-case future scenarios.

The person who cut us off in traffic and then flipped us off like it was our fault, the underhanded slight our coworker made in a meeting, or a friend who lied can take up an enormous amount of brain space. Sometimes it is busy envisioning future doomsday scenarios of the ten thousand ways an anticipated conversation or event will go down. Like somehow if we could see around corners we would be better prepared for the horrors of what our mind has concocted (which rarely, if ever, end up happening).

My hunch is, if we were to count the minutes and hours spent living in the past or the future, we would find that it far outweighs engaging in the present moment.

Think of all that we could have potentially achieved if that time were spent “exist(ing) in perpetual creative response to whatever is present.” (Yogi Amrit Desai)

What would you do if you could maximize your potential?

That’s what coaching offers. It helps you flush the junk away so that you can free up that mental space for more productive and fulfilling activities. You get your time and joy back, and often as a result, your physical health improves.

What is that worth to you?

For me, it was life changing. So much so that I have made it my vocation because I so passionately want to help everyone feel as good as I do. When I found this other, easier way to live, I shouted from the highest mountain, “Join me! The view is amazing!”

If you’re ready to unpack the burden of your mind’s limiting beliefs and painful thoughts, let’s talk. I have a hunch you have an incredibly joyous and impactful life that’s just waiting to be lived to the fullest!

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How to Find Compassion When Judgment Arises

Wolf Picture as reminder

In my office hangs a picture of a wolf. When I was a tween, my mother won first place at the Orange County Fair for this picture. She shot it at a small zoo in Big Bear on a family vacation. It reminds me to be a compassionate teacher.

Wolf packs have a natural hierarchy with an alpha male and female leaders, who are also often parents to the rest of the pack. Each pack member plays an important role within the pack, and if one member becomes injured or dies, it greatly impacts the survival of the pack as a whole. They’re strategic hunters and fierce protectors of each other.

Yet, the alphas are playful and extremely patient teachers. Watching adult wolves play with pups, one would liken them to any domesticated dog. They recognize that to lead, teach and inspire requires a light touch. I try to take the same approach with my coaching.

When we’re compassionate, we see all as one, equals on different parts of the same journey toward peace, joy and freedom. From this perspective, we can understand others from deep within ourselves and as a result, our actions and words come out of love. And we are inspired to be playful in our interactions.

It’s not always that easy to approach every one we come in contact with, with compassion. I, too, can be judgmental when my ego feels wronged or self-righteous. When I see myself as separate from the other, when I don’t have a common connection to link me to empathy and compassion, I drive a wedge between us. That wedge is burdensome and takes away from my work and purpose.

What helps bridge that gap is to become an alpha wolf. Even if I can’t immediately see myself in the other, I know that most often the actions that I perceive as wronging me are merely a misstep by a young pup that is still learning. If they’re caught up their own mind’s fear-chatter, they don’t know what they don’t know yet. And THAT stage of life I remember. That lights my compassion fire.

From that heart-space, I find patience and am inspired to playfully engage them as an alpha wolf, who is ready to lead by example and help them find their place in the pack. Because each of us has a role to play, and each of us is critically important. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.

When you find yourself judging or feeling separate from someone who triggers you, I invite you to also become an alpha wolf. Ask yourself, “How would I engage with this person if they were my child?” My hunch is your word choice and actions would dramatically change. Try coming from that place’s perspective and watch what happens.

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Why High Achieving People Resist Resting

Lion Resting

Our thoughts are sneaky little buggers. They’re so good at telling their delicious little lies that play to our ego’s weaknesses. Disguised as protective capes whispering, “I’m helping you. I’m just looking out for your best interest. You need me.”

I’ll be the first to admit that, even as a coach, I have not quite broken my tendency to over-effort and fill all my time with doing. I’m a work in progress and have come quite a long way since my corporate workaholic days. I do know that the more limiting beliefs I dissolve and the more I rewire my brain with antidote thoughts, the closer I get to breaking this habit.

Constantly working is not sustainable mentally or physically. At some point, I know that my body will revolt with a sharp and painful lesson. And frankly, resting feels so…damn…good…if we can give ourselves permission to lean into it.

So why do we resist resting when we know it’s good for us? Why do we push ourselves to breaking?

For me (and many of my clients), there is a whole collection of limiting beliefs tied to our sense of personal value. Each one dressed up as a motivational speech on how to be the best you can be. Some of the most common include:

  • I am not enough unless I…
  • I must do more.
  • I’ll look lazy.
  • Resting (or playing) is wasting precious time.
  • I have to get ahead.
  • Successful people work harder than everyone else.
  • If I stop or slow down, I will lose (my job, income, others’ respect, reputation, motivation…)

These all sound enticingly convincing; tell me where I’m wrong.

I’ve worked each one of these thoughts and yet, just last week, I found myself resisting leaning into a natural lull in my business projects. I have a book that is in my designer’s hands and an online course offering that is going through a beta test. Both are going to take the time it will take. When these necessary steps are done, I will be spending a great deal of effort launching these products.

Yet, I felt myself become agitated and look for another project to start. When I couldn’t immediately think of something business-related to do, I turned to house projects. When I hit hiccups with that, I became extremely irritated and impatient. These emotions are red flags for thought work, so I asked myself why.

I went back through the above bulleted familiar tunes and none seemed to hit the mark. They weren’t specific enough and thus why I hadn’t completely dissolved the root belief. And then I realized, the real problem with my allowing a natural lull was the thought: “Not doing is wasting my potential.”

There it was. I hit gold. My potential: all this future opportunity that could be mine if only I did more and pushed harder.

I worked the thought. (And if you’re not already familiar with Byron Katie’s The Work ™, I highly recommend you visit her site. Life changing.) I’ll share my turnarounds with you in case this thought sparks a flicker of familiarity:

Opposite Thought: “Not doing is burgeoning my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Rest is a natural part of our living cycles.
  2. “Not doing” allows my subconscious to work its magic and creativity.
  3. Recharging allows me to work at my highest potential when it comes time to work.
  4. Not doing it all myself allows experts to take over and do their thing, which allows the potential of my project to be more and go farther.

Additional Opposite Thought: “Doing is wasting my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Doing for the sake of doing is wasting the energy I need to create when it’s time to create.
  2. Spinning on useless things wastes my mental capacity, which is my potential.
  3. My potential is best utilized when it has space to formulate creative ideas.
  4. Constantly doing and going makes my body break down (headaches, back aches, etc.) and if I’m sick or in pain, I am definitely not creating.

Thought turned to Other: “My potential is wasting not doing.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. My potential is my creative process that is internal and I am wasting that opportunity by busying myself with external doing.
  2. Might as well take advantage of the space to do things I enjoy, which is one of the many benefits of self-employment.
  3. I can use “not doing” to my advantage with creative play that fills my heart. Some of my best ideas come as a result of play and rest.

Thought turned to Self: “My thoughts are wasting my potential.”
Supporting Proof:

  1. Spinning in my mind is a complete waste of me and the present moment and my creative, problem-solving potential.
  2. When I believe my painful thoughts, I am unnecessarily wasting my potential.
  3. Self-criticism is never motivational.

So what did I do with these newfound thoughts that are so much truer than the original? Well, you may notice that this blog is coming out a week later than usual. Rather than working, I took long walks at the beach with my dog and sketched a bunch of art with a new set of colored pencils. I post-processed some photos as a form of creative play. I revived my yoga routine and gave myself permission to take afternoon naps. I started reading a new book that a friend gave me. Essentially, I played and rested in the ways that feel good to me.

If you find yourself resisting resting into a natural lull in projects, I invite you to locate the driving belief behind that resistance and do The Work. If you want me to walk you through it, let’s schedule a coaching session.

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Why it’s Important to Test our Edges

Las Torres del Paine National Park

One of the most physically challenging experiences I have ever had was climbing to the base of the namesake towers in Las Torres del Paine National Park with my husband. My pedometer clocked 12.8 miles round trip from Hotel Las Torres at 443 feet in elevation to the base at 2,870 feet in elevation and back. It was basically like climbing a ladder straight up and then straight down for 10 hours.

We departed at sunrise and returned to the hotel right as the sun was setting. I almost didn’t make it.

In the last two miles of the ascent, it felt more like rock climbing than hiking. On a few occasions, I relied on my hands and arms because my legs were simply giving way. I stopped more and more frequently as the space between us and the members of our tour group increased.

It was in these moments, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. My fearful mind told me, “You’re not strong enough. You can’t do this. It’s too far. You’ll never make it.”

The other voice I heard was that of my husband’s, who said, “You can do it. You got this. Just a little farther. We can stop as often as you need to as long as we commit to continue. We came too far to give up now.”

He was right. We traveled 6,668 miles to visit Patagonia. We trained for months leading up to this trip. We looked forward to this hike and testing the edges of our capabilities.

We challenge ourselves not because we’re masochists, but because we want to stretch ourselves. We want to reach farther. We can’t know what we’re capable of if we don’t. We dream bigger and push ourselves because it brings us alive.

When I told myself that I could do it, I did. If I let myself believe I couldn’t, I would also prove myself right. It was all in my perception.

When we reached the base, my joy and sense of pride was immense (not to mention my relief)! We had done it! We made it to the top! While the view was incredible, our sense of accomplishment was even greater.

In ancient cultures, especially that of native Americans, tribe members who came of age would set out on vision quests as a rite of passage. They would be left on their own far away from their village to test their competences. Up to that point, it was merely potential. Returning to their village, they knew their edges, their personal strengths and how these contributions would best serve their community.

The next time you experience a daunting challenge, ask yourself this, “What is this trying to teach me? What am I gaining from this experience? How will I feel once I’ve overcome it?”

My hunch is, you’ll find your personal power and one more reason why you are absolutely necessary to this world.

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Feeling Stuck? 8 Steps to Find Your Next Step

Steps Forward in Sand

We can only make educated guesses about outcomes. Despite copious amounts of research, planning and strategic analysis, the future has infinite possibilities. So how does one make a clear decision when outcomes are unknown?

The path to truth is intuition. We trust our gut, which speaks to us in physical sensations, metaphors and a sense of knowing to do. This sometimes runs contradictory to our logical mind’s analysis.

Trusting one’s intuition can be challenging. We second-guess urges and inklings with all the rules we try to follow in our mind. This can leave us in analysis-paralysis.

When my clients find themselves stuck and unable to move forward, it’s usually because their mind and gut are at odds. Sometimes the mind tells them there’s so much to get done, or that a goal is too big, that it blocks taking the one next step their intuition knows to take. Other times, their beliefs about what they should be doing is telling them the opposite of what their gut says to do.

During coaching sessions, we use tools to help separate their limiting beliefs from their intuition. When a client becomes still and tunes in to that part of them that knows, there is always an answer and a next step to take. The outcome doesn’t have to be clear to know what to do.

One of my friends is a clairvoyant astrologist. She has learned to quiet her mind and simply allow whatever comes up to come out of her mouth – no filter, no pausing, no challenging. What she sees is what you get. To the extent that she often forgets what she has said because it is so fluid and in flow. If she stops to think about it, she cuts the connection. Too many cut connections and she could completely block her gift. So she just goes with it, trusting it absolutely.

Our gut works the same way. The more frequently we tune in to it and follow it without question, the stronger that skill grows. The more we trust it, the more intuition we are given. We build it like a muscle until it becomes our natural response.

One way to bypass over-analysis stuck-ness and tune into our intuition is by connecting with the creative, visual part of our brain. We do this by using our challenge as a metaphor. I invite you to practice the following with a particular obstacle you’re stuck in a decision about. Keep your eyes closed throughout steps 1 through 5 of this process and observe this visualization play out.

  1. With your eyes closed, take three, slow, deep inhales and exhales.
  2. Ask yourself: If this particular challenge were a person, place, animal or object, what would it be? (Go with whatever first pops in your mind, even if it’s silly and especially if it doesn’t make sense. Just go with it.)
  3. Notice and describe this symbol with as much detail as possible and call upon all of your senses to do so. Explore it in depth…size, weight, location, where you are in relation to it, what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell. Go deep and be curious.
  4. Ask yourself: What do I want to happen in this situation I’m visualizing? How can that be acheived?
  5. Visualize that happening and notice the details of it playing out.
  6. Open your eyes.
  7. Look at this visualization metaphorically. What does your solution (what you wanted to happen) represent in regard to your original challenge?
  8. What next step do you want to take?

I’d love to hear about your experience with this visualization exercise. Please leave a comment and let me know! (And if you found it too challenging to do on yourself, I invite you to schedule a session with me and we can explore it together.)

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5 Lessons for Trusting Gut from a Recovering Rule Follower

Intuition Guiding Meerkat

Are you a rule follower that becomes frustrated when people break them? When things don’t go according to plan, does it cause anxiety? If reality doesn’t match expectations, do you get annoyed? If so, then read on!

I’m an organized planner by nature. I find comfort in structure and I love when there are rules and formalized processes so that I have a box to work within and a path to follow. It gives me a sense of stability. (Sound familiar?)

Spoiler alert: Life and people don’t operate this way.

When I get caught in the minutia of the plan, the way things are supposed to go – and more often they don’t – I have become frustrated and confused. I usually attempt to right the course and get back on track. And in my corporate career, I was paid very well for this skill. My motto was: “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

I once heard a coworker say, “Disappointment is expectations minus reality.” His point was to set expectations reasonably. My desire was to elevate reality and fill the delta. That meant I pushed my employees hard and myself even harder because heaven forbid that my boss could ever be disappointed in the results.

Coaching has been an interesting experiment in allowing myself to follow intuition instead of a process. Yes, the tools we’re taught have a specific formula that we practice past the point of competency into habit. I’ve noticed something interesting happening now that I have engrained these tools.

I’ve started to play with them. I’ve given myself permission to veer outside of the process. I follow that little voice inside that says, “probe here…ask this…” Pre-coaching, I’d call that “winging it.” Something I would never have attempted for fear of failure.

You know what? It works. Even better than following the process.

Recently I was given an assignment to provide feedback to a coaching peer on a particular pre-recorded session (with permission from the client). In my mind, the rule was to identify where the coach was following the process and where she strayed. Then, we were both asked to assess that feedback with six of our peers listening in. (No pressure!)

She had accepted all of it as-is. My internal monologue reaction was, “Push back. Tell me where I’m wrong.” When I probed a bit as to why, she revealed a limiting belief that perked my ears. With her permission, our feedback exchange morphed into doing The Work ™.

In that moment, the formal series of questions fell away and I felt into what wanted to be asked next. I let my intuition guide each step as we took it. Was it exactly how we were taught? Partly. Was it messy? Sometimes. Did she find insights? Yes.

I broke the rules twice. First when I veered off expectations given by our instructor to discuss feedback about feedback. Second when I remixed The Work ™. And it was fine! More than fine. Not only did the sky not fall, but it also achieved the intention for which we set out to accomplish.

If I may impart any lessons from this experience to you, it would be this:

  1. Rules are intended to be a general guide and there are always exceptions.
  2. Processes help create habits, but if followed too rigidly, they can inhibit innovation and growth.
  3. Trust your intuition. You know what to do.
  4. Let your intention be the cornerstone for action.
  5. At the end of the task or project, did it work?